Vol 33 No. 1 (2014)
By the Gupta era, Śiva and Umā have emerged as the recognized parents of Skanda, but an examination of the descriptions of the deity’s birth from the Mahābhārata presents a much more complex view of his parentage. This essay examines one of the early narratives of the deity’s birth from the Mahābhārata where the young god has several fathers and mothers. Through an xamination of the paternal relationships Skanda has in the Āraṇyakaparvan of the Mahābhārata I argue one can observe the methods employed by epic redactors in writing non-Vedic gods into the emerging Hindu pantheon. Each paternal relationship demonstrates particular concerns the epic redactors faced with the inclusion of a non-Vedic deity into the text, concerns that are addressed through establishing paternal relationships between the young god and his fathers in this account, Agni and Śiva.
This article examines the Harivaṃśa’s rendering of Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa’s encounter with and marriage to Rukmiṇī of Vidarbha (HV 87–90), and proposes that this episode of Kṛṣṇa’s life is of special importance to the Harivaṃśa’s larger concern to develop in full the Mahābhārata’s partial portrait of the adult Vāsudeva Kṛṣṇa. I argue that the Harivaṃśa’s basic work of unpacking Kṛṣṇa’s adult identity advances on three fronts simultaneously: genealogical, political and theological, and that it is especially by recounting Kṛṣṇa’s relationship with Rukmiṇī that the poets are able to develop all at once some of the key political, genealogical and theological dimensions of Kṛṣṇa’s identity revealed only partially in the Mahābhārata.
This article discusses the marital relationship of Draupadī, the heroine of the Mahābhārata, and her five husbands, the Pāṇḍava brothers, with a focus on Draupadī’s connection to fire. Using textual analysis, the article examines the epic’s portrayal of interactions between Draupadī and her husbands to demonstrate how the epic explores Draupadī’s link to fire. Beginning with her birth from a sacrificial fire altar, Draupadī’s association with fire colors her behavior throughout the epic, including her relationships with her husbands. Her fiery personality can be seen as she incites her husbands out of passivity and into action, often on her own behalf. She ignites within them the spark that often leads to the main actions of the epic’s plot.
This essay looks beneath the surface of the “Annanmar Katai,” a major folk epic from Tamilnadu, to discover how the lone female in a set of three siblings leads a life very different from that of her two elder brothers. In the absence of their parents, these men enjoy their life as twin rulers of a small kingdom. Meanwhile their sister sits alone on her swing inside the family palace. Her brothers undertake many wondrous adventures while she slowly develops her own ability to see into the future through dreams. Gradually, however, this unmarried girl discovers that her brothers are not keeping their side of the traditional sibling contract. Brothers should listen to and protect their female siblings. Their sisters (especially virgin ones) will then reciprocate by magically transferring their stored-up powers to their brothers’ swords. When, in this folk legend, two powerful brothers withhold information, their sister starts to keep her insights secret too. The family kingdom now starts to fall apart as this key understanding between a sister and her brothers grows frayed. In sum, the essay reveals the major importance given to the maintenance of a positive, life-long brother-sister bond of reciprocity in traditional Tamil culture.
In the symbolic language of Vedic tradition, parental relationships are among the ways used by poets to articulate relationships between the one and the many, the parts and the whole. Mythological figures, and the principles they represent, are named as offspring to indicate that they are made manifest by an originator or “parent.” In some cases, what is named is the inter-relationship of principles through a cyclical process of “reverse” parenting. Prajā́pati, or Sacrifice, for example, is the father of his son, the fire god Agní and yet Agní, in turn, gives birth to him. There is also a well-known pattern of creation by an original “parent” or “one,” who gives birth to a “second,” and from these two “parents” arises the manifest world of the many. This paper will examine ideas of creation and re-creation through a study of parental relationships in Vedic tradition.
‘Yoginī’ in South Asia: Interdisciplinary Approaches, edited by István Keul. Routledge, 2012. 340pp., $127.70 ISBN–13: 9780415625227 105-106
Altizer, Thomas J.J. The Call to Radical Theology. Edited by Lissa McCullough. State University of New York Press, 2012. 181pp., $27.76. ISBN–13: 9781438444529. 107-108
Faith in the Public Square, by Rowan Williams. Bloomsbury, 2012. 344pp., $21.63. ISBN–13: 9781408187609 109-110
Studying Hinduism in Practice, edited by Hillary Rodrigues. Routledge, 2011. 195pp., $36.67. ISBN–13: 9780415468473 111-112