The fascinating world of multiple Bharatas that this book introduces its readers with is that of a perennial tale discovered and created afresh at each juncture of time; at each moment of self-doubt and self-exploration; at each rejoicing of self-discovery and self-recovery. If one does not come across a seamless continuity here, one does not encounter apparent ruptures either. The Bharatas, as narrated here, present us with amazing diversity with palpable consubstantiality expressed in myriad forms and multiple hues; tradition belonging as much to its contemporaneity as to its past; belonging as much to the spokes as to the axle; centrifugal and centripetal at once; a tradition old and new at the same moment of time.
The book is based on the proceedings of a seven-day international conference organized by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) on the living traditions of the Mahabharata in the year 2011. The conference explored the multiple tellings and retellings of the Mahabharata story as sung, danced, and celebrated in festivals, inscribed on to geographic landscapes, committed to memory as sacred genealogy, embodied in rituals, and sculpted in shrines and temples. The presentations ranged from issues of poetics and ethics to translations, adaptations, and variations to folk and tribal traditions as sung, recited, and performed. Rather than exploring the Mahabharata as a book or a singular narrative, these papers focus on the multi-tradition of the Mahabharata in all its multi-dimensionality, multiplicity, and above all, in its fluidity. The book would certainly interest the scholars engaged in the study of the living heritage of Indian epics, folklorists, Indologists, and anthropologists.
Molly Kaushal is Professor, Performance Studies at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi and heads the Janapada Sampada Division of the Centre. She is the Academic Director and Principal Investigator of IGNCA's project on "Living Traditions of the Ramkatha and Mahabharata". Her edited and co-edited works include, Chanted Narratives : The Living Katha Vachana Tradition; Folklore, Public Sphere and Civil Society; Journeys, Heroes, Pilgrims, Explorers; The Word and its Resonance: Bhagat Bani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib; and Ramkatha in Narrative, Performance and Pictorial Traditions. She has also published DVDs with English translations of Mewati, Bhili, and Bundeli Ramkathas. "Leela in Kheriya", a film directed and scripted by her, is widely acclaimed nationally and internationally. She has curated several thematic exhibitions including "Sacred Geography and Aesthetic Expressions" and "Leela", based on the Mahabharata and Ramayana traditions, respectively.
Sukrita Paul Kumar is eminent poet and critic, has held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi from 2014-16. She is an Honorary Fellow of the prestigious International Writing Program, University of Iowa (USA), Cambridge Seminars and a former Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. She has published several collections of poems in English. Her major critical works include Man, Woman and Androgyny; Conversations on Modernism; and Narrating Partition. Some of her edited/co-edited books include Interpreting Homes in South Asian Literature; Ismat, Her Life, Her Times; Speaking for Herself Asian Women's Writings. A known translator, she is also the chief editor of a book on the cultural diversity in India. Deeply interested in oral traditions her co-edited book is Chamba Achamba: Women's Oral Culture from Chamba and Bharmour.
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