In the current climate of increasing absence of resistance from within traditions as that of Hinduism, this book offers a fresh read for those who look for resisting narratives that break free from the fold of larger narratives. The ‘little narrative’ here is an oral epic of the Telugu peoples that itself has spawned a flowing tradition of its own, with several other written texts, performances, plays and songs, and even movies based on it. However, what this book foregrounds is not the popularity of this Telugu oral epic tradition, but the problems involved when the oral tradition in all its variety of storytelling and performative renditions undergoes a cultural translation and appropriation by the dominant textual tradition. For instance, there have been attempts to bring all the different versions of the Palnātivīrula Katha under one textual rubric. This book, gently suggests that there must be a cultural politics at work behind such attempts and within the ambit of its five chapters and the attendant annexures, presents the oral epic narrative in all its multiplicities of story lines as also presentations. The larger effort here is to highlight the resistance offered by a people in terms of the creation and production of local narratives that have stood the test of time and, more importantly, the retrieval of the consciousness of a people by revisiting and foregrounding these creations. This book, as one turns its last page, certainly gets the reader in touch with a Telugu consciousness, for gaining a sense of which we need not search inside the books in a library but must restore to the people their oral stories and performances in all their varieties and contradictions.
Aruna Bommareddi currently teaches at Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. She taught at BITS-Pilani for seven years before she became a Fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla for a period of two years.