In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Galtā Monastery

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Hagiography
  • Sacred Topography
  • Galtā before the 16th Century
  • Galtā from the 16th into the Early 17th Centuries
  • Galtā in the Later 17th Century
  • Galtā in the 18th Century
  • Galtā in the 19th Century
  • Galtā in the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Devotion and Its Manifestation in the Arts
  • Galtā in Historical Memory
  • Galtā in the Colonial Encounter

Hinduism Galtā Monastery
Monika Horstmann
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0248


Galtā is a religious site lying in a gorge about ten kilometers to the east of the old (walled) city of Jaipur in Rajasthan. It forms the headquarters and the most expansive locality within a religious estate under the authority of the Rāmānujīya-Rāmānandī branch the Rāmānandī sampradāya (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Hinduism article Rāmānandī Sampradāya). At Galtā, the Rāmānandīs overlayed the impact of two previous groups, like themselves critical to the territorial claims and religious legitimation of the regional rulers. These were the Mīṇās and the Nāths. The majority of Vaiṣṇava monastic lineages are Rāmānandī, and, among these, more than a third trace themselves directly or indirectly to the founder of Galtā’s lineage of celibate ascetics, Kṛṣṇadās Payahārī. Notably, the Rāmrasik branch of Rāmānandīs refers itself back to Galtā and its offshoot Raivāsā. The power and proliferation of the Galtā Rāmānandīs ensued from the enduring bond they forged with the rulers of the region, the Kachavāhās of Amer-Jaipur. Starting with Kṛṣṇadās Payahārī, Kachavāhā regnal power became vested in idols under the religious authority of the Galtā lineage. Conversely, the Galtā Rāmānandīs were also vulnerable to shifts in the religious policy as they occurred in the 18th century and led to an exodus of Rāmānandīs to the east. In that century, Galtā’s Rāmānandī line of celibate ascetics was transformed into, and has since remained, the line of Rāmānujīya-Rāmānandī householder ācāryas. Characteristic of the early constituency of Galtā was its catholic form of Vaishnavism transcending caste and gender boundaries, coexisting in tension with its more bounded sectarian variants, such as the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas or the Puṣṭi-Mārg Vaiṣṇavas. Testimony of this attitude comes from hagiography produced at Galtā, of which the most comprehensive and as a historical source also the academically most consequential one is Nābhādās’s Bhaktmāl from the beginning of the 17th century. Critical assessment of this type of literature is thereby part of the writing of the religious history of Galtā. The religious practice at Galtā was dominated by the rasik devotion as it had been inspired by Kṛṣṇa devotion. It manifested itself in specific forms of literature, performance, and the visual arts. With the end of the Kachavāhā kingdom in the mid-20th century, the ācāryas of Galtā ceased functioning as ritual support for regnal power. They retained, however, a public ritual function, and they continue to have a public voice.

General Overviews

No comprehensive overview of Galtā as a multilayered religious site exists. Its Rāmānandīs and their proliferation are covered in Siṃh 2019. A chronological overview is Horstmann 2002.

  • Horstmann, Monika. “The Rāmānandīs of Galtā (Jaipur, Rajasthan).” In Multiple Histories: Culture and Society in the Study of Rajasthan. Edited by Lawrence A. Babb, Varsha Joshi, and Michael W. Meister, 141–197. Jaipur, India: Rawat, 2002.

    An overview of the Galtā lineage up to the last but one incumbent, focusing on Kachavāhā patronage of the Rāmānandīs, the politically induced transformation of these from Rāmānandī to Rāmānujīya-Rāmānandī in the 18th century, and the 21st-century debates on Rāmānandī versus Rāmānujīya-Rāmānandī identity.

  • Siṃh, Bhagavatī Prasād. Rāmbhakti meṃ rasik sampradāy. Balrampur, India: Ayodhyā Sāhitya Mandir, 2019.

    In Hindi. Originally published in 1957. This magisterial study, on which most scholarship draws, remains indispensable. It traces the Rāmānandī rasik devotion back to its origins in Galtā, and represents no less than a comprehensive monograph on Rāmānandī lineages at large. The author draws widely on the early-19th-century hagiography Rasik-prakāś-bhaktmāl (Jīvārām “Yugalpriyā” 1893 and VS 2018 [c. 1961], see Hagiography) to bridge gaps in earlier sources. A critical review of this strategy is facilitated because the author specifies his sources meticulously.

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