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
Contributors. Foreword. Acknowledgements. Introduction: To Do I: ACTION 1. Mahabharata. Itihasa. Agency 2. In Search of Genuine Agency: A Review of Action, Freedom and Karma in the Mahābhārata 3. The Theory of Karma in the Mahābhārata 4. Karmayoga and the Vexed Moral Agent II: ACTOR 5. Complexities in the Agency for Violence: A Look at the Mahabharata 6. Irresolution and Agency: The Case of Yudhishthira 7. Can the Subhuman Speak or Act? Agency of Sagacious Serpents, Benevolent Birds, Rational Rodents, and a Mocking Mongoose in the Mahābhārata 8. Textual–Sexual Transitions: The Reification of Women in the Mahabharata 9. Ekalavya and the Possibility of Learning III: EPIC AGENCY AND RETELLINGS 10. Tagore’s Readings of the Mahabharata 11. Answerability between Lived Life and Living Text: Chronotopicity in finding Agency in the Mahabharata 12. Drona in the Ekalavya Episode in Sāralā Mahābhārata. Index
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.