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Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic
The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi
Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic
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Indira Viswanathan Peterson - Author
Price: $71.50 
Hardcover - 318 pages
Release Date: March 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5613-7
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5613-2

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Price: $31.95 
Paperback - 318 pages
Release Date: March 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5614-5
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5614-9

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Explores the earliest literary treatment of Arjuna's combat with the great god Siva, providing an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic.

Indira Viswanathan Peterson provides an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic (mahakavya), an important genre in classical Indian poetry, and the first study of a celebrated sixth-century poem, the Kiratarjuniya (Arjuna and the Hunter) of Bharavi. Sanskrit court epics are shown to be characterized both by formalism and a deep engagement with enduring Indian values.

The Kiratarjuniya is the earliest literary treatment of the narrative of the Pandava hero Arjuna’s combat with the great god Siva, a seminal episode in the war epic Mahabharata. Through a close analysis of the structural strategies of Bharavi's poem, the author illuminates the aesthetic of the mahakavya genre. Peterson demonstrates that the classical poet uses figurative language, rhetorical devices, and structural design as the primary instruments for advancing his argument, the reconciliation of heroic action, ascetic self-control, social duty, and devotion to God. Her discussion of the Kiratarjuniya in relation to its historical setting and to renderings of this epic episode in literary texts and temple sculpture of later periods reveals the existence of complex transactions in Indian civilization between the discourses of heroic epic and court poetry, political ideologies and devotional religion, Sanskrit and the regional languages, and classical and folk traditions. Selections from the Kiratarjuniya are presented in poetic translation.

“This is a work of great critical insight and analytical brilliance backed by impressive scholarship.” — Orientalistische Literaturzeitung

“Peterson proves that it is possible and fruitful to approach mahakavya such as ‘Arjuna and the Hunter’ through the aesthetic values it embodies. She succeeds in making one of the greatest works of literature accessible and meaningful to non-specialists, as well as useful for teachers of South Asian culture and religion.” — History of Religions

“Peterson’s reading is rich, her language is itself elegant and balanced, her translations felicitous … her Kiratarjuniya will provide the specialist (and, indeed, perhaps even more importantly, the non-specialist) with a cogent introduction to the serious ‘reading’ of mahakavya.” — Journal of the American Oriental Society

Indira Viswanathan Peterson is Professor of Asian Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Poems to Siva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints and editor of Indian literature for The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, Expanded Edition.


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Table of Contents

List of Figures

Acknowledgments

1. Introduction: The Study of the Sanskrit Court Epic

2. The Poetics of the Mahakavya

3. The Setting and Structure of the Kiratarjuniya

4. Prelude to Action: Epic Speech in Bharavi's Poem

5. The Debate between the Brothers: Logic, Rhetoric, and Politics in the Court Epic

6. Landscapes with Women: Bharavi's Descriptive Art

7. The Conundrum of the Warrior-Ascetic

8. The Theater of Combat

9. Wrestling with God: Rasa and Bhakti in the Kiratarjuniya

A Note on the Translation Selections

Appendix A. Draupadi Rebukes Yudhisthira: Kir. I. 27-46

Appendix B. The Journey of the Apsaras: Kir. VII. 1-40

Appendix C. Arjuna's Combat with the Hunter: Kir. XVII. 1-64

Appendix D. The Wrestling Match, Theophany, and Boon: Kir. XVIII. 1-19; 42-48

List of Abbreviations

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Index of References to the Kiratarjuniya



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