Seven Days of Nectar: Contemporary Oral Performance of the Bhagavatapurana

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    The thousand-year-old Sanskrit classic the Bhagavatapurana, or "Stories of the Lord," is the foundational source of narratives concerning the beloved Hindu deity Krishna. For centuries pious individuals, families, and community groups have engaged specialist scholar-orators to give week-long oral performances based on this text. Seated on a dais in front of the audience, the orator intones selected Sanskrit verses from the text and narrates the story of Krishna in the local language. These sacred performances are thought to bring blessings and good fortune to those who sponsor, perform, or attend them. Devotees believe that the narratives of Krishna are like the nectar of immortality for those who can appreciate them. In recent years, these events have grown in number, scale, and popularity. Once confined to private homes or temple spaces, contemporary performances now fill vast public arenas, such as sports stadiums, and attract live audiences in the tens of thousands while being simulcast around the world. In Seven Days of Nectar, McComas Taylor uncovers the factors that contribute to the explosive growth of this tradition. He explores these events through the lens of performance theory, integrating the text with the intersecting worlds of sponsors, exponents and audiences. This innovative approach, which draws on close textual reading, philology, and ethnography, casts new light on the ways in which narratives are experienced as authentic and transformative, and more broadly, how texts shape societies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationOxford, UK
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages248
    ISBN (Print)9780190611910
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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