The Ramtā Nāth: in the Saṃpradāya and Paintings

Key information

7:00 PM to 8:15 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Anjali Duhan

You can watch the recording of this event on YouTube . For other event recordings see our Media page.


The Nāth-s have primarily been viewed through the lens of only the yogi and seldom the bhogī. With respect to bhakti, they are projected as the demonised 'other' along with the Śākta-s, especially in the periods between the thirteenth and sixteenth century CE. Through this talk, Anjali Duhan will bring the focus on the ramtā nāth and discuss his position in the sect. He wanders alone or in groups, represents bhakti in the saṃpradāya, and lay utmost importance to the Guru and worship God in its nirguṇa form. The two groups which had/have a membership [?] of these ramte nāth are the Dhajpanthī and the Bhartṛhari Vairāgī. These wandering renunciates, especially belonging to the latter group, trace their origin from Bhartṛhari, play musical instruments and sing popular cyclic songs or ballads of Nāth heroes-s and also Hindu deities. They attracted the imagination of several medieval period authors who presented them as lead protagonists of their romances, where the lover took upon the attire of a peripatetic ascetic and sings his songs of separation for his beloved. Another body of the Nāth pantheon which constitutes of itinerant ascetics is the Jamāta. In order to strengthen the sect and oversee the organisation of significant festivals, the Jamāta regularly travels to important centres belonging to this sect.

Further, these wandering ascetics will also be studied in Indian paintings, especially in Mughal miniatures and Persian texts. Vairāgī from the Nāth sect is predominantly examined here as represented in the Rāj Kunwar manuscript now housed at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.

This event will be bookable via our Eventbrite page.

Speaker Biography

Dr Anjali Duhan Gulia is a fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla and teaches History of Art at the Department of Visual Arts, Maharshi Dayanand University, Haryana. The School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University is her alma mater, from where she has completed her PhD on the spiritual goals of the Nāth-s and their overarching aesthetic manifestations in Mughal culture.