Raja Nal and the Goddess: The North Indian Epic Dhola in Performance

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Overview

"... [T]ells a wonderful story, one much loved in northern India.... fills an important lacuna in the work on oral epic." —Lindsey Harlan

Dhola is an oral epic performed primarily by lower-caste, usually illiterate, men in the Braj region of northern India. The story of Raja Nal, "a king who does not know he is a king," this vast epic portrays a world of complex social relationships involving changing and mistaken identities, goddesses, powerful women, magicians, and humans of many different castes. In this comprehensive study and first extended English translation based on multiple oral versions, Susan Snow Wadley argues that the story explores the nature of humanity while also challenging commonplace assumptions about Hinduism, gender, and caste. She examines the relationship between oral and written texts and the influence of individual performance styles alongside a lyrical translation of the work.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
.."..[T]ells a wonderful story, one much loved in northern India.... fills an important lacuna in the work on oral epic."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253217240
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Snow Wadley is Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and Anthropology at Syracuse University. She is author of Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925–1984 and co-author of a revised edition of William and Charlotte Wiser’s classic Behind Mud Walls.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Introducing Dhola 3
2 The story of Dhola 9
3 Dhola as performed : two singers 65
4 The goddess and the Bhakti traditions of Braj 95
5 Motini, Dumenti, and other royal women 120
6 Oil pressers, acrobats, and other castes 142
7 Who is Raja Nal? 171
App. 1 List of characters 197
App. 2 Oral performances 199
Glossary of key Hindi terms 207
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