Exploring Agency in the Mahabharata : Ethical and Political Dimensions of Dharma book cover
1st Edition

Exploring Agency in the Mahabharata
Ethical and Political Dimensions of Dharma

ISBN 9781138709201
Published March 25, 2018 by Routledge India
268 Pages

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Book Description

The Mahabharata, one of the major epics of India, is a sourcebook complete by itself as well as an open text constantly under construction. This volume looks at transactions between its modern discourses and ancient vocabulary. Located amid conversations between these two conceptual worlds, the volume grapples with the epic’s problematisation of dharma or righteousness, and consequently, of the ideal person and the good life through a cluster of issues surrounding the concept of agency and action. Drawing on several interdisciplinary approaches, the essays reflect on a range of issues in the Mahabharata, including those of duty, motivation, freedom, selfhood, choice, autonomy, and justice, both in the context of philosophical debates and their ethical and political ramifications for contemporary times.

This book will be of interest to scholars and researchers engaged with philosophy, literature, religion, history, politics, culture, gender, South Asian studies, and Indology. It will also appeal to the general reader interested in South Asian epics and the Mahabharata.

Table of Contents

Introduction: To Do

Vrinda Dalmiya and Gangeya Mukherji


  1. Mahabharata. Itihasa. Agency
  2. Sibesh Chandra Bhattacharya

  3. In Search of Genuine Agency:
  4. A Review of Action, Freedom and Karma in the Mahābhārata

    Amita Chatterjee

  5. The Theory of Karma in the Mahābhārata
  6. Christopher Framarin

  7. Karmayoga and the Vexed Moral Agent
  8. Arti Dhand


  9. Complexities in the Agency for Violence: A Look at the Mahabharata
  10. Gangeya Mukherji

  11. Irresolution and Agency: The Case of Yudhishthira
  12. Shirshendu Chakrabarti

  13. Can the Subhuman Speak or Act? Sagacious Serpents, Benevolent Birds, Rational Rodents, and a Mocking Mongoose in the Mahābhārata
  14. Arindam Chakrabarti

  15. Textual–Sexual Transitions: The Reification of Women in the Mahabharata
  16. Uma Chakravarti

  17. ‘Ekalavya and the Possibility of Learning’
  18. Sundar Sarukkai


  19. Tagore’s Readings of the Mahabharata
  20. Sudipta Kaviraj

  21. Answerability between Lived Life and Living Text: Chronotopicity in finding Agency in the Mahabharata

Lakshmi Bandlamudi

12. Dronòa in the Ekalavya Episode in Sāralā Mahābhārata

B. N. Patnaik


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Sibesh Chandra Bhattacharya is former Professor of Ancient History, Allahabad University, India.

Vrinda Dalmiya is Professor, Philosophy Department, University of Hawai’i, Manoa, USA.

Gangeya Mukherji is presently Visiting Professor, School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India.