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Raja Nal and the Goddess

The North Indian Epic Dhola in Performance

Raja Nal and the Goddess by Susan Snow Wadley
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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.

Indiana University Press; November 2004
261 pages; ISBN 9780253111272
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Title: Raja Nal and the Goddess
Author: Susan Snow Wadley