About

Recognizing that modern scholarship and library practices reflect colonial worldviews, the University of Saskatchewan Library is committed to being an open and inclusive environment that respects and promotes knowledge traditions of diverse communities and worldviews. Ginan Central extends this commitment to the living tradition of Ginans (gnostic knowledge) that continues to be revered by the immigrant Ismaili communities of South Asian origin living in the diaspora in North America and Europe.

What are the Ginans?

The word ginan is a derivative of the Sanskrit term "jnan" which means knowledge, wisdom, and gnosis. In the context of the Ismaili community, the term is used for the individual hymns and poems that were composed by various preacher-saints to propagate Ismaili Islam in the Indian subcontinent. The entire corpus consists of about one thousand distinct ginans that vary considerably in length, language, and composition. The upper case Ginans is also often used to refer to the collective corpus to underscore the scriptural status and authority the heritage enjoys within the Ismaili communities of South Asian origin, including those living in the diaspora in North America and Europe. Today, the global Ismaili community is a culturally diverse community living in over 25 countries around the world with various religio-cultural traditions and heritage, including the Ginans.

Collections

Ginan Recitals

Like all religious hymns, the Ginans of the Ismaili Muslim community are meant to be performed and experienced. Ginans leverage the power of poetry and music to bring faith, knowledge, devotion and worship into ecstatic harmony. Having originated in South Asia, Ginans exhibit close affinity to Indic devotional and musical traditions. This digital audio collection captures the rich plurality with which the Ismaili community continues to recite the Ginans across the globe. While the audio quality may vary due to the fidelity and condition of the original recordings, the digital files have been made available with the consent of the artists and producers.

Ginan Commons

Over the years, local community members and institutions have produced Romanized or English texts to help teach and transmit the Ginans to younger generations, particularly those living in North America and Europe. This collection showcases samples of Romanized texts of the Ginans from around the world to acknowledge the crucial role these texts continue to play in preserving the tradition within the community. Given the independent nature of these efforts, the texts are not scholarly, or peer reviewed nor do they necessarily adhere to the editorial processes of the publishing industry. The texts are provided with the consent of the authors and copyright holders.

Ginan Canon

The efforts to canonize the Ginans by the Ismaili community leaders can be traced back to the late 19th century. Mukhi Lalji Devraj (1842-1930) of India is credited for publishing the initial canon of Ginans in Khojki as early as 1903. Devraj's Khojki publications were later used by community institutions to publish official texts of the Ginans in Gujarati. This collection houses samples of 'authorized' Ginan texts in Khojki and Gujarati scripts. The items have been digitized and shared with the consent of the owners for personal, research, and educational purposes only.

Ginan Archive

Academic institutions continue to play a vital role in preserving and making extant manuscripts available for research. Advances in digital technology have made it possible for academic institutions to make their collections digitally accessible to scholars and community members. The purpose of this online collection is to serve as a portal and finding-aid for digitized and publicly available (open access) Ginan manuscripts and other primary source materials from various institutions to promote and facilitate research on Ginans.