The Co(s)mic Vision

Humour in the Bhagavata Purana


  • Siegfried J. Babajee University of Edinburgh



Bhāgavata Purāṇa, humour, narrative, bhakti, māyā, līlā


The Bhagavata Purana (BhP) is a popular sacred Sanskrit text characterized by its devotion for Krsna and the many narratives concerning him and his incarnations. These narratives have an edifying quality. A great number of them bring their point across through the use of humour. Though the comic tradition of India has been covered by scholars, such studies primarily discuss the performing arts. I argue that there is a strong presence of humour in the BhP, and that this humour communicates a playful attitude which has a prominent place in the overall religiosity of the BhP, thus communicating a worldview I term the co(s)mic vision. This study contributes to the discussion on the ludic dimensions of religious traditions and indicates how religious discourse is established through the entertaining and edifying effects of humour. Narrative is used as an entertaining alternative to religious instruction as exhortation, theological assertion, or propositional excursuses.

Author Biography

Siegfried J. Babajee, University of Edinburgh

Siegfried J. Babajee is currently a PhD candidate at the Universtity of Edinburgh. He completed his MA in Theology and Religious Studies at Leiden Universiteit. His research interests lie in South Asian religious narratives, primarily the Vedic, Epic and Purāṇic storytelling traditions, as well as regional folklore. His current research project concerns the presence and purpose of humour in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.


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How to Cite

Babajee, S. J. . (2021). The Co(s)mic Vision: Humour in the Bhagavata Purana. Religions of South Asia, 14(3), 215–232.