Download Available for download on Friday, July 25, 2025

Download Full Text (38.2 MB)


This book traces the narrative genealogy of the immensely popular Indian saint Mirabai from the earliest manuscript references to her through colonial and nationalist formations to scholarly and popular portrayals in the decades leading up to Indian independence. This iconic sixteenth-century woman is renowned for her unwavering love of God, her disregard for social hierarchies and gendered notions of honor and shame, and her challenge thereby to familial, feudal, and religious authorities. Though verifiable historical facts regarding her life are few, stories about her have multiplied across social, linguistic, regional, and religious boundaries. With attention to who is telling which story and why, this book examines her place in the developing strands of devotional Hinduism and her role in the gendered and contested terrain of nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates around the education and independence of women and the crafting of Indian and Hindu identities. Consideration is given not only to elite voices but also to those marginalized by caste, class, and gender who find in her a source of solidarity and dignity, shared suffering and resistance, and a precedent for pursuing lives outside of or in addition to normative social expectations, particularly for women. Highlighting the impact also of key individuals from Rabindranath Tagore and Gandhi to Mahadevi Varma and Subbulakshmi on perceptions of the saint, the book offers a comprehensive and multilayered portrait of this remarkable and still controversial woman who continues to be a source of inspiration for so many both in India and around the world.



Publication Date



Oxford University Press


New York, NY


Mirabai, Hinduism, saint


Hindu Studies | History of Religions of Eastern Origins | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies | Women's Studies


The file above contains chapter 5, "Mobilizing Mirabai, Mobilizing Women in the Struggle for Independence".

Please visit your local library or purchase the book through the "Buy This Book" link above to read the full text.


Oxford University Press

Mirabai: The Making of a Saint