The brahmanical tradition is replete with instances where violence is projected as legitimate within the metanarrative of piety and devotion and is unleashed against women and lower castes, and indeed all those who do not conform to the normative structure of brahmanical society. There are many ways in which this violence is unleashed – directly by killing and mutilating ‘transgressors’, and indirectly by the elites exerting controls and regulating the lives of other sections. In the case of women in particular, these acts of violence are often portrayed as incidental to the main narrative, which is the upholding of the established norms. While the religious ideology of bhakti or devotion has been interpreted by many scholars as providing a liberatory space outside the orthodox brahmanical tradition, there have been several critical appraisals of the devotional movements that suggest a more complex situation. I focus on a twelfth century hagiographical text, which focuses on the lives of the Saiva bhakti saints in Tamilnadu, the Periya Purāṇam, to unravel the ideological complexities that are sewn into the fabric of this text. While the 63 saints whose lives are being extolled for their exemplary devotion are shown to be transgressing various social boundaries, they are also embedded within the patriarchal normative structure and engaging in, amongst other things, violence against women.