Degree Year

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Religion

Advisor(s)

Paula Richman

Keywords

Ramayana, India, South Asia, Valmiki, Bhavabuti, Uttararamcarita, Ananda Ramayana, Shudra Tapasvi, Kuvempu, Kuppali Venkatappa Puttappa

Abstract

The Ramayana's Shambuka story is a controversial incident that has served as a site for the renegotiation of social power structures in India for thousands of years. Because the episode is fundamentally about India's system of caste hierarchy, or varna, any retelling will by its very nature engage in a formulation of social relation between different caste identities. Close readings of these retellings reveal the ways in which the adaptations and appropriations of each version create new literary meanings that provide insight into varna hierarchy as a normative body of social control. Despite the Shambuka incident's hegemonic history, transgressive participation in this narrative tradition constitutes a form of literary opposition to the established order. By breaking the tradition's reiteration of normative ideologies, these retellings open space for new conceptions of power and varna relations.

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Religion Commons

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