The Infinite Story : The Past and Present of the Ramayanas in Hindi

Danuta Stasik, Manohar, 2009, xiv, 320 p, figs, ISBN : 8173048159, $55.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

The Infinite Story : The Past and Present of the Ramayanas in Hindi/Danuta Stasik

Contents: Preface. Introduction. I. The story and its authors: 1. Before Tulsidas: the beginnings of the Ramayana tradition in Hindi literature. 2. In the world of Tulsidas's Ramkathas. 3. Ramkatha in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: in the shadow of Tulsidas? 4. On the threshold of modernity: Ramkathas in the nineteenth century. 5. Modernizing the tradition: Ramkathas of the first half of the twentieth century. 6. Ramkathas of the second half of the twentieth century. II. The protagonist of the story: 7. On the nature of Tulsidas's Ram. 8. The heaven on earth builder: Ram in Gupta's Saket. 9. Creating new mythological spaces? On tradition, society and the role of people in Bhagvan Simh's Apne apne Ram. The infinite story? Appendices. Bibliography. Index.

"The story of the Ramayana is well-known in all Indian languages and Hindi literature is no exception to it. It has a long and rich tradition based on Ramkatha that through the centuries has challenged many authors.

The main aim of this work is twofold. Firstly, it seeks to analyse the development of the Ramayana tradition in Hindi literature from the perspective of its most important achievements against their historical background and socio-cultural context. Secondly, it attempts to examine the relationship between the story, i.e. Ramkatha, as told by different authors, and Ram, the protagonist of the Ramayana, who functions as a cultural hero and serves as model of right behaviour for the others and at the same time appears to be one of the most important factors in the continuing popularity of the tradition.

The volume opens with an introduction that outlines the diversity of the Ramayana tradition in India, beginning with the first known Ramayana ascribed to the sage Valmiki. It discuses later developments in Sanskrit and vernacular literatures, as exemplified by their best achievements originating from Hindu, Buddhist and Jaina contexts. It also considers the implications of all these works for the unfolding of the tradition in Hindi. In its closing portion, the volume provides an overview of the growth of the cult of Ram in North India.

This is an indispensable volume for scholars of Hinduism and North Indian cultural life." (jacket)

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