Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative: Gods, Kings and Other Heroes

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Routledge, Nov 25, 2016 - Religion - 212 pages

Taking a comparative approach which considers characters that are shared across the narrative traditions of early Indian religions (Brahmanical Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism) Shared Characters in Jain, Buddhist and Hindu Narrative explores key religious and social ideals, as well as points of contact, dialogue and contention between different worldviews. The book focuses on three types of character - gods, heroes and kings - that are of particular importance to early South Asian narrative traditions because of their relevance to the concerns of the day, such as the role of deities, the qualities of a true hero or good ruler and the tension between worldly responsibilities and the pursuit of liberation. Characters (incuding character roles and lineages of characters) that are shared between traditions reveal both a common narrative heritage and important differences in worldview and ideology that are developed in interaction with other worldviews and ideologies of the day. As such, this study sheds light on an important period of Indian religious history, and will be essential reading for scholars and postgraduate students working on early South Asian religious or narrative traditions (Jain, Buddhist and Hindu) as well as being of interest more widely in the fields of Religious Studies, Classical Indology, Asian Studies and Literary Studies.


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List of figures
Indra king of the gods
Brahmā or Brahmās
Viṣṇu Rāma and Kṛṣṇa
Mothers of heroic sons
The renouncing royals of Videha
Shared characters shared histories

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About the author (2016)

Naomi Appleton is Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Edinburgh. Her major research interest is the role of story in the communication and construction of religious ideas in South and Southeast Asia. She is the author of Narrating Karma and Rebirth: Buddhist and Jain Multi-life Stories (2014) and Jātaka Stories in Theravāda Buddhism (2010) as well as a number of articles on related themes. She has also published translations of early Buddhist narrative collections.

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