A CASE STUDY OF LADAKHI VERSION OF GESAR EPIC: ITS INFLUENCE ON RELIGION, FOLKLORE, CULTURAL AND SOCIAL LIFE IN LADAKH
Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India
In its Ladakhi version, Gesar Saga has come down through centuries orally, with storytellers reciting the epic orally. The oral versions from Ladakh were among the first to receive academic attention through the works of August Francke at the turn of the century, however most subsequent work has been on the Eastern Tibetan and the Mongolian Version of the Gesar epic. The Ladakhi version of the epic is relatively free from the strong Buddhist influence. The versions of this tradition vary from village to village. The paper examines the influence of the Gesar epic on folklore, cultural, and social life in Ladakh. The paper further analyses the Ladakhi version of the Gesar epic and its relationship with the pre-Buddhist Bon religion of Ladakh. It further examines how the epic tradition has permeated into Ladakh society by examining Ladakhi folk songs and festivals and looks at how the narratives of Gesar epic exhibit in the socio-cultural traditions of Ladakh.