Timothy Cahill

Poets and Pluralism in Precolonial India: Love, Death and Devotion at the Mughal Court


Legends abound concerning the major figures at the court of the Mughal emperors. Many of these stories involve poets and saints who earned praise or condemnation from the rulers of 17th century India. This lecture explores three poets who lived and composed alongside Hindus, Jains, Jesuits, Jews, and Muslims and as they all vied for imperial favor in Delhi during the successive reigns of Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Their biographies include executions, an excommunication and a miracle — and make us reconsider the various motivations that linked religion and belles lettres to imperial power at the Mughal court.


Timothy Cahill is an associate professor in Religious Studies at Loyola University New Orleans. He specializes in the religious traditions of South Asia as revealed in literary texts. Dr. Cahill first trained in Sanskrit at Andhra University in South India, before taking up graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has edited a bibliography of Indian poetics, documenting the scholarship of the ancient systems of literary analysis. He has written a number of book reviews and articles, including contributions to the Oxford Bibliography Online. He is currently editing a collection of Sanskrit poetry and translating the first portion of Jagannātha’s Rasagaṅgādhara. His profiles of Asian religious centers in the New Orleans area are available online via the Pluralism Project: www.pluralism.org.