The Presence of Shirdi Sai Baba

Thu 11/9/2023 • 4PM - 6PM PST

Royce 306


The South Asian saint Shirdi Sai Baba has an ever-growing global diaspora. His inspiration and healing energies are boons reinforced for many by his defiance of religious communitarianism. In welcoming all castes, creeds, and nationalities, Baba offers an alternative to the divisiveness of his time and ours. Although Baba left his body in 1918, he is eternally present through two- and three-dimensional iconic images and figural sculptures that, as his embodiments, are found in innumerable temples, home altars, roadside and wayside shrines, films, websites, and social media. Through a recently published volume, Professors Srinivas and Roberts have explored the emergence of specific spaces, practices, selves, presences, and mobilities associated with Baba. Such presentations are often exegetical and are interesting unto themselves, but they also offer opportunities to consider the dynamics of religious expression anywhere in the world. Haptic visualities, spatial refabulations, corporeal mobilities, transmigrations, universes of translation, and positionalities in trans-Asian and Indian Ocean worlds are among theoretical perspectives addressed. An anthropology of credibility is espoused as Drs. Srinivas and Roberts seek to understand and, to a degree, participate in the truths lived by Baba and his devotees.

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Center for the Study of Religion