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

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Indiana University Press, Nov 17, 2004 - History - 264 pages

"... [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.

 

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Contents

Introducing Dhola
3
The Story of Dhola
9
Dhola as Performed Two Singers
65
Dhola Interpreted
93
The Goddess and the Bhakti Traditions of Braj
95
Motini Dumenti and Other Royal Women
120
Oil Pressers Acrobats and Other Castes
142
Who Is Raja Nal?
171
List of Characters
197
Oral Performances
199
Glossary of Key Hindi Terms
207
Notes
211
References Cited
223
Index
233
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

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.

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