Raja Nal and the Goddess

Raja Nal and the Goddess

The North Indian Epic Dhola in Performance
Susan Snow Wadley
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/17/2004
ISBN: 978-0-253-11127-2
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... [T]ells a wonderful story, one much loved in northern India.... fills an important lacuna in the work on oral epic." —Lindsey Harlan

Dhola is an oral epic performed primarily by lower-caste, usually illiterate, men in the Braj region of northern India. The story of Raja Nal, "a king who does not know he is a king," this vast epic portrays a world of complex social relationships involving changing and mistaken identities, goddesses, powerful women, magicians, and humans of many different castes. In this comprehensive study and first extended English translation based on multiple oral versions, Susan Snow Wadley argues that the story explores the nature of humanity while also challenging commonplace assumptions about Hinduism, gender, and caste. She examines the relationship between oral and written texts and the influence of individual performance styles alongside a lyrical translation of the work.

Author Bio

Susan Snow Wadley is Ford Maxwell Professor of South Asian Studies and Anthropology at Syracuse University. She is author of Struggling with Destiny in Karimpur, 1925–1984 and co-author of a revised edition of William and Charlotte Wiser’s classic Behind Mud Walls.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Note on Transliteration

Part I. Dhola
1. Introducing Dhola
2. The Story of Dhola
3. Dhola as Performed: Two Singers

Part II. Dhola Interpreted
4. The Goddess and the Bhakti Traditions of Braj
5. Motini, Dumenti, and Other Royal Women
6. Oil Pressers, Acrobats, and Other Castes
7. Who Is Raja Nal?

Appendix 1. List of Characters
Appendix 2. Oral Performances
Glossary of Key Hindi Terms
References Cited