The 15th-century Sarala Mahabharata marks the beginning of Odia literature. Sarala Das's epic is mostly read in relation to the Vyasa Mahabharata and, occasionally, other "regional" Mahabharatas. We propose to read it as part of a larger family of stories called the 'Prison Revenge' stories. We compare 'Prison Revenge' stories in Sarala's epic, Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara, and various preludes to Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshasa. We also compare these stories with the larger class of prison stories in epic literature and suggest that these overlapping stories help us re-conceptualise India as a story space, where shared narrative frames have circulated over a long period of time.
About the Speaker
Vikas Kumar teaches Economics at Azim Premji University. His research explores interfaces between politics and statistics, economics and religion, and the Arthasastra and other pre-modern texts.