Oral Epics in India

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  • 1. Oral Epic in Indian Culture-MKMishra
  • 2. Introduction Indian culture many races, languages and religions. People maintain their caste symbols through their own caste myth, epics, customs and folklore. Therefore folklore in India is different, diverse and complex in its structure and function
  • 3. Linguistic diversity India constitute 16 % of world population Rationalized Mother tongues 1576 Other Mother tongues 1796 Languages 122 Scheduled languages 22 24 scripts used for writing Indian languages
  • 4. Ethnic ( tribal )languages 623 tribal communities, with a total population of 84.3 million. This constitutes 8.2% of the total population (1028.6 million) (Census of India, 2001). The majority of these 80 million people live in rural, often remote, and economically underdeveloped areas.
  • 5. Indian cultural system
  • 6. four stages of cultural heirarchy
  • 7. Sanskrit - prakrit “Chandogya Upanisad 7.1.2 declares that the Puranas(myths) and Itihasas(history) comprise the fifth division of Vedic study. The fifth Veda is known as smrti-sastra ("scripture that must be remembered"). Smrti-sastra study was permitted to non-brahmanas.”(Suhotra Dasa Tapovanachari 2005,The Six systems of Vedic Philosophy,( www.vedicknowledge.com).
  • 8. Indian Epic Tradition Margi Desi 1.Philosophy - written speculative, transcendental 2. language – Sanskrit 3. Shastriya- classical written 4.God, Kings and sages Universal 5.poets are known individual authorship 2.Philosophy put in to story Realities of life 2. Prakrit- regiona languages – apabhramsa- distorted 3.Loukika- Local Oral 4. God and human Parochial /local 5. poets are unknown community sharing
  • 9. Two Epics The Ramayana ,Mahabharata , HariVamsa  Vamsanucharita of Solar and Lunar Yadu dynasty
  • 10. 1000 years of Kathit – likhit- kathit
  • 11. Regional Epics-oral to written The Indian Purana( myth) and Itihasa( Epics) are written by regional poets in their geo- cultural setting. Its presentation is embedded with many local cultural tradition, custom and imagination Therefore many episodes of the Ramayana and the Mbh are recreated and reinterpreted Ramanujan speaks of 300 Ramayanas, so also Mbh.
  • 12. Epics in many forms Oral-written  performative  visual /scroll paintings  rituals  temple architectures
  • 13. Suta- Bardic tradition Suta were , in fact , not the creator of epics, but the composers of the text which was heard in Sruti parampara- oral and aural tradition Orality resulted variations of these epics
  • 14. Epic Philosophy Written Epic Oral Epic a. dharma-virtue, b. artha-materialistic, c.kama- progeny and d. moksha- salvation, kama ( progeny ) and artha( materialistic).
  • 15. Epic as Ethnic/caste Identity The caste singers sing the origin myth of the supreme God and first progenitor. In some cases the mythic character as a culture hero by way of humanizing the divine characters. Each and every caste consider their creation myth and origin myth as an esoteric subject. So their clan singers also don’t share it in public domain( sung in clan ritual)
  • 16. From Mythic to Heroic Mythic epic and heroic epics- both are connected to the tradition and identity. Rituals and festivals are essential to link their life with their racial memory and meaningful past. Past is meaningful for their present and to aspire for future.
  • 17. what is an oral epic It is the narrative poetry attributed to a story  found in oral form performed by the professional singers and the ethnic bards  accompanied by musical instruments  nominated to a particular religious or social occasion is an oral epic.
  • 18. Epic study in 19th Century India The British Administrators and Missionaries documented epics and ballads Charles E Grover- Folk songs of Southern India 9( 1871) Flora Annie Steel- Tales of the Punjab told by the people (1894) A Maner – Koti Chennaya( 1894) Richard Temple- Legends of Punjab(1884-1900) James Tod- Antiquities of Rajasthan( 1920) Willium Crook-Popular Religion and Folklore of North India( 1894) Acworth HA Ballads of Maratha ( 1894) Water field William - The lay of Allah- 1923 and many others..
  • 19. Early 20th Century Indian writers Anand Kumar Swamy Ramgarib Choubey Devendra Satyarthi Dinesh Chandra Sen Gurusadaya Datta Rabindranath Tagore  Nirmal Kumar Sidhhanta  and their contemporary writers
  • 20. Later 20th Century US and European Folklorists Susan wadley – Dhola Maru / Loriki ( North) Brenda E Beck – Annamar katai( South) Peter J Claus- Tulu Epics ( 1970-90)Karnakata Stuart Black Burn – Tamil Epic ( 1990-2000) Lauri Honko - Siri Epic ( 1995- 2000)Karnataka Roghair Gene H – The Epic of Palnadu -1982,Telugu La Point - Epic of Guga - 1978,UP/Rajasthan Father kamil Bulke- Ramkatha
  • 21. Indian scholars during 1960-2000 Jhaber chandra Meghani AK Ramanujan – 300 Ramayanas Komal Kothari –Rajasthani epics VA Vivek Rai –kannada Epic CN Ramachandran – Male Madeswara Shyam Manohar Pandey –Loriki Chanda Narmada Prasad Gupta Bundeli Epics Bhagwandas Patel –Bhilli MbH/Ram. Nandakishore Tiwari –Bharthari Basant Nirgune – Tribal Epics Mohan Upreti- Rajula Malusahi
  • 22. Epic Cycle -chakra Each ethnic group has its own epic cycle. two cycle, five cycles , seven and twelve cycles. Each cycle is known as khena, khand, katha or geet. The local meaning of ‘khena’ means the branch of a tree. ( Akhyana in Sanskrit )  Epic is like a lotus and the episodes are its petals  Epic is tree, with its branches  Epics are the rows of water in a field which is designed one after another..
  • 23. The emic (local)terms of the Epics : 1.Khena, khand,Khenda,( Kondh and Gond and Gaud epics 2.Gova,Sidi,Gayeni, 3.Katha 4. Geet,Sayon, 5. Kathe /katha 6.Paddana /Pata 7. Paad 8. Saki ( riddles of solving the problems in story form)
  • 24. Regional Heroic and mythic Epics  Rajasthani : Pabuji Ka Paad, Tejaji, Gugaji, Dev Narayana, Ram devji, Bharthari  Punjabi : Hir Ranza, Resma and Shera , rani Kokila Gujrati – Bhilon Ki bharat ( MbH) Assemese : Harata kanwar Kumaouni - Rajula Malusahi  Garhwal: pandava leeela
  • 25. Oral Epics In Regional Languages North west region and central India- Punjabi Epics: Hir Ranza, Resma And Shera,Rani Kokila, Rajashan, Gujrat , UP and MP: Loriki Chanda, Allah Udal,Bharthari,Pabuji, Guga, Rajula Malusahi, Dev Narayan ,Gopichand Chhatishgarhi: Pandvani, Ramayani,Gondvani, Pandav Gatha,Bharthari,Rawat geet, Bans geet, Chandeni, Allah Udal, Nimadi- 6 epics  Bundeli – 14 epics Malavi- Nagji, Dhola Maru, Raja Nala,
  • 26. South India Region Tamil- Annamar Katai, Two prbthers story Kannada -Madeswara, Mantaswamy, Junjappa, Siri Epic, Tulu epics Telugu - Sarbai Pappadu , jambu Purana,
  • 27. Eastern India Region  Oriya: Sarala Mahabharata , Sashi Sena  Bengal : Maiman Singh,  Assam : Harata Kanwar  Manipur : Khamba – Thoibi, Sayan Wori, Koshli Ramayan – Haldhar Nag
  • 28. Tribal Oral Epics in Kalahandi ( in ethnic languages) Gond : Gondvani, ( 7 epics )  Kondh Epic: Bhima Sidi, Creation myth, Manduka majhi, nangmati- Rajaphulia  Bhunjia epic: Mandhar Majhi, Sunadi Goddess, Tulsi Veer, Allah Uddal,  Banjara Epic : Lakha Banjara , Raja Isalu  Kamar Epic: ( 37 oral epics among 7 000 polulation) Gandhu Paradhia,Linga Bharat, Koko Bhaini,Maa Rani PooTura ,Bairat Raja,
  • 29. Women Epic singers ( tribal ) Gurumai ( women priestess) Gaddi ( Himalayan women singers) Geet Kudien ( Kondh and paraja women singers) Ghogien ( Gaud women singers) parghanien ( Gond bards wife) They also practice tatooing,making beads, plays music and dance to entertain the clan masters and communities
  • 30. Why Pandavani is so popular It is popular for its counter narrative it is not sung by male- Vyasa It is by a woman who is non literate It is all about the realities than imagination It is a protest against the hegemony of male over the female
  • 31. Male Epic Singers
  • 32. Male Epic Singers
  • 33. Oral Epic as Blend of Divine And Human Singers create epic hero from the mythic hero. ( Gond myth - Kondh Epic Bhima)  Myth is human to divine and epic is divine to human  But the divinity is undermined in epics . Therefore the epic hero is supernatural
  • 34. Mythical Epics Fixed place, time and certain rules of performance conducted by the priest for a certain religious and ritualistic purpose Content ; Creation of the universe, origin myth of the man , birds and animals, Ancestor spirits, clan gods
  • 35. Content..  history of battle against other tribes for land and jungle, settlement of villages, sharing of land with their supporter caste-group, dissemination of caste/tribe to other areas,  invention of farming technology, invention of iron instruments, cultivation of paddy and pulses, village administration and religious organisation,  friendship and hostility with other ethnic groups, worship to the Gods and Goddesses for their own victory and security etc.
  • 36. Heroic Epics The content heroic epics are themes of love, war, victory, gaining or regaining of kingdom, supremacy over other tribes. The epic story have imaginary elements with fantasy representing the demi Gods and Goddesses of the spiritual world of the traditional culture. In ethnic based epics, innovations in agriculture and inventing equipments for the agricultural work, getting water from heaven (rain God) for the field, yielding a bumper harvest are some of the key motifs to be an ideal hero. 
  • 37. Commons and contested in Oral Epics Oral epics are counter narratives to the written is one premise which has been proven to be correct when the texts are found resented or contested to the written one. Some examples can be examined based on the availability of oral epics and myths . They are 1. Woman’s fire ordeal to prove her chastity, 2.status of elder brother in the family , 3.forest verses cities – who is powerful, 4. Who is strong and who is weak.
  • 38. Written discourse contested in Oral Epics Ramayana written ( Sanskrit) Laxman Jati ( Tribal epic)  Sita, the heroine of the Epic had to appear the fire ordeal to prove her chastity  ideal model : chaste woman  Hegemony of man  Inequality of man and woman  Laxman, hero’s brother had to appear fire ordeal to prove his chastity  Ideal model : chastity of man,  Equality of man and woman
  • 39. Structure of Ramayana in a folk epic Ramayana ( written ) Royal Korta Baina ( a Gaud epic) pastoral  Sita, the heroine was abducted by the Vilian Ravana in the absence of Rama , the hero.  hero rescue the heroine with the help of monkeys and bears.  Sita had to appear a fire ordeal  Ramela , the heroine of the oral epic is abducted by the king of Bendul while her husband was absent .  hero rescues his wife with the help of bulls and sheeps  Ramela had to appear a fire ordeal
  • 40. Laxman Jati a Baiga oral epic Rama , Laxman and Sita were in exile for 14 years and stayed in a Baiga village A maiden from heaven fell in love with Laxman’s music – playing of fiddle , but was denied. She took revenge and created such a situation that every body had the doubt of illicit relation with Sita , her brothers wife. Instead of taking fire ordeal of Sita , Laxman had to appear a fire ordeal .
  • 41. cultural continuity in tribal epics Invention of liquor in Buddhist Jataka Tale -Kumha Jataka and in tribal mythic epic ( Bhima sidi) Talking fish and talking deer in Srimad Bhagavata ( Sanskrit ) and Kondh myth - tribal oral epic
  • 42. Epics in Modern India
  • 43. Gandhi and Rama ( 1930… Rama as the most influential hero is adopted by Mahatma Gandhi Ramdhun- prayer written by Gandhi is most popular ( Raghupati Raghaba raja Ram , Iswar Alah tere naam ) concept of Ramarajya- as the model of ideal nation building  Rama – Hero of forest –Ram rajneeti  Krishna – hero of city – Krishna Rajniti
  • 44. 1980- 90s  Revitalization of Hinduism in political domain Then Rama as the hero became the symbol of a political ideology Controversy in Ayodhya - 1992 The historicity of the Ramayana was challenged  in last 2009 - Ram setu – Delhi University – 300 Ramayanas
  • 45. Modern visual Epics Ramanand Sagar’s - Ramayana in Hindi serial for 10 years BR Choppra’s the Mahabharata ( script writer Rahi Masum Raja) Krishna , hanuman, Siva, Sita , and many epics are reenacted in modern times in Hidi films to capture the common people in TV and Radio , Audio/ Video Epics in written literature ( fiction) Peter Brooks Mahabharata
  • 46. Epics in Management Institutes In Modern time epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are used in Management institutes for teaching and personality development ,leadership , value education and conflict resolution - quoting the stories and characters They are called belief managers who use to reinterpret the epics in contemporary contexts “
  • 47. Epics in public discourse Media and Communication New temples are constructed in the name of Rama( hero) and Hanuman In many cities the Ramayana is performed. In many regional languages the Ramayana movies are available Posters, CD , DVD, cheap books, stickers, T shirts, and many more can be added ..
  • 48. God in temple and Gods under the trees .  The space and time are identified with the foot prints of the epic heroes living tradition- who are worshipped in the temples.  Local heroes have also equally temples and festivals, recitations and identities. kachra Dhurua worshipped in more than hundred villages of Chhattishgarh
  • 49. Conclusion In spite of disparities of literate and illiterate, caste and gender, religion and regionalism, epics in India dominate the collective mind of the common people. Modern political and religion- cultural symbols are drawn from the epics, may it be historical or fictitious, cater to the needs those who want to use it for their marker of identities Many castes and tribes use to celebrate their festivals associated with the characters and events of the two epics in addition to their own epics.
  • 50. Future Direction Language survive not by grammar but by songs and tales and orality – grammar follows speech Orality helps nation building - Finland, Estonia, Serbia, Croatia,Tibet,Mangol,Most African languages So also Chhattishgarh If local survive , then the globe will survive Systemic Documentation and Research Net work between local to national and global Publication Study in universities and schools Centre for advance studies on CG folklore or Culture University ,CG
  • 51. Thank You mkmfolk@gmail.com