Heavenly Carrots and Earthly Sticks: How Phalasruti Paratexts Empower Puranic Discourse

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    Using Genette's theoretical framework of the 'paratext', this article analyses various phala?ruti texts found in the Skandapura. These enumerate the 'rewards of hearing', that is, supposed benefits accruing to the audience as the result of listening to particular discourses. Using a paradigmatic example of the phala?ruti associated with the pilgrimage site of Rmasetu or 'Rma's Bridge', four 'moves' or themes are identified in these texts: first, promises of transcendent and mundane rewards are aimed at inducing the faithful to adopt certain beliefs and practices. Second, these promises are backed up by threats of negative consequences for those who infringe normative prescriptions. Third, payment of daki or the sacrificial fee to the exponents of these texts is mandated. Fourth, the faithful are exhorted to copy and donate fresh manuscripts of the root texts. It is argued that these four 'moves' of phala?ruti paratexts function together in a self-sustaining 'purnic economy'. By perpetuating the beliefs and practices of the specific text, sponsors continue to accumulate religious merit, and the livelihood of the families of Brahmin exponents are guaranteed. This then provides the economic and material basis for the maintenance of the targeted practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)92-111
    JournalThe Journal of Hindu Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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