Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative: Gods, Kings and Other Heroes (Hardback) book cover

Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative

Gods, Kings and Other Heroes

By Naomi Appleton

© 2017 – Routledge

212 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

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About the Book

Taking a comparative approach which considers characters that are shared across the narrative traditions of early Indian religions (Brahmanical Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative explores key religious and social ideals, as well as points of contact, dialogue and contention between different worldviews. The book focuses on three types of character - gods, heroes and kings - that are of particular importance to early South Asian narrative traditions because of their relevance to the concerns of the day, such as the role of deities, the qualities of a true hero or good ruler and the tension between worldly responsibilities and the pursuit of liberation. Characters (incuding character roles and lineages of characters) that are shared between traditions reveal both a common narrative heritage and important differences in worldview and ideology that are developed in interaction with other worldviews and ideologies of the day. As such, this study sheds light on an important period of Indian religious history, and will be essential reading for scholars and postgraduate students working on early South Asian religious or narrative traditions (Jain, Buddhist and Hindu) as well as being of interest more widely in the fields of Religious Studies, Classical Indology, Asian Studies and Literary Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Indra, King of the Gods

3. Brahmā or Brahmās

4. Viṣṇu, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa

5. Mothers of Heroic Sons

6. The Renouncing Royals of Videha

7. Conclusion

About the Author

Naomi Appleton is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Edinburgh. Her major research interest is the role of story in the communication and construction of religious ideas in South and Southeast Asia. She is the author of Narrating Karma and Rebirth: Buddhist and Jain Multi-life Stories (2014) and Jataka Stories in Theravada Buddhism (2010) as well as a number of articles on related themes. She has also published translations of early Buddhist narrative collections.

About the Series

Dialogues in South Asian Traditions: Religion, Philosophy, Literature and History

Face-to-face conversation and dialogue are defining features of South Asian traditional texts, rituals and practices. Not only has the region of South Asia always consisted of a multiplicity of peoples and cultures in communication with each other, but also performed and written dialogues have been indelible features within the religions of South Asia; Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Islam are all multi-vocal religions. Their doctrines, practices, and institutions have never had only one voice of authority, and dialogue has been a shared tactic for negotiating contesting interpretations within each tradition.

This series examines the use of the dialogical genre in South Asian religious and cultural traditions. Historical inquiries into the plurality of religious identity in South Asia, particularly when constructed by the dialogical genre, are crucial in an age when, as Amartya Sen has recently observed, singular identities seem to hold more destructive sway than multiple ones. This series approaches dialogue in its widest sense, including discussion, debate, argument, conversation, communication, confrontation, and negotiation. Opening up a dynamic historical and literary mode of analysis, which assumes the plural dimensions of religious identities and communities from the start, this series challenges many outdated assumptions and representations of South Asian religions.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
REL000000
RELIGION / General