Shirdi Sai Baba’s Present: Routes, Repositories and Refabulations

Shirdi Sai Baba’s Present: Routes, Repositories and Refabulations

October 6, 2023 | 4:00PM - 6:00PM
Asian Institute, Centre for South Asian Studies

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Room 208N, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
This event is part of the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Lecture Series on South Asian Art, History and Culture
In this talk, Srinivas poses the following question: What is the relationship between Shirdi Sai Baba’s images, their powers, ocular or otherwise, and their  disposition in urban --- rather than national --- space? Beginning with the exploration of four routes or trajectories for the memory and transmission of Shirdi Sai Baba’s charisma through various gurus and teachers to Indian and global publics after his passing in 1918, then the exploration of the spatial refabulations of Shirdi Sai Baba’s presence by focusing on Bangalore, a major metropolis and global city of 13 million people in southern India. On several roads and transport arteries, in public temples, roadside shrines, and markets, we see how architectural forms, rituals and worship, quotidian lives and corporeal practices of devotees come to be repositories of Shirdi Sai Baba’s urban presence in the present, as they connect the biographical with the material and spatiality with religiosity. To conclude, Srinivas will reflect on these processes of spatialization and associated constituencies and their significance for the (devotional) present.
Smriti Srinivas is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, USA. She explores regimes of spatial, somatic, and symbolic production, particularly in cities and Indian Ocean worlds. Her most recent books include the coedited Devotional Spaces of a Global Saint: Shirdi Sai Baba’s Presence (2022); Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds (2020, coedited); and A Place for Utopia: Urban Designs from South Asia (2015).
Sponsor: Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute
Asian Institute, Centre for South Asian Studies


Smriti Srinivas

Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Davis