Oral Knowledge and the Sufi Paradigm



The eleventh and final chapter aims at exploring how oral transmission can provide a fresh perspective on the issue of the Sufi paradigm. But before, it is necessary to clarify a paradox: how to deal with the oral transmission of the Sufi paradigm in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century when no trace could by definition be preserved? The chapter starts with the figure of the bard, who is the main transmitter of the oral devotional knowledge. It shows that the bard’s repertoire fits into the Sufi paradigm. Finally, the oral corpus and the printed corpus are complementary, since the components of the first are similar to that of the second. In fact, the oral transmission allows illiterate Sindhis to be part in sharing the Sufi paradigm. Despite its popularity, the printed book did not replace the bard in rural areas. Also, it did not impose a “codified” version of any work pertaining to the Sufi paradigm. As a matter of fact, the printing market and especially the social networking market allow anyone to publish a version of a given work. Consequently, there is an organic continuity between the oral tradition and the book as a “printed bard.”


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for South Asian StudiesSchool for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS)/National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)ParisFrance

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