The Co(s)mic Vision
Humour in the Bhagavata Purana
Keywords: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.
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