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The Character of “Character” in Early South Asian Religious Narratives: An Introductory Essay

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date03/2011
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Religion
Number of pages27
Original languageEnglish


This essay introduces the five subsequent articles, all of which focus on one or more literary characters from South Asian religious narratives. Covering examples from source texts found in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, this essay will introduce the main characters discussed in the subsequent articles, examine some general features pertaining to the “character” of literary characters in South Asian religious narratives, identify some of the scholarly trends and issues in examining character in South Asian religious literature, and highlight our particular contributions to this endeavor. For specialists in South Asian religious traditions, we hope this collection of papers can help open up some new avenues of research; for those readers who focus on other traditions, we hope these papers can help bring to attention some of the wonderfully complex and engaging literary characters that populate the sources of South Asian religious traditions, and provoke analogous work on other traditions and other areas.