Contents: 1. Introduction. 2. Oral epics. 3. The elder brothers and the Heroes of Palnadu. 4. The epic of Pabuji. 5. Opening Alha. 6. The nine-lakh chain. 7. The story of Krsnamsa. 8. Kuruksetra II. 9. Time-routes through the Krsnamsacarita. 10. Their name is legion. 11. The Ballad of Raja desing. 12. Barbarika, Aravan, Kuttantavar: furthering the case of the severed head. 13. The myth of the Agnivamsa. 14. Draupadi becomes Bela, Bela becomes Sati. Bibliography. General Index.
"Throughout India and Southeast Asia, ancient classical epics—the Mahabharata and the Ramayana—continue to exert considerable cultural influence. Draupadi among Rajputs, Muslims and Dalits offers an unprecedented exploration into South Asia’s regional epic traditions. Using his own fieldwork as a starting point, Alf Hiltebeitel analyses how the oral tradition of the South Indian cult of the Goddess Draupadi and five regional martial oral epics compare with one another and tie in with the Sanskrit epics.
"Drawing on literary theory and cultural studies, Hiltebeitel argues that the Draupadi cult, Mahabharata and the five oral epics share subtexts of regionality, the peripherality of ‘little kingdoms’ landed dominant classes, and the Goddess of the land. He reveals how the traditional plots are twisted and classical characters reshaped to reflect local history and religion and, in doing so, sheds new light on the intertwining oral traditions of medieval Rajput military culture, Dalits (‘former untouchables’), and Muslims. Breathtaking in scope, this work is indispensable for those seeking a deeper understanding of South Asia’s Hindu and Muslim traditions." (jacket)
[Alf Hiltebeitel is Professor of religion and human sciences at The George Washington University. He is author or editor of several previous books on Indian religion, anthropology, and literature, and coeditor of Hair: Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures.]