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The Primary Process Of The Hindu Epics

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Chapter Summary

A.K. Ramanujan once said, 'No Hindu ever reads the Mahābhārata for the first time'. Recounting his own youthful 'native' experiences of the epic, Ramanujan begins with a hearing, but one from a text-conversant paṇḍita who recounted Mahābhārata stories in a tailor shop. Four points about what metaphors target can be clarified by trying another 'metaphoric lens'. One is the question of where one starts. Second is the nature of what feeds these oral traditions, of what is in the pool. Third, something more is needed to envision the complexity of developmental patterns. Fourth is the question of the general and the particular: Can we find a metaphor that allows us to move between the two? These four considerations leads to some new clarity if we sound out the metaphor of primary process, which comes from Sigmund Freud but through intermediary readings of Victor Turner, Paul Ricoeur, and Gananath Obeyesekere.

Keywords: A.K. Ramanujan; Mahābhārata



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