Monday, November 08, 2010

Indian festival documentary

Dr McComas Taylor, teacher of Sanskrit online at the Australian National University, and Julian Dennis, cameraman/editor have released a digital version of their three part documentary 'Mountain God and Sacred Text'.

The documentary was shot on 35m film during a seven-day festival in the hamlet of Naluna in the Garhwal Himalaya, India, November 2009. This relates the story of the Bhagavatapurana.

There is also a 25 page paper "Mountain god and sacred text: Power-sharing and cultural synthesis in a Garhwal community" by McComas Taylor:
The first and indeed the abiding impression of the hamlet of Naluna in the Garhwal foothills is the ever-present rushing of the Gaṅgā River. Here the Gaṅgā's swift glacial waters, flecked with white-caps, are less than 80km from their source in the high Himalayas, but are still over 100km from Haridwar where the river emerges from the mountains on to the North Indian Plain. Steep, dry mountains tower over the river, rising up 1000m and more. Sometimes bare and rocky, sometimes covered in dark forests of pines, rhododendrons, oaks and deodars, they are dotted with villages and terraced fields. A single road, only partly sealed, snakes along the valley floor beside the river. ...

I had come to Naluna to document a seven-day cycle of stories about the deity Kṛṣṇa. These narratives are found in their most authoritative form in the Sanskrit text known as the Bhāgavatapurāṇa, one of the most important texts for Kṛṣṇa-devotion. The Bhāgavatapurāṇa is generally thought to have reached is present form by about 1000 CE (Rocher 1986, Bryant 2007). It is a very long work, running to over 18000 verses (Jarow 2003), and is concerned with the various avatars of the deity Viṣṇu, and in particular his form as Kṛṣṇa. The tenth and eleventh books, which together account for nearly half the total length, contain the best-loved stories of Kṛṣṇa's childhood and youth among the cow-herding people of the Vraja. ...

From: Mountain god and sacred text: Power-sharing and cultural synthesis in a Garhwal community, by McComas Taylor, ANU, 2010

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