Another context where the female sādhus exercise agency and power is their devotional song, bhajan, performances. Most of the female sādhus consider bhajan singing to be a powerful vehicle for receiving sacred knowledge and experiencing the divine directly; it may even catalyse their divine visions. Further, bhajan singing is understood to effect religious power for the female sādhus. Gangagiri often says, ‘My bhajans are my power.’ This statement indicates her perception that bhajans function as a performative medium by which means sādhus express bhakti to God. Gangagiri’s comment suggests that her bhakti is the basis of her own power and authority.
Female agency is explicitly linked to devotional practice by these female sādhus. By comparison, the male sādhus rarely discussed bhajan singing as a means for meeting God and rarely considered nirguṇī bhakti to be the basis of their own power and authority.
Found in ‘My bhajans are my power’: Performing Nirguṇī Bhakti through Devotional Song, from: ‘Crossing Over the Ocean of Existence’: Performing ‘Mysticism’ and Exerting Power by Female Sādhus in Rajasthan, by Antoinette E. DeNapoli.
Source: The Journal of Hindu Studies 2010
Image source: Wikimedia Commons