Tales for the Dying explores the centrality of death and dying in the narrative of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a, India’s great text of devotional theism, canonized as an integral part of the Vais|n|ava bhakti tradition. The text grapples with death through an imaginative meditation, one that works through the presence and power of narrative. The story of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a is spoken to a king who is about to die, and it enables him to come to terms with his own passing. The work does not isolate dying as an issue; it treats it on many levels.
This book discusses how images of dying in the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a relate to issues of language and love in the religious imagination of India. Drawing on insights from studies in myth, literary semiotics, and depth psychology, as well as from Indian commentarial and aesthetic traditions, the author examines the power of myth and narrative (storytelling or hari kathaµ) and shows how a detailed awareness of the Puraµn|ic imagination may lead to a revisioning of some long-held presuppositions around Indian religious attitudes toward dying. By casting Vais|n|ava bhakti traditions and Puraµn|ic narrative in a fresh light, the mythic imagination of the Puraµn|as takes its place on the stage of contemporary discourse on comparative mythology and literature.