The ancient Indian Sanskrit tradition produced no text more intriguing, or more persistently misunderstood or underappreciated, than the Mahabharata. Its intricacies have waylaid generations of scholars and ignited dozens of unresolved debates. In Rethinking the Mahabharata, Alf Hiltebeitel offers a unique model for understanding the great epic. Employing a wide range of literary and narrative theory, Hiltebeitel draws on historical and comparative research in an attempt to discern the spirit and techniques behind the epic's composition. He focuses on the education of Yudhisthira, also known as the Dharma King, and shows how the relationship of this figure to others-especially his author-grandfather Vyasa and his wife Draupadi-provides a thread through the bewildering array of frames and stories embedded within stories. Hiltebeitel also offers a revisionist theory regarding the dating and production of the original text and its relation to the Veda. No ordinary reader's guide, this volume will illuminate many mysteries of this enigmatic masterpiece.
This work is the fourth volume in Hiltebeitel's study of the Draupadi cult. Other volumes include Mythologies: From Gingee to Kuruksetra (Volume One), On Hindu Ritual and the Goddess (Volume Two), and Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics (Volume Three).