Nonviolence in the Mahabharata: Siva’s Summa on Rishidharma and the Gleaners of Kurukshetra, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Nonviolence in the Mahabharata

Siva’s Summa on Rishidharma and the Gleaners of Kurukshetra, 1st Edition

By Alf Hiltebeitel


175 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780367000813
pub: 2018-07-27
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In Indian mythological texts like the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa, there are recurrent tales about gleaners. The practice of "gleaning" in India had more to do with the house-less forest life than with residential village or urban life or with gathering residual post-harvest grains from cultivated fields. Gleaning can be seen a metaphor for the Mahābhārata poets’ art: an art that could have included their manner of gleaning what they made the leftovers (what they found useful) from many preexistent texts into Vyāsa’s “entire thought”—including oral texts and possibly written ones, such as philosophical debates and stories.

This book explores the notion of non-violence in the epic Mahābhārata. In examining gleaning as an ecological and spiritual philosophy nurtured as much by hospitality codes as by eating practices, the author analyses the merits and limitations of the 9th century Kashmiri aesthetician Anandavardhana that the dominant aesthetic sentiment or rasa of the Mahābhārata is shanta (peace). Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent reading of the Mahabharata via the Bhagavad Gita are also studied.

This book by one of the leaders in Mahābhārata studies is of interest to scholars of South Asian Literary Studies, Religious Studies as well as Peace Studies, South Asian Anthropology and History.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Gleaners Were and Are for Real 2. Peace and Non-violence in the Mahābhārata 3. Śiva’s Summa on Gleaners 4. Gleaners and Beggars, Buddhist, Jain, and Brahmanical 5. Daṇḍaka Forest 6. Approaching Balarāma’s Tīrthayātrā and Kuruksetra with Three Hypotheses 7. More Homespun Tales of Kurukṣetra: Further towards a Mahābhārata Ethnography 8. Naimiṣeya Kuñja: The Mahābhārata’s Chief Holdout for Gleaners 9. The Gleaning Seam along Balarāma’s Route 10. King Kuru and the Kurus 11. King Kuru at Kurukṣetra 12. Gleaners of the Text 13. Conclusion: Non-violence and Śāntarasa en–route to Kurukṣetra

About the Author

Alf Hiltebeitel is Columbian Professor of Religion, History, and Human Sciences in the Department of Religion at The George Washington University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Hindu Studies Series

This series, in association with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, intends primarily  the publication of constructive Hindu theological, philosophical and ethical projects aimed at bringing Hindu traditions into dialogue with contemporary trends in scholarship and contemporary society. The series invites original, high quality, research level work on religion, culture and society of Hindus living in India and abroad. Proposals for annotated translations of important primary sources and studies in the history of the Hindu religious traditions will also be considered.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Hinduism / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General