1st Edition

Contemporaneity of the Mahabharata Narrative Epic of the Moment

Edited By Anirban Bhattacharjee, Dhrubajyoti Sarkar Copyright 2025
    192 Pages
    by Routledge India

    192 Pages
    by Routledge India

    Notwithstanding its renowned comprehensive narrative encapsulation of the Indic culture, the Mahabharata keeps on posing a challenge to its contemporary readers: how do we relate to something over two millennia old in today’s context without freezing it in time? This volume looks at the problem from diverse periods and standpoints and shows us that this challenge is, in fact, a legacy of the Mahabharata and the responses to this challenge is what makes the text ever-contemporary to different readers of different times and positions.

    It traces the evolution of the Mahabharata from its inception in the fifth century BCE to twenty-first century; spanning classical Sanskrit tradition, Persian and Bengali adaptations, the Mahabharata as a serialized TV show to more recent graphic narratives. By attempting to analyse this diversity this volume further delves into how the issues in the Mahabharata resonate across time, from the world of ancient sages to contemporary struggles of women. The essays in this book adopt a dual perspective to appreciate both the Mahabharata’s historical context, its exploration of war, heroes and heroines, gender, psychology, philosophy and its implications for the future.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and researchers of Indian literature, ancient literature and philosophy, English literature, cultural studies, visual studies, gender studies and translation studies.

    List of contributors. Foreword. Preface and Acknowledgement. Introduction. Part I 1. Asvamedhaparva: Jaimini and Vyasa Nilakantha's Mahabharata and Presentist Objections to his Work 2. Dramatic War, Fabulous Stories and Legendary Kings: Persian Adaptation of Mahabharata as Razmnama 3. On adaptation and appropriation: Some Observations on the Sources of the Mushalaparva in Kashiramadasa’s Bengali Mahabharata 4. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Lonely Middle Course: A Reading of the Mahabharata in Krishnacharitra 5. Relocating Mahabharatian Dystopia in Post Independent India: Reading Rangabharata as a Political Caricature of the Nehruvian Times 6. “Doomsday Epic”? P. Lal’s The Mahabharata of Vyasa and the Influence of European Modernism 7. Irreverent Readers, Worshipful Viewers: Post-Emergency Epics and Diverging Indian Nationalisms 8. Orality of ‘Then’ and Now’: Narrating the Mahabharata on Television 9. Psychobiography and Authorial Subjectivity in the (Re)presentation of Draupadi: Toward a Feminist Mythopoeia in Select Retellings of the Mahabharata 10. A World of Images: The Visual Identity of the Mahabharata Part II 11. The ‘Avengers’ in an Itihasa: Reading Revenge in the Mahabharata 12. Otherwise than Being: The Mahabharata, the Animal and the Eruption of the Ethical 13. The Mahabharata War and Ambedkar’s Critique of Violence and Nationalism. Index.


    Anirban Bhattacharjee (PhD, CSSSC Kolkata) is an Assistant Professor of English of Santipur College and a visiting faculty at IISER, Kolkata. He has a sustained interest in the Mahabharata and is part of several international research groups on the text. He presented the opening plenary of 2018 meeting of South Asian Literary Association. His recently edited volume is titled Mahabharate Himsa (2022). 

    Dhrubajyoti Sarkar teaches at the Department of English, University of Kalyani. His research interests are religious nationalism and religion-culture interface in the context of nineteenth-century South Asia.