The Enduring Power of Praise-Abuse

Jeffrey G. Snodgrass

in Casting Kings

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195304343
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785063 | DOI:
 						The Enduring Power of Praise-Abuse

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This chapter focuses on the Bhats’ tactical narration of their religious history, and specifically the manner in which they present themselves as alternately Hindu or Muslim in order to gain employment as political propagandists for both India’s secular Congress Party and Hindu-nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (B.J.P.). The chapter also examines how Bhats “cast” traditional Rajasthan in a puppet drama sponsored by a state-run bank meant to teach Indians an ethic of saving their money and planning for the future. Bhats are not entirely serious about the claim explored throughout the book that they are the former bards of kings. Instead, claims of royal ancestry are just one tool in a repertoire of tricks that Bhats use to advance in contemporary India. Bhat speech about kings, then, is less representative of true claims to royalty and more indicative of a bardic cleverness which forms a deeper basis of Bhat identity claims in contemporary Rajasthan.

Keywords: tourism; religious nationalism; Islam; Hinduism; propaganda; development; money

Chapter.  10871 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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