SASLI LECTURE: “Two and a Half Stories: Subversions and Counter Texts, and Alternative Imagination in the Mahābhārata”

Ujaan Ghosh - Ohio State University

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@ 1:15 pm - 2:15 pm
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Talk Description: This talk will focus on the reception history of two episodes from the Mahābhārata in Odia by focusing on a retelling of the epic ascribed to the Sodra saint (Sudramuni) Sarala dasa (ca. fifteenth century). In the Odia text, both these episodes meet a significantly different conclusion when compared to their Sanskrit counterpart. While the episodes in the Sanskrit Mahābhārata, the episodes emerge as opportunities to establish the divinity of Kṛṣṇa, the Odia retellings find a way to destabilize it. Kṛṣṇa does not (or is unable to) save Draupadī from her humiliation, and his theophany malfunctions into a humorous conclusion in the Kuru court. Through these alternate narrations, Ghosh argues, the Odia text comments on—and pushes the frontiers of—questions surrounding divine hierarchy, human agency, and, finally, the role of devotion in altering the outcomes of human fate.

Co-sponsored by the UW-Madison Center for South Asia and The South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI)