Monday, August 11, 2014

1. The Retelling of Stories

Stories have been told since time immemorial. The practice of storytelling perhaps originated with the recounting of the day’s hunt while the meat was cooking on the fire. Thereafter music and acting got added to the process of storytelling. Over time formal theatre came into existence. Stories were also told through sculpture, painting, dance and other art pursuits. With the advent of printing storytelling changed drastically. The requirement of someone or some people to narrate stories was no longer necessary. Stories were more conveniently told through books that could be read in solitude. Today movies have become a popular medium for telling stories, whether on the big screen, television or computers. Throughout the millennia of storytelling two laws have emerged. The first law of storytelling is that stories will be retold. The second law of storytelling is that stories will change in the retelling.

The stories of Hindu mythology extend far back into time. For several thousands of years there were transmitted orally from generation to generation. Around 5000 years ago they were put on record, mainly in the epics and the puranas. These have been the basis for Indian literature, dance, music, art and sculpture down the ages. Till about 50 years ago almost all Hindu cultural activities were based on stories from the puranas. However, these were not a mere the repetition of the originals. The cultural creators changed the stories to suit their own perceptions and also the mood of the times.

I have been following this retelling of Hindu mythology for a few decades with utmost interest. My mind is getting saturated with reactions, analyses, comparisons and the entire spectrum of activities that follow serious reading. I need to disgorge these so as to create space for more. Just as Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame used a “pensieve” to store his memories, I intend using this blog to record my encounters with the retelling of stories from Hindu mythology. It will be an endeavour without research and will in all likelihood have incompleteness and errors. If it is God’s will I would rectify this in the future. At the moment the blogs are an exercise in self-indulgence or swant sukhay. Those who share this interest are invited to join this journey. Your comments and criticisms will be valued and acknowledged if used.