The Mahabharata Patriline Gender, Culture, and the Royal Hereditary
The Sanskrit Mahabharata (which contains the Bhagavad Gita) is sorely neglected as a classic - perhaps the classic - of world literature, and is of particularly timely human importance in today's globalised and war-torn world. This book is a chronological survey of the Sanskrit Mahabharata's central royal patriline - a family tree that is also a list of kings. Brodbeck explores the importance and implications of patrilineal maintenance within the royal culture depicted by the text, and shows how patrilineal memory comes up against the fact that in every generation a wife must be involved, with the consequent danger that the children might not sustain the memorial tradition of their paternal family. The Mahabharata Patriline bridges a gap in text-critical methodology between the traditional philological approach and more recent trends in gender and literary theory. Studying the Mahabharata as an integral literary unit and as a story stretched over dozens of generations, this book casts particular light on the events of the more recent generations and suggests that the text's internal narrators are members of the family whose story they tell.
'In this challenging and well-researched book, Brodbeck squarely confronts one of the most daunting aspects of the Mahabharata: the vast tangle of characters, their lineage or clan affiliations, and the problem of patrilineal succession when the necessary presence of women as aids in the generation process presents the risk of supersession by matrilineal affiliations... [This book is] essential for scholars of the Sanskrit epic as well as scholars of regional and local Mahabharata text and performance.' Religious Studies Review 'The Mahabharata Patriline should be on the shelf of any scholar of the Mahabharata and/or related literature. [Brodbeck’s] approach is fresh and brilliantly argued... it will stimulate a lot of thought among those who want to delve deeper into the universe of the Mahabharata.' Journal of Hindu Studies 'This is a book that no serious student of the Mahabharata (MBH) can afford to ignore. It is enormously informative, challenging and provocative.' The Statesman