In Kali in Bengali Lives, Suchitra Samanta examines Bengalis’ personal narratives of Kali devotion in the Bhakti tradition. These personal experiences, including miraculous encounters, reflect on broader understandings of divine power. Where the revelatory experience has long been validated in Indian epistemology, the devotees’ own interpretive framework provides continuity within a paradigm of devotion and of the miraculous experience as intuitive insight (anubhuti) into a larger truth. Through these unique insights, the miraculous experience is felt in its emotional power, remembered, and reflected upon. The narratives speak to how the meaning of a religious figure, Kali, becomes personally significant and ultimately transformative of the devotee’s self.
Suchitra Samanta is associate professor, collegiate faculty at Virginia Tech.
Part I: Framing Religious Experience in Theory and Indigenous Belief
Chapter 1: Interpreting Kali: A History and Western Perspectives
Chapter 2: Indigenous Epistemology: Relevatory Knowledge as Valid
Chapter 3: On Narrative: Autobiographical Recollection, Interpreting the Miraculous Experience
Part II: Narratives of Experience
Chapter 4: The Guru as Conduit for Kali/Sakti, Disciples’ Experiences
Chapter 5: Alokebabu, Kali’s Devotee: A Guru as His Disciples See Him
Chapter 6: Bani’s Many Gurus: Her Spiritual Journey to “Receiving” Kali
Chapter 7: Devotional Practices and Experiences
Chapter 8: Sacrificial Offerings to Kali, Experiences of Well-Being and Calamity