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Books > Hindu > The Women of The Mahabharata (The Question of Truth)
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The Women of The Mahabharata (The Question of Truth)
The Women of The Mahabharata (The Question of Truth)
Description
From the Jacket
In the stories where the Mahabharata speak of life, women occupy a central place. In living what life bring to them, the women of the Mahabharata show, that the truth in which one must live, is however, not a simple thing: nor can there be any one absolute statement about it. Each one of them, in her own way, is a teacher to mankind as to what truth and godless in their many dimensions are.

The twelve women of the Mahabharata whose life stories make up this book, range from Shakuntala, Savitri and Damayanti who are known only in sketches; from Sulabha, Suvarchala, Uttara Disha, Madhavi and Kapoti who are hardly known, and finally to Draupadi, known widely but frozen in popular culture and writing in two or three standard clichéd images.

The women of the Mahabharata are incarnate in the women of today. To read the stories of their relation-ships is to read the stories of our relationships. They demand from the men of today the same reflection on their perceptions, attitudes, and pretensions too, as they did from the men in their lives, and equally often from other men full of pretensions, even if they were king and sages.

Badrinath's ability to combine respect and love and to write with impressive scholarship and grace will unforgettably transform our experience of reading the Mahabharata.

Chaturvedi Badrinath is a philosopher and was born in Mainpuri, uttar Pradesh. He was a member of the Indian Administrative Service between 1957 and 1989, and spent thirty-one years serving in Tamil Nadu. Badrinath has been Homi Bhabha fellow (1971-73) and Visiting Professor at Heidelberg University (1971), where he gave a series of seminars on dharma and its application to our times. Giving numerous lectures of Indian thought, he has also been an active participant in inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue at various for a across the world.

Preface
It requires a word of explanation why, from among the numerous women of the Mahabharata, I have assemble here only twelve. They are those who are either known mostly in their caricature, like Shakuntala and Savitri, even Damayanti, or not known at all, like Suvarchala, Sulabha, Uttara Disha, even Mhadhavi, and Kapoti, a women of another species. Also they are those, like the unnamed housewife (Anamika, meaning 'the women without a name',) Urvashi and Devayani, in whose voices the Mahabharata teaches us several other profound truths about human life. Finally, among my twelve women of the Mahabharata, there is Draupadi, Frozen in vernacular literature and in the popular mind only in two or three standard images, and thus known widely but mostly in her caricature. If she occupies the largest space in this book, it is because she occupies a most considerable space among the women of the Mahabharata, teaching us profound lessons.

Independent in itself, this book may be regarded as the accompanying volume of my the Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition. Some the women here are there as well.

Introduction
The Sage Galava had to go on a mission he thought was as urgent as it was important. He spoke to his friend Garuda, the Great Eagle, who offered to fly him to his destination. After they had flown a long distance, Galava said to his friend: 'You are flying so very high that there is darkness everywhere and I can see nothing. You are flying with great speed, and I am frightened. I can see neither your body nor mine. All can see are the flames your wings produce against the wind, and I cannot bear your speed. Neither am I now sure that I want to go where I had said that I wanted to go. Slow down, my friend, and let us go back,'

'Very well,' Garuda said, 'there is a hill on the sea coast ahead: we will rest there, have some food, and return.'

Descending on the hill, they saw a woman, Shandili, who had on her face the glow of some ineffable energy. They saluted her most respectfully; and she offered them food, wholesome and satisfying, and, there on the earth, the two men fell into deep sleep.

When Garuda awoke, he saw that his wings were severed from his body, and without them he looked like a lump of flesh. Distressed by what had happened to his friend, but worried no less about himself, Galava asked him how long they might have to remain there in that condition. It seemed to be some kind of punishment, but he wondered why. He said to Garuda: 'you didn't think some offensive thoughts about the woman, or did you?

Garuda said: 'what I thought was that I should fly this woman where Brahma is, where Vishnu is, where Shiva is, where Dharma is: for, I thought, that is there this good woman should live.' Then he spoke to Shandili thus: 'I had that thought in my mind with a desire only to do you. It looks, as though it did not please you. Right or wrong, I seek your forgiveness.'

Hearing this, Shandili was pleased, and said to Garuda:

Fear no more. Hereafter your wings will be even more beautiful and powerful. In your thoughts your bad denigrated me. Whatever I am, and what I have achieved, is owing to my own conduct, which has in it no blemish. It that which has brought me the power of goodness.

Good conduct fulfils the order of life, and from good conduct comes prosperity as its fruit. It is from good conduct that one obtains well-being; and it is good conduct that removes the blemishes of life.

May you live long, the king of Birds! But don't denigrate me ever again. Indeed, don't ever insult a woman.

But where was the denigration, where the insult? On the contrary, Garuda had thought Shandili to be so elevated a beings that she merited the company of the gods. Left unsaid, what shadily, and in her voice, the Mahabharata was saying was that a woman rooted in the goodness of her being, and in its truth needed not, even the gods can add nothing. The women of the Mahabharata, assembled here, neither derive their identity from men nor do they draw their inner energies from goods of the universe.

* * * *
Lord Shiva and his wife Uma had come to the end of a long conversation, in which they had together explored many questions concerning the human condition. He said to her:

Now I want to ask you: what is the dharma of a woman? You are me wife. You character and resolve are like mine. The strength of your energy is equal to mine. Half of my being is suffused with one half of your being. You have known many of the greatest women. Therefore, what you say about woman would become authority: women are especially the standard for women. That is because what women say has acceptance among women, and what men say does not have among women quite the same importance.

Uma replied:

I now feel inspired to talk of the dharma of woman. But let me first consult these great rivers assembled here to listen to this part of our conversation. They all flow into the ocean: Vipasha, Vitasta, chandrabhaga, Irawati, Shatadur, Sindhu, Kaushiki, Gautami, Yamuna, Narmada, Kaveri, and the most sacred of them all, Ganga. To me, to consult them will be to honour them. Woman always follows woman.

Turning to them, Uma said:

I see neither on this earth nor in the heavens anybody who has obtained knowledge all by himself, without help from others. Therefore I seek your advice.

On being asked by the other rivers to be their voice, the river Ganga said to Uma:

Himself (or herself) competent in every way, one who seeks the opinion of others nevertheless, and given them respect without being devious, is indeed a true pandita, scholar. With the divine knowledge within you can in your own light pronounce on the dharma of a woman.

Thereupon Uma advanced a position on that subject which was familiar then, and been familiar since. The substance of what she said was:

A husband alone is woman's god, her friend and her support: there is neither support nor god like her husband.

But that was not the heart of the parable. It negated firstly Shiva's pronouncements that women are especially the standard for women, and 'what men say does not have among women quite the same importance'. It negated also Uma's own view that 'women follows woman'. It is doubtful that any of these propositions is wholly true, or is true always; but the fact that they were advanced in the Mahabharata is in of great significance.

The meaning of the conversation between Shiva and his wife on the dharma of a woman is to be seen in the presence of the rivers there, as a brilliant literary device to point to the truth that, like a river, woman is the flow of life, and that flow is feminine.

There is a method in the Mahabharata's reflection on woman as the flow of life. First of all, a truth as perceived by a woman is state, the truth of a particular woman in a particular situation, in language that is straight and clear. But that statement concerning the truth of things being incomplete, many other things about the human condition are then conveyed through the lives of other women. That process is a continuous one in the Mahabharata, for it is a continuous process in human relationships. No truth is ever ignored, however incomplete; but every individual truth is shown to be pointing to towards a greater reality. However, given the nature of language, what that greater reality is, can never be stated in words without inviting the charge of incompleteness. This suggestion, too, comes from a woman in the Mahabharata. The truth that can never be competed through vac, speech, is to be completed in the living of truth.

Secondy, every story has no doubt a central focus, which is a personal focus; but simultaneously it says many other things that are independent of it, and may not even be state. Thus, for example, the story of Galava and Garuda points also to a universally experienced irony. Still on his journey, Galava no longer sees any meaning in it. 'I am now not even sure if I want to go where I thought I had an urgent mission to go. Let us go back. Flying with immense speed, Garuda, said to him, 'but why didn't you say so at the beginning itself? Galava could not have: he had to travel some distance in order to become aware of the meaninglessness of the journey he had embarked upon. Some become aware of how meaningless the aim was after they have achieved it, often ay great cost to themselves and to the others.

This irony besides, the story is saying another thing as well. Great speed blurs everything, a sense of direction most of all, direction not in its physical but primarily in its emotional sense.

Thus the third main characteristic of the method in the and history never do, or never can, the real character of a person's truth or that of a situation. In moments of one's awareness of the ironies of relationships, one becomes aware not necessarily of their meaninglessness but of their limits. It is then that one sees how foolish, and very often destructive, it is to attach to a relationship meaning it suggests clearly, but without saying so expressly, that if one can make any sense of life, it is to be sensed ironically. Irony is the laughter of truth.

Fourth, the method is to show that no event of our lives can be understood by itself. In order to make any sense of it, we have to look beyond it; for whatever happens to us is part of some larger truth. It is no good merely narrating the facts, 'this happened to me; that happened to me', but to make an effort also to see the issue, or the issue, which happened simultaneously. Neither do we always narrate an event without filtering it. Much is withheld, much is then put forward for the withholding and the concealing; but what is plausible is mostly only what is clever, and what is clever is not necessarily also what is intelligent. The Mahabharata offers several examples of it, of which the most prominent is Kunti withholding for many long years the truth that Karna was the first-born son she had cast away not long after he was born.

However, in bringing up the undeniable paradox that the personal can be understood in the light only of the impersonal, the Mahabharata does not ever disperse the individual, the person, into some grand philosophical abstraction. Truth does transcend the mere personal, but it does not for that reason become unfeeling. It is a gross insult to a human being to answer his, or her, dismay, outrage, unhappiness, suffering, by saying: 'but remember that life is transitory, a huge illusion, and so is your unhappiness and pain', or by delivering a discourse on the origins of suffering, or by talking of the wisdom of forgiveness and reconciling always. By narrating strongly that that is what was being done, the Mahabharata is showing, as a part of its method, what should not be done but is done all the time. Some of the women of the Mahabharata show how, when expressed without feeling, grand truths produce the greatest untruths of all.

The quest for the truths of human situations, of one's self, of the other, of their mutual relatedness, is in the Mahabharata almost always through questions asked by concrete human beings, everywhere. Evry story in the Mahabharata is in answers to a personal question. 'What was the life of my father like? "Who was the progenitor of my family?' 'Do you know, or have heard of, anyone more unfortunate than I am?' 'What does one do when faced with a conflict not just between right and wrong but between right and huge snake take place?' 'What is truth, about which there is so much confusion? What is dharma, about which there is so much uncertainty?' Numerous questions, arising from numerous situations. The truths that emerge always have reference to human realities, and it is in them that they are validated.

In the stories through which the Mahabharata speaks of life, women occupy a central place. In living what life bring to them, the women of the Mahabharata show that the truth in which one must live is, however, not a simple thing: nor can there be any one absolute statement about it. Each one of them, in their many dimension are.

The women of the Mahabharata are incarnate in the women of today. To read the stories of their relationship is to read the stories of our relationship. They demand from the men of today the same reflection on their perceptions, attitudes, and pretensions too, as they did from the men in their lives, and equally often from other men full of pretensions, even if they were king and sages. But to create literature is not a political programme, although that is exactly what was made out in this century especially – literature as an instrument of political idea-logy. Whatever may be the measure of justice in that claim, it is now perfectly clear that political ideology ensures the death of literature; for it conceals on principle the truth that truth is anekanta, many-sided, and never one-dimensional.

Thus, a human situation and its story has not only several levels but can also be read differently by different persons and even by the same person differently at different times in his or her life. That is why I have not interpreted, nor analysed, any of the women of the Mahabharata I have assembled here. What they are saying, the context in which they are saying it, and what they are as human beings, are perfectly clear and require no interpretation, especially if we keep in mind the method the Mahabharata consistently employs in its inquiry into the human condition. That method itself suggests interpretation, of which there can be more than one.

Furthermore, every human story could have ended differently than how it actually did. In being a most systematic philosophic inquiry into the human condition, the Mahabharata does not see the meaning of a story in the way it ends. The particular end of a story is not the whole of its meaning.

Back of The Book
By the same author
An Inquiry in the Human Condition
Chaturvedi Badrinath shows that the Mahabharata is the most systematic inquiry into the human condition. Its principal concern is the relationship of the self with the self and with the other. This book not only proves the university of the themes explored in the Mahabharata, but also how this great epic provides us with a method to understand the human condition itself.

Contents

Acknowledgementvii
Prefacexi
Introduction1
1.Innocence, Love, and Denial of Truth11
Shakuntala
2.The Humbling of The Arrogance of Knowledge27
Anamika
3.The Truth of Desire35
Urvashi
Devayani
Uttara Disha
4.The Power of the Truth of Love53
Savitri
Damayanti
5.Language, Meaning and Truth117
Suvarchala
Sulabha
6.Turing The Face Upon The Selfish World of Men 149
Madhavi
7.One's Sacrifice, Another's Transformation163
Kapota & Kapoti
8.The Undeniable Truth of Hurt and Humiliation
The Undeniable Necessity of Transcending Them169
Draupadi
Index267

The Women of The Mahabharata (The Question of Truth)

Item Code:
IDK922
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2008
Publisher:
ISBN:
8125035141
Size:
9.6" X 6.4"
Pages:
288
Price:
$35.00   Shipping Free
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From the Jacket
In the stories where the Mahabharata speak of life, women occupy a central place. In living what life bring to them, the women of the Mahabharata show, that the truth in which one must live, is however, not a simple thing: nor can there be any one absolute statement about it. Each one of them, in her own way, is a teacher to mankind as to what truth and godless in their many dimensions are.

The twelve women of the Mahabharata whose life stories make up this book, range from Shakuntala, Savitri and Damayanti who are known only in sketches; from Sulabha, Suvarchala, Uttara Disha, Madhavi and Kapoti who are hardly known, and finally to Draupadi, known widely but frozen in popular culture and writing in two or three standard clichéd images.

The women of the Mahabharata are incarnate in the women of today. To read the stories of their relation-ships is to read the stories of our relationships. They demand from the men of today the same reflection on their perceptions, attitudes, and pretensions too, as they did from the men in their lives, and equally often from other men full of pretensions, even if they were king and sages.

Badrinath's ability to combine respect and love and to write with impressive scholarship and grace will unforgettably transform our experience of reading the Mahabharata.

Chaturvedi Badrinath is a philosopher and was born in Mainpuri, uttar Pradesh. He was a member of the Indian Administrative Service between 1957 and 1989, and spent thirty-one years serving in Tamil Nadu. Badrinath has been Homi Bhabha fellow (1971-73) and Visiting Professor at Heidelberg University (1971), where he gave a series of seminars on dharma and its application to our times. Giving numerous lectures of Indian thought, he has also been an active participant in inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogue at various for a across the world.

Preface
It requires a word of explanation why, from among the numerous women of the Mahabharata, I have assemble here only twelve. They are those who are either known mostly in their caricature, like Shakuntala and Savitri, even Damayanti, or not known at all, like Suvarchala, Sulabha, Uttara Disha, even Mhadhavi, and Kapoti, a women of another species. Also they are those, like the unnamed housewife (Anamika, meaning 'the women without a name',) Urvashi and Devayani, in whose voices the Mahabharata teaches us several other profound truths about human life. Finally, among my twelve women of the Mahabharata, there is Draupadi, Frozen in vernacular literature and in the popular mind only in two or three standard images, and thus known widely but mostly in her caricature. If she occupies the largest space in this book, it is because she occupies a most considerable space among the women of the Mahabharata, teaching us profound lessons.

Independent in itself, this book may be regarded as the accompanying volume of my the Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition. Some the women here are there as well.

Introduction
The Sage Galava had to go on a mission he thought was as urgent as it was important. He spoke to his friend Garuda, the Great Eagle, who offered to fly him to his destination. After they had flown a long distance, Galava said to his friend: 'You are flying so very high that there is darkness everywhere and I can see nothing. You are flying with great speed, and I am frightened. I can see neither your body nor mine. All can see are the flames your wings produce against the wind, and I cannot bear your speed. Neither am I now sure that I want to go where I had said that I wanted to go. Slow down, my friend, and let us go back,'

'Very well,' Garuda said, 'there is a hill on the sea coast ahead: we will rest there, have some food, and return.'

Descending on the hill, they saw a woman, Shandili, who had on her face the glow of some ineffable energy. They saluted her most respectfully; and she offered them food, wholesome and satisfying, and, there on the earth, the two men fell into deep sleep.

When Garuda awoke, he saw that his wings were severed from his body, and without them he looked like a lump of flesh. Distressed by what had happened to his friend, but worried no less about himself, Galava asked him how long they might have to remain there in that condition. It seemed to be some kind of punishment, but he wondered why. He said to Garuda: 'you didn't think some offensive thoughts about the woman, or did you?

Garuda said: 'what I thought was that I should fly this woman where Brahma is, where Vishnu is, where Shiva is, where Dharma is: for, I thought, that is there this good woman should live.' Then he spoke to Shandili thus: 'I had that thought in my mind with a desire only to do you. It looks, as though it did not please you. Right or wrong, I seek your forgiveness.'

Hearing this, Shandili was pleased, and said to Garuda:

Fear no more. Hereafter your wings will be even more beautiful and powerful. In your thoughts your bad denigrated me. Whatever I am, and what I have achieved, is owing to my own conduct, which has in it no blemish. It that which has brought me the power of goodness.

Good conduct fulfils the order of life, and from good conduct comes prosperity as its fruit. It is from good conduct that one obtains well-being; and it is good conduct that removes the blemishes of life.

May you live long, the king of Birds! But don't denigrate me ever again. Indeed, don't ever insult a woman.

But where was the denigration, where the insult? On the contrary, Garuda had thought Shandili to be so elevated a beings that she merited the company of the gods. Left unsaid, what shadily, and in her voice, the Mahabharata was saying was that a woman rooted in the goodness of her being, and in its truth needed not, even the gods can add nothing. The women of the Mahabharata, assembled here, neither derive their identity from men nor do they draw their inner energies from goods of the universe.

* * * *
Lord Shiva and his wife Uma had come to the end of a long conversation, in which they had together explored many questions concerning the human condition. He said to her:

Now I want to ask you: what is the dharma of a woman? You are me wife. You character and resolve are like mine. The strength of your energy is equal to mine. Half of my being is suffused with one half of your being. You have known many of the greatest women. Therefore, what you say about woman would become authority: women are especially the standard for women. That is because what women say has acceptance among women, and what men say does not have among women quite the same importance.

Uma replied:

I now feel inspired to talk of the dharma of woman. But let me first consult these great rivers assembled here to listen to this part of our conversation. They all flow into the ocean: Vipasha, Vitasta, chandrabhaga, Irawati, Shatadur, Sindhu, Kaushiki, Gautami, Yamuna, Narmada, Kaveri, and the most sacred of them all, Ganga. To me, to consult them will be to honour them. Woman always follows woman.

Turning to them, Uma said:

I see neither on this earth nor in the heavens anybody who has obtained knowledge all by himself, without help from others. Therefore I seek your advice.

On being asked by the other rivers to be their voice, the river Ganga said to Uma:

Himself (or herself) competent in every way, one who seeks the opinion of others nevertheless, and given them respect without being devious, is indeed a true pandita, scholar. With the divine knowledge within you can in your own light pronounce on the dharma of a woman.

Thereupon Uma advanced a position on that subject which was familiar then, and been familiar since. The substance of what she said was:

A husband alone is woman's god, her friend and her support: there is neither support nor god like her husband.

But that was not the heart of the parable. It negated firstly Shiva's pronouncements that women are especially the standard for women, and 'what men say does not have among women quite the same importance'. It negated also Uma's own view that 'women follows woman'. It is doubtful that any of these propositions is wholly true, or is true always; but the fact that they were advanced in the Mahabharata is in of great significance.

The meaning of the conversation between Shiva and his wife on the dharma of a woman is to be seen in the presence of the rivers there, as a brilliant literary device to point to the truth that, like a river, woman is the flow of life, and that flow is feminine.

There is a method in the Mahabharata's reflection on woman as the flow of life. First of all, a truth as perceived by a woman is state, the truth of a particular woman in a particular situation, in language that is straight and clear. But that statement concerning the truth of things being incomplete, many other things about the human condition are then conveyed through the lives of other women. That process is a continuous one in the Mahabharata, for it is a continuous process in human relationships. No truth is ever ignored, however incomplete; but every individual truth is shown to be pointing to towards a greater reality. However, given the nature of language, what that greater reality is, can never be stated in words without inviting the charge of incompleteness. This suggestion, too, comes from a woman in the Mahabharata. The truth that can never be competed through vac, speech, is to be completed in the living of truth.

Secondy, every story has no doubt a central focus, which is a personal focus; but simultaneously it says many other things that are independent of it, and may not even be state. Thus, for example, the story of Galava and Garuda points also to a universally experienced irony. Still on his journey, Galava no longer sees any meaning in it. 'I am now not even sure if I want to go where I thought I had an urgent mission to go. Let us go back. Flying with immense speed, Garuda, said to him, 'but why didn't you say so at the beginning itself? Galava could not have: he had to travel some distance in order to become aware of the meaninglessness of the journey he had embarked upon. Some become aware of how meaningless the aim was after they have achieved it, often ay great cost to themselves and to the others.

This irony besides, the story is saying another thing as well. Great speed blurs everything, a sense of direction most of all, direction not in its physical but primarily in its emotional sense.

Thus the third main characteristic of the method in the and history never do, or never can, the real character of a person's truth or that of a situation. In moments of one's awareness of the ironies of relationships, one becomes aware not necessarily of their meaninglessness but of their limits. It is then that one sees how foolish, and very often destructive, it is to attach to a relationship meaning it suggests clearly, but without saying so expressly, that if one can make any sense of life, it is to be sensed ironically. Irony is the laughter of truth.

Fourth, the method is to show that no event of our lives can be understood by itself. In order to make any sense of it, we have to look beyond it; for whatever happens to us is part of some larger truth. It is no good merely narrating the facts, 'this happened to me; that happened to me', but to make an effort also to see the issue, or the issue, which happened simultaneously. Neither do we always narrate an event without filtering it. Much is withheld, much is then put forward for the withholding and the concealing; but what is plausible is mostly only what is clever, and what is clever is not necessarily also what is intelligent. The Mahabharata offers several examples of it, of which the most prominent is Kunti withholding for many long years the truth that Karna was the first-born son she had cast away not long after he was born.

However, in bringing up the undeniable paradox that the personal can be understood in the light only of the impersonal, the Mahabharata does not ever disperse the individual, the person, into some grand philosophical abstraction. Truth does transcend the mere personal, but it does not for that reason become unfeeling. It is a gross insult to a human being to answer his, or her, dismay, outrage, unhappiness, suffering, by saying: 'but remember that life is transitory, a huge illusion, and so is your unhappiness and pain', or by delivering a discourse on the origins of suffering, or by talking of the wisdom of forgiveness and reconciling always. By narrating strongly that that is what was being done, the Mahabharata is showing, as a part of its method, what should not be done but is done all the time. Some of the women of the Mahabharata show how, when expressed without feeling, grand truths produce the greatest untruths of all.

The quest for the truths of human situations, of one's self, of the other, of their mutual relatedness, is in the Mahabharata almost always through questions asked by concrete human beings, everywhere. Evry story in the Mahabharata is in answers to a personal question. 'What was the life of my father like? "Who was the progenitor of my family?' 'Do you know, or have heard of, anyone more unfortunate than I am?' 'What does one do when faced with a conflict not just between right and wrong but between right and huge snake take place?' 'What is truth, about which there is so much confusion? What is dharma, about which there is so much uncertainty?' Numerous questions, arising from numerous situations. The truths that emerge always have reference to human realities, and it is in them that they are validated.

In the stories through which the Mahabharata speaks of life, women occupy a central place. In living what life bring to them, the women of the Mahabharata show that the truth in which one must live is, however, not a simple thing: nor can there be any one absolute statement about it. Each one of them, in their many dimension are.

The women of the Mahabharata are incarnate in the women of today. To read the stories of their relationship is to read the stories of our relationship. They demand from the men of today the same reflection on their perceptions, attitudes, and pretensions too, as they did from the men in their lives, and equally often from other men full of pretensions, even if they were king and sages. But to create literature is not a political programme, although that is exactly what was made out in this century especially – literature as an instrument of political idea-logy. Whatever may be the measure of justice in that claim, it is now perfectly clear that political ideology ensures the death of literature; for it conceals on principle the truth that truth is anekanta, many-sided, and never one-dimensional.

Thus, a human situation and its story has not only several levels but can also be read differently by different persons and even by the same person differently at different times in his or her life. That is why I have not interpreted, nor analysed, any of the women of the Mahabharata I have assembled here. What they are saying, the context in which they are saying it, and what they are as human beings, are perfectly clear and require no interpretation, especially if we keep in mind the method the Mahabharata consistently employs in its inquiry into the human condition. That method itself suggests interpretation, of which there can be more than one.

Furthermore, every human story could have ended differently than how it actually did. In being a most systematic philosophic inquiry into the human condition, the Mahabharata does not see the meaning of a story in the way it ends. The particular end of a story is not the whole of its meaning.

Back of The Book
By the same author
An Inquiry in the Human Condition
Chaturvedi Badrinath shows that the Mahabharata is the most systematic inquiry into the human condition. Its principal concern is the relationship of the self with the self and with the other. This book not only proves the university of the themes explored in the Mahabharata, but also how this great epic provides us with a method to understand the human condition itself.

Contents

Acknowledgementvii
Prefacexi
Introduction1
1.Innocence, Love, and Denial of Truth11
Shakuntala
2.The Humbling of The Arrogance of Knowledge27
Anamika
3.The Truth of Desire35
Urvashi
Devayani
Uttara Disha
4.The Power of the Truth of Love53
Savitri
Damayanti
5.Language, Meaning and Truth117
Suvarchala
Sulabha
6.Turing The Face Upon The Selfish World of Men 149
Madhavi
7.One's Sacrifice, Another's Transformation163
Kapota & Kapoti
8.The Undeniable Truth of Hurt and Humiliation
The Undeniable Necessity of Transcending Them169
Draupadi
Index267

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