About the Project

The Story of Story in Early South Asia: Character and Genre across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Narrative Traditions

In this research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, we are taking up characters, roles, lineages and genres that are shared across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain narrative traditions, and using these shared narrative elements to explore links between these religions in and around the first millennium CE. The project is a joint venture between Cardiff University and the University of Edinburgh running from January 2013 to the end of 2015.

The research aims to explore the role of story in the shaping of religious ideology in early South Asia, showing how Hindus, Buddhists and Jains used story to present and contest their ideas of self and other, and past, present and future. It will also consider how certain generic characters, such as the king or the sage, suggest points of contact between these religions.

Objectives

To explore the role of story in the shaping of religious ideology in Early South Asia:

  • To show, through an exploration of shared characters, families and teaching lineages, how Hindus, Buddhists and Jains used story to present their respective ideas of self and other, and past, present and future, and to question each other’s views of the same.
  • To show that an understanding of genre and generic character figures (such as ascetic and king) is essential to a rich understanding of South Asian religious traditions.
  • To move across the boundaries that secondary literature has set up between the major Indian religions and to question their validity in some contexts.