SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Guru-as-Word (I): Language, Music and Subjectivity in the Adi Granth

Professor Arvind Mandair (University of Michigan)

Date: 2 December 2009Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 2 December 2009Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: T102

Type of Event: Seminar

At the heart of Sikh normative tradition is the dual doctrine of Guru Granth and Guru Panth (lit. that authority or sovereignty lies in the figure of the Guru as Adi Granth text and the figure of Guru as the Khalsa community). In some senses contemporary fixation on the external form of the text has helped to move attention away from the older and more important principle that is expounded within the Guru Granth text itself, namely, the principle of shabad-guru (lit. that the Guru is Word). These two lectures will examine the notion that shabad-guru must be central to any conceptualization of ‘sovereignty’ in the Sikh tradition. What makes Sikh tradition (or at last a certain dominant strand of it) unique in this regard is not only the shift of emphasis away from human figures as carriers of authority and sovereignty, towards what might be termed as a post-humanistic principle, but perhaps more importantly, that this principle is simultaneously linguistic and musical. The aim of these two lectures will be to try and understand the relationship between the linguistic and musical registers. Is it possible that these two different registers, apart from informing speculation on Sikh mysticism and spirituality, can be seen as means of unlocking new types of subjectivity and hence an entry into the political?

Organiser: Dr Cosimo Zene

Contact email:

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4783