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Journey of Agastya and Lopāmudrā narrative through time.

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· Shefali More South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University (Heidelberg, Germany)


Adaptations of South Asian Narratives Across Time and Space


Sage Agastya and his wife Lopāmudrā are well-known to us through different narratives scattered throughout a vast corpus of Sanskrit texts. The first mention of them as husband and wife appears in Ṛgveda I.179 (Lopāmudrā - Agastya saṁvād sūkta). This hymn in the form of a mystic dialogue between Agastya and Lopāmudrā can be unequivocally categorized as an ‘encrypted narrative’ and provides an ideal scope for further expansion of the story. The later texts such as Brāhmaṇas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, and Purāṇas, etc. have effectively grabbed this opportunity and developed different adaptations of it. The journey of these narratives through the time demonstrates alterations in the portrayal and behavior of the characters to the extent that the bold and fearless Lopāmudrā who expresses her desire for a secret union to her husband in Ṛgveda is transformed into an ideal of chastity in Skanda Purāṇa. The changing story of their marriage also changes the core of their relationship. This paper attempts to study a few narratives of Agastya and Lopāmudrā and trace the changes adapted in the story over time, and understanding these changes in the social and cultural context.