• Harikatha: One Tradition, Many Stories

    Dhruba Basu

    It would be unfair to call harikatha an art form. Not because it lacks artistry, but the term fails to do justice to all that harikatha is, and has been for millennia. The multitude of performative forms through which it expresses itself, the incitement to devotion that is its mandate, the ancestral nature of its relationship to various other folk forms - harikatha must be understood against the backdrop of this monumental legacy. 

    To put things in perspective, it is useful to begin by acknowledging that harikatha is regarded as one of the oldest extant storytelling traditions of the Indian subcontinent. And that is probably one of the better ways of describing it in a single sentence, as it conveys what is essential about harikatha. However, one runs the risk of neglecting the vast array of performative techniques and thematic genres that go into harikatha storytelling