Abiography is an account or narrative containing, composed of, or relating to the facts or events of a person’s life. If a certain degree of “objectivity” is not evident in a biography, as in a narrative written by a “true believer,” the critic may disparagingly label it: hagiography. Of course, that use of the word hagiography is secondary to its original, and more felicitous meaning associating it with hagiology, the study of the lives of Catholic saints. When it comes to life stories of great Vaishnava spiritual personalities, Sür Dås scholar John Hawley has suggested that the traditional hermeneutic of Catholic saint narratives may provide useful categories of
understanding. In the introduction to his edited volume, Saints and Virtues, he cites a Vatican II document that prescribes teaching about the Catholic saints in order to seek, “example in their way of life, fellowship in their communion, and aid in their intercession.” (Hawley 1987, xii) Hawley finds these categories—example, fellowship and aid—useful in developing crosscultural and trans-historical studies of sacred life-stories, stories that may be found nearly every culture.
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