Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic

The Kirātārjunīya of Bhāravi

Indira Viswanathan Peterson
eISBN-13: 9780791487419

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

The Kirātārjunīya is the earliest literary treatment of the narrative of the Pandava hero Arjuna's combat with the great god Śiva, a seminal episode in the war epic Mahābhārata. Through a close analysis of the structural strategies of Bhāravi's poem, the author illuminates the aesthetic of the mahākāvya 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 Kirātārjunīya 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 Kirātārjunīya are presented in poetic translation.

ISBNs 9780791456132, 0791487415, 9780791487419
Language English