The Tale of the Eagle An Entertainment

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Joel P. Brereton



The Suparṇādhyāya or “The Tale of the Eagle” is a Sanskrit poem dating approximately to the latter part of the first millennium BCE. While the text itself does not become a significant part of the Sanskrit literary tradition, the story it tells does, though in forms preserved in other literature. This paper attempts to understand the purpose of the Suparṇādhyāya and the context for which it was composed. It argues that the text was originally created as an entertainment for young brahmin males who were memorizing the Veda under the direction of a teacher in a Vedic school. It concludes that the text was recited during days off from Veda study not only as an entertainment, but also as an encouragement to continue that study and as an education in the power and importance of the texts the students were memorizing.

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