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In 1924, Raihana Tyabji composed a small book of Bhakti devotionalism entitled The Heart of a Gopi. This chapter considers how far it may be read as a kind of personal narrative, an evocation of the self. Does the referencing of an established narrative tradition give the author’s feelings and experiences, especially as a Muslim woman devoted to Krishna at a time of increasing religious rigidity and growing communal strife, a validity not achievable otherwise? And, if so, how do we separate the author’s “self” from the literary conventions—in this case, the gopi tradition—that structure the story? In the tradition of Islamic life writing, can the gap between the miraculous and the mundane be breached to understand the mystical experience charted here as a kind of autobiography? Even from the rationalist’s perspective, should not the life of the imagination still be considered part of the life?

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