This is the first volume of a projected three-volume work on the little known South Indian folk cult of the goddess Draupadi and on the classical epic, the Mahabharata, that the cult brings to life in mythic, ritual and dramatic forms. It focuses on the Draupadi cult's own double mythology, moving from its storieis about Draupadi's 'primal temple' near the capital of the medieval South Indian Kingdom of Gingee to its version of the Mahabharata war on the North Indian plain of Kuruksetra. Throughout, Hiltebeitel intertwines 'regional' data, gathered from both oral and written sources, with the 'epic', drawn from the cult's own performative traditions as well as from classical versions of the Mahabharata in both Tamil and Sanskrit. He re-examines many issues critical to Indological studies and takes up them while breaking new ground in investigating the further rapport between the Hindu goddess and the Indian epic. Future volumes will treat the rituals of the Draupadi cult and the Mahabharata as seen through a Draupadi cult retrospective.
About the Author:
ALF HILTEBEITEL is a professor of religion at George Washington University. He has translated works by Mircea Eliade and George Dumezil.