The Sanskrit Mahabharata (Which contains the the Bhagavad Gita) is sorely neglected as a classic – perhaps the classic of world literature, and is of particularly timely human importance in today’s globalised and war-torn world.
This book is a chronological survey of the Sanskrit Mahabharata’s central royal patriline – a family tree that is also a list of kings. Brodbeck explores the importance and implication of patrilineal maintenance within the royal culture depicted by the text, and shown how patrilineal memory comes up against the fact that in every generation a wife must be involved, with the consequent danger that the children might not sustain the memorial tradition of their paternal family.
The Mahabharata Patriline bridges a gap in text- critical methodology between the traditional philological approach and more recent trends in gender and literary unit and as a story stretched over dozens of generations, this book casts particular light on the events of the more recent generations and suggests that the text’s internal narrators are members of the family whose story they tell.
Simon Brodbeck was educated at the universities of Cambridge and London. He has worked as a lecturer (University of Edinburgh, 2002-4), as a researcher (SOAS, University of London, 2004-7), and as a translator (Clay Sanskrit Library, 2007-8). He is currently a researcher and lecturer at Cardiff University. Previous publications include Gender and Narrative in the Mahabharata, Simon Brodbeck and Brian Black (eds), Routledge, 2007.
This book surveys and discusses the Sanskrit Mahabharata's central royal patriline - which I call 'the Mahabharata patriline' even though (and partly because) it begins before Bharata - and its implications and ramifications within the royal culture that the text imagines, retrojects, and projects. Part One introduces the survey from various angles. Part Two explores the patriline and the stories associated with its characters, in chronological order, down to King Kuru. Part Three takes up where Part two left off, continuing down to the Pandavas. Part Four explores the final section of the patriline down through Pariksit and Janamejaya. Summaries of each part can be found at the end of Part One, and in the introductions to Parts Two to Four.
What lies before you issued from a research project entitled 'Epic Constructions: Gender, Myth and Society in the Mahabharata’; which ran from 2004 to 2007 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in Bloomsbury, in association with the Department of the Study of Religions and the Centre for Gender and Religions Research. I thank Julia Leslie who set up the project; Brian Bocking who managed it after her death; the Arts and Humanities Research Board who generously funded it; and all those who participated in and supported the project, discussed my work with me, and assisted this book's production in so many ways, most particularly my colleague Brian Black, who read the Mahabharata with me and commented on the book's first full draft, and my co-conspirator Sian Hawthorne, who has been crucial at every stage.
The picture on the cover is reproduced by kind permission of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The lyrics to 'Welcome to the Machine' are reproduced by permission of Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd (all rights on behalf of Roger Waters Music Overseas Ltd administered by Muziekuitgeverij Artemis B.V; all rights reserved).
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