Celebrating oneself and one’s subjective experience is central to the notion of bhakti. The momentum gained by the bhakti movement in the middle ages was on account of the multiplicity of experiences, voices, beliefs, practices, rituals, myths, and individualities it could accommodate. That the temple women and female performing artists occupied a space in the medieval bhakti scenario is evident from the extensively documented participation of these women in temples, religious rituals and festivities. Even though the songs of the temple performers are similar to those of celebrated bhaktas, these women are scarcely looked up to as exemplars of sincere devotion1. The temple woman or “devadasi”, a problematic designation in itself2, embodies the seemingly antithetical notions of the sacred and the profane. Among natives, Andal is perhaps the best known example synthesizing this dichotomy, while the west recognizes the enigmatic Magdalen as a manifestation.
Another such medieval bhaktin is Kanhopatra, a lesser known medieval ‘poet-saint’ of the Marathi Varkari bhaktitradition. This essay, apart from providing an introduction to the hagiography of and poetry attributed to Kanhopatra, will attempt to explore themes such as the patriarchal appropriation of Kanhopatra and her ambivalent identity.
Believed to be the daughter of Shyama, a wealthy courtesan of Mangalvedhe, a town near Pandharpur, Kanhopatra is thought to have inhabited the 15th century Maharashtra3. Medieval ages bore witness to tumultuous socio-political changes with the arrival of Mughal rulers; the age also saw the rise of bhaktins and bhaktas, as we know them today. Women started becoming more visible, albeit sometimes in a blurry fashion. Bhakti became a platform for voicing one’s opinion, however subversive it might sound. The personal became the political.
Folklore has preserved Kanhopatra in its ever-evolving memory in different variations. While the colonial version portrays her as a converted prostitute, some regional versions describe her as a virtuous daughter of a ganika (a courtesan of the feudal courts), oblivious to the life of ‘sin’. Some call her a kalavantin (Marathi for female artist) and other times she is known as a naykin or naykin kalavant. Yet others call her a devadasi.
Abbott narrates her journey from nurturing feminine ‘sins’ such as “pride of body” and indulgence in “sensual pleasure”4to renouncing the world, and finally being accepted by god, whereas for the regional hagiographers she wins over god’s love through her inherent devout bhakti. Lalit portrays her as a detached, unworldly being who despised her mother’s profession5. Emphatically, the negation of female sexuality is fundamental to both of these representations. Notwithstanding the differences in these versions, the basic plot of the folklore associated with her is as follows:
Kanhopatra: Folklore and Poetry: Blessed with a loving mother, Kanhopatra is born with beauty so unparalleled that she surpasses even the heavenly apsaras (celestial maidens). Her mother wishes her to find a wealthy suitor. However, she has resolved on not being bound by the shackles of marriage either because she is disappointed by the dishonesty of an admirer-suitor6, or because she did not find one who was “a million times more beautiful than [her]”7 or simply because she has already fallen in love with god. Like Andal, she would allow nobody but god to “lord over her life”8.
One day, on meeting some pilgrims on their way to Pandharpur, Kanhopatra questions them as to where they are headed and learns of the limitless beauty, glory, and generosity of Lord Vitthal of Pandharpur. She hastens to the temple at Pandharpur, carrying a veena, singing abhangs along with the Varkari pilgrims.
Ovis attributed to her provide crucial insights into her life. On reaching Pandharpur, delighted to see Vitthal, she sings thus—
Janmantariche sukh aaji falasi aley
Today have borne fruit,
my upright pursuits
worth scores of lifetimes.
Rare is the treat,
the mere sight of
my lord Vitthal’s feet. (trans. mine)
At Pandhari, the sacred city she settles, serving at the temple as Vitthal’s dasi. She sweeps his abode, serves him food, lights oil lamps, strings jasmine garlands, all the while singing and dancing in his praise. Devotees are captivated by her songs and her passionate devotion. She sings of her divine ecstasy—
Harli bhook, tahaan nimali
Quelled is my hunger,
quenched is my thirst
on meeting the elders
I dance submersed
in bhakti, imbued.
finally subdued. (trans. mine)
She addresses god in the feminine, calling Vitthal “Vithabai”, “Krishnai” (Aai is Marathi for mother) and “Kanhai” in a few ovis. She often speaks as a daughter-bhakta speaking to a mother-god:
Jiviche jivlage majhe Krishnai Kanhai
heart of my heart,
O dark one,
with beautiful eyes,
have mercy on me,
my birth is low,
my reputation black as night.
O dark one,
with beautiful eyes, please,
have mercy on me.
The Vedas proclaim you
champion of the low
savior of the downtrodden
again and again,
O dark one,
have mercy on me. (Sellergren, 227-8)
A fairly large percentage of her poems bemoan the threat of physical violation she faced during her lifetime. In one of these poems, she bitterly criticizes Vitthal for inaction, challenging him to shield her from lustful men, at least to preserve his own status:
Patita pavana mhanavisi aadhi
If you call yourself
savior of the fallen,
why, O Lord,
should I suffer?
When I say I am yours alone,
who is to blame but yourself
if I am taken by another man?
When a roving jackal
steals the food of a lion,
it is the great
who is put to shame.
I offer my body
at your feet,
at least for your title. (Sellergren, 229)
In another poem, she beseeches her lord not to let her womanhood impede her spiritual endeavors. In ‘Varma vairiyanche haathi’, she begs the husband of Lakshmi (Sripati) to stay by her side and support her in her fight against her enemies:
Varma Vairiyache Haati, Deu Nako Sripati
don’t let my vulnerable part
slip into the hands
of the enemy!
You are lord of the destitute
and merciful to the poor,
the Vedas and Shastras proclaim this.
Your label is with you always,
now stand by it and your devotee.
Your servant Kanhopatra begs you,
do not abandon me! (Sellergren, 229)
It is widely believed that a certain Badshah of Bidar sent his men to bring her to his court, irrespective of her will. It is on this account that she is constantly worried about her safety in her poems. This anonymous ruler of the Bahamani Sultanate9 has been informed of her unequalled beauty; she is a jewel fit only for his harem.
However, hers might have been a much longer fight against other men, including the laity, local rulers, and temple priests who sought her body. The fact that she is ‘unowned’ by a man makes her seem ‘available’ in many senses, and her powerlessness becomes sexually provocative to male eros10.
Cornered by the Badshah’s men, she pretends to comply on one condition: that she is allowed to see Vitthal for one last time. On entering the shrine, she pleads to god to save her. She locks herself up inside and nobody knows what passes thereafter. Death becomes her preoccupation in some of her ovis:
Oh Lord of all Gods,
please don’t test me
my soul seeks freedom
from this body,
like a deer’s fawn
caught by a tiger.
You are my only refuge
in this universe
help me, Vithabai,
I am suffocated
and falling apart,
please, welcome me
in your heart. (trans. mine)
In another quartet, she anticipates the end of her life.
Purvili path na sodi khal
I turned my back
on my past, yet
the wicked kept track
of my whereabouts,
the evil-minded villians!
Oh what shall I do,
mother of the universe?
Embracing your feet,
body can sense
its impending end. (trans. mine)
While the king’s men await her return, Kanhopatra’s lifeless body falls to the ground. Lord Vitthal “took Kanhopatra and concealed her in His lap11. Here, we are reminded of Andal’s similar union with Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that the priests buried her in the southern part of the temple where a tree that sprung on the spot exists to this day.
We need not doubt the authenticity of the basic outline of her story—her maternal opulence, her profession as either a temple woman or a performing artist, her plight as an unprotected female, and her mysterious, unnatural death inside the temple—factors that in fact made her memorable enough to preserve her tale. However, with time she has been appropriated by both colonial and native Aryan-brahminical patriarchal narratives, appearing as a paragon of feminine virtue and repentance.
The episode of her death is shrouded in mystery. It makes one wonder whether she really merged with the image of Vitthal, or was murdered by the men when she defied their orders, or more plausibly, committed suicide12. The act of female suicide, which in itself is voluntary and rebellious, is often represented as involuntary, natural, somatic, and inevitable13. In any case, she is venerated as a Varkari saint less because of her utmost devotion towards god, or the strength with which she persisted in her spiritual endeavors in the face of crisis, and more because she preferred dying to losing her ‘honor’.
Apart from attesting to Christian notions of female morality, some of the ovis attributed to her portray her in a negative light. In ‘Patita tu pavana mhanavisi Narayana’, she explicitly refers to her fallen-ness, her low caste, her contemptible profession, and her ‘lack of loving faith’:
O Narayana, you call yourself
savior of the fallen
and wear this as your challenge
to the world.
Oh Lord, I beg you,
keep to your word.
My caste is impure,
I lack loving faith,
my nature and acts are vile.
Fallen Kanhopatra offers herself at your feet,
a challenge to your claims of mercy. (Sellergren, 227)
Another ovi warns against the consequences of sexual temptation:
Vishayache sangati, nasha pavale nishchite
The path of sensual pleasure
always leads straight to ruin.
Indra got ulcers for his pursuits,
Bhasma was reduced to ashes,
Chandra the moon slept with his guru’s wife
and his face wears sin to this day,
Ravana lost his demon life
for stealing sita away.
All this is true,
says Kanho, dasi of God. (Sellergren, 232)
Here, she highlights the vices of (semi)mythological men, who pursued the wives of others (except in the case of Bhasmasur). In one sense, Kanhopatra is emphasizing her status as Vitthal’s consort, and her consequent inaccessibility to a mortal being.
Another didactic composition attributed to her enlists three more ‘sinners’, this time including a woman: a reformed fallen one like herself.
Jyache gheta mukhi naam
The one who repeats your great Name
is a threat even to Death,
it has saved the vilest of people
without putting merit to test.
The prostitute Pingala,
Ajamila the sinner king,
even the robber Valmiki
became pure with your Name
on their tongues.
Kanhopatra’s shoulders too,
are laden with your garland
of Names. (Sellergren, 232)
The Solitary Bhaktin: Appropriation and Misrepresentation: Ovis such as these were composed to allow her an otherwise denied space in narrative. Being told and retold, in these poetic bits and pieces of her story, our protagonist hardly resembles the original woman she was. It was necessary to soften her subversive presence, a project easily achieved by using “[t]he charge of a whore [which] could be used against any lone or unmarried (unowned) woman.”14Colonial retelling is not gratified with rendering her past ‘sinful’. Therefore, this independent, fearless, spiritually ambitious woman is adapted as a mouthpiece of female sexual morals.
Indeed, she is a singular bhaktin in several ways. One key point of departure is that unlike other Marathi bhaktins, a male teacher is starkly absent in Kanhopatra’s spiritual journey (except in a late rendering, where Chokhamela appears as her guru15). While poetess Mahadamba receives knowledge from Sri Chakradhar Swami of the Nath Sampraday, Janabai calls herself ‘Namyachi Jani” (Namdev’s maid-servant, Jani), Muktabai has found her mentor in her eldest brother Nivruttinath, Bahinabai seeks Tukaram’s spiritual guidance, Kanhopatra remains a solitary female to tread the path of enlightenment uninstructed.
Her matrilineal origin and her refusal to serve as an accessory to a male saintly figure, places Kanhopatra at the periphery of our patriarchal society. As a result, she is habitually brushed off as insignificant by both scholars and lay(wo)men. An autonomous, solitary woman, unattested by androcentric norms, is a threat. Resembling Mary Magdalene, she is a champion only of the fallen.
The questionable attribution of these misrepresentative characteristics to her becomes evident when we consider the following points. Firstly, the narrative surrounding Kanhopatra is based on folklore and oral traditions, which are subject to embellishment, exaggeration, and distortion. Our textual sources, too, are highly unreliable as to accurate historiography. Bhaktavijaya, our key source here, was penned by a famous 18th century Marathi kirtankar, Mahipant. In recreating the stories of various Marathi saints, he “takes their voices and adopts them into his own in a format...referred to…as corporate authorship.”16 The poems, too, have been passed down orally.
Secondly, the name Kanhopatra itself is hardly a Marathi name per se. Kanho refers to Krishna, whereas ‘patra’ (Sanskrit for actress) was an honorific title assigned to devadasis in medieval Karnataka17. Thus, it is probable that she hailed from Karnataka and spoke Kannada as her first language, and not Marathi.
Thirdly, nothing can be farther to truth than the presumption of her low status and the disreputability of her profession. The ganika, the devadasi, and the kalavantin naykin all belonged to privileged classes during the medieval times. No social stigma was associated with their respective professions.
Colonial education and Christian morals that the regionals picked up consciously and unconsciously18 are responsible for the forgotten identity of Kanhopatra. The term “prostitute” is often used off-handedly by the colonizer and the colonized alike, to refer to the native courtesans, ganikas, and devadasis.19The Marathi community alternately recognizes Kanhopatra as a kalavantin, a naykin, a ganika. a devadasi and even a veshya. Despite the slipperiness of these designations, it is to be noted that all of them served distinct, culturally-coded functions, unlike the conflated western designation of “prostitute”.
Furthermore, Kanhopatra has been placed on the periphery of social hierarchy. She is portrayed as an impoverished individual across multiple planes—caste (dalit), class (courtesan/lower), and nature (immoral). Sarah Sellergren, in her critical analysis of Kanhopatra’s life and poetry, states that Kanhopatra’s is the “poetry of an outsider”20. By outsider, she means an outcaste. According to Sellergren, Kanhopatra faced “ostracism” due to “her social status and family profession”. Similarly, Gokhale-Turner counts Kanhopatra among the dalit/mahar saints Chokhamela, Soyrabai, and Nirmala. Dalit thus becomes an umbrella term to refer to anyone who is non-brahmin. Therefore, poems by these figures are said to form the “literature of the poor and downtrodden”21.
However, the ganika was “among the best-educated and freest women of her time.”22Breaking gender stereotypes, she occupied a place among the learned men of the court, where she would “discourse with men as their equal”. Likewise, the kalavantin was a distinct female artist in Maharashtra, offering dance and singing performances on several occasions such as (both Hindu and Muslim) festivals and weddings, for which she received handsome remunerations from royal patrons and the government23. The kalavant naykin was a senior, accomplished kalavantin, one who often headed a troupe of several kalavantins. Women artists from both of these groups were employed to dance and sing in assembly halls as well as before gods (devghar) of royal Marathi families, thus serving both religious and nonreligious purposes24. However, today they are erroneously known as immoral, licentious women. Granted, they were often involved in amorous relationships with their patrons. But they did not trade sex for money because they did not depend entirely on their patrons for their livelihood.
The inscriptions at Sri Vitthal temple at Pandharpur that are discussed below, offer concrete evidence as to Kanhopatra’s marked social privilege. They bring to light the significant contributions of Kanhopatra and other women, including ‘naykins’ like her, attesting to the fact that her mother indeed was a rich performing artist. Hence, it is wrong to call her ‘downtrodden’, ostracized, and unchaste.
Generosity as Bhakti: Donations by Temple Women and Courtesans: Philanthropy is a prominent trait of several temple women and courtesans.25A few man-made water bodies catering to the domestic needs of thousands across Karnataka are known as ‘sulekere’ to this day. Sule is Kannada for courtesan, kere refers to lake. South Asia’s second largest tank, Shanti Sagara, located in central Karnataka is believed to have been built by the 11th century courtesan, Santhavva. Another sulekere lies at Nagamandala, and a third one at the village Muttenhalli, some sixty km from Nagamandala.26A number of patras, too, were wealthy and charitable. Dr. Jyotsna Kamat, in her insightful study of the social life in medieval Karnataka, gives the examples of temple women, such as Siriyavve and Nachchiyalvai27, who made donations to temples.
Archeological evidence reveals that Kanhopatra was among the several donor-bhaktas who offered a portion of their wealth at the Vitthal temple at Pandharpur between the 12th and the 13th century. Out of the names of these donor-bhaktas, some two-hundred and seventy in number, at least thirty two (roughly 11%) appear as feminine. The names of these women have been listed in an inscription known as “Chauryayshicha Lekh”, on seven ancient stambhas(pillars).28 Among many women such as Gaurubai of Vijapur, Lashumi of Mhaival, Padubai, Chandevi, Heera Nayaki, three names caught my attention. The first stambha mentions a certain ‘Kanhu Nayak’, the fifth lists ‘Kannau’ as one donor, and the seventh enlists a ‘Kanho Rayiyaapa’. Although presently it is difficult to determine which of these names point to Kanhopatra, it is certain that one of these names refers to her person.
Delight in giving without any expectation is at the core of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain concepts of dana29. Therefore, in the case of bhaktins like her, it is incorrect to call such bestowals upon their lord as ‘charity’. It is out of love that they offer their wealth-- gifts to their beloved.
The Bhaktin-Performer: Sringara is Bhakti: In folklore are immortalized noteworthy figures who exemplify more than just gender roles—generous hearts and artistic talents. Similar to the Japanese Geisha, the dance performances of the devadasis are believed to be synchronic with mystical powers. The notion of bhakti connotes param prem, a form of love for one’s personal god30, which can be expressed through the performing arts. When the bhaktin-performer dances or sings in ecstasy, the intensity of her emotions allows her to participate directly with the divine.
Embodiment of and participation with god is enacted by the bhaktin-performer, wherein symbolic union with god through rituals is the central purpose of the performance. The performer and the spectators experience the bhakti rasaand through this rasa, god31. Personifying the gopis of Krishna32, the temple performers often have expressed their love simultaneously for both, their divine and their earthly counterparts, via sringara as well as bhakti.33 The notion of sringara rasa is a complex, multi-dimensional one. In pre-colonial times, it was comprised of love, bhakti, and sensuality34. However, with the introduction of “sexual implications of the dancing body35” in colonial times, classical dance forms were rigorously ‘purified’ of the erotic component.
Driven by the belief that “creation is sustained by divine sexuality36”, the temple women were recognized as the earthly representatives of goddesses, signifying auspiciousness, fertility, and the power to ward off evil37in pre-colonial times. Herein, the borders separating the aesthetic from the religious, the sringara rasa from the bhakti rasa, and art from real life are confounded. “Bhakti is, therefore, the existential bridge between the world (emotions) and transcendence, and moves beyond a traditional secular or religious conception of art.38”
It is surprising that among the poems attributed to Kanhopatra, none betrays any trace of the sringara rasa, except once when she refers to god as Manmatha39, i.e. Kamadev. Much has been suppressed and much has been lost. While as few as thirty-four ovis/abhangs attributed to Kanhopatra could be located, some three hundred by Janabai, more than five hundred by Bahinabai, around one hundred by Muktabai, and sixty-two by Soyrabai are available today.
Offering the Body to the Other: Generosity of the highest order could pave the path toward enlightenment for these women. The early medieval tantric Buddhist practice of chod, of “offering the body as food for demons”40 throws light on the possible links between courtesans/devadasis, tantric yogic sexual practices, and enlightenment. Literally, chod means to cut through or to severe the worldly bonds of appearances and illusions pertaining to the personal self in order to realize the Self.41
According to the philosophy behind chod, there are six paramitas (paths) for attaining Self-Awareness, the first being generosity. Generosity can be of three kinds- general, exceptional and exceptionally difficult. For an individual, extremely difficult generosity is overcoming the attachment to one’s body, because “one cherishes and clings to one’s body the most, therefore giving it away is an exceptional present.42” Practically ‘giving away’ one’s body to the Other, to the “ghosts, ghouls, evil phantoms and gods”, is neither possible nor desirable for every practitioner. Consequently, the contemporary practitioner only imagines this form of generous surrender, which also proves beneficial.
Whether enacted or visualized, the giving away of the body in chod is remarkably similar to the symbolic and actual offering of the bodies of temple women to god. Indeed, up to the medieval times, the royalty, temple priests, and laity could also form liaisons with them, if the women chose to. Shakti, the auspicious power of devadasis did not originate from sexual activity with multiple beings, but from sexual activity in multiple realms: divine realm (god), semi-divine realm (king), realm of sacred humanity (brahmin priests), and realm of fully human (laity)43. Could the devadasi system as an institution have its roots in this early medieval practice of chod? Is this the reason why devadasis are identified with ‘degraded’ Buddhist nuns44?
Archeological evidences suggest that similar tantric practices were practiced by Hindus in private shrines in India45. The sexual union of the yogi and the yogini originates from the Buddhist belief that “women inherently possess something men do not: prajna (wisdom or insight)”46, while for Hindus it is shakti (cosmic energy). This knowledge/energy can be processed only by the advanced yogis and yoginis. Here, the procreative sexual energy is channelized “not [to] produce life, [but to produce] cessation of life through enlightenment.”47 This philosophy explains why devadasis were not supposed to bear children but were free to adopt those of others48.
Sarah Harding describes her own experience of chod as follows: “With a stunning array of visualizations, song, music, and prayer, it engages every aspect of one’s being and effects a powerful transformation of the interior landscape.”49These sensual elements are surely reminiscent of the devadasi mode of life.
The etymology of Tibetan language also reveals the spiritual significance of courtesans. Sarat Chandra Das has equated the terms ‘ganika’ and ‘veshya’ to tshog mo can and tshog can ma respectively. Both of these appellations are derived from the term tshogs ’khor, the sacred tantric feast that sometimes involves sexual yogic practices.50 Contemplated in this light, Kanhopatra presents herself as an oxymoronic blend of the spiritual and the sexual.
The sheer number of interesting possibilities steeped in ambivalence that Kanhopatra offers to a feminist imagination makes her an intriguing figure. She is a courtesan; she is a renouncer. She is a poet, dancer, singer, musician, bhaktin. She encompasses the sant, the veshya, the ganika, the devadasi, the kalavantin, the naykin, eluding a single label. The boundaries between the dichotomies of saint/sinner, sringara/bhakti, dalit/privileged, and spiritual/sexual appear blurred in her person. Underlying her identity is the fact that bhakti acknowledges what her figure symbolizes: the profane in the sacred, and the sacred in the profane.
- Pintchman, Tracy. Women’s Lives, Women’s Rituals, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. pp.185
- ibid. pp.181
- Ajgaonkar, J. R. Maharashtrakavicharitra, Vol 3, Mumbai: Damodar savlaram ani Mandali, 1914. pp.39; Khanolkar, Savitribai. Saints of Maharashtra. Eds. R.R. Diwakar, S.Ramakrishnan. Bhavan’s Book University, 1990. pp. 91
- Abbott, Justin E. (Rev.), and Pandit Narhar Godbole, trans. Stories of Indian Saints- Part II: Translation of Mahipati’s Marathi BHAKTAVIJAYA. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1933. pp 79.
- Lalit, Balkrishna. Sri Sant Kanhopatra Charitra. Pune: Amol Prakashan, 2013. pp.9 Marathi.
- Kulkarni, N.V., Sangeet Kanhopatra (a musical)
- Abbott, pp 78.
- Khanolkar, pp.91
- Sellergren, Sarah. “Janabai and Kanhopatra: A Study of Two Woman Sants.” In Images of Women in Maharashtrian Literature and Religion, ed. Anne Feldhaus. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996. pp. 226
- Nicholson, Mervyn. Male Envy: The Logic of Malice in Literature and Culture, Oxford: Lexington Books, 1999. pp.55
- Abbott, pp.81
- Sellergren, pp.226; Mokashi-Punekar, Rohini. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work: A-N. Vol.1. ed. Melissa Hope Ditmore. London: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp.237
- Mandelker, Amy. Framing Anna Karenina: Tolstoy, the Woman Question, and the Victorian Novel. Columbus: Ohio University Press, 1993. pp. 97
- Dworkin, Andrea. Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel and Women’s Liberation, New York: The Free Press, 2000. pp. 324
- Kulkarni, N.V., Sangeet Kanhopatra (a musical)
- Novetzke, Christian Lee. “Note to Self: What Marathi Kirtankars’ Notebooks Suggest About Literacy, Performance, and the Travelling Performer in Pre-Colonial Maharashtra”. In Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature and Performance in North India. pp.182
- Kamat, Jyotsna. Social Life in Medieval Karnataka. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1980. pp.117
- Tharu, Susie and K. Lalitha. Introduction. Women Writing in India: 600 BC to the Present. Eds. Susie and Lalitha. Vol.1. Delhi: Oxford University. pp.8-10; Jain, Jasbir. Indigenous Roots of Feminism: Culture, Subjectivity and Agency. New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2011. pp.158
- Pinchtman, pp.181
- Sellergren, pp.227
- Gokhale-Turner, Jayashree. “Bhakti or Vidroha: Continuity and Change in Dalit Sahitya.” In Tradition and Modernity in Bhakti Movements. Ed. Jayant Lele. The Netherlands, E.J. Brill, 1981. pp. 29
- Feldman, Martha and Bonnie Gordon eds. The Courtesan’s Arts: Cross Cultural Perspectives, Oxford [U.K.]: Oxford University Press, 2006. pp. 7
- Kadam, V.S. “The Dancing Girls of Maharashtra”. In Images of Women in Maharashtrian Society. ed. Feldhaus, Anne. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. pp.67-69
- Ibid. pp. 66
- Raman, Sita Anantha. Women in India: A Social and Cultural History. California: ABC CLIO, 2009. pp. 187-189
- Chandra, Rahul. Of legends and lakes built by courtesans. http://www.livemint.com/Sundayapp/MV1aSAEZsc6IFMbf6SbvBO/Of-legends-and-lakes-built-by-courtesans.html
- Kamat. pp.117-119
- Deo, Shantaram B. ‘Maharashtra Va Gove Shilalekh Va Tamrapatanchi Varnanatmak Sandarbh Suchi’, Maharashtra State Board of Literature and Culture, 1982. pp. 237 Marathi.
- The notion of dana can refer to charity, donations as well as gift. http://spokensanskrit.org/index.php?mode=3&script=ia&tran_input=%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8&direct=se (spokensanskrit.org) ;Muck, Terry C. and Frances S. Adeney. Christianity Encountering World Religions: The Practice of Mission in the Twenty-first Century. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009
- R. Raj Singh. Bhakti and Philosophy. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2009. pp. 96
- Rodriguez, Guillermo. When Mirrors are Windows: A View of A.K. Ramanujan’s Poetics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Marglin, Frederique Apffel. “Refining the Body”. In Divine Passions: The Social Construction of Emotion in India. ed. Owen M. Lynch. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. pp. 225-228
- Pintchman, Tracy. pp.181
- Bhargav, Aranyani. From Love to Bhakti. The Hindu. E-Newspaper. http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/from-love-to-bhakti/article3332201.ece Retrieved 25/03/2018. 11:08 am.
- Schwartz, Susan L. Rasa: Performing the Divine in India. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004. pp. 47
- Ibid. pp.48
- Young, Serenity. Courtesans and Tantric Consorts: Sexualities in Buddhist Narrative, Iconography, and Ritual. New York and London: Routledge, 2004. pp. 110
- Sellergren, pp. 227
- Harding, Sarah. Machik’s Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chod, Shambhala Publications, 2013.
- Rinpoche, Khenchen Thrangu “Chod- The Introduction and a Few Practices”. n.d. Web. (Presented at the Kamalashila Institute for Buddhist Studies in Germany, October 2006). .Accessed 15/10/2016. http://rinpoche.com/teachings/chod.htm
- Young, pp. 110-111
- K. Jamanadas. Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine. Sanjivan Publications, 1991. pp.125
- Samuel, Geoffrey. Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993. pp. 411-13
- Young, pp. 138.
- Marglin, pp. 216
- Harding, pp. 17
- Sarat Chandra Das, A Tibetan-English Dictionary. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1903. pp.1033