Freitag, 05. Juni 2015, 15:15 - 16:45 iCal

The Construction of a Cultic Center

through Narrative. The Founding Myth of the Village of Puttaparthi and Sathya Sai Baba

Seminarraum 1 des Instituts für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien


Ein Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Antonio Rigopoulos (Dipartimento di Studi sull’Asia e sull’Africa Mediterranea, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)


Myths centered upon termite mounds are a characteristic of India's pastoral and tribal areas. My case study is the founding myth of Puttaparthi (lit. "multiplier of termite mounds"), a village in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh. This site has become very popular being the birthplace and ashram location of Sathya Sai Baba (1926-2011).

The legend portrays an originally prosperous village named Gollapalli, the "village of cowherds" who tended beautiful cows. The story goes that the violent reaction of one cowherd towards a snake sucking the milk of a cow brought the snake's curse upon the village and triggered its decline.

I will first present the local understanding of the Puttaparthi myth and then explore two other interpretations: a pastoral one and a Pur??ic one. Finally, I will illustrate Sathya Sai Baba's own retelling and appropriation of the tale. The multiple readings of the myth exemplify its suitability to a plurality of re-castings that constitutes its strength.

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Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde


Judith Starecek
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
4277 43502