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Feeble Bodies: Race, Gender, and Representations of the Sikh Feminine

This paper explores how Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society, wielded sati (the ritual of widow-burning) conceptually in order to explicate Sikh sovereignty--both past and future. Tracing how Blavatsky sheds the vibrant link between naam (the impossibility of human understanding) and maryada (conduct) in Sikh gurmat (theology) in favor of a rigid social law located in a closed tradition through an apocryphal translation and narrative of Guru Amar Das' gurbani, this paper interrogates how Blavatsky constructs a "legitimate" Sikh politics centered around the ghostly resurrection of the past sovereign Maharaja Ranjit Singh in, what Blavatsky terms, Maharani Jind Kaur's "feeble body."