Tales of Sinister Yogis

in Sinister Yogis

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226895130
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226895154 | DOI:
Tales of Sinister Yogis

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Bhairavānand Yogī, a Hindi-language chapbook written by Mahadevprasad Singh and first published sometime between 1940 and 1970, is a story in which a number of standard fixtures of the South Asian fantasy and adventure genre are readily recognizable: talking parrots; a brave, resourceful, and solitary king; a bevy of evil queens; skulls or skeletons that laugh and talk; the power to change bodies; and a sinister yogi. Bhairavānand Yogī follows the contours of a body of stories known as the Vikrama Cycle as attested in a dozen sources, many of which were studied at length by Maurice Bloomfield in an article published in 1917. One of the most popular stories in all of south India is that of “The Little Devotee,” which comprises a chapter in a twelfth-century Tamil scripture, the Periya Purānam, and also appears in two Telugu stories from the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, in medieval sculpture, and in modern-day oral traditions. These medieval south Indian stories take as given the assumption that wandering Saiva ascetics, called Bhairavas or yogis, were inclined to eat children.

Keywords: Bhairavānand Yogī; Mahadevprasad Singh; yogis; talking parrots; queens; Vikrama Cycle; India; ascetics; Bhairavas; king

Chapter.  17218 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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