Religions of South Asia, Vol 12, No 1 (2018)

The ‘Inexhaustibility’ of Jalaram Bapa: Narrative, Presence and Social Service in the Hindu Diaspora

Martin Wood
Issued Date: 13 Nov 2018


Food miracles permeate the historical and contemporary Gujarati Hindu landscape, from the homeland to East Africa and throughout the wider diaspora. However, approaches to food miracles differ from one tradition to the next, and approaches to the divine or the saint can often have a direct impact upon a tradition's ethical approach to wider society. This article considers food miracles as they are more widely understood in the Hindu context, especially in the Hindu diaspora, but with a specific focus on the Jalaram Bapa tradition. By engaging both spiritually and physically in this relationship, food miracles offer a direct and personal experience of Jalaram himself. Furthermore, this presence promotes an ethical framework that draws directly upon the narratives that speak of his life, namely that of seva for all, regardless of social status or religious background.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/rosa.34319


Beckerlegge, G. 2015. ‘Sevā: The Focus of a Fragmented but Gradually Coalescing Field of Study.’ Religions of South Asia 9: 208–39.

Bryant, E. 2003. Krishna: The Beautiful Legend of God (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam Purāṇa Book X). London: Penguin.

Burghart, R. (ed.). 1987. Hinduism in Great Britain: Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu. London: Tavistock.

Copley, A. (ed.). 2003. Hinduism in Public and Private: Reform, Hindutva, Gender and Sampraday. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cush, D., C. Robinson and M. York (eds.). 2008. Encyclopedia of Hinduism. London: Routledge.

Dave, R. 1994. Sahajanand Charitra. Amdavad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

—2002. Yogiji Maharāj. Amdavad: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

Davis, R. (ed.). 1998. Images, Miracles and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Dempsey, C. G., and S. J. Raj (eds.). 2008. Miracle as Modern Conundrum in South Asian Religious Traditions. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Dempsey, G. 2008. ‘Divine Proof or Tenacious Embarrassment? The Wonders of the Modern Miraculous.’ In Dempsey and Raj 2008: 1–22.

Gadhia, D. J. 2004. Sai Smaran. Bangalore: Omkar Ofset.

Hardiman, D. 2015. ‘Miracle Cures for a Suffering Nation: Sai Baba of Shirdi.’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 57 (2): 355–80.

Harvie, D. 2017. ‘(Big) Society and (Market) Discipline: Social Investment and the Financialization of Social Reproduction.’ Historical Materialism, October 2017. (accessed 4 October 2018).

Hegarty, J. M. 2011. ‘Contested Communities and the Re-imagination of Nabhadas’s Bhaktamal.’ In A. Murphy (ed.), Time, History and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia: 133–49. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis.

Jackson, R., and E. Nesbitt. 1993. Hindu Children in Britain. Stoke on Trent: Trentham.

Kim, D. W. (ed.). 2015. Religious Transformation in Modern Asia: A Transnational Movement. Leiden: Brill.

King, A. 2012. ‘Krishna’s Prasādam: “Eating our Way to Godhead”.’ Material Religion 8 (4): 441–65.

Klostermaier, K. 1994. A Survey of Hinduism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

—1998. A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. Oxford: Oneworld.

Mattausch, J. 1993. The British and the Gujarati. Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies Occasional Paper, Royal Holloway College.

—1998. ‘From Subjects to Citizens: British East African Asians.’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 24: 121–41.

Monge, R. G., K. P. C. San Chirico and R. J. Smith (eds.). 2016. Hagiography and Religious Truth. London: Bloomsbury.

Narayan, K. 1989. Storytellers, Saints and Scoundrels: Folk Narrative in Hindu Religious Teaching. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Orsi, R. (ed.). 2012. The Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pauwels, H. 2010. ‘Hagiography and Community Formation: The Case of Lost Community of Sixteenth Century Vrindavan.’ Journal of Hindu Studies 3: 53–90.

Rajdev, S. 1958. Bhakta Shri Jalaram. Rajkot: Kankari.

—1966. Bhakta Shri Jalaram. Rajkot: Jai Hind Printing Press.

Ricœur, P. 1985. ‘Philosophy and Religious Language.’ In P. Ricœur, Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination: 262–75. Trans. David Pellauer. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Rinehart, R. 1999. One Life, Many Lifetimes: The Experience of Modern Hindu Hagiography. New York: Oxford University Press.

—2008. ‘The Neo Vedantic Miracle.’ In Dempsey and Raj 2008: 23–38.

Shah, R. 2000. Shri Jalaram Vandana. Surat: Sahitya Sankool.

Soni, R. 1984. Jalaram Bapa. Ahmedabad: Enka Prakashan Kendra.

Sukthankar, V. S. (ed.). 1933–1966. The Mahābhārata for the First Time Critically Edited. Poona: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

Vaudeville, C. 1987. ‘Sant Mat: Santism as the Universal Path to Sanctity.’ In K. Schomer and W. H. McLeod (eds.), The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India: 21–40. New Delhi: Motilal Banaridass.

Vertovec, S. 2000. The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns. London: Routledge.

Warrier, M. 2003. ‘The Seva Ethic and the Spirit of Institution Building in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission.’ In Copley 2003: 254–89.

—2004. Hindu Selves in a Modern World: Guru Faith in the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission. London: Routledge Curzon.

Wells, R., C. Caraher and M. Caraher. 2014. ‘UK Print Media Coverage of the Food Bank Phenomenon: From Food Welfare to Food Charity?’ British Food Journal 116: 1426–45.

Wood, M. 2008. ‘Divine Appetites: Food Miracles, Authority and Religious Identities in the Gujarātī Hindu Diaspora.’ Journal of Contemporary Religion 23: 337–53.

—2010. ‘Jalarām Bāpā: The Public Expression of Regional, Vernacular Traditions among Gujarātī Hindus in the UK.’ Journal of Hindu Studies 3 (2): 238–57.

—2015. ‘Jalarām Bāpā: Miracles and Meaning in Nineteenth Century Gujarāt.’ In Kim 2015: 115–38.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy