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Growing Stories from IndiaReligion and the Fate of Agriculture$
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A. Whitney Sanford

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780813134123

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813134123.001.0001

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Balaram and the Yamuna River:

Balaram and the Yamuna River:

Entitlement and Presumptions of Control

(p.56) Chapter 3 Balaram and the Yamuna River:
Growing Stories from India

A. Whitney Sanford

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter introduces the story of the deities Balaram and the Yamuna River, which offers an honest reckoning with human dependence on the earth for sustenance and human entitlements to the earth's production in the context of Balaram's multiple obligations to the earth, his family, and his subjects. It situates Balaram's story in its geographical, religious, and cultural contexts, defines relevant terms and concepts from the Hindu tradition, and explains why devotees understand Balaram as a protector, agriculturalist, and guardian. This story both helps us recognize how a disconnect with the origins of our food both enable and result from assumptions—whether conscious or not—of entitlement to the earth's resources and helps us question why narratives that appear to justify aggression towards the earth prove so enduring. Exploring the moral aspects of food and food production bring this dilemma home and demonstrates that how and why we tell stories about agriculture must be central to our lives.

Keywords:   food, Hinduism, India, Holi, Dharma, Balaram, Shesh, Krishna, Braj, goddess, Vaishnava

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