Philip Lutgendorf, Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies at the University of Iowa, has been invited to serve as a guest lecturer for the Religious Studies department. He will present a talk titled "The Clue in the Lake: Tulsidas and the Sufis of Avadh" in 108 Smith at 3:00PM on February 28th, 2014.
When the poet-saint Tulsīdās composed his celebrated retelling of the Rāmāyaṇa, entitled Rāmcaritmānas, in 1574 AD, he created a powerful vehicle for the transmission of Rām-devotion in northern and central India. Although scholars have identified the principal Sanskrit sources on which Tulsī drew, they have largely ignored the four long allegorical poems known as prem-kahānī (“love stories”), composed between the late fourteenth and mid-sixteenth centuries in the same poetic dialect and verse format, by Muslim authors affiliated with Sufi lineages. Drawing on recent research on the cultural context of these enigmatic Indo-Islamic poems, this talk proposes their significant influence on the genesis of the famous Hindu epic.
Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies and has taught in the University of Iowa’s Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature since 1985. He regularly offers Hindi language classes as well as courses on written and oral narrative traditions of South Asia, including Indian film. His book on the performance of the Rāmcaritmānas, the Hindi version of the Ramayana, The Life of a Text (University of California Press, 1991) won the A. K. Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002-03 for his research on the Hindu “monkey-god” Hanuman, which has appeared as Hanuman’s Tale, The Messages of a Divine Monkey (Oxford University Press, 2007). He maintains a website devoted to popular Hindi cinema, a.k.a. “Bollywood” (www.uiowa.edu/~incinema). In 2010 he received a Fulbright-Hays fellowship for research on the cultural history of “chai” in India and also began work on a planned three-volume, dual-language edition and translation of the Rāmcaritmānas for the Murty Classical Library of India/Harvard University Press. He serves as President of the American Institute of Indian Studies (www.indiastudies.org/).