The BhaÂ¯gavatapuraÂ¯na is one of the master-texts of the Sanskritic archive and is the foundational source of narratives relating to the deity Krsna. Since it reached its current form about a millennium ago, public oral 'performances' of the text have been sponsored as a means of accumulating religious and social capital. These week-long events are a significant form of contemporary religious practice in the Hindu cultural world, but have received little or no scholarly attention. In this paper I describe one such event that was held in Uttarakhand, North India, in November 2009. What is the role of the Sanskrit text in the oral performance? I identity four functions: first, the text provided a focus of ritual action; second, it was the source of the overall structure and content of the event; third, it was the object of the exponents daily silent reading or paÂ¯raÂ¯yana; finally, it was the source of many of the Sanskrit verses around which the exponent constructed his vernacular comment. In concluding, I argue that a spectrum of social and cultural practices-ritual, oral, textual and performative-all contribute towards the validation and empowerment of discourses relating to Krnsa.
|Title of host publication||Orality, Literacy and Performance in the Ancient World|
|Place of Publication||Leiden, The Netherlands|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|