Here the collected papers explore the whole question of the relation between the mythopoetic and the moral in the context of the Mahabharata. Here we have a story of extreme complexity, characters that are unforgettable, and a cosmic context in which gods and men alike grapple with destiny. The obligations of kinship and friendship jostle with each other. The women characters, as in everyday life, seem to bear a very heavy load of the burden of life and to stand in a key position in almost every conflict. We are presented with predicaments at every turn. At times these predicaments seem to be aggravated by social structure. At other times they are cushioned by it. Philosophical tangles tied up with karma and dharma are interwoven with the mythopoetic material. Perhaps philosophical issues are pinpointed rather more than they are in Greek epic literature.
The essays in this book treat the Mahabharata from an unusual angle, fastening on the moral dilemmas it presents. How universal are the dilemmas faced by the characters in the story, and are the dilemmas in fact resolved? In dealing with these questions, the discussions range over the meaning of the purusarthas, the institutions of marriage and the family, the concept of action in the Gita and the special predicaments faced by Draupadi, Arjuna and others. These studies invite the scholar to reflect afresh on the text and encourage the general reader to find in epic literature much that is relevant to life today.
About the Author(s)
Bimal Krishna Matilal was Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics and
Fellow of All Soul's College, Oxford. He was awarded the Padma Bhusana by
the Government of India in 1991. His many books include Epistemology, Logic
and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, The Logical Illumination of
Indian Mysticism, and The Word and the World: India's Contribution to the
Philosophy of Language.