South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Disappearance of the Nāth Community’s Avali Silūk and the Kāfir Bodh: Islamic Influence Under Erasure

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

In the early 1940’s, Pītāṃbar Datt Baḍthwāl, with the help the Hindī Sahityā Sammelan, created something that hadn’t previously existed. He created a stable and authoritative written text for the Nāth yogis. Named the Gorakhbānī this book contains the songs and sayings of the Nāth community, a group of teachings which has been considered by Indian academics to be an integral and direct link in Hindi’s – and in extension the Indian nation’s – longstanding and linear past. While Baḍthwāl’s publication has been considered the go-to text for the Nāth teachings for almost eighty years, it has remained an incomplete work since its first publication. The disappearance from the Gorakhbānī of two popular Islamic teachings, the Avali Silūk and the Kāfir Bodh,has ensured a far less complex and diverse understanding of the Nāth community than historical evidence supports.


Beginning with the earliest extant manuscript recording the teachings of the Nāth sampradāy (1614 CE) and continuing until the 20th century, the Avali Silūk and the Kāfir Bodh have illustrated the close relationship that the Nāth community had with its Muslim counterparts. In fact, these teachings demonstrate how–– at least in certain areas of India––the Nāth community saw its own identity as porous and overlapping with Islam. This paper will examine how the erasure of the Avali Silūk and Kāfir Bodh has deeply marginalized Islam in our understanding of the history of Nāth identity.

Christine Marrewa-Karwoski

Columbia University, United States

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2 - The Disappearance of the Nāth Community’s Avali Silūk and the Kāfir Bodh: Islamic Influence Under Erasure



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