Nancy M. Martin, "Mirabai: The Making of a Saint" (Oxford UP, 2023)


Mirabai, an iconic sixteenth-century Indian poet-saint, is renowned for her unwavering love of God, her disregard for social hierarchies and gendered notions of honor and shame, and her challenge to familial, feudal, and religious authorities. Defying attempts to constrain and even kill her, she could not be silenced. Though verifiable facts regarding her life are few, her fame spread across social, linguistic, and religious boundaries, and stories about her multiplied across the subcontinent and the centuries.

In Mirabai: The Making of a Saint (Oxford UP, 2023), Nancy M. Martin traces the story of this immensely popular Indian saint from the earliest manuscript references to her through colonial and nationalist developments to scholarly and popular portrayals in the decades leading up to Indian independence. This book examines Mirabai's place as both insider and outsider to the developing strands of devotional Hinduism and her role in contested terrain of debates around the education and independence of women and the crafting of Indian and Hindu identities.

Mirabai offers a comprehensive and multi-layered portrait of this remarkable and still controversial woman, who continues to be a source of inspiration and catalyst for self-actualization for spiritual seekers, artists, activists, and so many others in India and around the world today.

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Raj Balkaran

Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see

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