If historical narratives are formed under the constraints of national identity formation, then A Storm of Songs shows us how bhakti has been one such narrative. John Stratton Hawley shows how what became known as the bhakti movement was formulated in the twentieth century, very much in relation to the emerging nation of India. But Hawley's is no simple historicism, reduction of historical depth to political expediency, or purely cultural constructivism. Beginning with Tagore's description of the poetic output of Ravidās as “a storm of songs,” Hawley shows how this emotional devotion to a deity became part of Tagore's understanding of India's “religious whole.” But just what is this devotion in the history of the nation? What is bhakti? asks Hawley. He then proceeds to take the reader on a journey through a history of texts about the idea of bhakti and the formation of the bhakti movement as a...

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