Hanuman's Tale: The Messages of a Divine Monkey

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Hanuman, the devoted monkey helper of Rama and Sita, has long been recognized as a popular character in India's ancient Ramayana epic. But more recently he has also become one of the most beloved and worshiped gods in the Hindu pantheon-enshrined in majestic new temples, but equally present in poster art, advertising, and mass media. Drawing on Sanskrit and vernacular texts, classical iconography and modern television serials, and extensive fieldwork and interviews, Philip Lutgendorf challenges the academic cliche of Hanuman as a "minor" or "folk" deity by exploring his complex and growing role in South Asian religion and culture. This wide-ranging study examines the historical evolution of Hanuman's worship, his close association with Shiva and goddesses, his invocation in tantric ritual, his physical immortality and enduring presence in sacred sites, and his appeal to devotees who include scholars, wrestlers, healers, politicians, and middle-class urbanites. Lutgendorf also offers a rich array of entertaining stories not previously available in English: an expanding epic cycle that he christens the "Hanumayana." Arguing that Hanuman's role as cosmic "middle man" is intimately linked to his embodiment in a charming and provocative simian form, Lutgendorf moves beyond the Indian subcontinent to interrogate the wider human fascination with anthropoid primates as boundary beings and as potent signifies of both Self and Other.

About the Author:
Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies at the University of Iowa

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Anything Philip Lutgendorf creates-and he has created a lot-is eagerly awaited and long treasured. Ever since the publication of his prize-winning book The Life of a Text, we've been looking forward to Hanuman's Tale. Now here it is, and it was worth the wait. Somehow Lutgendorf manages to keep the life of his massive subject ever fresh while sharing perceptions whose subtle contours and sometimes radical edges betray many years of thought. He warns us early on that we are not to receive this as "The Book" on Hanuman in English-but frankly, it is. —John Stratton Hawley, Barnard College, Columbia University

"This rich, lavish, broad-ranging book on the Indian figure of Hanuman will be the standard guide and reference source on the Indian monkey god for years to come...A readable narrative that never fails to engage as it informs."—Choice

"More than fifteen years after his first masterful book on teh vernacular Ramayana of North India, The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramacaritmanas of Tulsidas, PHilip Lutgendorf returns with another superb book on a closely related and yet vastly different topic: the divine and charismatic monkey Hanuman...This is a major achievement in the study of South Asian religions." —Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195309218
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/11/2007
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Lutgendorf is Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies at the University of Iowa. He is the author of The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas

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Table of Contents

On Transliteration, Vocabulary, and Style     xiii
Major and Minor: Hanuman in Hindu Life and Scholarly Discourse     3
A Long and Winding Tail: Hanuman in History and Historiography     35
Prayers, Recipes, Memoirs: Hanuman in Hindi Popular Literature     89
The Hanumayana: Forty Tales of Hanuman     115
A Reader's Guide to the Hanumayana     177
Sitings and Sightings: Hanuman in the Cultural Landscape     237
Like Mother, Like Son: Hanuman, Goddesses, and Women     299
Monkey in the Middle: Hanuman and His Kin in Transcultural Discourse     333
Two Poems in Praise of Hanuman     397
Glossary     403
Principal Hanumayana Sources by Author     407
Other Sources     408
Index     425
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