Religion, Narrative and Public Imagination in South Asia: Past and Place in the Sanskrit Mahabharata, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Religion, Narrative and Public Imagination in South Asia

Past and Place in the Sanskrit Mahabharata, 1st Edition

By James Hegarty


224 pages

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The Sanskrit Mahabharata is one of the greatest works of world literature and pivotal for the understanding of both Hindu traditions and wider society in ancient, medieval and modern South Asia. This book presents a new synthesis of philological, anthropological and cognitive-linguistic method and theory in relation to the study of narrative text by focusing on the form and function of the Mahabharata in the context of early South Asia.

Arguing that the combination of structural and thematic features that have helped to establish the enduring cultural centrality of religious narrative in South Asia was first outlined in the text, the book highlights the Mahabharata’s complex orientation to the cosmic, social and textual past. The book shows the extent to which narrative is integral to human social life, and more generally the creation and maintenance of religious ideologies. It highlights the contexts of origin and transmission and the cultural function of the Mahabharata in first millennium South Asia and, by extension, in medieval and modern South Asiaby drawing on both textual and epigraphic sources. The book draws attention to what is culturally specific about the origination and transmission of early South Asian narrative and what can be used to enrich our orientation to narrative in human social life more globally.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Ritual, Text and Modernity in the Sanskrit Mahabharata 3. Constructing the Significant Past 4. Constructing Significant Places 5. The Mahabharata in early South Asia 6. Conclusions: Towards an Old Orientation to Philology 7. Epilogue: The Construction of the Significant Past in the Hindi Televisual Mahabharat

About the Author

James Hegarty is Senior Lecturer in Indian Religions at Cardiff University, UK. His primary research interest is in the role of religious narrative in the cultural and intellectual history of South Asia. He has published numerous papers on Sanskrit and vernacular narrative materials.

About the Series

Routledge Hindu Studies Series

This series, in association with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, intends primarily  the publication of constructive Hindu theological, philosophical and ethical projects aimed at bringing Hindu traditions into dialogue with contemporary trends in scholarship and contemporary society. The series invites original, high quality, research level work on religion, culture and society of Hindus living in India and abroad. Proposals for annotated translations of important primary sources and studies in the history of the Hindu religious traditions will also be considered.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Hinduism / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General