Power Permutations in Early Hindi Manuscripts: Who Asks the Questions and Who Gives the Answers, Rāmānand or Kabīr?
South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies
What work do manuscripts perform? How are we to understand their socio-political impact? What happens when we find drastically different permutations of the same dialogical text in multiple manuscripts, where the interlocutors take different positions in different versions? How do we deal with that in the light of existing printed editions that intervene and “freeze” one version and marginalize others? This paper focuses on how old Hindi dialogical texts fare in manuscript and print, with the case study of the dialogue between the famous iconoclastic Kabīr and his purported guru the Rāma-worshiper Rāmānand, as preserved in a fascinating illustrated manuscript from the beginning of the eighteenth century that combines yogic and devotional texts.