Bhakti poets—who were in some cases lower-caste Hindu women—and their audiences drew emotional sustenance from these verses, which expressed a pure devotion to Hindu deities. Their poetry, written in local languages beginning in the 6th century in South India and the 12th century in North India, attracted large audiences among the marginalized in Hindu society, such as women and “untouchables.”

In this 17th-century abhanga (women’s labor song), Bahinabai appears to have come to a more substantive conclusion about her place in society, as the wife and daughter of a Brahmin, and thus members of the priestly class. She has reconciled her duties as a Brahmin and a wife with her own devotion to the mystic Tukaram, partially perhaps because of her husband’s change of heart toward the low-caste poet-saint.

Source: McGee, Mary. “Bahinabai: The Ordinary Life of an Exceptional Woman, or, the Exceptional Life of an Ordinary Woman.” In Vaisnavi: Women and the Worship of Krishna. Edited by Steven J. Rosen. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996.


“In worshiping Thee I can still be true to my duty of devotion to my
husband. Thou, O God (Meghashyama) must thus think also.

The Supreme spiritual riches are surely not contrary to the Vedas.
Therefore, think of this purpose of mine.

Says Bahini: ‘Oh God (Hari), think at once of my longing, by which I can accomplish both.”
(Abhanga 68)