Sahapedia-UNESCO Fellowship is a collaborative project to encourage fresh research on tangible and intangible heritage across India and South Asia. Articles, videos, interviews and more, supported by the Fellowship, are freely available for everyone to read, watch and hear at www.sahapedia.org.
Sahapedia, in collaboration with the Directorate of Culture and Archaeology, Government of Chhattisgarh, has undertaken the project of documenting comprehensively the rich and diverse cultural traditions and natural heritage of the state. This involves preparing multi-media modules which include articles, interviews and documentaries of a wide range of cultural forms including oral epics, performing art and craft traditions etc.
The ubiquitous Hanuman is in the eye of a storm because of his lineage and where he belongs, thanks to a politician’s comments. While we do not intend to contest or endorse the veracity of such statements, we explore here some of the legends and lore associated with the much-loved vanardev, or monkey god (In Pic: A late 19th-century Kangra painting depicting Hanuman paying obeisance to Lord Rama from K.C. Aryan's collection of folk art)
Jataka Tales are part of Buddhist Theravada literature, which depict earlier incarnations of Gautama Buddha. In each of the fables, the Buddha demonstrates an aspect of non-violence (ahimsa) as he advances towards the perfection to be achieved in the birth as Siddhartha Gautama. These tales are a storehouse of information about life and society in ancient India [Fig. 1. Depiction of a Jataka Tale at Candi Mendut, central Java (Photo Source: Photo Dharma/Wikimedia Commons)]
Over the centuries, the Dasamahavidyas and the Shakta Tantra systems have been assimilated and integrated into temple rituals and yogic practices that see the human body and the cosmos having similar structures and intersecting points of energy. The ‘yantra’ of intersecting triangles known as Sri Chakra has come to epitomise all the 10 forms of the goddess (The banner image is a colour lithograph of the 10 aspects of Devi, the divine mother.
Eminently placed in Indian oral tradition, linked tales are precursors to the modern genre of the novel, but they can elastically expand in every retelling. The famous tale of Vikram and Vetal is one such example. However, when they do end, they indicate how cultures provide closures to meaning-making endeavours and reflective listening experiences.
The Sanskritist, novelist, translator and teacher’s brilliant exposition of the multiple connections between aesthetic, religious and erotic rapture in Indian literature narrated with relish and the author’s renowned straddling of academic acumen and intimate tone, the folk tale and the epic.