Next Article in Journal
Reimagining Religious Education for Young, Black, Christian Women: Womanist Resistance in the Form of Hip-Hop
Next Article in Special Issue
The Experience of Srividya at Devipuram
Previous Article in Journal
Remembering for our Future: Affirming the Religious Education Tradition as a Guide for the Religious Education Movement
Article Menu
Issue 12 (December) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Earning God through the “One-Hundred Rupee Note”: Nirguṇa Bhakti and Religious Experience among Hindu Renouncers in North India

Department of Religion, Texas Christian University, 2800 S University Dr, Fort Worth, TX 76129, USA
Religions 2018, 9(12), 408;
Received: 9 November 2018 / Revised: 4 December 2018 / Accepted: 6 December 2018 / Published: 11 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religious Experience in the Hindu Tradition)
PDF [216 KB, uploaded 11 December 2018]


This article examines the everyday religious phenomenon of nirguṇa bhakti as it is experienced by Hindu renouncers (sādhus) in North India. As an Indian language concept, nirguṇa bhakti characterizes a type of devotion (bhakti) that is expressed in relation to a divinity who is said to be without (nir) the worldly characteristics and attributes of sex and gender, name and form, race and ethnicity, class and caste. Although bhakti requires a relationship between the devotee and the deity, the nirguṇa kind transcends the boundaries of relational experience, dissolving concepts of “self” and “other”, and, in effect, accentuating the experience of union in the divine absolute. In comparison to saguṇa bhakti (devotion to a deity with attributes), nirguṇa bhakti is considered to be difficult to realize in human birth. Yet, the poetry, songs, and practices of uncommon humans who have not only left behind social norms, but also, devoting their lives to the worship of the divine, achieved forms of divine realization, people like the mystics, saints and sādhus of Hindu traditions, laud the liberating power and insights of nirguṇa bhakti. The Hindu sādhus featured in this article describe their experiences of nirguṇa bhakti through the use of the idiom of a “one-hundred rupee note” to distinguish its superior value and, as significantly, to indicate that humans “earn” God (Brahman) through the practice of nirguṇa devotion. As a “precious” spiritual asset on the path of liberation, nirguṇa bhakti establishes the religious authority and authenticity of sādhus, while setting them apart from other sādhus and holy figures in a vibrant North Indian religious landscape. View Full-Text
Keywords: Hinduism; renunciation; Nirguna Bhakti; devotion; performance; Sadhus; India Hinduism; renunciation; Nirguna Bhakti; devotion; performance; Sadhus; India
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

DeNapoli, A. Earning God through the “One-Hundred Rupee Note”: Nirguṇa Bhakti and Religious Experience among Hindu Renouncers in North India. Religions 2018, 9, 408.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top