Performative Gender And Religions In South Asia

By Prof. Sarbani Banerjee   |   IIT Roorkee
Learners enrolled: 301   |  Exam registration: 33
This course aims at discussing the role of performative gender and religions in the South Asian context. It focuses on the philosophical and cultural premises of Bhakti and Sufi traditions, and studies the literary works produced by select Bhakti and Sufi poets. Through a reference to Sanskrit dramaturgy, the initial classes are devoted to understanding how spectacle, rituals and social philosophy are interspersed in the South Asian religions. As well, the course studies the cinematic adaptation and romanticization of Bhakti and Sufi codes in South Asia.
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 3
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate
Start Date : 24 Jul 2023
End Date : 13 Oct 2023
Enrollment Ends : 07 Aug 2023
Exam Registration Ends : 18 Aug 2023
Exam Date : 29 Oct 2023 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: Introducing Performance and its Characteristics in the South Asian Context: Mahākāvyā, oral tradition and ithāsa, performance-based rituals; Human agency and intervention in conceiving the Divine
Week 2: Sanskrit dramaturgy and Rasa theory: Studying select dramatic text through the lens of Bharat Muni’s Nātyasāstra; Nine Aesthetic Emotions – Rasas and Bhāvas; Concepts of Nāyaka and Nāyika; Role of Vidushaka
Week 3: Bhakti Tradition: Studying the history of the Bhakti movement; the performances, philosophy, and worldview of the Bhakti cult; Alwars and Nayanārs; Nirguna and Saguna; Vaishnavism and its ramifications
Week 4: Sufi Tradition: Studying the history of the Sufi movement; the philosophy and worldview of the Sufi cult; Sufi devotional performances and practices; Explaining Sufi codes, cosmology, and metaphysics
Week 5: Bhakti mysticism and poetics: Through select poets, studying the body-centric interpretation of gods and alternative meanings of religion; love, divinity, and spirituality; Bhakti poetry and the relevance of its ideas in contemporary world
Week 6: Gender and Performance in Bhakti movement: Reading unconventional reflections on the gendered social practices; subversion of gender; divine and devotee as lover and beloved; Bhakti, gender, and egalitarianism
Week 7: Sufi mysticism and poetics: Through select poets and Sufi mystics, exploring the role of the body and transcendental mysticism; Qawwali tradition, gender play and performance – feminized/ androgynous male artists and gender fluidity
Week 8: Gender and Performance in Sufi movement: Murshid and Mureed as lover and beloved; spiritual receptivity and inversion of exoteric gender categories; Sufi embodiment, ecstasy, and the Self; Madness, irrationality, and bodily excess
Week 9: Folk Traditions and Performances: Folk theatre forms (Nautanki, Theiyyam, Ramlila and Krishnalila, Tamasha, Jatra, Chhau, Therukoothu, Ghoomar); Folk Theatre and Shift of Space/Medium
Week 10: Classical Traditions and Performances: Classical dance and theatre forms (Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattom, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Yakshagana, Kutiyattam, Manipuri, Kathak); Classical Theatre and Shift of Space/Medium
Week 11: Tribal Traditions and Performances: Tribal culture and religious worldview; Rituals and practices; body, performance, nature, and deities; Tribal Performance and Shift of Space/Medium
Week 12: Bhakti, Sufi, and Cinema: Reading the Influence, Adaptation and Reception of Bhakti and Sufi codes in select South Asian films; Dilution, Hybridization and Romanticization for Marketing and Re-Emergence in Contemporary Times, Reading cross-cultural nature of South Asian music

Books and references

1.Anjum Katyal, ed. Writings on Worship and Performance. Chicago: U Chicago P.
2.Kapila Vatsyayan. Classical Indian Dance: in Literature and the Arts. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld.
3.Simon Charlsley and Laxmi Narayan Kadekar. Performers and Their Arts: Folk, Popular and Classical Genres in a Changing India. New York: Routledge.
4.Shemeem Burney Abbas. The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual. U Texas P.
5.Regula Burkhardt Qureshi. Sufi Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context, and Meaning in Qawwali. Chicago: Chicago U P.
6.J. Troisi. Tribal Religion: Religious Beliefs and Practices Among the Santals. New Delhi: Manohar.

Instructor bio

Prof. Sarbani Banerjee

IIT Roorkee
Prof. Sarbani Banerjee earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Western Ontario (2015). Her areas of specialization include Postcolonial literatures and theory, Canadian literature and culture, Post-Partition Bengali literature and cinema, Diasporic literatures, and Women’s studies. She worked as Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Post Doctoral Fellow (University Grants Commission, 2017-20). Currently, she is Assistant Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT, Roorkee.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 29 October 2023 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Roorkee .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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