Nectar Gaze and Poison Breath: An Analysis and Translation of the Rajasthani Oral Narrative of Devnarayan

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This book offers a detailed study of the oral narrative of Shri Devnarayan along with the first English translation of this popular Rajasthani folk narrative. The narrative extolling the deeds of Lord Devnarayan is performed by itinerant singers during all night vigils in front of a 9-meter long, elaborately painted cloth scroll that depicts scenes and characters from the story. Aditya Malik uses the narrative to explore and ask a range of innovative questions relevant to the study of Indian folk culture and Hinduism as a whole: How is orality conceptualized and practiced? What is the relationship between spoken and visual signs? How do Devnarayan's devotees create multiple discourses concerning religion, community, and history within and though the medium of the narrative? Malik's analysis suggests that the narrative provides a framework for establishing linkages between different communities, past and present, spoken word and visual image, as well as contending religious ideologies. His interpretation is interspersed with excerpts from interviews with devotees and singers, other tales and texts, and observations from his field research that together invoke the worlds created by the narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Aditya Malik's new work on the Devnarayan epic of Rajasthan provides valuable access in English to an important oral and print tradition of Western India and a comprehensive introduction to related scholarly issues ... This field of research does not often see new additions, so a work of this kind and scope is particularly welcome. The translations are beautifully rendered ... This work makes a significant contribution to the study of oral narrative in South Asia and in comparative contexts, to a broader discourse on the representation of history and the past within South Asian intellectual and cultural traditions, to the larger study of folk and popular religious traditions, and to the crucial interaction between oral and written texts and performance

"Aditya Malik's meticulous and sensitive study of the Rajasthani Devnarayan epic opens up a world of surpassing richness. The sung epic text, hitherto unstudied, is one of the most colorful and imaginative known to us from South Asia. Malik interprets the text with deep insight, drawing out its implications for our understanding of fundamental problems in North Indian historiography, Rajasthani cult and ritual, and the study of living bardic traditions. This is a work of exemplary scholarship."—David Shulman, Professor of Indian Studies and Comparative Literature, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195150193
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/24/2005
  • Series: South Asia Research Series
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Aditya Malik is Senior Lecturer and Programme Director of Religious Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3
2 Verbal narrative 10
3 Visual narrative 37
4 Textual narrative 55
5 Historical narrative 92
6 Social narrative 117
7 Divine testimony 136
Translation 173
Line drawing of Par 497
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