A BATTLEFIELD OF A TEXT INNER TEXTUAL INTERPRETATION IN THE by Tamar Chana Reich

A BATTLEFIELD OF A TEXT INNER TEXTUAL INTERPRETATION IN THE by Tamar Chana Reich

By Tamar Chana Reich

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And since at the time of the fonnation of the Mahabhiirata brahmans were not the only contenders for royal patronage - the Buddhists and the 1ains were around and they had their own narratives of kings and dharma - the discourse of the Mahabharata is engaged with other, competing discourses, in particular, Buddhist and lains. In this study I hope to show that a story placed in a legendary past, before the beginning of the present cosmic age or yuga, a mythic narrative, if you will, can serve as the stuff with which controversies present at the time of its formation were debated.

I have divided my work into three chapters: Chapter One treats textual heterogeneity on the level of text criticism. As explained above, the classical task of the text-critic is to reconstruct the original text, and at any rate he or she is bound to concepts of textual unity and authorial intention. For my project, however, variations and expansions become more relevant the more they can be shown to constitute an intervention in the larger pre-existing unit's meaning. Essential to my work is my argument that the practice of constant textual expansion by insertion of new textual units into an existing linear text is constitutive of the Mahabharata textual tradition.

In this section I will argue for a continuity between the dynamic poetics tha underlie the Mahabharata's narrative logic and those that underlie the process of expansion as revealed by analysis of the manuscripts. Sukthankar has already recognized this continuity: The view that the epic has reached its present form by a gradual process of addition and alteration receives strong support from the fact that the process is not stopped by scriptural flXation. 9 Sukthankar nevertheless continued to regard the expansion process as a distortion, whereas I treat it as a source suggestive of the practices of textual production which shaped the Mahabharata even in its earlier formative period, a period which we cannot directly 3S ukthankar 1933, lxxxvii.

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