This volume, the second in the Proceedings of the 13th World Sanskrit Conference (Edinburgh, July 2006), reflects the continued increase in interest in the Sanskrit epics seen in recent years, containing no less than 19 articles (a larger number than in the corresponding volume from the 12th WSC at Helsinki) by a number of distinguished scholars in the section devoted to the Sanskrit epics. The great majority of the articles focus on the Mahãbharata but several focus on the Ramayaia, as well as one on the Harivatmua. The variety of approaches adopted by their authors underlines the vitality of this area of research and collectively these articles make a major contribution to our understanding of the history of these massive works, their relationship to each other and their place in the total field of Sanskrit literature and indeed of Indian literature and culture as a whole.
John Brociungton is emeritus Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh, U.K., Secretary General (2000-2012) and now a Vice President of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies, and the author or editor of several books and numerous articles, mainly on the Sanskrit epics and the history of Hinduism. His published books include Righteous Rama: the evolution of an epic (1985), The Sanskrit Epics (1998) and Epic Threads: John Brockington on the Sanskrit Epics (2000); he is the translator with Mary Brockington of Rama the Steadfast: An Early Form of the Rãmäyana (2006) and a major contributor to Epic and Puranic Bibliography (up to 1985) (1992 and now online).
The Thirteenth World Sanskrit Conference was held in Edinburgh, Scotland on the 10th—l4th July 2006. To the delight of the organisers it was attended by a record number of participants from all parts of the world. At a time when the study of Sanskrit and related Indological subjects is becoming increasingly embattled in certain countries, such regular gatherings assume a particular importance in confirming scholarly solidarity as well as disseminating the most recent fruits of research.
The conference was divided into fourteen subject sections, each chaired by two scholars: 1. Veda; 2. Epics; 3. Purnas; 4. Agamas and Tantra; 5. Vyakarana; 6. Linguistics; 7. Poetry, Drama and Aesthetics; 8. Scientific Literature; 9. Buddhist Literature; 10. jaina Studies; 11. Philosophy; 12. History, Epigraphy and the Arts; 13. Law and Society; and 14. Culture and Society.
As now customary, arrangements for the publication of the proceedings became the responsibility of the conference organisers. To this end, the various section chairs were requested to edit the proceedings volume of their subject after inviting the submission of papers from participants and then submit a manuscript to the general editors for inspection and final formatting. It should be noted that the chairs of two thematic subpanels of the Philosophy section (‘sastrarambha-Philosophical Introduction’ and ‘New Directions in the Study of Yoga’), of History, Epigraphy and the Arts, and of Law and Society, wished to, make their own arrangements for publication elsewhere. In addition, it was decided that papers in the Culture and Tradition section which had been invited for publication should be placed in appropriate volumes of the proceedings.
The general editors would like to thank Petteri Koskikallio and Lumi Sammallahti for taking expert control of the final for, matting and technical production of the proceedings. It is anticipated that these Proceedings of the Thirteenth World Sanskrit Conference will reveal the impressive breadth and depth of Indological research at the present time and gain the appreciation of the interested scholarly world.
The range and diversity of the Sanskrit epics themselves was reflected in the diversity of the papers delivered in the epics section of the 13th World Sanskrit Conference held at Edinburgh in July 2096, while the number of participants testifies to the strength of epic studies within the discipline of Sanskrit studies as a whole. Papers were presented by 25 scholars in all and 19 of those are included in this volume in revised form, taking account of the active discussion which they prompted during the conference. In addition, the following papers are being published elsewhere: Robert P. Goldman’s ‘Rules of Engagement: War Crimes, Raksasa rights and the Political and Military strategies of the Great Sanskrit Epics’ (in srutimahati, a felicitation volume for Professor R. K. Sharma, the retiring President of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies), John Smith’s ‘Consistency and character in the Mahabharata’ (in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies), Przemyslaw Szczurek’s ‘Juggling with atman: Remarks on the Bhagavadgita 6.5—6’ (in the felicitation volume for Professor M. K Byrski), and Laurie L. Patton’s ‘“How do you conduct yourself?”: dialogical gender in the Mahabharata’, which she had intended to present at the conference but was unable to give for personal reasons (in Gender and Narrative in the Mahabhdrata, ed. by Simon Brodbeck & Brian Black, 2007).
Inevitably, there was an overlap with the section on Puranas and, while Yaroslav Vassilkov’s paper on the boar myth in the epics and Puranas was included in the epics section and so appears in this volume, that by André Couture on the grouping of the four Vrsni heroes in the Harivarna was presented in the Purana section (and has since been published in the Journal of Indian Philosophy 34 : 57 1—585). The majority of the articles in this volume relate primarily to the Mahabhdrata but there are also five on the Ramayana, if Vidyut Aklujkar’s article relating to the Anandaramayarza is included under that head, and a single article on the Hariva,náa, which is still the poor relation of epic studies, despite the efforts at the 3rd Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas to generate greater interest in it.
Approaches to the epics were indeed extremely varied. While this was only to be expected from the broad group of scholars assembled in Edinburgh from all over the world, it has made the task of arranging the papers into a coherent and meaningful order a problematic one. There are of course certain themes which either form the main subject of certain papers or underlie the discussion in others. Textual issues are addressed most directly in the article by Wendy Phillips-Rodriguez on constructing a stemma for Mahdbharata manuscripts making use of techniques drawn from the natural sciences and statistics (phylogenetics and cladistics) but they form an element in several others. Two articles, those by Nick Allen and Simon Brodbeck, examine genealogical issues. AIf Hiltebeitel charts the terminology of friendship in relation to the concept of bhakti. Narrative techniques are discussed along rather different lines by James Hegarty in relation to the narrative on tirthas in the Maha. bhãrata and by Mary Brockington in relation to the plot of the Ramayana. What is superficially a traditional word study by Sven Sellmer on hrd and related terms is enriched in fact by understandings drawn from modern psychology, while Antonella Cosi looks at the way that similes are used in speeches in two books of the Mahabharata.
Whereas these articles look at the texts in terms of their structure and their major themes, others concentrate more on content. Individual characters and episodes form the focus for several articles. Thus we have studies of Bhima’s quest for the saugandhika flowers by Danielle Feller and of Uttanka’s quest for the earrings by Paolo Magnone, of Duryodhana’s truths by Angelika Malinar, of the story of Visvamitra by Adheesh Sathaye, of Nikumbhila and her grove by Sally Sutherland Goldman and — though they are less individualised — of Krsna’s many wives by Horst Brinkhaus. Jim Fitzgerald examines one of the pairs of udhyayas devoted to Samkhya and Yoga in the Moksadharmaparvan (Mbh 12.289—290). John Brockington surveys again the weapons mentioned in the early Ramayana, while Urmi Shah documents the relationship of the pronouncements on rãjaniti found in certain sargas of the Ramayana with those of the later text, the Nitiprakasika of Vaisampayana.
The articles are grouped according to the text that they are mainly focussing on (in the order Mahabharata, Harivamsa, Ramayana) and within that in an order which seeks to bring related topics together, beginning with the genealogical issues that underpin all of the narrative in each of the texts and ending with the study of a retelling of one of them, the Anandaramayana. The editor has ensured a degree of uniformity of appearance and of bibliographic reference but had no wish to rein in the diversity of expression and approach to be found in the feast of articles here assembled.
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