Readers of the ‘Lost’ Purana: mythopolitics and Suthar caste identity in Gujarat

Kenneth M. George*, Kirin Narayan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The Hindu texts known as caste puranas (jāti purāṇas) provide the mythopolitical foundation for many of India’s castes. These puranas may be said to ‘gather’ a community audience, and such castes themselves may be thought of as object-oriented gatherings whose affective, ideological, and custodial attachments to their respective jati puranas also include the deification of these texts as revered objects. A caste does more than interpret such a puranic text; the text is continuously made, re-made, and circulated in conjunction with the community’s sociopolitical circumstances. The Suthars (hereditary carpenters) of Gujarat afford a special look at the mythopolitics of caste: Claiming to have ‘lost’ their ancient and ‘original’ foundational text, the Vishwakarma Purana, many in the Suthar community seek to recuperate it in new compilations, performances, and media. Tracing the mediations of this and other puranas, we argue, can deepen the politico-historical analysis of caste mobilizations and their mythopolitics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)576-594
    Number of pages19
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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