Freud's Mahabharata
 0190878339, 9780190878337

Table of contents :
Cover
Freud’s Mahābhārata
Copyright
Contents
List of Figures
Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations
1. Introduction: Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and the Mahābhārata
2. A Short Introduction to Freud’s Mahābhārata Through the Pāṇḍavas’ Mother Kuntī
3. Two-​Times-​Three Dead Mother Texts: Dead Mothers and Nascent Goddesses
4. Uncanny Domesticities: Goddesses in the Mahābhārata
5. Kālī and Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar: Rethinking Bose’s Oedipus Mother
6. Moses and Monotheism and the Mahābhārata: Trauma, Loss of Memory, and the Return of the Repressed
Addendum: Trauma Studies and Literature Since the 1980s
References
Index

Citation preview

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Freud’s Mahābhārata

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FREUD’S MAHĀBHĀRATA

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ALF H ILT EBE I TE L

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1 Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and certain other countries. Published in the United States of America by Oxford University Press 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, United States of America. © Oxford University Press 2018 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above. You must not circulate this work in any other form and you must impose this same condition on any acquirer. CIP data is on file at the Library of Congress ISBN 978–​0–​19–​087833–​7 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2 Printed by Sheridan Books, Inc., United States of America

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Contents

List of Figures 

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Preface 

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Acknowledgments  List of Abbreviations  1. Introduction: Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and the Mahābhārata 

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2. A Short Introduction to Freud’s Mahābhārata Through the Pāṇḍavas’ Mother Kuntī 

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3. Two-​Times-​Three Dead Mother Texts: Dead Mothers and Nascent Goddesses 

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4. Uncanny Domesticities: Goddesses in the Mahābhārata 

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5. Kālī and Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar: Rethinking Bose’s Oedipus Mother 

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6. Moses and Monotheism and the Mahābhārata: Trauma, Loss of Memory, and the Return of the Repressed 

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Addendum: Trauma Studies and Literature Since the 1980s 

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References 

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Index 

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Figures



2.1.

Kuntī overlooks Draupadī; (a) book illustration. (b) Vīranantal. 46 2.2. Disrobing of Draupadī provokes possession of woman in audience. 53 5.1. Collage of twenty severed heads of Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar. 151 5.2. Monumental heads of Aravāṉ; (a) Kumbakonam; (b) Singapore.  155 5.3. Kūttāṇṭavar’s head and forearms (a) in remote Peṉṉaivalam temple (b) in fields surrounded by forests.  156 5.4. Kūttāṇṭavar doubled by “Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch.” Kūttāṇṭavar sanctum, Putūr.  157 5.5. Aravāṉ’s body at Draupadī festivals; (a) with snake; (b) kneeling for kaḷappali.  161 5.6. Victory Pillar, Vīravanallūr; Draupadī in “form of Kālī” beheads Aravāṉ.  163 5.7. Nākakaṉṉi with cobra canopy and fanged lion; Kūttāṇṭavar temple, Teṭāvūr.  165 5.8. Pāppampāṭi Kūttāṇṭavar temple on a slope with spears in front.  172 5.9. Ciṅkanallūr; (a) Pommiyammaṉ as bride-​widow; (b) Kūttāṇṭavar’s cross.  174 5.10. Ciṅkanallūr; Kūttāṇṭavar before kaḷappali holding his last meal.  177 5.11. Sowcarpet temple, Chennai.Aravāṉ hands his head to Kālī for kaḷappali.  178 5.12. (a) Tailāpuram. Kūttāṇṭavar begins kaḷappali by slicing his arm; (b) nine grains.  179

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List of Figures

5.13. Day fifteen of Kūvākkam festival, an Ali in front of house she will rent.  184 5.14. Cōḻavaram Draupadī temple; two torsos of Mohinī, one each of Aravāṉ, Kūttāṇṭavar, and Kṛṣṇa.  186 5.15. Kūvākkam. Kūttāṇṭavar’s wooden processional head freshly repainted.  187 5.16. Kūvākkam. Kūttāṇṭavar, his body lined with jasmine strings tossed by Alis.  189 5.17. Kūvākkam. Alis lament Kūttāṇṭavar’s kaḷappali before his chariot.  190 5.18. Kūttāṇṭavar’s head, revived at Kālī temple, then danced back to his sanctum.  191 5.19. Three Ali contestants for “Miss Kūvākkam,” 1990.  194 5.20. 1974 Calendar art of “Kṛṣṇa Lying on a Banyan Leaf.”  199 6.1. Draupadī-​Māriyammaṉ temple fresco, Vāyalūr; women see wonder of the saris.  257

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This Book takes its title seriously, although since Freud never refers to the Mahābhārata, it might at first seem no more than a lure. The volume proceeds through an uneven three-​part structure, with the first and last chapters being the first and third parts, and the middle four chapters constituting the second part. Chapter  1, titled “Freud’s ‘The “Uncanny” ’ and the Mahābhārata,” examines Freud’s essay, “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” and works its way back from it to the Mahābhārata, as from time to time we see how Freud’s thoughts relate to that text. It thus offers only a pointillistic introduction, one in which most ideas hint at fuller treatment in later chapters. Chapters  2 through 5, then, are a medley of varied post-​ Freudian readings of Mahābhārata scenes, themes, and episodes, viewed through the lenses of authors who are sympathetic with Freud (myself included) and in c­ hapter 5, this includes that of his Indian correspondent, Girindrasekhar Bose. Chapter 6 is titled “Moses and Monotheism and the Mahābhārata: Trauma, Loss of Memory, and the Return of the Repressed.” As the third part of the book, it provides the payoff, explaining what is suggested by the title. Drawing on all preceding chapters, it offers a new theory of the Mahābhārata that can be called “Freud’s Mahābhārata” because he inspired it. As to the Mahābhārata, it is the “great epic of India,” both in its baseline text of the Poona Critical Edition and in the Mahābhārata tradition as it unfolds. Thus, I single out three different Mahābhāratas that I have come to study. That is, since 2011, I  have made a distinction between text and tradition, pointing out that the tradition begins with the earliest known Sanskrit interpolations in the baseline text that are traceable to the epic’s Southern recension. I  thus now call the baseline version, derived mainly from the epic’s Northern recension, the text, leaving all subsequent manuscript-​based texts, beginning with the Southern recension, as

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tradition. My usage follows up on the work of T. P. Mahadevan, although he does not use “text” and “tradition” in this sense. Thus, the study of the Mahābhārata text and tradition in these forms has involved me in one type of Mahābhārata study that must be done in Sanskrit, which I have been doing since 1967 in my dissertation, and which I continue to work on to this day. The Mahābhārata tradition also unfolds in other Sanskrit forms—​for instance, in the Purāṇas, one of which, the Bhaviṣya Purāṇa (Purana of the Future), has a lengthy unit called the Kṛṣṇāṃśa-​Carita (Deeds of the Portion of Krishna), who, it is said, incarnated on earth with a portion of himself to become a hero named Udal in the “Mahābhārata of the Kali-​yuga,” called the Ālhā. This oral epic’s retelling in Sanskrit is probably a mid-​nineteenth-​century translation from the Hindi vernacular. I translated the Kṛṣṇāṃśa-​Carita from Sanskrit into English in 1997, as the basis for five chapters of my 1999 book on India’s regional oral epics. That book delved as extensively as I could into India’s rich and diverse vernacular Mahābhārata traditions, which are found in every language of the subcontinent. Among the latter are two folk traditions found in Tamil cults: the Draupadī and Kūttāṇṭavar cults, each with its own, very different distillation of the Mahābhārata tradition. Each is expressed in folkloric narrative or myth, ritual, iconography, and drama. These two cults yield the other two Mahābhāratas that I reflect on in this book. One can be called the Draupadī cult’s Mahābhārata, which I have studied since 1975 with my wonderful fieldwork interpreters and assistants. The first such co-​worker was C. T. Rajan, with whom I worked steadily from 1975 to 1988. Then, in 1990, I worked with my former undergraduate student Lee Weissman, who was researching his dissertation at the University of Chicago, and the Swiss folklorist Eveline Masilamani-​ Meyer, both superb at Tamil. The rhythm-​and-​blues singer J. Rajasekharan accompanied me on field trips, when available, from 1990 to 1994. S.  Ravindran worked with me from 1994 to 2004, and from 1998 as a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University. And Perundevi Srinivasan, first as my Human Sciences graduate student at George Washington University, and then from 2008 as a colleague at Rutgers University, Claremont Colleges, and Sienna College, accompanied me to Dharmapuri District for a stretch every summer from 2000 to 2011, and continues now as co-​author of the book she and I are writing about the Draupadī cult in Dharmapuri District. The other, and third Mahābhārata, is the Kūttāṇṭavar cult’s Mahābhārata studied with C. T. Rajan in 1982; with Professor E. Sundaramurti of the

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Department of Tamil Literature at the University of Madras, in Coimbatore and Salem Districts; with J. Rajasekharan and Lee Weissman in 1990 at its festival in Kūvākkam village, with follow-​up fieldwork there done with Rajasekharan and S. Ravindran from 1991 to 1994, and with Ravindran at the Singanallur Kūttāṇṭavar festival in Coimbatore city in 1995. Along with offering these further acknowledgments, my point here is to zero in on the period from 1990 to 1992 as the most formative phase of my work in terms of getting where I am now. As in Freud’s India, in whose preface I  wrote a personal, family history in vignettes that occasionally recalled Freud’s life but was about my own, and about experiences relevant to the subjects of that book, I do something similar in this preface. In this case, though, I discuss the problems I faced in trying to juggle work on these three Mahābhāratas during that two-​year period, which occurred after my father had died in 1984 and while my wife was leaving me, before our amicable divorce in 1993. What I wrote about my father’s death in Freud’s India included that I was forty-​two (just as Freud was forty-​one when his father died); and when I published my first book on the Draupadī cult in 1988, about the cult’s mythologies, I dedicated it “in memory of my father who taught us to see.” He died during the year I had begun writing that book, and my dedication expressed as best I could all that it owed to him. From this point, for a few pages, I hope you will forgive me the immodesty of engaging in the trope of the Historian of Religions as a hero for sticking to his work. So, in this book I first discuss the Mahābhārata of the Sanskrit text and its Sanskrit textual traditions. During that 1990–​92 period, after fifteen years of concentrating more and more intensely on fieldwork on Tamil cults and culture, I was beginning to feel the need to get back to the Sanskrit texts, from which I had grown to feel more and more estranged, and insecure about my Sanskrit, which I had not seriously worked with since 1981. In 1995, Jim Fitzgerald helped me immensely to refurbish my Sanskrit by sending me Muneo Tokunaga’s machine-​readable transliteration of the Mahābhārata, from the Poona Critical Edition. It gave me a new agility to whiz around the text that I had never imagined possible—​ one that seemed at first to be cheating on it. By 1997, though, I was able to translate the Kṛṣṇāṃśa-​Carita from the untranslated Bhaviṣa Purāṇa. Yet what I needed was to form a picture of how my earlier fieldwork and my textual study could continue together, if that were to happen at all. Each of the three Mahābhāratas, for different reasons, beckoned to be set aside, but at the cost of what I knew could only be a failure to carry

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out the promise of earlier and, in the case of the two cults, ongoing field studies. My first moment of clarity on the Sanskrit Mahābhārata came with long-​lasting results, but I am still surprised it appeared in this early period and in the form and place it did. Sometime in the summer of 1992, I was invited to the Śiva-​Viṣṇu Temple in Lanham, Maryland, for lunch and to give a talk about my Sanskrit epic research, which had grown so perilously thin. There were only a few people in attendance, but my host’s college-​ age daughter asked for my thoughts about the origins of the Mahābhārata, to which I replied that I had “come to think of it first and foremost as a work of literature.” Her resulting scowl told me she was well enough informed to realize I had said something unpalatable to her views—​that the Mahābhārata was a sacred oral history dating back to a preliterate age. The clarity of my position surprised me, as would its staying power. I doubt that I would have formulated it that prematurely, had it not been for the need I had to return to the Sanskrit texts while differentiating them in my mind from the vernacular, folk Mahābhārata traditions I had been busy with. Not until 1999, having recently read Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative, did I write, “I believe that the largest inadequacy of Mahābhārata scholarship, including my own up to 1991, is simply the failure to appreciate the epic as a work of literature.”1 By that time, and leading up to my 2001 book, Rethinking the Mahābhārata: A Reader’s Guide to the Education of Yudhiṣṭhira, I was theorizing the Mahābhārata as a dateable written text composed over a short period of time by a “committee” or atelier of “out-​ of-​sorts Brahmins”—​a text with likely interpolations, yes, but with no convincing way to argue that they were any more than a day, a week, a decade, or at most, say, two generations old.2 Then, by 2006, I  could enjoy the support of my positions in Mahadevan’s study of the epic’s Northern and Southern recensions; and by 2009, I could begin to enjoy a basic, though always restless, “working agreement” to consider the short-​term composition of the epic by a new generation of scholars such as Aditya Adarkar, Vishwa Adluri, Joydeep Bagchee, Adam Bowles, Simon Brodbeck, Brian Collins, James Hegarty, Dan Rudmann, and Fernando Wulff Alonso.

1. Hiltebeitel 2011b, 3–​4. 2. See Hiltebeitel 2011b, 3–​24; Hiltebeitel 2001, passim.

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I turn now to the second and third Mahābhāratas that I was considering abandoning in 1990–​92. I  discuss the Kūttāṇṭavar cult‘s first, since the problems with it reach further back than my problems with the Draupadī cult. Kūttāṇṭavar is a minor hero in the Sanskrit epic text and tradition, which names him Irāvat, but he looms in importance in the Draupadī cult, which knows him as Aravāṉ, and still more so in his own Kūttāṇṭavar cult, which knows him by both of these Tamil names. In both cults, Aravāṉ is worshiped for his self-​mutilating sacrifice as a battle-​opening offering to “mother” Kālī, and in his own cult in Kūvākkam village and at a few other Kūttāṇṭavar temples in nearby villages, he is worshiped by Indian transsexuals, including eunuchs or castrati. Today, and since about 1995, they call themselves Aravāṉis, naming themselves after him; but when I did my fieldwork they called themselves Alis. My problem with the Kūttāṇṭavar cult and its Mahābhārata surfaced for the first time in 1982, in the room C. T. Rajan and I had taken at the Rolex Hotel in Villupuram, the hub town near Kuvakkam village, where its Kūttāṇṭavar festival was gearing up for the big ceremonial events that would occur on its sixteenth night and seventeenth day. The Rolex was also popular among Alis who had come to town for the festival, and we hosted several of them in our room for tea, biscuits, and conversation, during which they volunteered to show us how they put on makeup and plaited their hair with strings of jasmine. They urged me to take photographs, which made me wonder if I  was being exploitative. But my moment of lasting discomfort came when one Ali, who lingered behind after the others had left, asked if we wanted “to see my” (that is, his/​her) “operation.” To my surprise, Rajan seemed unfazed by this offer, and turned to me for our answer. But I had felt a chill run down my spine, and responded with a rather too firm “No,” judging from the look on our guest’s face, who soon collected himself/​herself and left. Today, my reaction reminds me of Freud’s remark that there is an “unplumbable navel” in every dream beyond which the interpreter cannot go. Freud was talking about a moment in his “specimen dream” of “Irma’s Injection.” While he was looking into Irma’s mouth, he had been reminded of a vagina. But Freud, having looked, was talking about sexual matters he did not want to discuss publicly, not what he did not want to look at. Rajan and I soon discussed my “No” as an exceptional breach of my loyalty to the anthropologists’ credo of participant observation, which it certainly was. This was additionally puzzling to me, since I had recently gone so far as to drink a chilled bottle of sticky, foul-​tasting orange soda called

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Kali Cola when it had been offered to me during the raking of the coals to form a fire pit on a sweltering afternoon, resulting in a bout of dysentery. But it was more than a rejection of participant observation, as came home to me in 1990, when the same pattern confronted me, this time in the form of a joke. Lee Weissman, Rajasekharan, and I had been enjoying the night-​long sights and sounds of this, my second “eunuch jamboree,” as we had come to call the sixteenth night’s revelries in which the Alis “have fun” in activities like dancing, magic shows, beauty pageants, and sex in the fields—​for which the rate quoted for oral sex was “12 rupees for Indians, 50 for Americans.” That rate was not offered seriously, and thus required no decision; and the three of us roared with laughter. But I was reminded of the offer eight years earlier. Both offers had touched the uncomfortable nerve of a latent “unruly homosexuality” (as Freud called his feelings about his friend, Wilhelm Fliess). All this came home to me personally in 1990, because I  was experiencing a kind of emasculation, with no woman in my life. For about two years, in asking myself what to do about six months of fieldwork sponsored by the American Institute of Indian Studies regarding about forty Kūttāṇṭavar temples, I  was blocked from writing anything. Aware of the problem, I thought I might unblock myself in a series of lectures at the Sorbonne, to which I was invited by Madeleine Biardeau. The series was titled “Le Mahābhārata dans les traditions populaires de l’Inde du Sud.”3 Six of my eight lectures were about Kūttāṇṭavar, and in them, I began to organize data and plan some strategies for future writing. The Kūttāṇṭavar cult presented a bewildering variety of local detail, from tugs of war to putting the deity’s icon on a horse or a swing. During my second or third lecture, with the anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere in attendance, I stated a working principle that, in interpreting such things in the Kūttāṇṭavar cult, I assumed the priority of the Sanskrit Mahābhārata. From his startled look I  sensed the remark caught Obeyesekere by surprise; I surmise that it made him think I sounded more like a Sanskritist than an anthropologist. But I did not begin to revive that dossier in written articles until 1994, after I had domiciled myself with a new woman-​friend. We turned our basement into our study, and there I wrote three articles on Kūttāṇṭavar in a few years. But from 1990 to 1992, my Kūttāṇṭavar cult Mahābhārata studies had been in danger of being scuttled. 3.  This was an eight-​lecture course, given by the École Pratique des Hautes Études, 5th Section, Section des Sciences Religieuses, La Sorbonne, May 17–​June 18, 1992.

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Third, I  turn to where I  was in 1990–​92 with the Draupadī cult Mahābhārata, which had been the center of my research life from 1975 to 1990. Through 1989 and the first half of 1990, I worked on my second volume of Draupadī cult studies, and specifically on Draupadī cult rituals. While I had invested great energy and love in my first volume, which was on Draupadī cult mythologies, published in 1988, the disruptions in domestic life had left me disenchanted with the second volume; and since it seemed quite possible to think I had done enough with two volumes on the Draupadī cult, I seriously entertained the thought that I had brought my Draupadī cult studies to a disenchanted end, and would stop visiting Draupadī temples and festivals in the future, at some emotional loss. That did prove to be what happened between 1990 and 1998, when, as luck would have it, Ravindran and I  were doing fieldwork on a Duryodhana festival near Dharmapuri, and we just happened to walk through a village where the culminating ceremonies of a Draupadī festival were going on. That was to lead to the resumption of my Draupadī cult studies with Perundevi. Now, at some point in late 1990 or soon thereafter, I  became aware of a dream that I had discovered a Draupadī temple in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. I  didn’t want to admit to myself that I  had had this enchanting dream, thinking that if I didn’t admit it, I could keep on having it. Yet I cannot say whether the dream was a recurrent one, which is what I wished to think, or whether it originated as a solitary dream or even a daydream. My own part in discovering the temple is obscure, as is how I knew it was a Draupadī temple. I don’t recall ever seeing Draupadī or one of her icons. But it was an Indian-​style Draupadī temple, with one strange feature. Instead of a mortar and pestle in a corner, there was an old four-​ legged washing machine with wooden hand-​pumped clothes wringers of the type my mother used in the house we lived in when I was four and five. I had first heard about the Pine Barrens from my high school girlfriend, whose family vacationed in nearby Wildwood. And by the time of the dream, I had driven past and through the Pine Barrens several times en route from Connecticut to Washington D.C., along the scenic Garden State Parkway. I must have had the dream sometime after the spring of 1990, for that is when I did fieldwork at the Vaṭukku Poykaiyūr Draupadī temple, which I identify with the dream, for three reasons. One, which is part of my recollection of the dream, is the visual sight of wispy evergreen casuarina trees near the shoreline Vaṭukku Poykaiyūr temple, of which I was reminded by the scrub pines that grow along the

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Atlantic seashore. Second, an association with the dream, is that I  did the fieldwork at Vaṭukku Poykaiyūr with Eveline Masilamani-​Meyer, who would soon be visiting me from Switzerland. And third, which I had forgotten but which clinches the connection, I wrote in my 1991 book that the anthropologist Lawrence Babb “tells us that it was ‘claimed by some’ of his Singapore informants ‘that the shrine of Draupadī [in Singapore] was originally established by a community of boat repairmen from the village of Vadukku Poigaiyiur near Nagapattinam,’ on the Tanjavur District coast of the Kaveri delta.”4 I  had evidently transposed the boatmen’s journey from Singapore, all the way to New Jersey. But why would I expend energy trying to keep this dream in my unconscious or, in current terms, to make it a recurrent lucid dream?5 Those were the years when I was unsuccessful in finding good female companionship. There was nothing to gain from figuring out that I was fantasizing Draupadī in my wife’s place, as she had often said I did. But I had also formed an attitude when I would return to the States, flying over the Tamil landscape I had come to know. My attitude was that America and the India I was discovering were two utterly separate worlds, planets apart, and that the India now disappearing below me, that meant so much to me, would have to wait until I returned. My subliminal knowledge of the secret temple in New Jersey helped me to dispense with that attitude, which was unhealthy for a writer who wishes to communicate things of relevance about the places and people he studies. All three of these Mahābhāratas, each with its distinctive mythology, have thus survived their threatened extinctions in 1900–​92, and have made their way into Freud’s Mahābhārata. The textual and Draupadī cult Mahābhāratas come up in virtually every chapter, and the Kūttāṇṭavar cult Mahābhārata is featured in in ­chapter 5. Now, I  am aware that there is risk these days in highlighting myth. Interpretation of myth no longer has the caché or urgency it had among psychoanalysts in Freud’s time,6 but that is the time this book recalls. As Bernard This says, “Freud is not a mythographer. . . . In studying the productions of the unconscious, and the fantasms that recall these ancient

4. Hiltebeitel 1991, 335, citing Babb 1974, 3. 5. See Bulkeley 2006, 257–​70; Obeyesekere 2011 on lucid dreams as ego-​less “it-​thinking.” 6. One needs only to mention the place of myth in Freud’s splits from Carl Jung and Otto Rank to realize the urgency of treating myth up to 1925.

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stories that Hellenists translate, Freud had known to produce what was significant from his familial constellation.”7 Up through c­ hapter 5, when I make points about myth, it may seem at times to Freud-​attuned readers that in imagining Freud’s and Bose’s responses to material with which I can only sometimes demonstrate their familiarity, that I risk imputing a free association with Indian myth to them.8 Although I also bring in other methods to the study of Indian myths, I would not discourage that impression. Let me just try to sharpen the checks and balances on free play that such a procedure suggests, by saying that it is never a matter of just myth, but also of iconography, ritual, and in several cases of cults, and that the myths discussed come from varied literary and anthropological contexts.9 Chapter by chapter, this book introduces terms and themes that are followed up in later chapters. As a “pointillistic” introduction to the epic, ­chapter 1 is meant to provide an undemanding entrée to the book’s Mahābhārata subject matter. The discussion of Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” makes it possible to introduce Freud’s Mahābhārata with an argument that can also be phrased in Bernard This’s terms: Freud’s “empire” was “founded” on his phylogenetic reading of Freud’s Oedipal family drama, retold about “the one who, responding to an enigma, had liberated the city from this monster who suffocated all those who could not answer his questions.”10 Chapter 1, however, not only treats Freud’s handling of the Oedipal but also reintroduces from Freud’s India his belated overtures to the pre-​Oedipal, along with his discussion of burial alive, ghosts and doubles, and castration anxiety among his “classes” of the “uncanny.” I discuss parallels between Freud’s eventually stubbornly held view that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” and Indian theories of karma and reincarnation. My argument in c­ hapter 1 is that the Mahābhārata forges a comparable “empire” with

7. This 1994, 99. 8.  I  owe this formulation to the psychoanalyst Christopher Keats, who writes in clarification: “As I recall, my formulation was that myth can be seen as the free association of an entire people—​when enough people have the same free associations these become myths, or, I would agree, icons, or rituals, or the basis for cults. I don’t know whether Freud says as much anywhere in his writing, but his interest in myths may have stemmed from his interest in individuals’ free associations, and an assumption that myths were a kind of collective free association.” 9. In addition to the cultic mythologies and iconographies discussed in this volume, see the discussion of Caldwell 1999a and 1999b on muṭiyettu, in FI, ch. 8. 10. This 1994, 99.

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Freud’s in its own uncanny handling of myth. Chapter 1 introduces two prominent epic terms that parallel Freud’s “uncanny”: māyā, or “illusion,” which centers on the doings of Kṛṣṇa; and adbhuta, the “wondrous.” In ninth-​and tenth-​century Indian aesthetic theory, the latter is considered one of the nine “moods” or “sentiments” that can be dominant in works of literature, and I discuss adbhutarasa (which Sheldon Pollock glosses as the “uncanny”11) as a third option, along with the two traditional contestants for the Mahabhārata: the heroic (vīrarasa) and the peaceful (śāntarasa). Chapter 2 then introduces André Green’s concept of “the dead mother,” alive but emotionally dead to her child, around which I  introduce the epic’s main story through the interactions between the peace-​loving King Yudhiṣṭhira and his bellicose mother Kuntī. Chapter  2 also introduces the Mahābhārata text more thoroughly as a whole, as what we can call a “dead mother” text in the sense of what Green calls the “dead mother complex.” In this chapter, I study the tensions between the eldest Pāṇḍava Yudhiṣṭhira and Kuntī as one that exemplifies Green’s dead mother complex, in which a living mother has stopped loving a child, resulting in a “depressed position,” but in which the child may be creative in working through the impasses that the distance from his mother introduces. I trace these tensions through the text, from the Mahābhārata’s beginning to its end, and also find them suggestive for the Draupadī cult possession scenes during dramas that enact Draupadī’s disrobing. Chapter  3 then widens the dead mother theme. I  started this eventual two-​book project in the fall of 2012, with a paper I presented in an American Academy of Religion panel, which has become the basis for this chapter. Against the background of three of Freud’s texts that present the rarity of his addressing the topic of dead mothers, c­ hapter 3 presents in counterpoint three dead mother texts from the Mahābhārata. All three feature Kuntī, but she is one among a cohort of really dead or divine past mothers in the Pāṇḍava lineage. It thus introduces many women and goddesses in the Mahābhārata, whom I discuss further in ­chapter 4. The most important of the Mahābhārata’s three dead mother texts is the third, from an episode during the Pāṇḍavas’ year in concealment. As the five brothers and Draupadī near the capital city where they will each don a disguise, the middle brother Arjuna directs Nakula, a younger brother, to hide their weapons in a tree, after which they spread the rumor that

11. Pollock 2006, 217.

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they have put the stinky corpse of their 180-​year-​old mother in the tree, following their “family custom” of tree burial, so as to keep people from finding the weapons. We are left with the question of which mother he means—​the still very much alive Kuntī being one of five candidates. I discuss this as an example of Vedic ritual humor, and the whole episode as illustrative of virtually everything that Freud describes as “uncanny.” In ­chapter  4, I  take up Fernando Wulff Alonso’s hypothesis that the Mahābhārata poets worked from a Greek repertoire in modeling many of their stories. Here and in c­ hapters 5, and 6, I discuss the epic’s divine plan for the Unburdening of the Earth, the goddess Earth, and its Greek counterpart in the Iliad’s Plan of Zeus. Treating Wulff’s theory noncommittally but appreciatively allows me to take note of ways that the Mahābhārata’s goddesses and heroines are increasingly domesticated, “tamed,” or “spousified” as one moves from the baseline text into the tradition. As mentioned in the preface to Freud’s India, I scrapped the idea of including “Uncanny Domesticities” in the title of this project in late 2015. But I kept it for this chapter, where it speaks not to the home lives of Freud or Bose but to that of goddesses and heroines in the Mahābhārata. Chapter 4 pursues questions about the Mahābhārata as a text and tradition, and presents the idea that the earliest baseline text gives us something like what Freud calls “primary process.” Chapter 4 also treats the uncanny theme of live burial in the myth of the five former Indras, and considers Indian karma in that myth as a possible translation of the Greek hubris. Chapter  5 then reintroduces from Freud’s India Girindrasekhar Bose’s concept of the “Oedipus mother” through a discussion of Aravāṉ-​ Kūttāṇṭavar’s self-​ mutilating sacrifice as a battle-​ opening offering to “mother” Kālī. It again recalls Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” discussing the hero’s “castration” and his prenatal experience of listening to his mother’s discussion with Kṛṣṇa from the womb. It treats a Mahābhārata tradition that is totally unknown in any Sanskrit text. It was developed in Tamilnadu, but there are comparable narratives about different heroes from all over India. In my two volumes on Draupadī cult myth and ritual, each has a chapter on Aravāṉ, and I wrote three articles on Kūttāṇṭavar plus an additional one as a new chapter in my 2011 collection of essays titled When the Goddess Was a Woman. Chapter 5 attempts a unified picture of this hero’s mythology and ritual as an illustration of Bose’s idea of the “Oedipus mother.” The three articles from the late 1990s, to which I brought a conventional Freudian perspective, thus come under review from a Bosean angle.

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Finally, ­chapter 6 offers a new theory of the epic based on Freud’s Moses and Monotheism, where he argues that religious traditions deserve to be studied not only in what they say consciously about themselves but also in what they have registered unconsciously from past trauma, loss of memory, and the return of the repressed. Here I posit that the Unburdening of the Earth myth alongside the Mahābhārata’s repeatedly highlighted stories about forest-​based gleaners reflects a repressed and forgotten trauma over the Brahmanical experience of India’s second urbanization in the seventh to third centuries bce. Against this background I discuss the traumas of Draupadī and other heroines as reflections of the trauma of the earth, and discuss Vedic jokes at these women’s expense as evidence that their grand portrayals are nonetheless a return of the repressed, all transposed into a vague yet hallowed Vedic past lost to living memory. Chapter 6 is the last to have been written. It came as an afterthought, like a bolt from the blue. I was rereading Richard Bernstein’s Freud and the Legacy of Moses to see if there was more I needed to say about it. Coincident with that rereading, Arti Dhand sent me her essay on karma yoga for prepublication comment while I was also reading through T. P. Mahadevan’s forthcoming book as editor-​in-​chief of the series in which it was to appear. Both raised points about the Mahābhārata that I  thought Freud’s Moses and Monotheism helped me to see better. Although I would have to depart from their conclusions, it seemed the right context to discuss these two important studies. In short, my aim in this book is to examine some features of the Goddess’s domestication in and by the Mahābhārata that take advantage of things one can learn from Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and his overtures to primary process and the pre-​Oedipal and Oedipal. By Chapter 6, I tie things together by presenting a new theory of the Mahābhārata based on Freud’s 1937 Moses and Monotheism and his 1905 Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious. By these lights, Freud’s Mahābhārata turns out to be a full package of Freud-​inspired readings of India’s great epic.

xxi

Acknowledgments

Acknowledgments for most of those I  thank for helping this book along are made in its companion volume, Freud’s India. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this book were originally included in what has become Freud’s India, as was some of the material in c­ hapters 1 and 2. It was the word-​count requirement of another press that led to the division into two books, which opened the vista that allowed bringing this book more into focus and ending it with a new ­chapter 6. I believe this revision not only works to the benefit of the Mahābhārata arguments, hypotheses, and contents of this book but also points to Freud’s understanding of distinctive ways that the unconscious can work in the formation of religious traditions, including in the Mahābhārata with its singular importance within Hinduism. It is thus pertinent to thank Christopher Keats again for reading and commenting on ­chapter 6, and to additionally thank Perundevi Srinivasan, Brian Collins, and Norman Girardot for their responses to my paper about this book and ­chapter 6, prepared for my retirement party on September 28, 2017. Thanks are also due to Arti Dhand for permitting the quotations from her unpublished article, “Karmayoga and the Vexed Moral Question,” and to the University of Chicago Press for permission to quote in c­ hapter 1 from David Gordon White’s Kiss of the Yoginī. I express special thanks to Pradip Bhattacharya who, just as production of this book was about to begin, finally located a copy of the image of Freud one sees on its cover. It comes from the National Library of the Government of India in Kolkata. The pencil sketch was drawn by Jatindrakumar Sen, as the caption in Bengali below it states. The sketch, made from the famous photograph arranged by Freud’s son-​in-​law Max Halberstadt, which Freud sent to Bose in 1926, appears only in the original 1928 edition of Bose’s dreambook, Swapna, and was eliminated in all later editions. The choice to remove it would probably have been Bose’s, and may be further evidence of his falling out with Freud beginning in about 1931. Through Pradip, I also get to thank

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Mr. Raghavendra Singh IAS, Director National Archives and National Library, Government of India, for arranging for the high-​resolution reproduction done from the “very fragile” copy, and to Ms. Sunita Arora of the National Library for taking the trouble to get the library’s high-​resolution camera repaired promptly so as to photograph the sketch. (She did not clean it up because she wanted to provide it as it is. Wormholes are seen in the white background, but the worms left Freud’s face alone.) I also thank Christiane Hartnack for providing me, just a day later, with a second copy of the sketch from the Berlin Library—​one in which the single wormhole was in Freud’s forehead. The sketch from the photo clearly differs from the same artist’s sketch of Freud sight unseen, which Bose mentions in his 1926 and 1930 letters to Freud. My search for it continues (imagine it on the cover of Freud’s India!), but it has apparently not survived. For fuller thanks to all the following—​Jeffrey Kripal, Marshall Alcorn, Christiane Hartnack, Diane Jonte-​Pace, Bryony Davies, Randy Kloetzli, Hank Abrashkin, Adam Hiltebeitel, Simon Hiltebeitel, and Elena Eder—​ see the acknowledgments in Freud’s India. I  also want to thank Cynthia Read for endorsing this as a paired study, and for overseeing and encouraging me through the lengthy preproduction process that such a commitment called for, and Aiesha Krause-​Lee for her care in seeing to it that everything in that process was done well, and usually done right.

xxi

Abbreviations

Knowing the following abbreviations for works cited and discussed in this book may be helpful to the reader. FI BhG Mbh UMS

Freud’s India, the companion volume to this book Bhagavad Gītā Mahābhārata Umā-​Maheśvara Saṃvāda (The Dialogue Between Umā and Maheśvara [Śiva]) N Northern recension S Southern recension M Malayalam script PCE Poona Critical Edition SP/​SPRA Skandapurāṇā Revākaṇḍa and Ambikākaṇḍa recensions TMS Ten Maṇḍala Saṃhitā

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1

1

Introduction: Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and the Mahābhārata

This book’s companion volume, Freud’s India, focuses on Sigmund Freud and Girindrasekhar Bose as they considered a variety of ideas that had an Indian tinge or coloring. These included Bose’s preference for a Vedāntic sounding, all-​inclusive “theoretical ego” over Freud’s second topography of the ego, id, and super-​ego; Bose’s advocacy of his theory of opposite wishes, which Freud criticized as too formal and nondynamic, and which, as I interpreted it, works from the juxtaposition of dualities or pairs of opposites and hints at Vedāntic ideas of karma; and Bose’s idea that the Goddess has her source in a bi-​parental Oedipus mother. Because the Mahābhārata returns us to these and other issues they discussed, this book on Freud’s Mahābhārata will keep those discussions going, particularly the last one, on which it will build directly. Yet although Freud’s India left discussion of the Mahābhārata to a minimum, it could not avoid giving prominence to one Mahābhārata story, which, as I saw it, lies behind both of the “gifts” that Freud received from his two interlocutors on India: from Bose, the statuette of a Viṣṇu Anantadeva, which has come to be called the “Vishnu on Freud’s desk,” and from Romain Rolland, the challenge to psychoanalytically interpret the “oceanic feeling,” which, as I presented it, Freud came to recognize as a special kind of gift that he sought to reciprocate by writing “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis” for Rolland’s seventieth birthday. I  will not repeat the arguments that went into identifying the one Mahābhārata story behind these two “gifts,” but the story itself is a leading theme shared by both books, and can profitably be rehearsed as I launch this one.

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2 Freud’s Mahābhār ata

It begins when King Yudhiṣṭhira, eldest of the five Pāṇḑava brothers, during his and his brothers’ and his wife’s forest exile, addresses the antediluvian Ṛṣi (sage) Mārkaṇḍeya and asks him to tell “what you alone have experienced” as a witness to repeated dissolutions (pralayas) and recreations of the universe. Mārkaṇḍeya describes his ordeal of anxiously swimming alone in the “single ocean” of a pralaya (world”dissolution”). As he was swimming, he noticed a baby sitting on a leaf of a tall banyan tree. It was Kṛṣṇa as “the one who lies on a banyan leaf” (Vaṭapatraśāyin). Suddenly the baby swallowed Mārkaṇḍeya, who could then see the whole universe in the baby deity’s body just as it was before the waters of dissolution came. After wandering about inside the interior vastness, the baby regurgitated him. The sage did the child homage and asked him about his māyā.1 The baby revealed himself to be Viṣṇu-​Nārāyaṇa, and said he uses his māyā to create and destroy beings.2 The adult Kṛṣṇa unobtrusively overhears this whole narrative.3 He is with the five Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī in the forest while Mārkaṇḍeya divulges these mysteries about him, after which Mārkaṇḍeya invites the five and Draupadī to take refuge in “the same” Kṛṣṇa who is seated with them.4 We meet ramifications of this story in several chapters of Freud’s India, and shall meet a folkloric variation on it in c­ hapter 5 of this book. The story concentrates on the māyā of Kṛṣṇa, one of whose names is Māyāvin, “he who possesses māyā,” the power of illusion. The Mahābhārata could not be told without Kṛṣṇa’s māyā being glimpsed behind many actions and scenes. The everyday relation between “illusion” and “the real” is reversed in what Mārkaṇḍeya sees in the baby’s body as the goings-​on of the world he left behind, which has all been cataclysmically destroyed or “dissolved.” But Mārkaṇḍeya’s story has the added impact of telling Yudhiṣṭhira, the Pāṇḍavas, and Draupadī that the adult Kṛṣṇa, their friend, companion, and ally who sits with them listening, is the same person as the pralayic/​cosmogonic baby on the banyan leaf. It is not too much to say that for readers this revelation is meant as one of the epic’s chilling uncanny moments.

1. Mbh 3.186.23. 2. 187.29. 3. 186.77–​187.47. 4. 187.50–​53.

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Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and the Mahābhārata

3

Māyā is too old, too powerful, and too far-​ranging a concept simply to be identified with the uncanny,5 although much that happens in the epic because of māyā has an uncanny feel to it. There is a better way to link the Mahābhārata with the uncanny. In my recent book on gleaners, I tried to raise some controversy building from the early medieval and current-​day modern interests in applying rasa theory to the Mahābhārata. The basic tenet of this theory is that, for a work of art to cohere and make its impact, one of eight or nine rasas—​“moods,” “sentiments,” or “flavors”—​should and will be dominant,6 and that the dominant rasa in question will have an abiding emotion that accompanies and stabilizes it called its sthāyibhāva. The competing views for the Mahābhārata are the conventional one—​ that its dominant rasa is the heroic (vīra)—and, somewhat counterintuitively, that it is the peaceful (śānta).7  The latter is the view of the great ninth-​and early tenth-​century Kashmiri aestheticians Ānandavardhana and Abhinavagupta. I will slightly modify what I said in that book about Ānandavardhana’s view. Neat and grand as his argument for śāntarasa may be, it is probably unnecessary, and thus unconvincing, to single out one rasa from the palate for a work as various as the Mahābhārata, which is also probably about a thousand years older than the theory. James Fitzgerald, for instance, takes the view that the epic’s “main apocalyptic vision grew from a deep sense of rage and inner conflict,” and that a “deep and bitter political rage is at the center of the Mahābhārata.”8 Although he does not say that rage is the epic’s dominant rasa, one could translate rage into the raudrarasa, the sentiment of fury or cruelty, with its sthāyibhāva of krodha, or anger, and make something of a case for it. At times when I have asked myself if I were urged to choose just one of the eight of nine rasas for the Mahābhārata, which 5.  On māyā, see Gonda 1965, 164–​97, whose omnibus definition (166) Goundrian (1978) distills to “a wondrous power which is used in order to create some unexpected or novel appearance with a certain end in view” (2). On novelty or “newness” as it pertains to the uncanny in the Mahābhārata scene of Draupadī’s disrobing, see the conclusion of c­ hapter 6, this volume. 6. The older list of eight rasas is śṛṅgāra (love), hāsya (comic), bībhatsa (disgust), raudra (fury), kāruṇya (compassion), vīra (heroic), bhāyaṅkara (terror), and adbhuta (wondrous); śānta is incorporated by Ānandavardhana largely to interpret the Mahābhārata and is defended as the ninth rasa by Abhinavagupta. 7.  The issues are well discussed by Sudipta Kaviraj 2015, 339–​59. See further Hiltebeitel 2016a, 24, 146. 8. Fitzgerald 2004a, 143.

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4 Freud’s Mahābhār ata

one would it be? I have been tempted to ask: What if adbhuta, the wondrous or uncanny (as Sheldon Pollock usefully glosses it9), with vismaya or “surprise” as its sthāyibhāva, were considered not only a subordinate rasa to vīra or śānta but also elevated to consideration as the dominant rasa?10 Our route into the Mahābhārata text takes us by the term vismaya several times,11 and equally often by usages of adbhuta. Would the uncanny as the marvelous and wonder not apply to the whole Mahābhārata better than heroism, or a peacefulness resigned to disillusionment? Where Śiva’s summa on Ṛṣidharma and Balarāma’s pilgrimage converge, it is over the sheer uncanny wonder that on the very battlefield where so many die, there are the revenant or spectral presences of gleaners there.12 I mentioned the usefulness of Pollock’s gloss with this forthcoming book in mind, and cited the closing example because the two epic segments were central to my book about gleaners. But there is no end to the uncanny wonders the Mahābhārata confronts its readers with:  to begin with Mārkaṇḍeya’s story, the endless kibitzing of its tireless Ṛṣi-​ author Vyãsa in the “works” of his own tale,13 its great size, and much, much more. Let us then look at Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ”14 and work our way back to the Mahābhārata from time to time as we see what Freud had in mind. This first chapter will thus offer only a somewhat pointillistic introduction to Freud’s Mahābhārata—​one in which each point anticipates fuller treatment in later chapters, with some points being far bigger in their unfolding than others. Freud published “The ‘Uncanny’ ” in autumn 1919, having told Sándor Ferenczi in a May 12, 1919, letter that he “has dug the paper out of a drawer and is re-​writing it. Nothing is known as to when it was originally written or how much it was changed,” although a footnote quoting from Totem

9. Pollock 2006, 17. 10.  Upon completing this book, I am writing an article titled “‘World of Wonders’: Nonviolence, Gleaners, and Adbhuta Rasa in the Mahābhārata,” making just this case. 11. I had noted references to vismaya where the sage Nārada provokes the wonder of the gods by his demeaning words about the Ṛṣi Jaigīṣavya (Mbh 9.49.63), and where he is enlisted at the beginning of the Uma-​Mahesvara Samvada (UMS )to tell a story that will provoke the wonder of a conclave of Ṛṣis (Mbh 13.126.23–​24, 28). See Hiltebeitel 2016a, 92. 12. Hiltebeitel 2016, 145. 13. See Hiltebeitel 2001, ch. 2; Sullivan 1990a. 14. Freud 1953–​74, 17:219–​56.

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Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny’ ” and the Mahābhārata

5

and Taboo “shows that the subject was present in his mind as early as 1913.”15 The footnote reads: We appear to attribute an “uncanny” quality to impressions that seek to confirm the omnipotence of thoughts and the animistic mode of thinking in general, after we have reached a stage at which, in our judgement, we have abandoned such beliefs.16 The dates suggest that the essay’s completion and publication were held up by the war, which had peopled Freud’s memory with many ghosts. “Uncanny” seems a fortuitous choice as the best English translation of das Unheimliche.17 But Freud’s usage requires an appreciation of the two German words behind it: heimlich and unheimlich. Commenting on a “long extract” quoted near the beginning of his study from a German dictionary by Daniel Sanders, Freud says, What interests us most . . . is to find that among its different shades of meaning the word “heimlich” exhibits one which is identical with its opposite, “unheimlich.” What is heimlich thus comes to be unheimlich. . . . In general, we are reminded that the word “heimlich” is not unambiguous, but belongs to two sets of ideas, which, without being contradictory, are yet very different: on the one hand, it means what is familiar and agreeable, and on the other, what is constantly kept out of sight. Unheimlich is customarily used, we are told, as the contrary only of the first signification of “heimlich,” and not of the second. Sanders tells us nothing concerning a possible genetic connection between these two meanings of heimlich. On the other hand, we notice that Schelling says something which throws quite a

15. Freud 1953–​74, 17:218; cf. 18:3–​4. 16. Freud 1953–​74, 17:241; see 13:86; Freud’s italics in both works. 17. Freud brings “familiar” and “unfamiliar” into his discussions of the German words heimlich and unheimlich. The German title (Das Unheimliche) does not have the scare quotes that the translator James Strachey puts around “Uncanny,” a choice he probably reflects on in this note: “The German word, translated throughout this paper by the English ‘uncanny,’ is ‘unheimlich,’ literally ‘unhomely.’ The English term is not, of course, an exact equivalent of the German one” (Strachey, in Freud 1953–​74, 17:219). Note that the French translation of the term and title used by Vermorel and Vermorel and others avails itself of two words: “l’inquietant étrangeté.”

6

6 Freud’s Mahābhār ata

new light on the concept of the Unheimlich, for which we were certainly not prepared. According to him, everything is unheimlich that ought to have remained secret but has come to light.18 The associations of heimlich and unheimlich with what is “known” and “unknown,” “familiar” yet “kept out of sight,” and of unheimlich to mean additionally what “ought to have remained secret but has come to light,” has the potential to play itself out in what may be conscious or unconscious, brought to awareness or repressed. That is true also of the Mahābhārata’s divine plan, called the “secret of the gods,” which will be in the background of discussions throughout this book and brought to the fore in c­ hapters 3, 4, and 6. The divine plan is usually “kept out of sight” while being made “familiar.” Some scholars have also thought that even when it is disclosed, it ought not to have come to light.19 Near the end of “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” Freud takes pains to wrap up his examples of the uncanny in three groups or “classes.”20 The first class, that of experiences drawn from individual childhood, has a division within it: Oedipal anxieties (especially loss of eyes as castration) are prioritized over pre-​Oedipal fantasies (notably, return to the mother’s womb). The second class is experiences of ghosts and doubles, drawn, says Freud, from the animistic childhood of the human race and its belief in the “omnipotence of thoughts.” Third is literary reality effects elicited by skilled authors.21 Freud thereby offers a serviceable map of where he finds his examples of the uncanny, but one which has suspect priorities at each point. Let us follow this map in Freud’s order, keeping a few Mahābhārata examples in view.

18. Freud 1953–​74, 17:224–​25. Cf. Jonte-​Pace 2001, 62. Schelling is quoted to that effect in the long extract from Sanders’s German dictionary in Freud 1953–​74, 17:224. 19. See the views of Hudson and Brodbeck, cited in c­ hapter 6, this volume, at notes 117–​20. 20. Freud 1953–​74, 17:248–​49. 21. As Jonte-​Pace (2001, 61) observes, Freud keeps letting examples intrude that prevent him from holding to his main argument for the primacy of the castration complex, the primary evidence for which he finds in a literary text (one of the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman”). Cf. McCaffrey 1994, 96, noting that while Freud “spotlights” other features in this and other stories discussed in “The Uncanny,” he has repeatedly “ignored” or “effaced” as uncanny “a kind of archetypal figure, one which Freud himself presented and analyzed elsewhere in his work,” of “the Uncanny Woman, whose sexuality threatens castration and death.”

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7

Class 1 As to the first class of experiences drawn from individual childhood with its division between Oedipal anxieties and pre-​Oedipal fantasies (such as return to the mother’s womb), Freud typically gives priority in “The ‘Uncanny’ ” to Oedipal anxieties by the quantity of his examples related to castration anxiety, whereas he moves rather deftly over just one explicit example of pre-​Oedipal fantasies: To some people the idea of being buried alive by mistake is the most uncanny thing of all. And yet psycho-​analysis has taught us that this terrifying phantasy is only a transformation of another phantasy which originally had nothing terrifying about it at all but was qualified by a certain lasciviousness—​the phantasy, I mean, of intra-​uterine existence.22 Freud says that being buried alive by mistake can be felt as “the most uncanny thing of all.” The Mahābhārata makes it the terrifying experience of the god Indra, who follows it up by being reborn in a human womb—​all in the Pañcendra Upākhyāna, discussed in c­ hapter 4, which also discusses the story of the eight Vasu gods who are likewise cursed to be born in a womb, though not a human one, resulting in the birth of Bhīṣma. Freud, however, would seem to preempt further discussion by the remark about “lasciviousness,” which is a typical example of his treating the mother’s body solely as an object of male desire. In reducing discussion of the pre-​ Oedipal to the intrauterine, he is also trivializing it by referring it to a type of fantasy that is rarely taken seriously.23 Nevertheless, in a footnote added

22. Freud 1953–​74, 17:244. 23. See the literature on prenatal memories (Fodor 1949; Peerbolte 1955). Kuiper 1970, 113–​ 32, makes the point that Indian ideas of reincarnation take intra-​uterine ideas for granted, suggesting that one must suspend judgment until science decides. Lewin 1950, however, comments on those who posit “memories of intrauterine feelings” that one would suppose that the pleasure principle was not established, and that prepsychological agencies ruled the field jenseits—​beyond the pleasure principle. With all allowance for the traumatic effects of the birth process, inspection of the newly born fails to show evidence of bliss or pleasure. On the other hand, in the mother’s lap some months later, the baby is obviously happy when it is fed, cuddled, and put to sleep. . . . The known pleasure of the baby’s sleep should make us wary of immediately invoking the prenatal state to explain the “intra-​uterine” ideas as repetitions of the real sojourn in the mother.

8

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in 1909 to The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud had already, before publishing “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” sought to correct that shortcoming. It was not for a long time that I learned to appreciate the importance of phantasies and unconscious thoughts about life in the womb. They contain an explanation of the remarkable dread that many people have of being buried alive; and they also afford the deepest unconscious basis for the belief in survival after death, which merely represents a projection into the future of this uncanny life before birth. Moreover, the act of birth is the first experience of anxiety, and thus the source and prototype of the affect of anxiety.24 In his 1917 “A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams,” Freud also writes: Somatically, sleep is a reactivation of intra-​uterine existence, fulfilling as it does the conditions of repose, warmth, and exclusion of stimulus; indeed, in sleep many people resume the fetal posture. The psychical state of a sleeping person is characterized by an almost complete withdrawal from the surrounding world and a cessation of all interest in it.25 Challenging the closing premise about the loss of all interest in the outside world, in c­ hapter 5 I will discuss a folkloric Mahābhārata story about what the young hero Aravāṉ heard in the womb that leads him to come into the world kicking. Freud’s deprioritization of return to the womb in “The ‘Uncanny’ ” is not registered by Henri and Madeleine Vermorel, who tend to treat it as Freud’s major or sole example of the uncanny.26 Yet they have good reasons for emphasizing it. Freud had supplied his own pre-​Oedipal earth-​womb

Lewin posits “a nursing fantasy with a shift downward from the breast to the abdomen. It is a fantasy of a baby that stands, which Bateson and Meade (1942) call the knee baby, as distinguished from the younger lap baby” (108–​10). 24. Freud 1953–​74, 5:400n3, with his italics, drawing on the contribution of Otto Rank. 25. Freud 1953–​74, 14:222. 26. See Vermorel and Vermorel 1993, 341, 480, 505, 530, 555, 581.

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metaphor in his related27 earlier study of 1913, “The Theme of the Three Caskets.” Addressing two plays of Shakespeare along with the theme of the three Fates, he interprets the suitor Bassanio’s choice of the third casket (the three are made of gold, silver, and “mute” lead) in The Merchant of Venice together with the dying King Lear’s discovery, once she is dead, that the reticent Cordelia had loved him the most of his three daughters. Freud concludes: We might argue that what is represented here are the three inevitable relations that a man has with a woman—​the woman who bears him, the woman who is his mate and the woman who destroys him; or that they are the three forms taken by the figure of the mother in the course of a man’s life—​the mother herself, the beloved one who is chosen after her pattern, and lastly the Mother Earth who receives him once more. But it is in vain that an old man yearns for the love of woman as he first had it from his mother; the third of the three Fates alone, the silent Goddess of Death, will take him into her arms.28 The Mahābhārata brings mother Earth uncannily to life, as we shall observe in c­ hapter 6. During her therapy with Freud, the poet H.  D.  recalled from her youth a caterpillar she had kept in a box, leading her to say, “There is that rather gruesome old print in the professor’s waiting room, called ‘Buried Alive.’ ”29 The theme had rich associations for her. H. D. had probably read “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” and returns to the theme repeatedly in reporting her 1933–​34 exchanges with Freud. Madalon Sprengnether makes a telling point about another evocation of the mother’s womb in “The ‘Uncanny.’ ” Freud writes,

27. Related clearly enough in this remark: “The fairest and best of women, who has taken the place of the Death goddess, has kept certain characteristics that border on the uncanny, so that from them we have been able to guess what lies beneath” (Freud 1953–​73, 12:300). Freud’s key here, registered in my description, is muteness or silence, as is nicely perceived by Schur 1972, 274–​77. 28. Freud 1953–​74, 12:301. 29. H. D. [1956] 1974, 131.

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It often happens that neurotic men declare that they feel there is something uncanny about the female genital organs. This unheimlich place, however, is the entrance to the former Heim (home) of all human beings. . . . There is a joking saying that “Love is homesickness,” and whenever a man dreams of a place or a country and says to himself, while he is still dreaming:  “this place is familiar to me, I’ve been here before,” we may interpret the place as being his mother’s genitals or body. In this case too, then, the unheimlich is what was once heimlich, familiar, the prefix un” is the token of repression.30 Sprengnether, however, says that repression, which removes the ambiguity from the word heimlich, is a “failure to acknowledge its inherent double nature. . . . The body of the (m)other represents both home and not home, presence and absence, the promise of plenitude and the certainty of loss.” Sprengnether now conceives of a Freud who is drawing close to a Śāntarasa view of the Mahābhārata, continuing: In “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” Freud comes close to acknowledging a condition of estrangement at the heart of being. Had he committed himself to such a vision, instead of vacillating between an image of mother as source of terror and of ultimate gratification, he might have conceived the process of individual development in less phallocentric terms. Had he meditated further on the condition of separation as a given of ego formation, recognizing in the body of the (m)other the indwelling of the uncanny which characterizes both memory and desire, he might have offered a model of preoedipal relations which would include the possibility of maternal discourse.31 As can be seen by this evocation of the womb without specifically mentioning it, the point might be made that despite Freud’s reduction of the pre-​Oedipal to one example, it pervades Freud’s entire map of “The ‘Uncanny.’ ” In any case, Freud is surer of himself with Oedipal castration

30. Freud 1953–​74, 17:235; Sprengnether 1990, 232; McCafferty 1994, 197n9, observes that “the same connection is treated in a 1909 addition to The Interpretation of Dreams which relates the ‘uncanny life before birth’ to ‘the remarkable dread that many people have of being buried alive’ ” (Freud 1953–​74, 5:400n3). 31. Sprengnether 1990, 232.

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anxiety, which he traces back in Totem and Taboo to a primitive prehistory, than with pre-​Oedipal womb fantasies.

Class 2 In the second class, the premises that mark Freud’s interest are in a loose sense evolutionary.32 They feature his longstanding notions of phylogeny, by which Freud intends to exhaust all the examples of the first two classes, which he finds cannot be that firmly distinguished. He thus states that experiences of the uncanny drawn from the second class of animistic beliefs are more “common” than “when the uncanny proceeds from repressed infantile complexes, from the castration complex, womb phantasies, etc.”33 That they overlap in “The ‘Uncanny’ ” is because “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”: these two classes of the uncanny experience are not always sharply distinguishable. When we consider that primitive beliefs are most intimately connected with infantile complexes, and are in fact based on them, we shall not be greatly astonished to find that the distinction is often a hazy one.34 The idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny posits that the individual organism, beginning with its embryological development, repeats the history of the evolution of its phylum or species. As H.  D.  quips, substituting “is” for “repeats”: Freud “had brought the past into the present with his The childhood of the individual is the childhood of the race—​or

32. Edelheit 1978, 61–​63, maintains that the Lamarckism entailed in Freud’s phylogenetic views short-​circuited his following of Darwin by foreshortening his sense of human history in Moses and Monotheism, making it more biblical. 33. Freud’s separation of “animistic beliefs” from “repressed infantile complexes” would be challenged by Fairbairn (1954), who rethinks Freud’s emphasis on repression rather than dissociation in hysterics (111–​12), and who, speaking of the “oral component” in “an infantile situation in which the mother plays both” the “roles of exciting and rejecting object,” says, Further, since the child’s primary objects are always personal, it follows that the child is inevitably animistic, and that the world of inner reality established in childhood is inevitably founded on an animistic basis. This inherent animism of the human mind is, in my opinion, ineradicable, and remains unaffected by sophisticated conscious thinking. It would thus also seem to follow that solutions of deep-​seated emotional conflicts can only be satisfactorily effected in animistic terms.” (113n*) 34. Freud 1953–​74, 17:248–​49.

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is it the other way around?—​the childhood of the race is the childhood of the individual.”35 The concept originates with Ernst Haeckel, and Freud compounded it with the Lamarckian idea that acquired characteristics were inherited from generation to generation.36 An exchange with Carl Jung in 1911 comes at a point where the concept was becoming crucial for Freud. After Freud realized that Jung’s protégé Sabina Spielrein had “galvanized” a November 8, 1911, meeting with her “invocation of the phylogenetic inheritance of unconscious fantasy,” Freud, despite knowing that he would have his own uses for the phylogeny idea in developing the Frazerian research, now begun, that would lead to Totem and Taboo, started trying to put some brakes on the idea lest it “run riot.”37 A few days later, along the lines of what would seem to be a womb-​tunneling fantasy, Freud had envisioned himself and Jung “tunneling” into the earth to uncover man’s phylogenetic past. On November 11, 1911, foreseeing danger in what Jung was doing, Freud wrote: Why in God’s name did I allow myself to follow you into this field? You must give me some suggestions. But probably my tunnels will be far more subterranean than your shafts and we shall pass each other by, but every time I rise to the surface I shall be there to greet you.38 Freud was being disingenuous in crediting Jung with being the pioneer in the phylogenetic field, and seems to have been trying to keep their friendship while at the same time saying that Jung was being superficial. Jung, in writing his book The Transformation of Symbols and during his affair with Spielrein, had invested the Siegfried myth from the Niebelungenlied, popularized by Richard Wagner, with carrying continuities between Christian and Aryan psychic structures, basing his views on the concept that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.39

35. H. D. [1956] 1974, 12. 36. On Freud’s Lamarckism, see note 32, this chapter. See Brickman 2003, 44–​46, 58, 63–​ 67, 77–​79, 82, 165. For a defense of Freud’s views of phylogeny, see Ater 1992, 136–​82. 37. See Kerr 1993, 360. 38. See Kerr 1993, 362, quoting this letter; see also Burke 2006, 269; Sprengnether 1990, 91. 39. For Jung, “the unconscious contained something more than just infantile memories: “As the latest researches of the Zurich school have shown, beside the infantile remembrances there are also “race memories” extending far beyond the limits of the individual.’ ” In contrast, “the Freudian contribution . . . included . . . the demystification brought about by excluding

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Since Freud’s phylogenetic program was to assert the universality of the Oedipal only and not to implicate race, I  think we can say that the notion that ontogeny repeats phylogeny was both a placeholder for any pre-​Oedipal concerns and a self-​subterfuge or dodge by which he could put them off indefinitely. In claiming his tunnels were deeper than Jung’s, Freud, we could say, was portraying himself as winning a pre-​Oedipal race without having to call it that. In his handling of doubles and themes of recurrence, however, Freud’s ideas about phylogeny present solutions similar to Indian ideas of reincarnation.40 As the Vermorels say, Freud’s phylogenetic “traces mnésiques” are not far from a sort of scientific version of metempsychosis.41 The Mahābhārata also has a distinctive version of reincarnation, viewing most of its central characters as if their human birth were essentially a one-​step matter, resulting from their incarnation by either a god or a demon, as will be important in this book’s subsequent chapters. The epic, however, does ascribe to the general Indian theory, and speaks of several characters who have been born from a prior earthly life, including Bhīṣma’s father Śantanu, as will be noted in c­ hapter 4. I will, however, illustrate the Indian idea by, for once, looking beyond the Mahābhārata to two complex sources, one Buddhist and the other Hindu. The Buddhist source can be closely aligned with Freud’s Oedipal notions: a work by the fourth-​century scholastic author Vasubandhu. In its Tibetan Tantric adaptation, it is well known in works on “the Indian Oedipus” owing first to the Tantra scholar John Woodroffe,42 followed by Jung,43 James McDermott,44 and Gananath Obeyesekere.45 All call attention to its Freudian Oedipal implications, but discuss only its heterosexual

racial and hereditary issues from both diagnosis and treatment.” Freud “substituted sexuality in place of hereditary degeneration in the prevailing paradigm, and by making the new variable into a universal, one that basically varied based on individual experience, he had effectively excluded the concept of race from the discussion” (Kerr 1993, 339 [letter to Freud, May 8, 1911], 341, 381–​82). 40. See Hiltebeitel, Freud’s India, ch. 4, note 5 [hereafter, FI]. 41. Vermorel and Vermorel 1993, 553. 42. Woodroffe [1927] 1960, written in Oxford in 1925. 43. Jung [1938] 1960, a commentary originally in German, written for a 1938 Swiss edition of Evans Wentz [1927] 1960. 44. McDermott 1980. 45. Obeyesekere 1981, 164–​67.

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thread, which McDermott traces to the following passage, reproduced from Leo M. Pruden’s translation of Louis de la Vallée Poussin’s French translation of Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa-​bhāṣya. An Abhidharma line asks: “How does reincarnation take place?” and answers, “The mind (mati) troubled by defilements, goes, through its desire for sex, to the place of rebirth.” Vasubandhu comments: An intermediate being is produced with a view to going to the place of its realm of rebirth where it should go. It possesses . . . the divine eye. Even though distant, he sees the place of his rebirth. There he sees his father and mother united. His mind is troubled by the effects of sex and hostility. When the intermediate being is male, it is gripped by a male desire with regard to the mother, when it is female, it is gripped by a female desire with regard to the father, and, inversely, it hates either the father, or the mother, whom it regards as either a male or female rival. . . . Then either a mind of lust, or a mind of hatred is produced in the Gandharva [the intermediate-​ state being (antarā bhava)]. When the mind is thus troubled by these two erroneous thoughts, it attaches itself through the desire for sex to the place where the organs are joined together, imagining that it is he with whom they unite. Then the impurities of semen and blood are found in the womb; the intermediate being, enjoying its pleasures, installs itself there. Then the skandhas harden,46 the intermediate being perishes, and birth arises that is called “reincarnation” (pratisaṃdhi).47 In writing his foreword to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which adapts Vasubandhu’s ideas to its concept of bardos, or betwixt-​and-​between states, Jung backhandedly credits Freudian psychoanalysis with its therapy “mainly concerned with sexual fantasies” for being able to address only “the realm that corresponds to the last and lowest region of the Bardo, . . . where the dead man, unable to profit by the teachings” of the book’s opening, “begins to fall prey to sexual fantasies and is attracted by the visions of mating couples. Eventually he is caught by a womb and born 46. The skandhas are the five components of individuality or “aggregates”: body, feelings, perceptions, motivational forces, and consciousness. It is interesting that consciousness should be said to “harden,” even if it just means together with the other four. 47. Pruden 1988–​90, 394–​95.

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into the earthly world again. Meanwhile, as one might expect, the Oedipal complex starts functioning.”Jung says that Freud’s “very justifiable fear of metaphysics” limited Freudian theory to “an essentially negative evaluation of the unconscious,” and represents Jung himself as an exponent of the higher “Universal Mind” or “Godhead” supposedly expounded in The Tibetan Book of the Dead’s earlier chapters.48 Vasubandhu, however, presents further intersubjective complexities that these authors and The Tibetan Book of the Dead leave out. Next, in Pruden’s translation: When the embryo is male, it remains to its right in the womb, with its head forward, crouching, female, to the left of the womb, vagina forward, with no sex, in the attitude in which one finds the intermediate being when it believes it is having sex [the juxtaposition of the male head, which the penis presumably follows, and the ostensibly headless vagina, apparently needs no comment]. . . . It is only after reincarnation that a developing embryo can lose its sex.49 Vasubandhu thus does not leave the two Oedipal genders in isolation but, rather, speaks of a third sex. As my colleague Eyal Aviv writes: Vasubandhu follows a long tradition in the Vinaya and among the Abhidharmikas of bias against what we call transgenders today. The term was ubhatovyañjanaka or most often paṇḍaka. The Buddha never indicated a separate category for them. What should a Buddhist do if an hermaphrodite wishes to join the Sangha [monastic order]? They were considered people with weak moral character and subject to the “obstacles of defilements.” There was therefore a Vinaya rule that excluded them from ordination and Vasubandhu seems to support that view in his Kośa.50 Vasubandhu says paṇḍakas and hermaphrodites are not susceptible to discipline or undiscipline: “Neither discipline nor undiscipline can arise in the bodies, or in the persons, of eunuchs, hermaphrodites and beings

48. Jung [1938] 1960, xxxviii–​xlii. 49. Pruden 1998–​90, 335. 50. Email from Eyal Aviv, August 26, 2013, for which I give thanks.

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in the realms of painful rebirth, for these bodies are similar to soil saturated with salt wherein there can neither grow wheat, nor bad herbs”; “further, because their parents, having given to the eunuch only an incomplete body and having only a mediocre affection for their son, are mediocre benefactors; because, on the other hand, the eunuch does not experience strong respect for his parents the destruction of which would render him guilty of mortal transgression. For the same reason then, Pretas (ghosts) and animals, if they were to kill their parents, are not guilty of mortal transgressions.”51 The passage comes in a cosmological section of the Kośa concerned with the factors leading to the birth of a Buddha, a hypermasculine figure.52 Yet it attributes the “divine eye” not only to those far along the path, like the Buddha, but also to all who go through the intermediate existence, whether male, female, or of no sex, to light their path to their copulating parents. Says McDermott, the antarā bhava or intermediate-​state being “is not to be classed as a destiny on the level of the five gatis” or ways of rebirth. “Spatially, the antarā bhava arises in the place where death takes place,” and there too it perishes. There, an intermediate-​state entity may have “no sex,” and may lodge itself in the womb in a vague “attitude in which one finds the intermediate being when it believes it is having sex.” The full passage thus takes in two stages:  the intermediate birth and the subsequent rebirth. A  transgender person-​to-​be might follow a male or female course through the intermediate stage, and undergo its transformation only in its next stage of reincarnation: “when an intermediate being possesses all the organs, it then enters as a male or female and places itself as befitting its sex. It is only after reincarnation that a developing embryo can lose its sex.”53 That is, having been subject to the primal scene in a first intermediate-​ stage phase, with propensities to love of one sex and hatred of the other, it would be susceptible to something like castration in the subsequent rebirth phase. David White provides our Hindu source, citing Freud’s dreamwork in making the point that a left-​handed Kaula Tantric ritualist enacting a sexual ritual with eight women is supposed to have dreams, and to “process” them differently from a right-​handed sublimating Tantric who closes

51. Pruden 1988–​90, 622, 679. 52. See Powers 2009. 53. McDermott 1980, 181.

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women out of his ritual.54 The Brahma-​yāmala, a text from about the ninth or tenth century, describes a series of ritually induced dreams or visions [in which] the practitioner seeks to know his past lives . . . by meditating on the vulvas of a circle of eight consorts. [This enables] “the viewing of his own yoni,” in which the yoni in question is at once the vulva that is his meditation support and the womb of the prior existence he is seeking to know. [The practitioner] should take a group of eight women, “the Śaktis . . . who are devoted to the [one] Śakti . . . who are without shame and without aversion.” [He should then] prepare an underground chamber equipped with a water circulation system, . . . worship items, food (including 100,000 sweetmeats), drinking water, and a couch—​but no fire, only an oil lamp [so] he can see in the dark. He then arranges the eight women around himself at each of the cardinal points and secondary directions. Then he sexually arouses his Śaktis in succession, “effecting as many ‘rebirths’ [i.e., acts of sexual intercourse?] as his energy allows.” This day sets the pattern for the “sequential method” that the practitioner will observe for up to six months. Having aroused the eight Śaktis by day, [he] eats together with them by night. In this way, “the most vivid visions occur.” He is “ ‘sealed in’ here by a circle of four or five women.”55 The great obstructors (mahāvighnāni), all of them very terrifying [now arise].  .  .  . He should not be frightened either by these creatures . . . or when he sees a fearsome serpent who seems to be devouring [him]. He sees a she-​cat with sharp teeth and a deformed body. Even seeing her, he ought not to be frightened, nor should he halt the ritual. He sees a very terrifying she-​cat, with the body of an obstructor. Drawing toward (ākarṣayat) herself the person who abandons his worship [out of fear], that Śakti . . . kills him. [A demoness] will say the words: “Stand up! I devour [you]!” . . . He is not to be frightened.  .  .  . Voices will come from outside [the

54. White 2003, 13–​26, speaks of the Kaula as “hard-​core” Tantra, and of the rest as “soft-​ core” varieties. Kaula derives from kula, meaning “family” or “lineage” (used later), but esoterically the “totality” or “cosmic ‘body’ ” that “was said to consist of the powers of the eight families of Mothers” (22, quoting Sanderson 1988, 675). 55. White 2003, 248–​49.

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underground chamber]. [He will hear] the words “Kill! Kill! Throw out food! Draw in [this] sinner!”  .  .  .  [and] “Get up, get up, you witless one! You are taken by the order of the king!” Seeing [these demonesses], he is not to fear and his mind should not depart from its meditation. The practitioner [will see] dreadful gape-​mouthed forms. [There will be] buck-​toothed Śaktis licking [him] with their tongues. Seeing them, he should not fear.  .  .  . Without a doubt, they lick the essence [that is] inside the practitioner for the sake of knowledge. While this is taking place, supernatural experiences will arise, one at a time. . . . His supernatural power, pervading the triple world, will manifest itself. When the full six months [have passed], there is a visible manifestation of the [great] Goddess.  .  .  . [Even when she appears] with her gape-​mouthed form, she should not be feared by the possessor of mantras. . . . [The] completion [of the practice] is to be carried out by the practitioner in [the midst of the circle of ] the eight [women]. In the [circle of ] seven, nothing more than the viewing of the yoni occurs. In the group of eight, there is, without a doubt, the daily arising of [supermundane] wisdom. Having attracted the bodies of every one of these beings, he thereby obtains that [wisdom]. He becomes a Virile Hero, surrounded by yonis.56 White comments that the Virile Hero succeeds “through his ability to maintain his sangfroid when assaulted by hordes of demonesses, howling beasts with sharp teeth and long tongues seeking to drain him of his vital essence both from without and within.” The eight Śaktis are a “clan number.” Kaula practitioners were reborn into families of the eight Mothers. . . . In both Buddhist and Hindu Tantras, one finds ritual instructions for entering into the cosmic body of the divine clan via the powers of one of the eight mothers, in initiation rites that involved possession (āveśa). . . . The threatening female nightmare horde, now identified with the vivifying powers of a cosmic family (kula), is sublimated into the mind-​body complex of the male practitioner. Yet the initiatory role of the Yoginī never fully disappears.57

56. White 2003, 249–​50; ellipses and brackets (all but the first) are White’s. 57. White 2003, 250–​51.

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As with phylogeny, in both texts, hypermasculine Oedipal tendencies and presumably both aggressive and cooperative female ones are coded into experience before actual or initiatory birth in a lineage. But the Hindu Tantric outdoes the Buddhist one and Vasubandhu by actually seeking “his own yoni”—​that is, his own mothers’ and Mother’s yonis—​I take it, at least eight times in succession, bringing him back to the cosmogonic Goddess’s cosmic body as the totality.58 I  am reminded of the “unplummable navel” invoked by Freud in his “Dream of Irma’s Injection,” whereby he excuses himself for going no further into the scaly and white-​patched horrors of Irmas’s mouth-​vagina.59 Although Freud sought to project a hypermasculine persona along lines like the Buddha’s, he stopped short of envisioning himself as an incestuous Tantric Hero.60 Vasubandhu’s full analysis, however, accords less with the intentionally hypermasculine Freud than with the tensions Bose senses between the connected wishes to become female and to have no sex (be castrated) and other unresolved matters said to account for “gender multiplicity.”61 Freud had already begun developing ideas about phylogeny as early as The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) and continued to hold them in his posthumous Outline of Psychoanalysis (1941).62 In The Interpretation of Dreams, he gave phylogeny the appearance of an afterthought in his chapter on regression, discussing it only in an antepenultimate paragraph63 after

58. See note 50, this chapter. 59. See FI, ch. 8, notes 16–​28; FI, ch. 9, notes 158–​59. 60. On this type, see further Kripal 2003, 212–​16: “He is a hero precisely to the extent that he refuses absorption, decapitation, castration (as a threat or a wish [this is said with Bose in mind], of infantilization before the (mother) Goddess and insists instead on his own phallic identity  .  .  .  “deny[ing] the oedipal norm in [his] central act of ritual intercourse with the mother goddess” (213). 61. See Akhtar and Tummula-​Narra 2005, 5. 62.  See Brickman 2003, 54–​79, for a considerable spectrum of intermediate citations. Brickman (78–​79) quotes a dubious statement by Freud in the posthumous Outline: “In all this the phylogenetic foundation has so much the upper hand over personal accidental experience that it makes no difference whether a child has really sucked at the breast or been brought up on the bottle and never enjoyed the tenderness of a mother’s care. In both cases the child’s development takes the same path” (Freud 1953–​78, 23:188–​89). The effort to trace colonialist racial overtones in Freud’s usage of the term “primitive” by Brickman is sometimes less convincing than others. 63. Freud 1953–​74, 548–​47: “Behind this childhood of the individual we are promised a picture of a phylogenetic childhood . . . ; psycho-​analysis may claim a high place among the sciences which are concerned with the construction of the earliest and most obscure periods of the beginnings of the human race.”

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making a far more integrated statement that regression can be traced to the “great part played in the dream-​thoughts by infantile experiences and by phantasies based upon them,”64 as if the one idea necessarily followed upon the other. It was the historical and ethnographic depth he tried to give the notion in Totem and Taboo that was the hook he was to hold onto. Ilse Grubich-​Simitis says, “The phylogenetic construction does indeed act like an intellectual magnetic field which was to exact its force repeatedly in the later writings.”65 It was part of the way Freud, Jung, and their colleagues drew mythology into their different theories of human origins, which Freud decided in Totem and Taboo goes back universally to a primal Oedipal patricide. According to Kerr, Freud’s argument for the phylogenetic origins of the Oedipus complex in Totem and Taboo asserted “causal connections between three very different domains. The scientifically suspect endeavor of reading the psychic formations of adult nervous patients back into their childhood, and both back into ancient mythology, had been rescued only by turning the whole argument on its head and reading an imagined prehistory forward into the present.”66 In anticipation of taking Freud’s views in Moses and Monotheism as a spur to a new theory of the Mahābhārata’s divine plan, I  will illustrate the way Freud’s phylogenetic construction acted like a magnetic field in treating myth by the example of the choice he made late in life to devote all his energies to Moses and Monotheism based on the relation he saw between it and his phylogenetic construct in Totem and Taboo. This magnetic field kept the prominence of a murdered father figure and resulted in peripheralizing goddesses, including, most notably, Freud’s “favorite” Athena,67 who will remind us in c­ hapters 3 and 4 of Durgā in her two Mahābhārata interpolations. The phylogeny idea remained prominent and indispensable in Moses and Monotheism (1939), though Freud may have tempered it for once there. Bernstein indicates that Freud may have scaled down his phylogenetic construction from a “strong” to a “weak” form, having recognized opposition to the theory

64.  Freud 1953–​74, 5:546–​48. The next three times he mentions infantile experiences at the source of dreams (553, 565, 604), he does not mention phylogeny, and closes the book without getting back to it. 65. Grubich-​Simitis 1996, 123. 66. See Kerr 1993, 455–​56. 67. On Freud’s statement to H. D. that one statuette of Athena “without her spear” was his favorite, see FI, ch. 3, note 35.

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of “acquired characteristics,”68 but I  believe this only makes Moses and Monotheism a special case, pointing up Freud’s interest in having the book reach its desired audience unencumbered by this controversy. Ernest Jones is said to have urged Freud to drop a Lamarckian passage from Moses and Monotheism because no one would believe it, but Freud said stubbornly, “They are all wrong.”69 As he settled into the writing of Moses and Monotheism, Freud faced a choice when it came to the non-​Western world, particularly concerning Egypt and, secondarily, India. On the one hand, he could have made this choice to focus his remaining energies on Judaism with a sound sense of the limits of his own linguistic competence.70 Freud was talented with languages. His German was his forte, but he also exchanged letters in his youth with his friend Eduard Silberstein in Spanish,71 which, as with Italian, he had studied on his own; he spoke and wrote English and French well, both of which he had studied at school. He excelled in Greek and Latin in Gymnasium between the ages of nine and seventeen (1865–​1873),72 and had studied Hebrew there, as well as earlier at home, along with learning Yiddish at home. Egyptian, he studied only informally, but gave his views on etymologies.73 According to Didier Anzieu, Freud had established a pattern of language use already by 1895 to 1900 in his self-​analyzed dreams: 1. His attachment to his German mother tongue and the use of its peculiarities to represent certain polymorphous perverse fantasies of childhood (voyeurism, masochistic mostly). 2. The recourse to living languages (English and French mostly) to name the parts of the self both left alive and foreign to the consciousness. [A good example, not mentioned by Anzieu but fitting our present topic of his second class in “The’Uncanny’ ” is Freud’s repeated usage of French “revenants” for ghosts, regarded as doubles].

68. Bernstein 1998, 45–​54, 56–​60, 100, 104–​109. 69. Edelheit 1978, 62. 70. See Jones 1953–​57, 1:21, for a quick summary of Freud’s language competence; see 1:163 on his taking Hebrew in school. 71. See Sprengnether 1995, 23. 72. Loewenberg 1996, 18. 73. As in his study of Leonardo da Vinci.

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3. The use of Latin and Greek words to constitute one scientific universal language fitting to the knowledge of the unconscious. For Freud, German is the culture to which he belongs, the antique Mediterranean culture being the culture of reference.74 India, however, was for Freud a remote culture, and Sanskrit had produced its own field of experts weighted, especially in the German-​speaking world,75 toward “Indo-​Aryan” studies, which was making its own ghosts and which Freud had no interest in heeding. Late in his life, Freud thus made a choice to direct all his energies in one non-​Indian but still quasi-​Egyptian direction. Carl E.  Schorske writes an article on this choice titled “Freud’s Egyptian Dig,” in Freud’s archeological sense of digging into the past through books. Schorske begins the article by talking about H. D.’s time with Freud, starting from March 1933: With the death-​head swastika chalked in the pavement leading to the professor’s door,” she wrote in her brilliant Tribute to Freud, “I must calm as best I  could  .  .  .  my own personal little dragon of war-​terror. . . . Because both suffered acutely from the sense of a historical ending in modern Europe, their dialogue . . . took the form of cultural discourse about antiquity, its symbols and their meanings. . . . H. D.’s report makes us consider anew Freud’s life-​long attempt to build, in effect, a meaningful interpretation of Western civilization, and to find his own place in it.76 Schorske gets to Freud and H. D’s exchange over his “favorite” Athena, who “has lost her spear.” Yet he never mentions that Freud showed this statue to H.  D.  along with his Viṣṇu Anantadeva. Rather than working India into his discussion, Schorske moves on directly and only from Greece to Egypt:  Athena, he says, “provided a point of departure for a psycho-​archaeological quest which soon led them to Egypt, first together, in the analysis; later each on [her and] his own. . . . H. D. . . . in

74. Anzieu 1986b, 226. 75. See Adluri and Bagchee 2014. 76. Schorske 1993, 35.

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the long poem Helen in Egypt;77 Freud in  .  .  .  Moses and Monotheism.” I will follow Schorske’s account of Athena’s favorite place among Freud’s archeological artifacts against the shifting ground of Freud’s cultural and national enthusiasms. Among these, his own Austria had Roman Catholic traditions that he decried, but its liberal democratic tradition espoused an Athena for its Greek-​façaded Parliament.78 When Freud finally entered Rome in 1901, “Rome evoked his hatred of Catholicism once more: ‘I found almost intolerable the lie of salvation which rears its head so proudly to heaven.’ ” But when it came to making his famous archeological description of the ancient city beneath the modern one, he wrote to Fliess, “I could have worshipped the abused and mutilated remains of the temple of Minerva”79—​Athena by her Latin name. After 1900 Egypt fostered in Freud interests that were in drastic contradiction to the faith of his fathers and even of the male orientation of psychoanalysis. . . . For Egypt was a land of the primal mothers, and of religiously expressed bisexuality. . . . That mysterious land promised access to the womb of culture and the tomb of time, to the original and the hidden, the voiceless (“infans”) childhood of humanity. . . . Freud caught the fever. By 2006 at the latest, . . . he began to build a substantial library on Egypt, and to assemble such artifacts as the members of Egypt’s polytheistic holy family:  Isis, Osiris, and Horus.80 In 1907, Freud pointed his “new disciple, Karl Abraham, toward Egypt,” and “even put two little Egyptian figurines in his guest’s briefcase as a surprise farewell gift.”81 In 1912, Abraham presented Freud with a psychoanalytic study of the pharaoh who was later to be the central figure in Freud’s Moses and Monotheism. “Freud wrote back in delight and gratitude: ‘Amenhotep

77. H. D. 1961. 78. See Schorske 1967 on the fate of Austrian liberalism as anti-​Semitism grew after 1880, led by the proto-​fascists Georg von Schönerer and Karl Lueger, the latter who became mayor of Vienna in 1897, and whose influence was countered by Theodor Herzl’s launching of Zionism. Schorske shows common elements in the three men’s “sharp key” political style by which they undermined the liberal politics each grew up with. 79. Schorske 1993, 36. 80. Schorske 1993, 37. 81. I believe I read somewhere that these were two Baubos.

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IV in psychoanalytic illumination. That is certainly a big step in “orientation”—​the pun [on “Orientation”] in German [as in English] also implies turning toward the East.’ ”82 But no further East than Egypt. In 1910, “Freud grounds his analysis of Leonardo’s dream on the vulture-​headed Egyptian mother goddess Mut,83 . . . one of Egypt’s original hermaphroditic divinities who survive alongside later goddesses who are actually more differentiated.” For the time being, Freud brings his phylogenetic ideas to Egypt. “Freud makes the analogy between the symbolic culture of Egypt, in the childhood of the race, and the infantile fantasy of the (pre-​oedipal) individual. He sees the androgynous gods of Egypt as ‘expression of the idea that only a combination of male and female elements can give a worthy representation of divine perfection.’84 In this connection, Athena reappears in the text on Leonardo. Locating her origins in Egypt, Freud describes her now as a Greek descendant of an Egyptian mother goddess Neith of Sais”85—​a point that he would repeat to H. D. in 1933.86 Freud next goes to Athens, in 1904, under the unsettling circumstances recalled in 1936 in “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis.” Schorske does not mention that Freud says nothing of Athena or her temple in “Disturbance.” He takes Freud’s explanation as sufficient that his “derealization” before the Acropolis resulted from guilt over his father.87 By the time he wrote “Disturbance,” Freud’s “whole acquired classical culture . . . now appeared to him under the aspect of apostasy from the Jewish tradition to which his uneducated father had resolutely clung. Thenceforth the road to Israel beckoned.”88 This overlooks Freud’s lingering interests in antiquity,89 but it suits Schorske’s closing point. “The particular Egypt 82. Schorske 1993, 38 (second bracketed addition is mine). 83. On Leonardo’s (really Freud’s) so-​called vulture fantasy, see FI, ch. 2, note 59. 84. Schorske 1993, 38, quoting from Freud’s study of Leonardo (Freud 1953–​74, 11:94). 85. Schorske 1993, 38, quoting the Leonardo study (Freud 1953–​74, 11:94). Freud was not the only one to make this connection, but it is now discredited. 86. See FI, ch. 3, note 73. 87. See FI, ch. 8, for counterarguments that Freud’s derealization first involved Athena and his mother. 88. Schorske 1993, 37. 89.  According to Mitchell-​Boyask 1994, 37–​41, Freud maintained his subscription to the journal Die Antike from 1929 to 1937, from which he cut the pages to read and underline numerous articles, and brought the volumes with him to London. Mitchell-​Boyask detects from Freud’s readings that he had worked up an affinity for Ulrich von Wilamowitz-​Möllendorf’s attempt to build a strict science of philology, and probably endorsed Wilamowitz’s distrust of

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that Freud provides for his Moses story in the 1930s is strikingly different from the land of bisexual religion and primal mothers that claimed his attention before World War I.”90 Here we come to the limits by which Freud established that his late-​in-​life turn to Moses and Monotheism would not allow a transition from the Egypt of bisexual deities, polytheism, goddesses, and idolatry to India. Moreover, we find Schorske’s troubling claim that Freud distorted his two main sources for his second Egyptian dig into Moses and Monotheism: “Freud’s portrait of Akhenaton and his religious revolution is firmly grounded in James Breasted’s The Dawn of Conscience,91 which stresses cultural characteristics that Freud associated with Jewish Geistigkeit . . . [spirituality/​intellectuality]. But Breasted includes another aspect of Akhenaton’s culture nowhere mentioned in Freud:  a rich sensuality. No Egyptian nobleman could have escaped it.” Breasted shows how the art of Akhenaton’s reign “broke the stiff, hieratic geometrical tradition of Egypt in favor of a sensuous, naturalistic plasticity.  .  .  . Frescoes depicting Akhenaton and his beautiful queen Nefertiti in tender communion, or playing lovingly with their daughters radiate the joy of Sinnlichkeit [sensuality]. . . . In his own copy of Breasted’s history, Freud marked only those passages which sustained this theme [of Geistigkeit]. The rest . . . he ignored.”92 One may say that in Breasted’s case, Freud told only his own half the story, underlining what he sought to claim as his “own intellectual prop­ erty,” as he did in reading Jacob Burkhart.93 His handling of Abraham’s study, though, “is even more astonishing.” He doesn’t cite it at all.94 Abraham had written it under the stimulus of Freud’s interest in bisexuality and its presence in his Leonardo study and in Egyptian religious culture.

Nietzsche. But nothing suggests that Freud conceived of returning to his classical interests once he had turned to Moses and Monotheism. 90. It also presents Moses in a different light from Freud’s earlier essay on Michelangelo’s statue in Rome, which he wrote “as he was enraged over the defection of Jung” (Blum 1979, 129). 91. Breasted 1933. 92. Schorske 1993, 39. 93. See FI, ch. 3, note 94. 94. Abraham 1953, 2:262–​90. On the latter omission, see also Blum 1979, 125. Cf. Ater 1992, 204–​205.

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Abraham’s psychoanalytic portrait of Akhenaton centers squarely on the pharaoh’s androgynous nature. Reared by a powerful mother to whom he remained passionately attached, Akhenaton lived in a permanent state of anger against his strong father. Akhenaton’s self-​representation in art, no less than his behavior, showed striking androgynous characteristics. . . . Finally, Abraham stresses the tremendous influence of women, especially his wife, Nefertiti, and his mother, Tiya, on his court.95 Leonard Shengold argues that Freud’s “totally uncharacteristic omission” of Abraham’s book from Moses and Monotheism was due to a complicated multilevel “parapraxis” involving Jung, Fliess, and Freud’s elision of the patriarch Abraham by starting his story with Moses.96 “Abraham had become another of Freud’s beloved and hated ‘ghosts’—​ ‘victims’ of his death wishes, the most important of whom were Freud’s father and younger brother Julius,” and the transference of these unconscious wishes to Abraham was accomplished by Abraham’s late-​in-​ life associations in Berlin with Fliess, which Abraham mentioned to Freud.97 This does not acknowledge Freud’s simultaneous omissions from Breasted’s work. The cleanest explanation is that Freud took only what he wanted from both authors’ works because he had made them his “intellectual property.” Schorske remarks that Freud’s last mention of Athena in writing has “a melancholy ring,” where she is reduced to a footnote in Moses and Monotheism that explains how a great earthquake sealed her fate as a mother goddess when her inability to protect the Greeks ruined her credibility, whereupon she was demoted to a daughter, robbed of her own mother, and through the virginity imposed upon her, permanently excluded from motherhood, henceforth to serve Zeus’s purposes as his intellectual brainchild. Schorske sarcastically enriches this earthquake story, which comes along with Freud’s attempts to fit Mother Goddesses into an evolutionary schema.98 Finally, he notes that on Freud’s escape journey from the Gestapo in Vienna, his diminutive “perfect Athena” joined him

95. Schorske 1993, 39–​40. 96. Shengold 1979, 215, 222–​23. 97. Shengold 1979, 241. 98. Schorske 1993, 40; see also ­chapter 4, this volume.

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for the trip by train from Paris to Calais and by boat to London to find her new place in the manly, Puritan England, to which Freud had thought he might immigrate fifty years earlier. Schorske says of Freud’s project, “Only once did he attempt systematically to come to grips with the character and construction of a particular culture, as historians and anthropologists do. This task Freud undertook only at the end of his life, and with considerable hesitation, in Moses and Monotheism, where he tried to get at the nature of Judaism.”99 Freud’s correspondences with Bose and Rolland both petered out during the period of this turn. While he pursued his singular vision, his two contacts on India both went silent. Yet that singular vision had its force. “Demanding of the Jews renunciation of the instincts, Moses liberated the Jews not so much from Egyptian bondage as from their own instinctual drives. A father to a childish people, he transformed them into a father people, exemplifying the victory of male abstraction, the central prerequisite of civilization, over female sensuality and materiality.”100 As Harold Blum recalls, “Moses and Monotheism was planned the month after Freud’s books were burned by the Nazis. The main book-​burning was on May 10, 1933. At a point of massive external and internal threats, it was a response precipitated by the burned books and the premonition of exodus and death. He was attacked from within by cancer and old age, and from without by the Nazis, with threats to humanity, and, particularly, to his family, the Jewish people, and to psychoanalysis.”101 Schorske is attentive to this purpose, where he says of Freud’s interpretative efforts, “Thanks to their intellectual and ethical strength, the Jews as Kulturvolk par excellence would always be attacked whenever repressed instinct broke loose in civilized society; thanks to the same masculine virtues, they would have the power to endure in adversity.”102 I have said elsewhere that I believe the Mahābhārata’s central myth of the divine plan or secret of the gods known as the unburdening of the Earth can be interpreted as a reflection upon traumatic historical experiences of Hindus faced with invasions from the northwest and the results of

99. Schorske 1993, 35. 100. Schorske 1993, 39. 101. Blum 1979, 120. 102. Schorske 1993, 39.

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India’s second urbanization.103 I  will return to this theme in ­chapter  6. The Mahābhārata, insofar as it exemplifies the vīrarasa, also depicts heroic masculine virtues achieved through the renunciation of desires, but is tempered by the calming virtues of the śāntarasa, among others, in the person of its ideal king. What all this means most immediately for us, however, is that Freud’s second Egyptian dig into Jewish Geisigkeit set a final limit on Freud’s interest in the mythology of goddesses.104 “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis,” his open letter to Romain Rolland in 1936, in which he does not even mention Athena, was a brief and partial time-​out from his concentration on Judaism. His near total focus marks a more pervasive and deeper reason than language competence why Freud could not consider shifting his ground to India and its Mahābhārata. Late in his life, he made a very personal choice to devote all his energies to Judaism as a new direction, even leaving the advances he had made into the second dark continent of women largely behind him. What counts for Freud was phylogenetically carried along despite the improbably “wide” spatial and prehistoric gaps: “the gulf between the new fathers of a family and the unrestricted primal father of the horde was wide enough to guarantee the continuance of the religious craving, the persistence of an unappeased longing for the father.”105 While he was writing Moses and Monotheism, Freud was not open to the point that a polytheistic tradition with Goddesses, like Hinduism, could draw on three thousand years of Geistigkeit, specifically involving the renunciation of desires.106 Yet this also means that we do not forget the point where Schorske himself stays within Freud’s Mediterranean orbit and omits to mention that Freud showed H. D. not only his “perfect

103. See Hiltebeitel 2016a, 9; see also Hiltebeitel 2011a. 81, 86, 158–​60, 175, 185–​88, 200, 297, 548–​49, 577–​78. 104.  See FI, ch. 2, notes 16–​17:  Freud has been noted for finding “mother goddesses” an inconvenience to his evolutionary schema, “sandwiching them in between two patrilineal and patriarchal periods”:  the father dominance of the primal horde in Totem and Taboo, and the patriarchy that inspired the paternal deity in Moses and Monotheism. He found an evolutionary niche for J.  J. Bachofen’s understanding of mother right and matriarchy, which Freud saw as a real period between the two patriarchies, and a threat to his Oedipal explanations for each. 105. Quoting FI, ch. 5, note 61. Freud 1953–​74, 13:149 (my italics); cf. 144: on the “germ of matriarchy.” 106. See FI, ch. 5.

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Athena” but also his Viṣṇu Anantadeva, whose mystery, depth, and snake imagery H. D. began to reach for and intuit.107 There is a counterpart to Freud’s phylogenetic myth-​making with monotheism and the slaying of Moses in the way the intellectual magnetic field of the Mahābhārata exerts force over the myths it brings together. If we grant that Freud’s construction relies on a mix of cosmology and genealogy to fill its gaps, its counterpart in driving the uses of myth in the Mahābhārata would be what Vishwa Adluri calls the “four genera of becoming”: genealogy, cosmology, sacrifice, and war. All four are intertwined at the point of the epic’s narration of its central myth of the Unburdening of the Earth.108 We shall see cosmology, genealogy, sacrifice, and war play into the Mahābhārata’s divine plan in ­chapter 6, but it is enough for now to see that in tying genealogy together with cosmology, and linking that pair with war and sacrifice, that the combination of these four genera have analogous narrative usages to the ontogenetic-​phylogenetic mythologies of patricide and revenants promoted by Freud. By 1915, Freud was himself running riot with new phylogenetic ideas in his so-​called phylogenetic fantasy, which has been described as “a ‘playful comparison’ that developed out of an exchange of ideas” between Freud and Ferenczi. Freud sought “to demonstrate that what are now neuroses ‘bear witness to the history of the mental development of mankind.’ ”109 His “playful” correlations are haunted by the assertions that when the primal “patriarch drove out the sons as they came of age, . . . the father actually castrated them, ‘after which they are able to stay in the horde as harmless laborers,’ a stage corresponding to dementia praecox. Those sons who could, fled and lived together: hence the historical emergence of homosexual feelings,” and so on. The text was named Phylogenetic Fantasy by its editor, Grubich-​Simitis, for “a manuscript of Freud’s discovered in 1983 among the papers” of Ferenczi that “was presumed to have been destroyed by Freud himself.”110 Although Freud restated the idea of an actual castration twice in later works,111 he probably showed good judgment in not

107. See FI, ch. 3. 108. Adluri 2012 developed the idea of the four genera and has discussed them in Adluri 2011 and 2016. 109. Brickman 2003, 77. 110. Brickman 2003, 228n88. 111. Brickman 2003, 101.

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publishing the manuscript. The concept of phylogenetic recapitulation was outmoded even in Freud’s time,112 and was apparently not accepted either by Bose113 or by Romain Rolland.114

Class 3 This brings us to the third “class” of uncanny data with Freud’s stance on uncanny literary reality effects. It is reflected in the following statement: The uncanny as it is depicted in literature, in stories and imaginative productions, merits in truth a separate discussion. Above all, it is a much more fertile province than the uncanny in real life, for it contains the whole of the latter and something more besides, something that cannot be found in real life. The contrast between what has been repressed and what has been surmounted cannot be transposed on to the uncanny in fiction without profound modification; for the realm of phantasy depends for its effect on the fact that its content is not submitted to reality-​testing. The somewhat paradoxical result is that in the first place a great deal that is not uncanny in fiction would be so if it happened in real life; and in the second place that there are many more means of creating uncanny effects in fiction than there are in real life.115 One can appreciate Freud’s point for the modern fiction he discusses (notably, The Tales of Hoffmann), and we would not want to shy away from

112.  See Brickman 2003, 63–​65, noting reassessments of Mendel’s work on “the gene as the unit of inheritance and genetic recombinations and mutations (rather than acquired characteristics),” and Franz Boas’s work on the impact of culture rather than race; cf. Kerr 1993, 237–​38, on such ideas, “Today [of ] . . . no scientific standing,” as they were then held by G. Stanley Hall, the first president of Clark College in Worcester, Massachusetts, who invited Freud and Jung there in 1909. 113. Inverting the terms and giving no reference on Bose, Hartnack 2001, 128, comments that Bose “did not share the view that phylogeny is a recapitulation of ontogeny, although Freud’s writings drew heavily on this model.” Bose could have supported neither phylogenetic nor genetic effects upon his quasi-​Upanishadic “theoretical ego”; see FI, ch. 4. 114. According to Vermorel and Vermorel 1993, 316–​18, in his two volumes on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, Rolland critiques Haeckel’s ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, yet still defends Freud. 115. Freud 1953–​74, 17:249; Freud’s italics.

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considering Indian myth as fiction, including the Mahābhārata.116 But if, as Vishnu S. Sukthankar says, the Mahābhārata’s baseline Northern text “is distinctly vague, unsystematic, sometimes even inconsequent, more like a story rather naively narrated, as we find in actual experience,”117 such a distinction between literature and real life is undercut. As a text that lives in a tradition so much of its own making, the Mahābhārata makes uncanny reality effects that the tradition itself submits to its own reality testing. Indian media, for instance, “confirm” India’s nuclear tests by the precedent of the Mahābhārata’s doomsday weapons118 or find precedent for modes of in vitro fertilization in its strange pregnancies. In c­ hapter 3, we shall find a riot of uncanny themes befitting Freud’s map in a sequence of stories about dead mothers. I will, in fact, return to the uncanny to make my points in all subsequent chapters. In this chapter I have begun to suggest some ways that one can compare Freud’s oeuvre with the Mahābhārata. I conclude it on the note that there may be productive reasons to pursue the thought about the Mahābhārata’s aforementioned uncanny size. To some extent, their corpuses can be thought of as similar projects. They are not so different in size in their critical and standard editions. At twenty-​three volumes, Freud’s oeuvre looks somewhat longer than “the world’s longest epic,” even without including his vast correspondence of about ten to fifteen thousand letters.119 Mahony suggests that “the future complete works of Freud would be near a hundred volumes, which in large part would consist of his letters, thus making him one of the most prolific letter writers in history.”120 Grubich-​Simitis, in envisioning a future “critical edition” of Freud’s work based wherever possible on surviving manuscripts, regards it as “impossible to include the entire corpus of letters” and advocates including only the “indispensable correspondences,” of which she names twenty-​three, plus members of his family. She overlooks Freud’s two “India” correspondences with

116.  On Mahābhārata fiction, see Hiltebeitel 2001, 7–​9, 57–​59, 101–​106, 167–​68, 294–​96; Hiltebeitel and Kloetzli 2004, 581–​86. 117. Sukthankar 1933, xxxvi; italics in original. 118. This despite the fact that the “missiles” don’t seem to explode, and that explosives were invented in China in the thirteenth century (a point I owe to Thomas Michael). 119. See Grubich-​Simitis 1996, 248; Mahony 1984, 850–​51, who says the estimate is originally Eissler’s (1980, 104–​105). 120. Mahony 1984, as cited by Margolis 1996, 107–​108.

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Girindrasekhar Bose and Romain Rolland!121 No matter what the reasons are for not including them in the top twenty-​three, such a selective critical edition would be a misnomer, if not an oxymoron. This comparison of the two bodies of work in terms of size or length takes me back to a conversation I had with Wendy Doniger after a panel at the Madison South Asia Conference in 2003. In response to her opposition to my idea that the Mahābhārata was composed by multiple authors, or a “committee,” over a short period of time, I said, “Imagine a text jointly composed and brought together from your writings, mine, and Mircea’s [Eliade’s]. The length of the Mahābhārata would be easily superseded.” But she would have none of it, being convinced that the text could be divided into strata and periods going way back in time.122 That was before T. P. Mahadevan’s work virtually clinched my argument, as we shall see in ­chapter 4—​at least as I  see it, which is a subject in c­ hapter  6. But this is not just a point about size and duration of composition. Both Freud and the Mahābhārata are equally ambitious to forge the new consciousness of a civilization; are similarly heterogeneous in relating myth to grand narrative, speculation, case studies, and technical material; are stylistically varied and dialogical; and are composed under a self-​consciously cross-​referenced authorial design.123 In making myth and handling it within that design, each also propounds a heroic “Ksatriya” machismo, but also gives a shortchanged though still prominent place to females, both human and divine. Each also created an open text, open to the traditions that others would build upon their foundations. If Freud could say “our insight into this early, pre-​ Oedipus, phase in girls comes to us as a surprise, like the discovery, in another field, of the Minoan-​Mycenean civilization behind the civilization of Greece,”124 what might he have thought about discoveries about India and the Mahābhārata made since his time?

121. Grubich-​Simitis 1996, 252–​53, 255, and 253n12 for the twenty-​three names. 122. On Doniger’s position, see Hiltebeitel 2011c. 123. See Mahony 1982, 82, 151–​52, 185. 124. See FI, ch. 3, note 44.

3

2

A Short Introduction to Freud’s Mahābhārata Through the Pāṇḍavas’ Mother Kuntī

As we shall see in ­chapter 3, the Mahābhārata has three stories about dead mothers, one each in its first, third, and fourth books, which I will juxtapose with three texts discussed by Diane Jonte-​Pace in which Freud deals with dead mothers. All three Mahābhārata episodes feature the Pāṇḍavas’ mother Kuntī in the prime of her life. In anticipation of that chapter, let us remind ourselves that André Green writes about a “dead mother complex” that should be pertinent to Jonte-​Pace, even though she overlooks Green’s work. In this chapter, I lead with Green’s discussion of Jonte-​Pace’s third example: the text of Freud’s “my beloved mother” dream that his mother had died. This is the last dream Freud analyzes in The Interpretation of Dreams and the only one from his childhood. Green demonstrates that the “dead mother complex” sheds light on features of Freud’s reconstruction of his early life. I then offer a fairly brief introduction to the Mahābhārata’s main narrative through Green’s dead mother complex as seen through the eyes of Kuntī. We can thus begin to speak of Freud’s Mahābhārata in the sense of a post-​Freudian angle, yet it is an angle that prepares us for the real thing in c­ hapter 6. Green writes, “It is only at a late stage . . . that repression in me has lifted, and that I have remembered retrospectively something in Freud that can be related to my subject. It is not in Mourning and Melancholy that I found

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Freud’s support, but in The Interpretation of Dreams. . . . It is the dream of the ‘beloved mother,’ and the only childhood dream he recounted, either in his work or in his published correspondence. In this matter, Fliess’s psychical deafness made one of Freud’s dead mothers of him.”1 As Green indicates, Freud’s mother Amalia’s reaction to the death of her second baby son Julius, who was born when Sigmund was seventeen months old and who died in six months, lies behind elements in the dream,2 whose “manifest content shows ‘my beloved mother, with a peculiarly peaceful, sleeping expression on her features, being carried into a room by two (or three) people with birds’ beaks and being lain upon a bed.’ The dreamer awakens in tears and screaming, interrupts his parents’ sleep.”3 Green stresses that “it is a dream that could not be dreamed. . . . In his uncertainty, the dreamer can stand no more; he interrupts, killing two birds with one stone—​the dream and his parents sleep.”4 Questions that emerge are: What is the “peculiarly peaceful, sleeping expression” on his mother’s face? Is she dead? Or alive and sexually satisfied? Either way, is Sigmund responsible? Of the three men who carried her bier, which one lies next to her in bed as her husband? Two themes are then conjoined: the dead mother and sexual intercourse. The young Sigmund is found to break in on the primal scene, with the two (or three) men with birds’ beaks being his father Jacob; Jacob’s son Philipp from Jacob’s first marriage, whom Sigmund imagines as having sired Julius with Amalia; and a supposed Philipp, as far as Freud can recall his name. This third Philipp was a concierge’s son with whom Freud

1. Green 1983b, 169, referring to Freud’s friend up to about 1900, Wilhelm Fliess. 2. Grinstein 1968, 459, is also to be credited with relating Julius’s death to Freud’s “My beloved mother” dream through his immediately following discussion of the recurrent dream of being chased by a man with a hatchet as an eleven-​to thirteen-​year-​old boy, by which Freud extends his discussion of his own dream. Grinstein gives weight to the impact of the death of Julius on Freud’s unconscious (see 279–​81, 296–​97, 305, 308–​15, 414). Green’s interpretation of Freud’s “My beloved mother” dream is also reinforced by Atwood and Storolow 1999, 44, who say, it “contains, we believe, a vivid and almost undisguised expression of Freud’s hostile feelings toward his mother and a depiction as well of their dangerous consequences.” They, too, refer such feelings back to Sigmund’s dislodgement by Julius (39, 42, 48) and Anna (48), and note that in The Interpretation of Dreams (Freud 1953–​74, 4: 249), where Freud speaks of two types of dreams of the death of a person of whom the dreamer is fond, “In those in which the dreamer is personally affected, there is “a wish that the other may die” (Atwood and Storolow 1999, 44). 3. Green 1983b quotes Freud 1953–​74, 5:583; Freud’s italics. 4. Green 1983b, 169–​70.

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and his cousins used to play on the grass or in the meadow5 outside his house, which brings the associations of the dream back to Freud’s still younger days in Freiberg, Moravia. The third Philipp also furthers the associative play on the “Philipp’s son” Bible,6 and he had taught Sigmund a “bird”-​related vulgar word (Vögeln) for sexual intercourse. Green credits an especially “remarkable analysis” of this dream to Didier Anzieu, who says of it, “The internal process of the Oedipal phase was drawing to a close, and Sigismund was bidding farewell to his beloved mother, the beloved mother of his infancy, his Oedipal mother. Henceforth, she would be dead for him, in other words he was abandoning incestuous possession of her. The post-​Oedipal super-​ego was thus at work.”7 Green finds confirmation of Amalia having become a “dead mother” to Sigmund by the time of this dream, and confirmation of his “hypothesis concerning the relation between the dead mother, the primal scene, and the Oedipus complex,”8 in which the child may strive frantically yet uselessly to reanimate the decathected dead mother. Keeping these details of this dream interpretation in mind, let us move on to a summary of Green’s chief findings, adapted from Martin S.  Bergmann, that will be eerily pertinent to the Mahābhārata. Green begins with an “emphasis on mourning as the most important characteristic that differentiates contemporary from earlier, classical analysis” that treated only neuroses. Green envisions modifications of psychoanalysis that will extend treatment to difficult “borderline cases,”9 and invents the term “decathexis” to bring out the child’s removal of affect from the withdrawn mother.10 5. It is “on the grass” in the dream and “on the meadow” in Freud’s screen memory of playing with his cousins John and Pauline, and snatching a bunch of flowers from Pauline: “(an easy picture puzzle to solve they ‘deflower’ her” (Anzieu 1986a, 304). 6. The Phillipson Bible was the family Bible when Freud was eight or nine, and was later given to him inscribed by his father, shortly before he died. 7. Anzieu 1986a, 304. 8. Green 1983b, 170. 9. According to Bergmann 1999, 200, his vocabulary of extenders, modifiers, and heretics regards Lacan, Bion, and Winnicott as examples of modifiers, and Green’s effort at the London Congress of 1970, where he was pitted against the extenders led by Anna Freud, “was to unify three different modifiers as legitimate heirs of Freud’s work.” 10.  See Bergmann 1999, 199–​200:  unlike anticathexis and countercathexis, decathexis does not occur in the Standard Edition (Freud 1953–​74): “The term cathexis was created by Strachey as a translation of the German Besetzung, a term Freud used to account for varying degrees of intensity in which unconscious mental processes take place.”

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The term dead mother is a metaphor, since the mother is physically alive. She had once been a source of vitality to her child, but because of a trauma suffered while the child was still young, she has withdrawn her interest and love from the child, “brutally transforming a living object, which was a source of vitality for the child, into a distant figure, toneless, practically inanimate.” The period of the mother’s vitality must have been long enough not to have extinguished all hope for life in the child.  .  .  . The decathexis of the dead mother results in identification with her. Therefore, these patients feel no hatred for their mothers. [They] become attached to the analytic setting rather than to the analyst himself. The decathexis of the mother results in what Green calls psychological holes.11 Green thus stresses negation and the “work of the negative,” a theme he traces to Donald W. Winnicott.12 I would now like to speak to the overall situation in the epic that makes Green’s dead mother complex so surprisingly pertinent, considering that the epic is an “uncanny” work of Indian classical fiction. This will mean introducing the epic’s main story and, with it, some well-​worn rules of the road for Mahābhārata interpretation. I will be keeping in mind the outline of Green’s dead mother complex and will also turn to what some of the contributors to Gregorio Kohon’s edited book about Green’s work, The Dead Mother, have to say about it. Those contributors include Green himself in an interview with Kohon. The Mahābhārata tells the story of the rivalry between two families of paternal cousins who are mirror images of each other: the relatively good Pāṇḑavas—​the five putative sons of Pāṇḑu—​and the relatively wicked Kauravas, the hundred sons of the blind Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Both 5 and 100 are totality numbers, with the 5 representing a nucleus of divine order and hierarchy and 100 signifying demonic chaos. The five Pāṇḑavas are actually not sons of Pāṇḑu. They were sired by five gods after Pāṇḑu’s senior wife

11. The quoted summary is from Bergmann 1999, 199–​200, with the interior quote from Green 1983b, 142. 12. See Green 1999, 195–​200. Parsons 1999 works from Green’s discussion, emphasizing “the constructive use of negation” and “the difference’’ that “lies in whether negation is a fixed state to be held on to, or a mobile and flexible activity, a provisional suspension of ordinary reality to be moved on from when it has served its purpose” (71). He gives a case study in which the patient seems frozen in negation and another where both activities “move to kind of tidal rhythm” (73).

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Kuntī revealed to him that she knew a secret mantra that would coerce deities to have liaisons with her. She used the mantra three times to become pregnant with the three oldest Pāṇḑavas, and then gave Pāṇḑu’s junior wife, Mādrī, a single chance by which she (somehow) had twins with the divine twins. Meanwhile, Gāndharī, the wife of the hundred Kauravas’ father Dhṛtarāṣṭra, endured a monstrous two-​year pregnancy that she finally aborted with hard and painful effort, causing her to faint, and yielding a ball of flesh comprising a hundred embryos, which the sage Vyāsa, the epic’s author, extracted, rescued, and set out in separate pots, each to gestate further until birth. The firstborn by a year in this joint family, and thus the one who must claim the right to rule by primogeniture, is the Kuntī’s eldest Pāṇḑava son, Yudhiṣṭhira. The oldest Kaurava, and Yudhiṣṭhira’s rival for the throne, is Duryodhana, Gāndharī’s first pot-​born son, who was born on the same day as Kuntī’s second Pāṇḑava son, Bhīma. As one can already gather, although the rivalry between cousins is over the royal patrimony of the Kuru or “Kaurava” realm, the mothers of the rival cousins are in the thick of it. Their manner of reproduction is akin to that of a pair of prototypes: the rivaling oviparous mothers of snakes and birds, Kadrū and Vinatā, who likewise get caught up in a race to produce a firstborn son. Vinatā gives birth first to Garuḑa, the divine bird who devours snakes.13 With plenty of help from their ineffective husbands (Dhṛtarāṣṭra was born blind and Pāṇḑu becomes impotent), the three wives become mothers of an increasingly dysfunctional family.14 What is more, it can be shown that on each side of this rivalry, the two senior mothers exhibit traits of André Green’s dead mother complex. The case with Gāndharī is almost straightforward, except that there is no early grace period wherein she shows affection in mothering her hundred sons—​a phase that may not be essential to the complex.15 Tricked by

13.  See Hiltebeitel 2011a, 383–​84, and note 103, on the extended parallels with Kadrū and Vinatā. 14. On this usage, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 340–​45, where I link it up with a mock-​Lacanian “Law of the Mother.” The dysfunction goes back several generations, as we shall see in our third dead mother story in c­ hapter 3, this volume. 15. To go by Arnold H. Modell’s chapter in Kohon 1999a, memory of the mother’s vitality may be bypassed. While he “can confirm most of the salient features of the phenomenology of the dead mother syndrome that Green has portrayed. . . . My own cases suggest a somewhat different scenario: the mother’s deadness is not experienced as a discrete episode with a beginning and an end, so that I have not been able to recover memories of a period where the mother was emotionally available” (77).

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her father into marrying a blind man, she combines loyalty to the husband with her embittered dissatisfaction and makes a lifelong vow to blindfold her eyes, with one result being that her sons will never be seen by her nor will they ever see her eyes.16 Duryodhana can be said to have decathected his mother by the time he rejects his parents counsel to accept half the kingdom, and says to his father, but identifying with his mother, “Dissatisfaction (asaṃtoṣam) is the root of fortune, that is why I want it”17 Meanwhile, the “depressive position”18 of Kuntī relative to the Pāṇḑavas is hardly more difficult to pinpoint. It begins from her first use of the mantra, before her marriage, when as a girl having just had this “boon” bestowed on her, she gave way to “curiosity” and tried it out with the sun god Sūrya, who was ensorceled to sire a son with her, Karṇa, whom she consigned with a secret guilt to a basket that she set afloat down the Gaṅgā River, never to forget him, and according to a folk tradition, instantaneously lactating when she saw him even as an adult.19 Kuntī “was absorbed by bereavement as far back as her own childhood.”20 Kuntī is in full charge of her other five sons (the Pāṇḑavas) until they have married. Her second oldest and the strongest, Bhīma, is the first to wed. He marries the rākṣasī (demoness) Hiḑimbā right after killing her cannibal brother, siring with her the prodigious Ghaṭotaca, born as soon as he was conceived, who immediately takes off with his mother for the wilds,21 leaving Bhīma to rejoin the fold with his mother and brothers. Soon Kuntī has a disagreement with Yudhiṣṭhira, whom she leaves out of her decision to set Bhīma to the task of fighting a powerful cannibal demon named Baka to keep Baka from devouring a member of a Brahmin household that has been hosting the Pāṇḑavas. Yudhiṣṭhira protests Kuntī’s lack

16. See Hiltebeitel 2011a, 385–​87, for these details. 17. Mbh 2.50.18; see Hiltebeitel 2015a, 43–​46: the context of this statement is Duryodhana’s complaint to his father that Draupadī laughingly mocked him, itself questionable because he says this only privately to Dhṛtarāṣṭra and not earlier to his crony Śakuni through whom he will win all the Pāṇḍavas’ “fortune” through the dice match. 18. Green uses this term in 1983b, 143, 169. 19. This is a Draupadī cult folk tradition; see Hiltebeitel 1988b, 314–​15. In the Mahābhārata, on the contrary, when Kuntī hears the words of spectators praising her third and favorite son Arjuna as he appears at a tournament, “her breasts became damp with tears that comingled with milk” (Mbh 1.125.13; van Buitenen 1973, 278), which does not happen when Karṇa soon appears at the same event. 20. Said of Anna O’s (Bertha Pappenheim’s) mother by Perelberg 1999, 189n8. 21. Mbh 1.143.

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of foresight: what is she thinking when Bhīma is the Pāṇḑavas’ bulwark against the murderous Kauravas? But she stands by her decision and says she has full confidence Bhīma will return victorious, to which Yudhiṣṭhira can only accede and be proved wrong.22 A few years after her five sons have married Draupadī, during preparations for the Mahābhārata war, such tension with Yudhiṣṭhira comes to head again. Kuntī makes her dissatisfaction with her eldest son’s leadership of the Pāṇḑavas evident in the harsh and insulting words she tells Kṛṣṇa to transmit to him before the war. Here are Kuntī’s opening words and some other highlights of her dissatisfaction: Keśava, tell the dharma-​minded King Yudhiṣṭhira, Your dharma has greatly declined; do not go wrong, my son. Since you have mere rote learning of the Veda without understanding or insight, your mind is possessed by mere recitation and looks to but a single dharma. Come, heed the dharma that was created by the Self-​existent:  the Kṣatriya was created from his chest, to live by the strength of his arms, to act always mercilessly for the protection of his subjects. . . . Neither Pāṇḍu nor I nor Grandfather [Bhīṣma, or less likely, Vyāsa] have ever prayed that you be blessed with the wisdom you live by. . . . You are knowledgeable and high-​born, but a victim of your failure in living, son. . . . Is there anything harder for me than, with my own relatives destitute, having hope for the dole of others after giving birth to you, delight of your enemies?23 Kuntī’s message to Yudhiṣṭhira then goes on at great length in the words of a queen mother, Vidurā, who “once berated the son of her womb when he lay about dejectedly after his defeat,” seeking to goad him to battle:24 Here are a few gems attributed by Kuntī to Vidurā: Where did you come from? Neither I nor your father begot you! Too cowardly for anger, barely hanging onto a low branch, you are a man 22. Mbh 1.150.5–​27. Keeping the order of the three Mahābhārata dead mother stories in mind, the Hiḍimbā and Baka episodes will come just after the first. 23.  Mbh 5.130.2–​4, 5, 11, 17, 19–​21, 25, 30. These translations are from van Buitenen 1978, 429–​39, only slightly modified: e.g., dharma for “Law” and Kṣatriya for “baron.” 24. Mbh 5.131.3. Queen Vidurā (alternately, Vidulā) now speaks to her son, Prince Saṃjaya (5.131–​34).

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with the tools of a eunuch! . . . Why do you lie about like a corpse, as though lightening has struck you? Get up, coward, don’t lie there defeated! . . . I have given birth to you as a Kali under the fraudulent disguise of a son who acts contrary to his class among the strict. . . . May no woman ever bear a son like you, without anger, without enterprise, without manhood, the joy of your enemies! . . . One is a man to the exent of his truculence and unforgivingness (akṣamī). The forgiving man (kṣamāvān), the meek man is neither woman nor man. . . . If you persist in this eunuch’s course, despondent and demoralized, then take your wretched life.25 Kuntī speaks for a warrior caste ethos and expresses admiration only for her four younger, more martial sons, each of whom she goes on to praise contrastively, as Kṛṣṇa reports, for his Kṣatriya prowess:  first Arjuna, recalling the celestial voice she heard at his birth predicting his “killing the Kurus on the battlefield.”26 Clearly, Kuntī portrays herself and Yudhiṣṭhira as a polar pair, exemplifying an array of oppositions we have been meeting. These include Mahābhārata values: the obvious ones about caste and gender, and also the question noted in c­ hapter 1 about the Mahābhārata’s dominant rasa. Is it the heroic (vīrarasa), as where Kuntī says, “your rites and gifts and all your fame are lost”? Is it peacefulness (śāntarasa), which can be exemplified by Vidurā ‘s son’s main reply to what Kuntī has quoted so far from his mother: Your heart is made into an iron ball, merciless, war-​mongering, intransigent mother (mama mātastvakaruṇe vairaprajñe hy amarṣaṇe). Accurst the code of the Kṣatriya, for which you berate me, your only son, as though I were a stranger! If you do not have regard for me, what use is all the earth to you, what use your ornaments, what use life itself?27 Or could it be the marvelous or uncanny (adbhutarasa) arising here from the juxtaposition of the two rasas just mentioned, as when Kuntī says, “If people do not talk about a man’s acts as miracles (mahad-​adbhutam: literally,

25. Mbh 5.131.5, 11, 27, 30; 132.22. 26. From Arjuna (Mbh 5.135.1–​8), she turns out of order to Bhīma (9–​12) and the twins (13–​14). 27. Mbh 5.133.1–​3.

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“as a great marvel”), he is merely another addition to the pile of humanity, he is neither man nor woman.” Kuntī’s exchange with the full five sons also reminds me of stances taken by Freud:  his conquistador persona, like Arjuna’s; his affectations of ruthlessness; and his machismo as a defense against castration and homosexuality. Vidurā’s statement that “A man whose gifts, austerity, bravery, learning, or gain are not reported to his mother with awe is his mother’s excrement” is reminiscent of his grandchildren’s anecdotes about the adult Freud’s Sunday visits to meet the demands of his own “dragon-​lady” mother.28 Yet Kuntī’s harsh words are less about her firstborn son with Pāṇḍu than they are about herself; they leave Yudhiṣṭhira’s feelings out of account entirely. Arnold Modell, in his contribution to The Dead Mother book, says that for some of his patients, it would appear as if their mother was unable to recognize that her child had an inner life that was separate or distinct from her own. The mother was experienced as if she lacked the capacity to recognize other minds. The consequences of experiencing the failure of the mother to acknowledge the child’s inner life can be devastating. . . . It is a short step to think that if their mother does not recognize their psychic aliveness, then their mother wishes that they did not exist, that they in fact should be dead.29 Yudhiṣṭhira, however, listens to Kuntī,’s words indirectly and at a distance, and not firsthand like Vidurā’s son, who unlike Yudhiṣṭhira (and Freud) is an only son and must deal with his mother’s demands immediately and directly. We need not think of Yudhiṣṭhira being stymied to the extent of Modell’s patients, for if anything his inner world shows a certain resiliency. The lesson that the Kaurava advisors Bhīṣma and Droṇa draw from listening to Kuntī’s “matchless and meaningful woods” are that Yudhiṣṭhira—​who has up to now made a virtue of patience, forbearance, and forgiveness, the words of which all make use of derivatives from the verbal root kṣam, “to endure”—​“will forgive no more (na kṣaṃsyati yudhiṣṭhiraḥ).”30 Modell discusses a distinction between the dead mother 28. See FI, preface and chs. 1 and 8. 29. Modell 1999, 77. 30.  Mbh 5.136.2 and 5.  See the fourth provocation, quoted from Vidulā, at note 25, this chapter.

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complex and the dead mother syndrome:  “A mother’s withdrawal from her infant and young child is a relatively common occurrence, whereas the dead mother syndrome, that bespeaks severe psychopathology, is quite rare.”31 While Yudhiṣṭhira seems at times to speak from the syndrome, he also can be said to exhibit wider adaptability to the complex by showing “selective” traits of “resilience,”32 among which Modell fittingly mentions a child’s “capacity to appreciate paradox,” the ability “to play with its similarity and difference from the mother,” and “the capacity to create transformative metaphors of life experiences.”33 After the war, when the five brothers see Kuntī lament Karṇa’s death on the battlefield and suddenly realize that Arjuna has killed their real eldest brother, Yudhiṣṭhira is inconsolable through two long books of self-​ recriminations, in which one could say that he loves the process more than the analyst—​his stricken grandfather Bhīṣma, whom he regales with repetitive and nearly endless questions.34 These two books, 12 and 13, mark the beginning of an anti-​triumphalist śāntarasik ending to the epic in which, as some have seen it, the “depressed” Pāṇḑavas will ultimately go on a suicide march as they leave this world,35 their depression having been crystallized in Book 15, when after they have taken what turns out to be their last leave of Kuntī, Gāndharī, and Dhṛtarāṣṭra, they learn that the elders were consumed in a forest fire. But this depressive posture of the Pāṇḑavas has been prepared for throughout the epic, and in terms that can further be thought of in the light of André Green’s and his colleagues’ insights. I go back here to the actual death of the third mother, Mādrī, whom—​as we shall see in our

31. Modell 1999, 76. 32. Modell 1999, 84. 33. Modell 1999, 84–​85. 34. Bhīṣma’s body is filled with arrows so that his “bed of arrows” keeps him from touching the ground. 35. See Jamison 1996, 76 and 277n151: the end of the horse sacrifice in Book 14 is “grim, not exultant,” as “of course, is true for all the postwar Mahābhārata. The Pāṇḍavas seem to live in a state of clinical depression for parvan after parvan.” Fitzgerald 1997, 702, says the Pāṇḍavas’ final journey is “actually a form of suicide”; and he relates Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s statement that he is “obviously on the long road to the heavenly world of Brahmā” (Mbh 11.1.20) to suicide and to the Pāṇḍavas’ “great journey” or mahāprasthāna, “a journey of suicide in which one walks until he or she drops of exhaustion or lack of nourishment” (2004a, 661n22). However, as Hudson 2012, 207n126 reasonably cautions, “Bhīma seems surprised when each of his loved ones drops on the earth.” Nor would that leave Yudhiṣṭhira the sole suicide, since he enters heaven consciously in his own body.

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second Mahābhārata dead mother story—​Yudhiṣṭhira will say is one, even in death, with Kuntī. Because Pāṇḑu had once shot what he thought was a deer, but was really a Ṛṣi mating with his doe or wife, the dying Ṛṣi cursed Pāṇḑu that he would die along with his partner the next time they made love. Thus, Pāṇḑu’s impotence was self-​induced. He left the game-​filled forests for the high icy Himalayas, accompanied by both his wives who insisted on remaining with him because they loved him. But passion and hope spring eternal, and one fine spring day after all five sons were born, Pāṇḑu had had enough of self-​imposed impotence and approached his wives, leaving them to rival each other (if they knew the full extent of the curse, which is not certain) to join him in death. Mādrī won out by saying that she could not love all their five sons equally, as she knew Kuntī would do with hers. And so, as Kuntī ruefully put it, Mādrī was the last to see happiness on Pāṇḑu’s face.36 The repercussions of this moment can only begin to be imagined. Whatever their exact age, the twins had had time to enjoy their mother Mādrī’s love; and in the two women’s situation of female rivalry with no sexual interruptions by Pāṇḑu, we may suggest that Kuntī might have enjoyed a respite from her guilt for abandoning Karṇa, and had time to enjoy nursing her three sons and wet-​nursing Mādrī’s twins that the two women would have shared. Now comes her second blow: the loss of her husband, and with it the call to treat all five sons equally, which would end the hypothetical period of respite and hang her motherhood on a difficult formal expectation that seems to put her eldest at a disadvantage, as we have seen. As for the five Pāṇḍavas, let us guess that they ranged in ages from two to five. We are not told whether they saw or heard the primal scene in which they lose two-​thirds of their parents, but there were no trees to block the view or muffle the screams in the high Himalayas. In any case, they brought the story of it with them down to the plains and carried the indelible images of that story for the rest of their lives. Kuntī’s loving the five equally would, however, be challenging for Yudhiṣṭhira to accept, as he would have felt the rivalry of his two younger brothers close on his heels, and eventually known—​as Karṇa did—​that their mother really loved her youngest, Arjuna, the most—​as would Draupadī during her polyandrous marriage to the five, as Yudhiṣṭhira matter-​of-​factly tells

36. Mbh 1.116.21.

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Bhīma just after she has died.37 It cannot be often that the primal scene is also an Oedipal Liebestod moment of the father’s death. For Yudhiṣṭhira, Pāṇḑu’s passing sets him to the lifelong task of intellectually pondering the ways of passion. There is, however, one more psychodynamically loaded scene that must be discussed in the current context. For one thing, it sets the stage for the epic’s second and third dead mother stories. This is the pivotal “dice match and disrobing” (cūtu tukilurital) scene, to use the Tamil term for it. That is the title of the pivotal drama performed at Draupadī festivals. I have written more about the episode in the epic and about the folk drama than I can usefully recapitulate here,38 so a new tack—​I will talk about Kuntī’s absence—​is welcome. Kuntī is not a staged presence in the drama Cūtu Tukilurital, and she is out of the picture during the events in question in the entire second book of the Mahābhārata. There, she is mentioned only at the beginning with her sons in their new capital of Indraprastha as they bid adieu to Kṛṣṇa,39 and at the end when she says a tearful but encouraging word to Draupadī, and then to the Pāṇḍavas, as they are setting off for their long forest exile from Hāstinapura,40 the old capital of the Kauravas, where, in the meantime, the disastrous dice match and disrobing have occurred. Since the Pāṇḍavas’ own journey with Draupadī from Indraprastha to Hāstinapura is also not described, one may probably assume that Kuntī came with them. But she does not appear in the men’s gambling hall. Although the text does not mark either her movements or her absence at the scene itself, its unfolding relies on giving the impression that everyone else who matters is present to voice or withhold his or her views as the disaster builds. Had Kuntī been there, Yudhiṣṭhira in theory, let us say, could not have gotten away with acting as he did. During the episode, much is made of Yudhiṣṭhira’s seniority as the recently anointed king, and it is the authority of his word that keeps his brothers and wife in check. But more

37. Mbh 17.2.6. 38. On the episode in the epic, see Hiltebeitel 1980b, 1981; 2001, 240–​62; 2015a; 2015b; in press-​c; and Hiltebeitel and Adluri, in press; on the folk drama, see Hiltebeitel 1988a (a video) and 1988b, 228–​81; Frasca 1990. 39. Mbh 2.2.2. 40.  Mbh 2,70.1-​30. She does not reprove Yudhiṣṭhira, but then she was not in the men’s gambling hall.

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than being king, he is explicitly their guru as the eldest and as parental surrogate. Had Kuntī been present in the gambling hall, she, as mother and as sole surviving parent, would have had the authority of guru above Yudhiṣṭhira’s.41 Indeed, that could be what lies behind mother Kuntī’s words when she says “share it all equally” when Arjuna and Bhīma introduce Draupadī to her, which Yudhiṣṭhira then brings to pass by deciding the five brothers would all marry Draupadī (see figure 2.1).42 Although Kuntī is not called a guru at this scene, that is probably the force behind the inviolability of her word. There are three other things we know about her that make it unlikely Yudhiṣṭhira would have been left in charge to bring things to the terrible outcome. First is her lack of sympathy for Yudhiṣṭhira’s inner world; second is her hotblooded Kṣatriya temperament; and third is her solicitations of Draupadī, her daughter-​in-​law. This last is evident since Draupadī married the five, and is accentuated when Kṛṣṇa concludes his report of Kuntī’s prewar message from Hāstinapura. It began with her excoriation of Yudhiṣṭhira and ends with these words regarding Draupadī: Who could forgive that before your very eyes the Princess of Pañcāla, who had accumulated the merits of every dharma, was harshly insulted? Not the rape of the kingdom, not the defeat at dice, not the banishment of my sons to the forest grieves me, as it grieves me that that great dark woman (bṛhatī śyāmā), weeping in the hall, had to listen to insults! While in her period the fair-​hipped Kṛṣṇā, always devoted to Kṣatriya dharma, found no protector there, though she had protectors. Strong-​armed Kṛṣṇa, say to the tigerlike Arjuna, greatest of all bearers of arms:  “Walk the path of Draupadī!” For

41. See Gonda 1965, 24: “Devala, an authority on dharma, was of the opinion that ‘among gurus five deserve special honour, viz. father, mother, ācārya, eldest brother and (in the case of women) husband. . . . ’ Gautama [Dharma-​Sūtra] 2.50f., though declaring that the ācārya is the chief among all gurus, adds that according to some the mother is the highest, an opinion shared by Yājñ [avalkya-​Smṛti] 11.35 (ebhyo mātā garīyasī). . . . And father, mother and ācārya are the three highest gurus of a person,” according to Viṣṇu-​Smṛti 32.1f. Gonda says the view that the mother is the highest is “rejected by Bhīṣma,” who says he regards the guru to be “more important than the father or mother”; but just before that he says, “one’s father surpasses ten teachers, but one mother surpasses ten fathers, or even the entire earth, by her importance—​there is no authority equal to the mother” (Mbh 12.109.16, trans. Fitzgerald 2004a, 441). 42. Mbh 1.182; on this episode, see also ­chapter 3, this volume, note 97.

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(a)

(b)

Figure  2.1 Kuntī overlooks Draupadī’s shoulder. (a)  book illustration. (b) Vīranantal It may be a convention to portray a diminutive Kuntī looking over a larger Draupadī’s left shoulder, as if knowingly foreseeing or ready to influence what lies ahead of her. (Top) A little Kuntī stands behind Draupadī when Arjuna brings her back from winning her at her svayaṃvara, and introduces her, bowing, to Yudhiṣṭhira. Kuntī would by now have said her fateful and overdetermined words, “Share it all equally,” thinking Arjuna and Bhīma had brought back alms food from their begging rounds. She looks poised to ask her decisive question of how her words can become true, which lead to Draupadī’s polyandry. (Bottom) Draupadī and a smaller Kuntī to Yudhiṣṭhira’s right in the Vīranantal Dharmarāja-​Draupadī temple sanctum at Vīranantal village, Vellore District. Source: Top: Sukthankar 1933, facing page 738. Bottom: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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you know that Bhīma and Arjuna enraged like two Yamāntakas43 could speed even the gods on the last journey. It was humiliating to both that Kṛṣṇā was taken to the hall . . . while the Kurus were watching. . . . Ask the Pāṇḍavas, Kṛṣṇā, and their sons how they are faring, and tell them in turn that I am in good health, Janārdana. Travel a safe path and protect my sons.44 Other than in beginning “Who could forgive,” Kuntī has no more words here for Yudhiṣṭhira. She addresses all her maternal goodwill toward Arjuna and Bhīma. The sustaining sentiment is her lack of sympathy for Yudhiṣṭhira’s inner world. The instrumentality of that lack of sympathy for him and yet the congruency of their mother/​son opposition is what may impress us as we analyze Yudhiṣṭhira’s decisive actions at the disrobing of Draupadī. To begin with, one is always asked why Yudhiṣṭhira accepted Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s invitation to a “friendly dice match”45 that he knew would not be friendly, and why he wagered Draupadī, even after he had bet and lost everything—​all his wealth, his kingdom, his four brothers, and, last, himself—​before he lets himself be reminded that he has one thing left to wager, his wife. The epic doesn’t do much to answer these questions. It leaves one with the impression that for Yudhiṣṭhira, the “guru’s word” of his father-​in-​law Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s invitation determined the first outcome, and that his sense of fate or his identity as Dharmarāja from his lugubrious father Dharma-​Yama, the god of death—​as it were, his personal DNA—​determined the second. It is here that Yudhiṣṭhira’s upsetting relation with Kuntī may be the decisive factor. Rosine Jozef Perelberg contributes to The Dead Mother book by exploring how André Green’s ideas on the negative have inspired her understanding of “two main types of pathology”: violence and hysteria. She suggests that “what lies at the basis of violence (in some patients) and hysteria is the repudiation of femininity.”46 First, I will address Yudhiṣṭhira’s attitude toward Draupadī as laced with violence. Those whose pathology includes an 43. Van Buitenen 1975has “two enraged Yamas” for yamāntakau (20b), but that name refers to Śiva, not Yama. 44. Mbh 5.135.15–​23. 45. Mbh 2.51.21, 52.8, 53.22; van Buitenen 1975 translates suhṛd-​dyūtam as “a family game,” but a suhṛd is a friend or well-​wisher. 46. Perelberg 1999, 174.

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experience of the dead mother syndrome, like Perelberg’s patient Karl, can be prone to a repudiation of femininity that activates scenarios of violence.47 Karl’s father left his mother when she was pregnant with him; his mother then remarried and had two daughters. Karl traces his violent scenes to his knowledge that “his parents48 were involved in ‘sado-​masochistic games,’ ” which he knew about from listening with his older sister outside their bedroom door. Although Karl felt that “his mother always let him know that he was the most important person in the family for her,” he experienced her “as unable to tolerate his sexuality or, even less, his being a man.”49 Six years into his therapy, Karl had “disappeared from a few sessions, and when he came back he brought another dream”: Karl was inside a tomb and a panther was approaching him. He was terrified as the panther came closer and closer, and he woke up terrified. In his associations, Karl remembered first seeing a panther during a trip to the West Indies with his mother, who had taken him on a trip to see a friend who kept a panther as a pet. In the session, we were able to understand that the tomb was where he had been for the week he had been absent from the sessions, and that he was now afraid of me, a panther, which posed a danger to him as representative of the outside world. He was, however, also afraid that, like his mother’s friend and his own mother, I would want to keep the panther in him as my pet.50

47. To the extent that Green supposes Freud had a touch of the dead mother complex, we might wonder if Freud’s own repudiations of femininity owed something to it. Freud’s “My beloved mother” dream harbors “forbidden infantile impulses, both sexual and aggressive” (Grinstein 1968, 457), which he continues to explore in the twenty-​seven-​year-​old man’s report of a dream he repeatedly had from age eleven to age thirteen of being pursued by a man with a hatchet. He remembered drawing blood by kicking his younger brother in his head, to which his mother had said: “I’m afraid he’ll be the death of him one day.” While still “preoccupied with the thought of violence,” he recalled as a nine-​year-​old hearing panting in his parents’ bedroom one night when they had come home late. “He had subsumed what happened between his parents under the concept of violence and struggling; and he had found evidence in favour of this view in the fact that he had often noticed blood in his mother’s bed” (457–​58, citing Freud 1953–​74, 5:584–​85). As Grinstein says, referencing the suggestion in Freud’s dream of his mother’s death and his hostile wishes toward Julius, “We may readily understand how material from this case had pertinence for Freud.” 48. Unless things are really twisted, Perelberg must mean his mother and stepfather. 49. Perelberg 1999, 176. 50. Perelberg 1999, 179; her italics.

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This dream reminded Karl of The Vanishing, “the most terrifying film he had ever seen in his life,” about a man named Hoffman whose girlfriend had vanished at a gas station. After Hoffman had spent three years looking for her, all the while receiving mail from a man who said he had made her disappear, he met the man and accepted his condition that the only way he could learn what happened to her was to go through the same thing. Sealing his fate, he took a tranquilizer and woke up in a coffin. “It was the most terrifying thing anyone could think of, to be buried alive,” he said, echoing Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny.’ ” After mocking an American version of the film in which Hoffman is saved by John Wayne, “Later Karl added that in fact it had been this man’s girlfriend who saved him just as he was being buried.” Perelberg adds, “He thought that the version of the movie with the happy ending had been a disaster, in contrast to the terrifying one. . . . I felt this showed his mixed feelings about the idea of a girlfriend/​woman analyst saving him.”51 It is not difficult to map much of Karl’s “repudiation of femininity” onto Yudhiṣṭhira’s part at the dice match, at which Draupadī—​who is compared at least once to a tigress52—​will save Yudhiṣṭhira. I will describe the scene in a moment. But let us note that Yudhiṣṭhira has a repeat performance of his bad treatment of Draupadī during the Pāṇḑavas’ year in concealment. When she is being manhandled by the lustful Kīcaka and rushes in protest into the hall where he is again playing dice, Yudhiṣṭhira rudely and haughtily tells her she should familiarize herself with the proprieties of “time,”53 after which she goes to Bhīma, who kills her would-​be molester that night. Since Yudhiṣṭhira is alone among his brothers in exhibiting such carelessly cruel moments toward Draupadī, there is nothing to keep us from calling this a marked trait and linking it with his experience of Kuntī, who, in being absent from both scenes, could be said to give those feelings full reign. As Yudhiṣṭhira prepares to bet Draupadī, there is first the paradoxical moment where he speaks of her elegiacally in a kind of reverie, but implying a willed dissociation, saying what it is that he will be wagering—​ what a man loves in a woman, eyes red with love, the fragrance of autumn lotuses, long hair, a waist with the inward curvature of a  vedi-​altar, and

51. Perelberg 1999, 180. 52. As we shall see in ­chapter 4, this volume; see Mbh 3.248.17. 53. This occurs before the killing of Kīcaka: Mbh 4.15.30–​34.

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so on.54 This protestation has the feel of objectifying her in her absence, setting her up as an object of violence while consigning her as a gambled stake to what he could foresee will at best amount to her slavery. Then, once she is lost and hauled into the hall, as the insults and sexual violence against Draupadī begin, Yudhiṣṭhira enters a long silence, “as if he had lost consciousness,”55 which could suggest that the scene plays out his unconscious fantasy. Duryodhana orders his senior-​most brother Duḥśāsana to drag her into the hall by her disheveled hair, which is loose because she is menstruating. Things only escalate after Duryodhana, leering, shows her his bared left thigh. Then Karṇa orders Duḥśāsana to disrobe her which, in the Poona Critical Edition (PCE), is mysteriously foiled when her many-​colored saris litter the floor, exhausting the frustrated Duḥśāsana. All the while Draupadī is demanding that someone in the court answer her riddle-​like question: “Did my husband bet me before he bet himself?” Although it has become clear to her and everyone else that he did so, no one will speak definitively to resolve the question’s legal or philosophical implications. Duryodhana cleverly says, “Let Yudhiṣṭhira answer,” knowing that if he speaks it could catch him in a lie; but Yudhiṣṭhira has gone silent. Finally, after all the damage is done, Dhṛtarāṣṭra offers Draupadī three boons by which, accepting only two, she asks for and gets her husbands’ freedom and their weapons, whereupon Karṇa says, as if it is the greatest conceivable insult, that the Pāṇḑavas were rescued by a woman as by a boat upon the ocean.56 No doubt all five brothers are meant to feel this insult, but it would above all haunt Yudhiṣṭhira, whose silence has lasted until then. Duryodhana is irate that his father has let all his winnings slip away, and gets Dhṛtarāṣṭra to invite Yudhiṣṭhira to a return dice match at which one throw determines the Pāṇḑavas’ twelve-​year exile, which they must follow by a year living incognito. Yudhiṣṭhira and Draupadī’s relationship, from what we next see of it, becomes testy. The net effect of the violence she has experienced courtesy of Yudhiṣṭhira is that Draupadī changes from a compliant wife to a younger version of Kuntī. Another Kṣatriya princess, she becomes now eager for a husband who will take vengeful action. In their first exchange once they have settled down in the forest, she decries 54. Mbh 2.58.33–​37; cf. Hiltebeitel 2001, 260. 55. Mbh 2.60.8; see Hiltebeitel 2001, 268–​70, where I gave a very different, more positive reading of Yudhiṣṭhira’s and Draupadī’s so-​called rapport in “playing for time.” 56. Mbh 2.64.3. The word for “boat” is feminine.

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and uncomprehendingly mocks his calls for patience;57 and after the war when she hears Yudhiṣṭhira say he doesn’t want to rule, she even calls him insane, in need of medications, and a eunuch.58 As to the second element of Perelberg’s interpretation of the repudiation of femininity, the discussion concerns hysteria, which like violence “may be understood as attempts by the individual, overwhelmed by the fluidity of their identificatory processes to repudiate their feminine, passive, identification.”59 She cites Freud’s “Hysterical Phantasies and Their Relation to Bisexuality,” in which Freud says that hysteria and bisexuality have an essential link. Perelberg says that Freud “suggested that hysterical attacks express an experience of rape in which the hysteric plays both roles. It is a question of shifting identifications in an attempt to retain one identification, which is the phallic.” Freud observed one case in which “the patient pressed her dress up against her body with one hand (as a woman), while she attempted to tear it off with the other (as a man).”60 Here I  shift from the Mahābhārata text to Draupadī cult performances of Dice Match and Disrobing, the play that most exemplifies Draupadī cult terukkūttu dramas as a “theatre of possession” (āvēcam). In the play that enacts Draupadī’s hair-​pulling and disrobing, women in the surrounding audience, and sometimes a man or two, get possessed, exhibiting hysterical gestures that may resemble what Freud has just described. Since they are possessed, it is said not to be possible to learn who possesses them. They will not recall.61 Like Draupadī, whose treatment they protest, they repeatedly call out “Kovintā (Govinda),” a devotees’ name for Kṛṣṇa, who sits atop the greenroom backstage using his māyā to show grace by dispensing the saris that the frustrated Duḥśāsana pulls from Draupadī’s body until they have littered the ground. Perelberg discusses the famous case of Anna O., whose symptoms included “identification with her father”;62 but she wonders about her mother, about whom, typically, little is known. Here, I return to Kuntī, with a sense 57. Mbh 3.28–​33. 58. Mbh 12.14.13, 33–​34; see Fitzgerald 2004a, 201–​203. This is in her postwar speech to him when he contemplates abdication after the experiencing the slaughter of battle. 59. Perelberg 1999, 174. 60. Perelberg 1999, 183, citing Freud 1953–​74, 9:166. 61. Frasca 1990, 149–​50, thinks audience members are probably possessed by the Pāṇḍavas or Kṛṣṇa and does not consider Draupadī, whom I favor (Hiltebeitel 1988a, 275–​81), or any other female character (see later). 62. Perelberg 1999, 183.

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that she has taken enough of the blame for Yudhiṣṭhira’s repudiations of Draupadī. It turns out her life was not so easy, either. We are told next to nothing about her mother or her adoptive mother, but the males in her early life did her no favors. Known from birth as Pṛthā, “the Wide,” because of her “girlish wide eyes,”63 she was the eldest child of Kṛṣṇa’s paternal grandfather Śūra, a Yādava chief, and the father of Kṛṣṇa’s father, Vasudeva. Her name Kuntī comes from her adoptive father Kuntibhoja, the otherwise childless son of her paternal aunt. Śūra had promised he would give his firstborn child to Kuntibhoja as a “friend to a great-​souled friend.”64 It is a phrase that Kuntī does not recall happily when she later tells Kṛṣṇa, her own nephew, about the exchange: “I censure not myself nor Duryodhana,65 but my father by whom I was transferred to Kuntibhoja as wealth is by rogues. I was a child playing with a ball in my hand when your grandfather gave me to Kuntibhoja as a friend to a great-​souled friend. I was humiliated by my father and my maternal uncles, Foe-​scorcher.” In Kuntibhoja’s house, she was appointed to the honoring of gods and guests, and so she came once to serve that fierce and terrible Brahmin of strict vows whose design in dharma as hidden,66 whom they know as Durvāsas. This fierce man of honed spirit she satisfied with all her efforts, and the Muni, with foresight into the Law of Distress,67 gave her a mantra combined with sorcery and said to her: “whichever God you call up with this mantra, by this or that one’s grace there will be a son for you” When that Brahmin had said this, for curiosity, and being just a girl, the famous one then invoked the sun god. . . . ”68 Sūrya instantly appears and tells her that she will remain a kanyā (girl/​ virgin) even after their union, clarifying with a contrived, seductive etymology:  “O sweet-​smiler, neither your father, mother, nor elders prevail; 63. kanyāṃ prthāṃ pṛthulocanām; Mbh 3.287.12. 64. sakhā sakhye mahātmane; Mbh 1.104.1–​3. 65. Speaking more or less amicably about him, she calls him Suyodhana here. 66. nigūḑhaniścayam dharme. 67. āpaddharme abhisaṃyuktam; “Law of Distress” refers to Pāṇḑu’s predicament of being impotent and wanting sons. 68.  Mbh 1.104.4–​8; “being just a girl” is kanyā satī. In another version, this story begins when Kuntibhoja charges Kuntī to give to Durvāsas ungrudgingly and unstintingly, and she replies. “It is by my own nature that I would honor the twiceborn” (3.297.15).

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(b)

Figure 2.2  Disrobing of Draupadī provokes possession of woman in audience Two moments in the possession of an elderly woman in the audience watching the double violation of Draupadī during the drama Dice Match and Disrobing. After the hair-​pulling provokes her deepening indignation (a), she gets fully possessed during the disrobing, falling forward and screaming “Kovintá” (Tamil, for Sanskrit Govinda) (b). The younger woman supporting her would likely have been a daughter-​in-​law. Maṅkalam village, Tiruvannamalai District, Tiruvannamalai (formerly North Arcot) District. See Hiltebeitel 1988a. Source: Original videography by N. V. Ramachandran, capturing the two-​scene context; still photographs from the video by Emma Garces.

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hail to you of choice hips. Hear my word. A free female, since she desires all, is called kanyā from the root kan.”69 But Kuntī is not a “free female” when she puts the baby in the river “to hide her misconduct and out of fear of her relatives.”70 It seems like the memories of her childhood grow harsher as she ages. It is in Book 5 that she says her father humiliated her. And in Book 15, when she asks Vyāsa to let her see the slain Karṇa risen from the Gaṅgā, she recalls that both Durvāsas and Sūrya threatened to curse her, and that Durvāsas had told her she would become the mother of Dharma (referring to Yudhiṣṭhira).71 That she keeps the secret of her mantra until the conception of Dharma-​Yudhiṣṭhira makes nearly her whole life to that point one of compliance with the divine plan, which is portrayed as “uncanny” in the sense of what interested Freud from Schiller: it is what is “known” and “unknown,” “familiar” yet “kept out of sight.”72 There is nothing in Kuntī’s stories to suggest hysteria or a repudiation of the feminine. If anything, it is the reverse: she seems to have remained a tough old lady who values the feminine and distrusts the masculine. I have, rather, seen her in the role of a dead mother to Yudhiṣṭhira, with whom she keeps a stand-​off relationship all these years, remaining out of his royal entourage in Hāstinapara again during the exile, staying with Gāndharī and Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and then retiring with them to the forest. If anything remains to be said about her, it is in the context of the possession scenes in Dice Match and Disrobing, at which a large percentage of the possessed are middle-​aged and elderly women (see figure 2.2). Kuntī is an ideal candidate for them to be possessed by, at least as far as Yudhiṣṭhira experiences them in his silence. Kuntī is not in the hall, and, as mentioned, the possessed women themselves will not recall who possesses them. Moreover, such elderly women typically attend Draupadī festival events with their daughters-​in-​law, who have married into the village like them, their own daughters having “married out.” But for Yudhiṣṭhira, who the folk theatre says has gone mad like all his brothers73 and who in the epic watches “as if he had lost consciousness,” it would be fitting that he should see an army of mini-​Kuntīs giving immediacy to the feminine repudiation of the violence he has unleashed.

69. Mbh 3.29112–​13. “free female” is svatantrā; the root kan means to desire. 70. Mbh 1.104.13. 71. dharmasya jananī; Mbh 15.38.1–​17. 72. See ­chapter 1, this volume, note 15. 73. Draupadī’s mistreatment drives both the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas to “madness” (Hiltebeitel 1988a, 237–​38, 268, 276).

5

3

Two-​Times-​Three Dead Mother Texts Dead Mothers and Nascent Goddesses

This two-​book project began with the research and initial draft of this chapter, and with a debt to Diane Jonte-​Pace. In about 1994 I read her 1993 review of feminist writings on the pre-​Oedipal, and that prepared me to be interested some years later when, as I was preparing for a class on Freud in my “Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion” course, I discovered her 1996 article “At Home in the Uncanny: Freudian Representations of Death, Mothers, and the Afterlife.” That was in the fall of 2012, and for this whole project the rest followed. Jonte-​Pace’s article works with three texts about dead mothers,1 and so will this chapter. In writing it, I was attempting to see whether Jonte-​Pace’s accounts of an “undeveloped” “non-​Oedipal counterthesis” in Freud’s scattered treatments of mothers, death, dead mothers, matricide, the hereafter, and the uncanny could illumine the Mahābhārata. In her article, Jonte-​Pace shows Freud consistently writing of dead mothers as objects only of sexual desire and persistently underestimating such “undeveloped” themes in his own texts as desire for the mother’s death and associations that the mother’s body and maternal death open up onto images of the afterlife.2 Why Freud used such circumlocutions concerning this maternal constellation then becomes one of the driving questions in Jonte-​Pace’s extended return to these demonstrations in her 2001 book, Speaking the Unspeakable. As she points out there, others have gone over much the same ground and raised similar issues without formulating them 1. Jonte-​Pace 2001 renews and extends discussion of all of Freud’s works cited in her 1996 article, but not in the concentrated two-​part framework that I draw into this chapter. 2.  Most accessibly in Freud’s interpretation of “The Theme of the Three Caskets” (Freud 1953–​74, 12:291–​301), on which see Jonte-​Pace 1996, 76–​77, and ­chapter 1, this volume.

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as a counterthesis, a term which in my opinion makes for more questions than Jonte-​Pace has good answers for, since a counterthesis still implies a thesis, whereas Jonte-​Pace only assembles a concatenation of themes. As I  say in ch. 2 of Freud’s India, this book’s companion volume, Madalon Sprengnether made a more concentrated argument that much the same nexus has to do with Freud’s failure to fully acknowledge the pre-​Oedipal in childhood development—​a contribution that Jonte-​Pace does not acknowledge while insisting that “this counterthesis differs from the ‘pre-​Oedipal’ thesis evident in Freud’s late texts and developed further in the work of object-​relations theorists like D.  W. Winnicott.”3 It is Sprengnether who made this “thesis” evident in Freud’s work and discussed the extensions of it by object-​relations theorists.4 More recently, Richard Armstrong has shown a relation between the two authors, starting out with his stated intent “to illustrate the tension between the oedipal thesis and the rather different maternal plot” in Freud’s study of Leonardo da Vinci, “because it confirms Jonte-​Pace’s characterization of a floating counterthesis rather well, even if she herself made little use of it.”5 Armstrong turns quickly to Sprengnether on the mother’s desire, which “is most often ignored in Freud’s texts”—​the one on Leonardo excepted. Armstrong thus fuses Jonte-​ Pace and Sprengnether, invoking the latter’s “Penelope principle,” which Jonte-​Pace had earlier cited in her 1993 review: the “Penelope principle,” says Jonte-​Pace, is “a principle of undoing, which unravels the Oedipal narrative, creating a condition of ‘textual instability that derives ultimately from the specter of the preoedipal mother, the figure whom Freud alternately invokes and suppresses throughout his writing career.”6 Armstrong thus makes Jonte-​Pace’s point through Sprengnether, and returns to Jonte-​ Pace’s idea only after eight pages while still drawing on Sprengnether’s idea that Freud’s texts are “symptomatic.”7 Armstrong is able to do this precisely because, contrary to Jonte-​Pace, the pre-​Oedipal is the best and probably only illustration of a counterthesis to Freud’s Oedipal master plot.8 3. Jonte-​Pace 2001, 1. 4. Sprengnether 1990, 183–​94; similar points to Jonte-​Pace’s are also made by Margolis 1996. 5. Armstrong 2005, 75. 6. Jonte-​Pace 1993, 110, quoting Sprengnether 1990, 143. Cf. Armstrong 2005, 80, 82–​83. 7. See Armstrong 2005, 240–​41, collapsing Jonte-​Pace and Sprengnether when, mentioning the same postulates, he speaks in favor of Freud following a “Juno principle,” by which Juno knows in advance that no matter how much hell she and other Carthaginian females/​women raise against the Latins, that she will ultimately succumb to the plan of Jupiter/​Freud. 8. Moreover, Henri and Madeleine Vermorel have found deeper insights into what lies behind Freud’s detours, which, given the 1993 publication date of their book, Jonte-​Pace, like

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But what is of first moment for this chapter is that Jonte-​Pace’s reading of an undeveloped counterthesis in Freud’s writings allows us to pursue the exploration of six dead mother texts—​three from Freud and three from the Mahābhārata—​and to open, as a point of departure, a question both for this chapter and for the book:  Why is the Hindu Goddess, whom we will now begin to discuss primarily as she “develops” in relation to mortal heroines, so “undeveloped” in the baseline Mahābhārata text of the Poona Critical Edition (henceforth PCE), yet so increasingly rounded out and interactively involved in the vast schemes of the cosmos in later Sanskrit, vernacular, folkloric, and scholarly unfoldings of the Mahābhārata tradition? Jonte-​Pace’s 1996 article opens with a discussion of Freud’s analysis of three dead mother texts, always with the accent on Oedipal sexual desire for the dead mother’s body rather than on matricidal desire for her death or pre-​Oedipal desires for reunion with her. Freud’s three texts are: 1. The essay “A Religious Experience,” in which Freud responds to a letter from an American doctor who reports a “dark night of his soul” and a flashing thought “There is no God,” when he sees “a sweet-​faced dear old woman who was being carried to the dissecting table,” which Freud analyzes as a case of Oedipal longing for the doctor’s naked mother and indignation at his father; 2. The famous story in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, the book that introduced Freud’s notion of the death drive, about the 1½-​year-​old boy who played the game of throwing a toy and exclaiming fort (“gone”) and then da (“there”) as it reappeared: according to Freud, to master his anxiety over maternal absence. The boy, Freud notes, ”showed no signs of grief’ ” when at age 5¾ his mother died, unlike Freud’s own grief since the boy’s mother was Freud’s beloved daughter Sophie. 3. The text of Freud’s “My beloved mother” dream from his own childhood that his mother had died, the last dream he analyzes and the only one from his childhood in The Interpretation of Dreams, which, according to Jonte-​Pace, he simply Oedipalizes and eroticizes. Freud says that he had the dream when he was about seven and a half

many others, seems to have overlooked. Sprengnether 1995 also does not discuss it where she might well have. The only two scholars I am aware of writing in English in time to have cited Vermorel and Vermorel 1993 are Parsons 1999 and Armstrong 2001, and both overlook what I think is their most important point concerning Julius, on which see the end of ch. 2 in FI.

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or eight, but it can be dated to age nine by a reference to the death of his grandfather.9 Having contextualized the Mahābhārata’s three dead mother stories in relation to Kuntī in ­chapter 2, we can now take them up in the order they appear. Before I am through, two more dead mother stories will figure in my interpretation of the three texts under scrutiny. But let me not allow the impression that even five dead mother stories are exceptional in this epic. Dead mothers could be said to litter the whole text,10 which even has a prominent side-​tale of a spasmodic matricide.11 The three texts are significant for the way they present a sequence of early vignettes that concern mothers of the Pāṇḍavas. I will be briefer with the first two vignettes than with the third. The first comes in the first of the epic’s eighteen books, or Book 1, the Ādiparvan or Book of the Beginning. Before the Baka episode, and before any of the Pāṇḍavas were married, Duryodhana invited them to attend a

9. For (1), see Freud 1953–​74, 21:169–​72; Jonte-​Pace 1996, 66–​68; for (2), see Freud 1953–​74, 18:14–​17; Jonte-​Pace 1996, 71–​74, noting that Freud would play on the German title of this book, Jenseits des Lustprinzips, as “the ‘Hereafter’ of the Pleasure Principle”; for (3), see Freud 1953–​74, 5:83–​84; Jonte-​Pace 1996, 68–​71. 10.  See the opening words of Vyāsa’s Bhārata-​Sāvitrī, with which he closes the Mahābhārata:  “Thousands of mothers and fathers, and hundreds of sons and wives, experiencing (worlds of) saṃsāra, go. And others will go” (Mbh 18.5.47; see Hiltebeitel 2001, 278). 11. See Fitzgerald 2002. It is spasmodic in that the ostensibly affectless killing occurs in just one line (Mbh 3.116.14cd: tata ādāya paraśuṃ rāmo mātuḥ śiro ‘harat; “Rāma took his ax and cut off his mother’s head” [trans. van Buitenen 1975,  447]). See Goldman 1982, aligning Rāma Jāmadagya’s killing of Reṇukā with Rāma Dāśarathi’s killing of the demoness Tāṭakā as a mother substitute. Goldman proposes the skeleton of a strictly Oedipal interpretation for each “matricide,” but does not take up the question of either protagonist’s desire for the mother (figure) or his wish for her death. The counterthesis is more illuminating at least in Rāma Dāśarathi’s case, and possibly retrospectively on both, from Rāma Dāśarathi’s chilling if not menacing recollection of Reṇukā to his real mother Kausalyā, at a point when her wishes stand in the way of his: “I wish to go to the forest. . . . Rāma Jāmadagnya, at his father’s bidding, took an axe and by his own hand butchered his mother Reṇukā in the forest. So, you see, it is not I  alone who acts as his father instructs” (Rām 2.18.26d, 29–​ 30b; Pollock 1986, 122–​23). Between these lines Rāma also adds that the Ṛṣi Kaṇḍu at his father’s bidding once slew a cow (27)—​a mother symbol in such epic stories (Goldman 1982, 121 and note 15). Cf. Nanavati 2006 and especially Fitzgerald 2010a comparing the Rāma-​ Jāmadagnya-​Reṇukā story (Mbh 3.115–​17) with the Cirakāri-​Upākhyāna (Mbh 12.258), which seems to repeat the former’s plot only to show a case of better judgment: whereas Rāma Jāmadagnya kills Reṇukā at his father’s order for having had the mere thought of having an affair, Cirakārin carefully deliberates before refusing to kill his mother Ahalyā at his father’s order even though she really had an affair.

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festival at a town named Varaṇāvata, where he commissioned a ruffian named Purocana “to burn alive the bulllike Pāṇḍavas with their mother”12 in a lacquer house. Secretly informed about these plans, the Pāṇḍavas entrusted a sapper to dig a secret tunnel for their escape. At a point when Yudhiṣṭhira sees Purocana relaxing his guard, he tells his four brothers, “Having lit the armory and burnt Purocana, and having put six living people here, we’ll run off unobserved.”13 Keep the tunnel and the “armory” or “weapons room” (āyudhāgara) in mind. So far, one might think that the five Pāṇḍavas were leaving Kuntī out of the planning, perhaps sensing she might have some scruples. Hardly! Kuntī, who is really in charge, held a big feast one night for Brahmins, and women came too, to eat and drink.14 Eventually she gave the visitors leave to go home, and all left except for a Niṣāda (“tribal”) woman and her five sons, who had gotten so drunk that they “lost consciousness and slept like the dead in that house.”15 Bhīma then set the house on fire, killing Purocana and the Niṣāda woman and her five sons, leaving the townspeople to report the deaths of “the young and pure children of Pāṇḍu.”16 Meanwhile, “The Pāṇḍavas themselves and their mother, all much perturbed, crept out of the hole and fled secretly and unobserved.”17 The second dead mother passage comes at the end of Book 3, the Āraṇyakaparvan or Book of the Forest Teachings, toward the end of the episode often called “The Yakṣa’s Questions.”18 Yudhiṣṭhira has just answered eighteen questions put to him by his divine father Dharma in the guise of a murderous Yakṣa, positioned as a sort of Sphinx-​like riddler. The Yakṣa, who appears to have killed Yudhiṣṭhira’s four younger brothers, now asks one more, shorter question, and getting a satisfactory answer, tells

12. Mbh 1.135.5ab; van Buitenen 1973. 13. Mbh 1.136.4; my translation. 14.  Kuntī is called Mādhavī here (Mbh 1.136.6d) for the only time, according to Sörensen 1963, 449, in the epic. The name recalls her kinship relation to Kṛṣṇa Mādhava (she is his father’s sister), but perhaps also suggests that she has an interest in getting the six interlopers intoxicated with madhu, fermented honey. Cf. Dumézil 1973, 81–​83, regarding Mādhavī, the “Intoxicating” daughter of King Yayāti. 15. Mbh 1.136.8c–​f. 16. Mbh 1.136.12cd, trans. van Buitenen 1973, slightly modified. They do not “identify” the dead Naiṣadī mother as Kuntī. 17. Mbh 1.136.15, trans. van Buitenen 1973. 18. For fuller discussion of what follows in this paragraph, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 448–​53.

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Yudhiṣṭhira he will “let one of your brothers live, he whom you choose” (Mbh 3.297.65). When Yudhiṣṭhira chooses one of his twin half-​brothers, Nakula, the Yakṣa seems surprised and asks why Yudhiṣṭhira has chosen a son of Mādrī, who was a rival of his own (and Bhīma and Arjuna’s) mother Kuntī—​Why did he did not choose Bhīma or Arjuna, the two strongmen on whom so much depends? Yudhiṣṭhira replies: Noncruelty is the highest dharma, and to my mind higher than the final goal. I seek to do a noncruelty. Let Nakula live, Yakṣa. . . . As is Kuntī so is Mādrī: for me there is no distinction between them. For the two mothers, I want the same. Let Nakula live, Yakṣa.19 Yudhiṣṭhira’s chosen ideal of “noncruelty” (ānṛśaṃsya) was perhaps not yet formulated when Kuntī and he played their parts in burning the six Niṣādas to death at Varaṇāvata in Book 1.  But since then, by this point in Book 3, “noncruelty” has been reinforced by several forest-​teaching narratives he has heard,20 and now it serves him to transcend any distinction not only between the Pāṇḍavas’ two mothers but also between past and future and the living and the dead, since unlike his own mother Kuntī, Nakula’s mother Mādrī is dead. Yet when Yudhiṣṭhira says “for me there is no distinction between them,” is he not also saying that he has learned by now to regard Kuntī, whose two favored sons he has overlooked, as a “dead mother”? Dharma, who personifies Yama,21 the god of the dead, is so impressed with his answer that he sheds his disguise, revives all four Pāṇḍavas, and gives the boon that they will pass their thirteenth year incognito (Mbh 3.298.15–​19).

19. Mbh 3.297.71, 73; at the ellipsis, he says: “ ‘The king always has the character of dharma,’ so people know of me. I  will not stray from my own particular dharmas. Let Nakula live, Yakṣa” (trans. van Buitenen 1975). 20. First, from having heard it mentioned in the Nala-​Upākhyāna in a riddle that Damayantī transmits to her estranged husband Nala reminding him that he often told her that ānṛśaṃsya is the “highest dharma” (Mbh 3.67.15); next, endorsed by a boa constrictor questioner who turns out to be his ancestor Nahuṣa after Yudhiṣṭhira has mentioned it himself among the virtues that qualify one as a Brahmin (Mbh 177.16b, 18e); and then listed among the virtues of those of strict conduct (śiṣṭācāra) and again the “highest dharma” commended in the Pativratā-​Upākhyāna narrated by the Ṛṣi Mārkaṇḍeya (Mbh 198.87b; 203.41a). See Lath 1990; Hiltebeitel 2001, 202–​14, 230–​32, 260, 268–​75; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 449–​53, 457–​58, 471–​72, 476–​80. 21. On Dharma’s identity with Yama, see, most recently, Hiltebeitel 2011a, 438–​51.

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This brings us to our main dead mother text. It comes shortly after the second, early in Book 4, the Virāṭaparvan or Book of Virāṭa: as the PCE shows, just before an interpolated Northern recension hymn to Durgā, recited by Yudhiṣṭhira.22 As the five Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī near the capital of Matsya, anticipating that they will be able to remain incognito there for their last year of exile, Yudhiṣṭhira asks Arjuna where they should hide their weapons, and Arjuna replies (in van Buitenen’s translation): There is a big śamī tree on a hilltop close to the cremation field, with formidable branches making it hard to climb. . . . And there is not a person to be seen here, king. This tree has grown in a patch of forest off roads infested with game and beasts of prey. Let us hang up our weapons in this tree, and go on to the city, Bhārata, and enjoy ourselves there as we please.23 Once each brother has ceremoniously unstrung his bow and lain it down among their swords, quivers, and arrows, Nakula of his own accord climbed up the tree and put the bows there. He tied them very tightly with strong nooses to branches which he thought were strong enough and offered room enough and where he saw the rain would not enter. Along with the weapons the Pāṇḍavas tied up the body of a dead man, so that people would henceforth shun that śamī tree from afar, knowing by the putrid stench that there was a corpse tied up there. “This is our 180-​year-​old mother,” they said to the cowherds and shepherds who questioned them while they were stringing the body up in the tree: “this is a family law of ours, practiced by our ancestors.”24

22. See Vira 1936, 300–​304, for Yudhiṣṭhira’s Durgāstava (App. 1 No. 4, in six versions including the Vulgate’s, which follows 4.5, all in Devanāgarī except for one “ins.” [insert] of the Vulgate version into a Telugu ms.). For a second Durgāstava spoken by Arjuna in Book 6, see Belvalkar 1947, 710–​11 (App. 1 No. 1, following 6.22.16); it is found only in Northern mss. (two K, one B, and three D mss.). Biardeau 1978, 159n2, updated in 1994, 215n179 notes the locations of the two Durgā hymns in the PCE’s appendices, and cites Biardeau 1977 and 1981, where she took up this problem from a mainly ethnographic (nontextual) angle. 23. Mbh 4.5.12–​14, trans. van Buitenen 1978, 33, slightly modified. 24. Mbh 4.5.25–​29b, trans. van Buitenen 1978, 34–​35.

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The Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī then enter the city unrecognized.25 But the popular North Indian version known as the Vulgate introduces a laud of the goddess Durgā, or Durgāstava, by Yudhiṣṭhira as something he intoned while still approaching the city.26 The interpolation has Yudhiṣṭḥira call the goddess by the name “Durgā” several times, as well as Destroyer of the Buffalo Demon;27 Victory (Jayā), Triumph (Vijayā), the giver of victory in war;28 and “Kālī, Kālī, great Kālī, fond of rum and meat and animal sacrifice.”29 The Goddess then appears and grants Yudhiṣṭhira victory over the Kauravas with the return of his kingdom and the Pāṇḍavas’ enjoyment of the earth,30 and adds superfluously—​since it had already been promised by Dharma—​the passage of their thirteenth year unrecognized.31 Durgā is never mentioned in the PCE’s baseline Mahābhārata. This interpolated Durgāstava invokes her much as she is described in the purāṇic Devīmāhātmyā,32 and builds from probably early medieval associations of the rite of āyudhapūjā or “honoring the weapons” at a śamī tree. Here are the ritual details to bear in mind: At royal festivals of Dasarā or Vijayādaśamī, śamīpūjā is part of a complex with two other rites: sīmollaṅghana, or “crossing the boundary” of the capital, and aparājītā-​pūjā, worshiping the goddess under the name Aparājītā, “the Invincible.” The three rites form part of one procession to the śamī tree, which is itself invoked as Aparājītā. And the “crossing of the boundary” occurs either before or after the śamīpūjā, depending on whether the śamī tree is inside or outside the capital limit. In addition, the āyudhapūjā, or “worship of the weapons,” which usually occurs on the previous ninth day before Dasarā, which means the “Tenth,” may also be done conjointly with the

25. Mbh 4.5.30–​31. 26. Vulgate 4 Appendix 1D, line 1. 27. Mahiṣāsuranāśinī; line 29. 28. saṃgrāme ca jayapradā; line 31. 29. sīdumāṃsapaśupriye; line 34. See Garbutt 2006, 63. 30. Lines 55–​56. 31. Lines 68–​69. 32. She is called Vāsudeva’s sister and her eternal home is in the Vindhyas (lines 7, 33)—​both features being found in the Devī-​Māhātmyam.

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śamīpūjā: the weapons being taken to the śamī, worshiped with it, and then carried back from the śamī to the palace. The worship of weapons and the crossing of the boundary under the protection of the Invincible Goddess opens the season of military campaigns at the end of the rainy season.33 If we allow that the bundling of the Pāṇḍavas’ weapons in a śamī tree could remind readers of an āyudhāpūjā, and take note that the brothers do this while crossing a boundary into the Matsya capital, this means two of the three elements of this Dasarā complex are already present in the baseline text without Durgā—​leaving only the worship of the Invincible Goddess to be accounted for. This baseline passage then makes it possible to spot just such a potential latency of the Goddess, and thus of this whole constellation, in the text’s own cryptic words: “This is our 180-​year-​ old mother.” Looking more closely at the PCE text, we may take our initial cues from Kathleen Garbutt’s translation of virtually the same initial three lines in the Vulgate.34 Garbutt’s rendering differs from van Buitenen’s on two points. First, she reads avakāśāni as “hollows,” and translates the line that includes it—​“in the hollows of the tree, which he considered sturdy-​looking”—​rather than van Buitenen’s “to branches which he thought were strong enough and offered room enough.”35 The latter is more of a loose paraphrase and a guess where it translates avakāśāni as “room.”36 “Hollows” is of course suggestive, and, unlike “room,” it is correctly plural. The one problem with Garbutt’s translation of the line, however, is that dṛḍharūpāṇi, “sturdy-​looking,” is also plural and must modify “hollows” rather than “tree,” which Garbutt’s syntax suggests. Here then, with Garbutt’s “hollows,” is how I would translate the passage’s first three lines: Having climbed it,37 Nakula himself deposited the bows in its hollows, which he considered sturdy-​ looking, and where

33. See Hiltebeitel 1995, 215–​16; cf. Hiltebeitel 1991, 152; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 161. 34. The only difference from Mbh 4.5.25–​29b is nidadhe rather than nidadhāt at 4.5.25b. 35. Both thus translate the line yāni tasyāvakāśāni dṛḍharūpāṇy amanyata. 36.  Monier-​Williams [1899] 1964, 96, gives place, space; room, occasion, opportunity; interval, aperture for avakāśa. 37. tām: the śamī tree, feminine.

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he saw that they would be apart from the rain¸ when it rained.38 Garbutt’s second difference is that she reads “The Pāṇḍavas tied up a dead body,” whereas van Buitenen has “the Pāṇḍavas tied up the body of a dead man.”39 Although the participle mṛta (meaning the “the dead one,” “the deceased,” or “the departed”) has a masculine genitive ending, it is inconclusive on whether “the deceased” itself is male or otherwise. That is, we don’t really know whether the body was male or female. Since the Pāṇḍavas’ next words—​“This is our 180-​year-​old mother”40—​are macabre enough without their explicit misidentification of the smelly deceased’s gender, it is preferable to work with the ambiguity. What could the Pāṇḍavas mean by this identification of their mother with an allegedly 180-​year-​old corpse? I could make no headway on this question until sometime in the early 1990s, when I  asked my Georgetown University Sanskritist colleague Shaligram Shukla about it. Without venturing any details, he said, “It must be some kind of joke.”41 This was a revelation to me: that the Mahābhārata made impenetrable jokes. But what about this joke, if indeed it was one? Note that the Pāṇḍavas go on directly, without the pause that says they are addressing the local cowherds and shepherds, to add: “this is a family law of ours, practiced by our ancestors.”42 Would that also be part of the joke?43 38. Mbh 4.5.25–​26b. 39. Both thus translate śarīraṃ ca mṛtasyaikaṃ samabadhnanta pāṇḍavāḥ (Mbh 4.5.27ab). 40. Mbh 4.5.28ab. 41. So too Biardeau 2002, 1:781: “Notons l’humeur plutôt noir.” In Hiltebeitel 2005a, 90n28 (2011b, 13n28), I  argue that tree burial as an “allusion to non-​Vedic culture” is presented from “an allusive ‘Vedic’ angle” with reference to the śamī tree. On cryptic Vedic allusions in Mbh humor, cf. Hiltebeitel 2007, 129–​33 (2011b, 248–​53) on Draupadī’s reaction to Kṛṣṇa’s “pleasantry” during Arjuna’s return with the aśvamedha horse; 2011b, 261–​64, and 268–​78 on that and further Mbh aśvamedha humor involving the role of the mahiṣī or chief queen in simulating sexual intercourse with the dead horse. See further ­chapter 6, this volume, on Draupadī as a likely foil to this joke as well. Cf. Hiltebeitel 2011a, 375–​82, 400–​401, 581–​82. 42. kuladharmo ‘yam asmākaṃ pūrvair ācarito ‘pi ca; Mbh 4.5.28cd. 43.  A  contrast with a similar-​sounding statement from Book 1 is instructive:  To justify Draupadī’s polyandry, Yudhiṣṭhira says, “We follow one after the other the path gone by the ancients” (pūrveṣām ānupūrvyeṇa yātaṃ vartmānuyāmahe [Mbh 1.187.28cd  =  Vulgate 1.195.29cd]). Many scholars (E. W. Hopkins, the younger Adolf Holtzmann, Moriz Winternitz, C.  V. Vaidya [possibly muddling the two passages], and [discussed only in Hiltebeitel in press-​b] D. D. Kosambi), have taken Yudhiṣṭhira there too to be invoking a Pāṇḍava “family custom”—​that of Himalayan polyandry. But in Book 1, he does not mention a kuladharma;

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Let us take stock of four points that have emerged so far: 1. Although Arjuna has the idea to put the weapons in the tree, the five Pāṇḍavas speak jointly as one about the corpse and the family custom. 2. If it is a joke, all five must know what it is about. 3. But that need not apply to Draupadī. She may not know the joke. 4. The joke would be about an apparently undesired stinky dead mother who, whether dead or alive, would have to have a pretty good sense of humor to find it funny. That would not seem to describe the hard-​nosed Kuntī. She played an outwardly amusing but formally anticipated part in bringing about Draupadī’s polyandry when she said, “Share it all equally”44 when Bhīma and Arjuna first brought the bride home. But we have seen that the Pāṇḍavas have two mothers.45 Not only do we not know the gender of the putrid corpse the Pāṇḍavas tie up in the śamī tree and identify with their 180-​year-​old mother; we also don’t know which mother they mean. Yet if all five speak of one mother, can it really be either one? Perhaps some third mother is also suggested. If so, the baseline Mahābhārata is not telling us. But Mahābhārata folk traditions have “read” at least one divine mother into the weapon-​bundled tree.46

and whereas in Book 4 the Pāṇḍavas do use pūrva (plural)—​“those from before”—​to refer to their “ancestors” as practitioners of tree burial, and in Book 1, Yudhiṣṭhira uses pūrvas for “ancients” who set a precedent for polyandry, not “ancestors”; moreover, they are Brahmins mentioned “in a purāṇa” (Mbh 1.188.14). Further, whereas in Book 1 Yudhiṣṭhira speaks alone for all his brothers, staking his reputation as an authority on dharma and searching his brain for a legal precedent, in Book 4 the Pāṇḍavas speak jointly as one. It is thus less likely that Yudhiṣṭhira is joking in Book 1 than that the Pāṇḍavas are joking in Book 4. See Hiltebeitel 2012 §A, 8-​12, and, with more detail on tribal idioms, 2013 §B, 1–​9. 44. Mbh 1.182.2; see ­chapter 2, this volume, note 42. 45. Kuntī, who since the end of Book 2 they have left in Hāstinapura in the custody of Vidura (2.70.22), and Mādrī, who is long dead (since Book 1) as they speak. 46. The marvelous core area Draupadī cult drama Pōmaṉṉaṉ Caṇṭai figures a multiform of Durgā and possibly one of Kālī in its story of how the Pāṇḍavas get the weapons needed for victory at Kurukṣetra. They disguise Arjuna as a ravishing sixteen-​year-​old named Vijayāmpāḷ (“Mother of Victory,” evoking Durgā) to seduce the weapons from Pōrmaṉṉaṉ, and disguise Kṛṣṇa as Vijayāmpāḷ’s 100-​year-​old mother, called paṭṭi, “grandmother” (evoking Kālī?), who supplies the tricks that dupe Pōrmaṉṉaṉ into yielding the weapons before he can get his bride. Pōrmaṉṉaṉ is the nom de guerre of Draupadī’s temple-​guardian Pōttu Rāja, who is himself associated with the śamī tree in Draupadī cult rituals. See Hiltebeitel 1988b, 333–​83.

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Here, for instance, is what the October 21, 2012, Times of India had to say in an article titled “Why Dasara Procession Culminates at Bannimandap”: Mysore: For over 200 years, the famous Mysore Dasara procession has followed one route—​it commences at Mysore Palace and ends at the site of the “Banni tree” (now Bannimantap parade grounds), at the northern part of Mysore. . . . Maharajas worshipped weapons and the state sword was sent in a procession of horses, elephants and troops to the Banni tree, where Maharajas hunted wild animals that were specially captured and released for the purpose, reviewed army units and witnessed display of fireworks. Then kings worshipped Banni tree while priests invoked blessings of Banni Mahakali, the goddess of the tree. Also, a prayer to the Goddess of Banni tree (Shami Stuti) was chanted. After this the King used to return in a torch-​lit procession to the Palace.47 Most fascinating, though, is a folkloric Tamil account that seems to find Kālī specifically in the tree’s “hollows.” This occurs in a scene unknown to the Sanskrit Mahābhārata, or to Sanskrit Mahābhārata traditions, but with deep roots in Tamil popular versions of the epic: the prewar battlefield sacrifice of Aravāṉ, a son of Arjuna and a serpent-​woman, to secure Kālī’s favor in the imminent war. We must keep Aravāṉ and his own Kūttāṇṭavar cult in mind for our discussion in ­chapter 5 of Bose’s theory of opposite wishes and the wish to be female. But I introduce Aravāṉ for now in a Draupadī cult drama from a distinctive Thanjavur performative tradition.48 The play 47. Milton 2012. At the ellipsis, the report reads: “But not many know why the victory procession concludes there and what its significance is. The festivities first began during the regime of the Vijayanagar kings. After the fall of the dynasty, Raja Wadiyar, then Maharaja of Mysore, continued the celebrations and shifted the venue to Srirangapatna in early 16th century. Two centuries later, the celebration was relocated to Mysore by Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and since 1805, the Dasara festival has been held in Mysore.” The work cited by Sivapriyananda (1995, 23) mentions Yudhiṣṭhira’s Durgāstava as background to the Mysore Dasarā, and other sources consider the Pāṇḍavas’ concealment of their weapons in the śamī/​ banni tree as the origin of the ceremony; see, e.g., Nanjundayya and Iyer 1928–​35, 2:68. 48.  On Thanjavur area terukkūttus, see Hiltebeitel 1991, 13, 282–​ 86, 294–​ 96, 314–​ 16, 400–​402, 415–​16, 423; on this drama published by the Sarasvati Mahal in Thanjavur, see Cēturāmaṉ 1986. The following summary draws from Hiltebeitel 1991, 314–​16, and uses some of the same language—​my only discussion to date of this text, in which I do not trace Kālī’s epiphany in it back to a reading of the Sanskrit epic (although in the intervening years, I had come to think that I had). The Thanjavur drama on Aravāṉ’s Battlefield Sacrifice (Aravāṉ Kaḷapali [var. Kaṭapali Nāṭakam]) does without the preliminaries made familiar by the Villipāratam, Villiputtūr Aḻvār’s fourteenth-​century Tamil epic account, and developed

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ends, after a long lament by Draupadī,49 with Aravāṉ preparing to sacrifice himself. At this point, as part of a ritual sequel to the drama, the manuscript introduces a sort of appendix (iṇaippu, or “join”)—​by a different hand according to its editor, Kō. Cēturāmaṉ,50 in which Kālī appears for a song (viruttam, pāṭal) and speech (vacaṉam). Holding a skull and trident, she tells that when the Pāṇḍavas set out on their forest exile, they left their weapons under her protection in the hole of a vākai tree, thus “putting the weapons in me” (or “in my place”;51 having waited thirteen years, it is now a “good time” for the brothers to retrieve them. Yet Kālī seems to forget or to speak imprecisely. The Pāṇḍavas deposited their weapons not at the beginning of their exile but at the beginning of its thirteenth year, when they went into hiding. Moreover, they should have retrieved them by now at the end of their year incognito (which would correlate with events near the close of Mahābhārata Book 4) rather than getting to it among their war preparations (early in Book 5).52 Looking back to the PCE, the baseline text tells of only one of the Pāṇḍavas’ weapons being retrieved from the śamī tree before the end of Book 4. Uttara, the Matsya prince, retrieves Arjuna’s Gāṇḍīva bow when the two go forth to fight the cattle-​raiding Kauravas, who intend to “out” their cousins from their concealment before they have fulfilled the terms of their period of hiding by storming a flank of the Matsya capital.53 Stories that all five of the Pāṇḍavas retrieve their weapons are sometimes told to account for Dasarā’s origins, and are quite consistently tied to folklores of Dasarā.54

further in the published core area version that follows Villi (Thanjavur is south of what I have called the Draupadī cult’s core area around Gingee [Ceñci]). The only motivation it offers for Aravāṉ’s sacrifice is that Kṛṣṇa advises it as a means for each Pāṇḍava to secure victory through his weapons. See Aravāṉ Kaṭapali Nāṭakam 1977; discussions in Hiltebeitel 1988b, 320–​26; 1991, 283–​86, 318; and ­chapter 5, this volume. 49. Rather than by Aravāṉ’s snake-​mother Nākakkaṉṉi (Sanskrit Ulūpī). 50. Cēturāmaṉ 1986, 129. 51. āyutaṅkaḷai enniṭattil vaittuviṭṭu. 52.  Since at least the ninth-​century Pāratam of Peruntēvaṉār, Tamil Mbh traditions correlate Aravāṉ’s sacrifice with Mbh Book 5, the Udyogaparvan, the “Book of Preparations”; see Hiltebeitel 1988b, 14–​15, 311, 318, and c­ hapter 5, this volume. 53. Mbh 4.38. It is also possible to read the PCE text as saying that Uttara takes down all the weapons—​which is how the Vulgate and most Northern recension manuscripts tell it; see 4.695* and 696*, in and after Mbh 4.38.15; see Garbutt 2006, 276–​77. 54. See Biardeau 1984, 7; Hiltebeitel 1991, 153, 155–​56, 235–​37, 238, 240.

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Now as Cēturāmaṉ notes, there would be precedent in medieval Tamil for a presence of Kālī near the tree:  when the Pāṇḍavas conceal their weapons in the fourteenth-​century Tamil Villipāratam, the tree is near a Kālī temple (kāḷikōyil) where they offer her worship.55 As he also recognizes,56 the Pāṇḍavas normally hide their weapons in a vaṉṉi (śamī) tree, not a vākai tree.57 This usual name for the tree is important, for as Biardeau was the first to see, vaṉṉi (like its Kannada equivalent banni, which we just noticed in Mysore), is derived from Sanskrit vahni, “fire,” and encrypts into the śamī tree an allusion to the Vedic firesticks (araṇis). In the Vedic ritual of churning two sticks for fire, either both sticks are said to be made from aśvattha wood that is described as śamīgarbhāt, “from the womb of the śamī,” or the vertical male stick would be of aśvattha wood and the horizontal female one of śamī—​the one, that is, with the hole in it.58 We now have a key to a condensation of Kālī into the śamī tree’s hollows. As this Thanjavur folk reading would seem to have it, Kālī is not only the goddess in the tree or near it in a temple; she is the Invincible/​ Unvanquished (Aparājītā) Goddess of the tree who has kept the weapons the Pāṇḍavas “put in me” (or “in my place”) for thirteen years. Her hollows are either the sturdy “womb” from which both firesticks are born or are the sturdy hole in which male firesticks are churned.59 The Pāṇḍavas 180-​ year-​old mother would then be neither Kuntī nor Mādrī, nor the corpse itself, but rather this third mother who will be the womb of their weapons’ firepower in the eighteen-​day war. Needless to say, the numerology of 180 (18 × 10) would accommodate a guise of Kālī appropriate to the eighteen-​ day Kurukṣetra war.60

55. Villipāratam 4.1.9; Cēturāmaṉ 1986, 132. The Pāṇḍavas also worship Kālī at the tree before leaving their weapons there in core area Draupadī cult dramas that cover the Virāṭaparvan (Hiltebeitel 1988a, 296). She is thus consistently the protector of their weapons while they are in the tree. 56. Cēturāmaṉ 1986, 131. 57. Mimosa flexuosa. 58. See Biardeau 1989, 9, 14, 63, 82; Biardeau 1984, 9, 11; Biardeau 2004, 48–​58; Hiltebeitel 1991, 104–​105. 59.  The churning of the male and female firesticks has an obvious sexual symbolism. Nowhere is this more evident than when Vyāsa churns two firesticks and ejaculates semen into the female one (araṇīm) resulting in the birth of his first son Śuka (Mbh 12.311.1–​10); see Hiltebeitel 2001, 286–​87. 60. See Biardeau 2002, 1:781: “Notons l’humour plutôt noir qui fait donner à la mère des Pāṇḍava l’ấge de cent quatre-​vingt ans, un multiple de dix-​huit.”

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Yet I doubt that Kālī is the final answer to what the Pāṇḍavas would have in mind by their mention of their 180-​year-​old mother in the baseline PCE text, or for that matter that Kālī herself—​that is, the “dread Goddess” specifically and by herself—​is likely to be the butt of their knowing joke. Rather, I think they have fourth and fifth mothers in mind, whose identities should be quite convincing once we take four brief steps: 1. Either the “sturdy-​looking” (dṛḍharūpāṇi) “hollows” of the śamī are metaphorically a “womb” or they are female holes in which male firesticks can be churned to produce fire. The two explanations are complementary in the analysis that follows. 2. The bows and other weapons that the Pāṇḍavas place in these hollows are homologous with male firesticks and are metonyms for the five Pāṇḍavas themselves—​Arjuna’s identification with his bow Gāṇḍīva is sufficient to anchor this point.61 Moreover, when Arjuna and the young Matsya prince Uttara go back to the śamī for Gāṇḍīva, the narrator Vaiśaṃpāyana says all the bows are “sturdy” (dhṛḍhāni; Mbh 4.38.8f), using the same term that earlier described the śamī tree’s “hollows,” and that they all look to young Uttara “like stretched-​out snakes.”62 3. Like the weapons, whose firepower lies latent for their year in the womb of the śamī, the Pāṇḍavas themselves are in Book 4 said to pass their year incognito “like creatures dwelling in the womb.”63 4. We learn more about the womb they are living in when Draupadī rebukes Arjuna for living disguised as the eunuch Bṛhannaḍā, and Arjuna replies, “Bṛhannaḍā, O blessed one, also obtains suffering unsurpassed. She has gone to an animal womb,64 O girl, but you do not understand this.”65

61. Two incidents support this assertion: when Arjuna violates Yudhiṣṭhira’s bedroom time with Draupadī to get his bow (not yet Gāṇḍīva) among the weapons the Pāṇḍavas have stashed there so he can retrieve a Brahmin’s stolen cows, “the weapons in the bedroom are the Pāṇḍavas’ tokens of virility, and Arjuna wants his back” (Mbh 1.205; Hiltebeitel 2001, 26–​67, quoting from 266; see ­chapter 5, this volume); and he nearly kills Yudhiṣṭhira because he has vowed to kill anyone who insults Gāṇḍīva (Mbh 8.49; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 22–​23). 62. Mbh 4.38.18; trans. van Buitenen 1978, 86. 63. Mbh 4.66.10: garbhavāsa iva prajāḥ; see Hiltebeitel 1980b, 149 (2011c, 55). Many Northern mss. including the Vulgate, interpolate a second such statement at 4.246* after 4.12.11ab; see Garbutt 2006, 95. 64. Tiryagyonigatā. 65. Mbh 4.23.24; see Hiltebeitel 1980b, 161 (2011c, 67).

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That intentionally cryptic remark suggests that Draupadī was not party to the dead mother joke her husbands made at the śamī tree. And it also tells us that, having chosen to live out their year of concealment in the capital city of the kingdom of Matsya, “Fish,” a city usually called Virāṭanagara but also “City of Matsya, Fish”66 and “Fish City,”67 the Pāṇḍavas are living “as it were” in the womb of the fish. And with that information we can identify the Pāṇḍavas’ fourth and fifth 180-​year-​old mothers. The fourth mother would be Matsyagandhā Satyavatī, the fishy-​ smelling Satyavatī, also named Kālī, who was born from a fish like her twin brother Matsya, who founded the Matsya kingdom (he could be King Virāṭa himself, which would make him, too, rather old). And that, naturally, would make Satyavatī’s own mother, the fish, the Pāṇḍavas’ fifth and final 180-​year-​old mother. Although she is not simply a fish, she is the final mother in this series, in that the epic tells us nothing about her mother, even in her prior identity as an Apsarsas or celestial courtesan. The fish had been the Apsaras Adrikā, who was cursed by Brahmā to become a fish until she bore human twins. One day King Vasu Uparicara, out hunting, had asked a kite or hawk to bring his wife Girikā—​ the daughter of a mountain named Kolāhala and a river outside of his Cedi kingdom’s capital—​the semen he had ejaculated while thinking fondly of her. After the kite had fought another kite over the sperm and had dropped it in the Yamunā River, Adrikā swallowed it. Ten months later, she gave birth to the boy and girl from her belly,68 and was “butchered by a fish-​ killer”69—​that is, by a fisherman. This released Adrikā from her fish form70 and brought an end to the time that she, like the Pāṇḍavas in Fish City, had “gone to an animal womb.”71 One is not told why Brahmā cursed Adrikā, but her name is indistinguishable in meaning from Girikā, both meaning “mountain lass” or “mountain woman,” suggesting that Pārvatī, the Goddess as “daughter of the mountain” (girijā), could be the prototype

66. matsyasya nagare: Mbh 4.12.1a; 13.1b. 67. matsyanagare: Mbh 7.103.36c. 68. udarāt; Mbh 1.57.49e. 69. viśastā matsyaghātinā; Mbh 1.57.53b. 70. matsyarūpam; Mbh 1.57.53c. 71. Again, tiryagyonigatā; Mbh 1.57.52d; see at note 64 above. On these matters see Biardeau 2002, 1:778–​78; Brodbeck 2009a, 132, 162–​63; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 354–​55.

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for both of them.72 Other than this, the epic mentions Adrikā only among thirty-​six Apsaras who sing and dance at Arjuna’s birth.73 Adrikā-​ the-​ fish and Satyavatī are, respectively, the Pāṇḍavas’ very own great-​great-​grandmother and great-​grandmother, in the following succession: fish > Satyavatī > Vyāsa > Pāṇḍu > Pāṇḍavas But it is also revealing to trace the matriline they belong to as a maternal depth chart, since other women are involved on its periphery (see box).

Depth Chart of Pāṇḍavas Maternal Line

Five-​ generation matrilineal depth chart (broken line and boldface;

m. = marries; Ɵ = does not marry), with one-​generation collateral line through Gaṅgā and continuation of line from Subadhrā in the fifth generation.

72. See Biardeau 2002, 1: 189=91; 198-​203; 218 on the two names. 73. Mbh 1.114.49–​54.

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Four of the women on the outskirts of this matriline are of major importance: Gaṅgā, Ambā, Gāndharī, and Subadhrā. The river goddess Gaṅgā, the former first wife of Satyavatī’s husband Śaṃtanu, is the mother of Bhīṣma, whom Ambā, holding Bhīṣma accountable for her rejection by her fiancé, vows to kill.74 Gāndharī is Kuntī’s counterpart and companion, as we noticed in ­chapter 2, down to the end of their days. Subhadrā, Kṛṣṇa’s sister, becomes the means by whom Kṛṣṇa can revive the extinct Pāṇḍava line for its Kali yuga future. But within these outskirts, the five-​generation matriline begins in the generation of the motherless fish. Her part must be roughly contemporary with a sequence we will look at more closely in ­chapter 4: Gaṅgā’s two-​ generation “play” with the two successive Kuru kings Pratīpa and Śaṃtanu, who is the royal Ŗṣi Mahābhiṣa reborn to become Gaṅgā’s human husband. The intergenerational maternal skein that begins with Adrikā ends when Draupadī is cursed to barrenness after she has lost her five sons. It is through the five generations of this depth chart that all the dead mother themes we are tracing stack up so uncannily, and yet coherently. André Green remarks on a structural distinction between the intergenerational importance of the dead father and the singular role of the dead mother. In The Dead Mother, Green says in his introductory interview with Gregorio Kohon: In the French tradition, since the contribution of Lacan, we always keep in mind the instance of the dead father, which means that the father is not only the person who is there, he is also the ancestor, the lost people of earlier generations which come to form the family, and so on. But I wonder, how about the mother? Why isn’t there a dead mother like there is a dead father? The problem with the mother is entirely different. If we wanted to postulate the dead mother in a similar way, it wouldn’t be the same; it wouldn’t be the succession of mothers—​the mother plus the mother of the mother, etc.75 Kohon proposes that “there is also something transgenerational in the dead mother concept: most of the conflicts which make the mother ‘dead’ (while still alive) might be related to her conflicts with the previous generation: her mother, father, etc.” But Green rejects this would-​be contribution:

74. On Ambā, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, ch. 8; Adluri 2016. 75. Kohon 1999b, 54.

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the baby doesn’t know that what worries the mother is, for instance, her relation with her own mother. But even if this is true, it is the materialization of this conflict in the relationship with the baby that is harmful. We see the difference. It is not something that the child is able to discover, it is not even a “secret’’ in the family, it is really the direct relationship between mother and child which is here somehow wrong. Things are not how they should be. That’s the difference. It is not an absence, like in the case of the dead father, it is a presence, even though it is a dead presence.76 Unlike the intergenerational Law (dharma) of the Fathers that gets transmitted through the patriline, the women’s impact on their children is in each case singular, and it is the children’s problem—​most notably in the case of Yudhiṣṭḥira, with Kuntī—​to puzzle ways past this kind of impasse. The child fails to see how, as one says of women in English, “the apples never fall far from the tree.” Such psychoanalytically revelatory depths are in any case not opened up by the one other attempt, by Wulff, to account for some of the details I have mentioned so far on the premise that portions of the Heracles cycle served the Mahābhārata poets as their model through the Pāṇḍavas’ Book 4 ordeals. Most central to Wulff’s interpretation of our sequence is Heracles’s “most famous exploit under Omphale’s yoke,” his “trouncing and capture of two burlesque thieves called the Cercopes, an episode typically presented in a lighthearted and festive style. In one of the most popular versions, they try to rob Heracles’ weapons while he sleeps under a tree (these would include his club and divine bow from Apollo, which Philoctetes will wield at Troy, and the lion-​skin which typifies him).” Heracles catches them in the act, averts the theft, and “hangs them from a stick—​just as one may imagine they were in the tree and his weapons hung there—​slings them over his shoulder and carries them off as prisoners. Not long after, they surprisingly begin to chuckle and snort,” and asked “what is so funny, they tell him their mother had warned them to be careful of . . . ‘black posterior (or buttocks).’ ” Until now they thought it referred to a type of eagle, but now they see it refers to Heracles’s “black posterior (presumably from the sun, or else referring to his hair),” which is all they can see dangling from the stick over his shoulder. “In some versions the danger their mother

76. In Kohon 1999b, 54.

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warned of coalesces in their death, doled out by the now enraged hero.”77 Wulff finds further inspiration for the Mahābhārata episode, and another joke within it about Arjuna’s name, from a second episode in the Heracles cycle. Taking the name that Arjuna assumes in disguise as “long-​reeded woman,” he says it is “probably a joke. . . . And perhaps it is not the only joke of the author” (I assume in this episode). He links it with Heracles’s renaming of the island Doliche (from dolichos as “long [in size])” as Icaria, after burying Icarus’s corpse there.78 Wulff is, to my mind, only on the fringes of plausibility here, with that plausibility a fragile cumulative one that he builds out from his more solid points. Yet even if Wulff is unconvincing about this sequence, it does not nullify his main argument, as we shall see in c­ hapters 4 and 6; and if he is right, it means that we have seen how the Mahābhārata poets give new psychological, theological, and narrative depth to the humor and symbols of ingenious Greek stories that they drew from. But most important for this present chapter, Satyavatī, in contrast to the divine woman, Gaṅgā, who preceded her as Śaṃtanu’s first wife, becomes the first and foremost of the human dead mothers married into the Kuru-​ Pāṇḍava line whom her son Vyāsa, the author, ushers out of his story, killing them off whenever he finds it “time” to do so—​in Satyavatī’s case, with a touch of matricide.79 The Pāṇḍavas would have reasons enough to recall her as they conceal their weapons in the śamī tree outside the capital of the kingdom her twin brother founded, and reasons as well to call her their 180-​year-​old mother while identifying her with the corpse that will protect the weapons in the śamī tree’s hollows. But we have noted equally good reasons for them to be recalling their great-​great-​grandmother the fish who, calculating thirty-​six years per generation, could be precisely 180 years old (5 × 36 = 5 × 18 × 2 = 10 × 18).

77. Wulff 2014, 394–​95, and more extensively, 391–​401. 78. Wulff 2014, 395, 399n91. 79. On Satyavatī’s exit to die performing tapas along with her daughters-​in-​law Ambikā and Ambālikā, to which lot Vyāsa assigns them when he sees that “times of happiness are past and times of trouble lie ahead. The days grow worse every new tomorrow, earth herself is aging,” see Mbh 1.119.5–​13 (van Buitenen 1973, 64; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 281 and note 22); on the exit into the (heavenly) Gaṅgā of the widows of the hundred Kauravas, explicitly stage-​ managed by Vyāsa, see Mbh 15.39–​41 (and Hiltebeitel 1999a, 476–​82; Hiltebeitel 2001, 80–​ 83); on the forest-​fire deaths of Kuntī and Gāndhārī, reported by Nārada (often a stand-​in for Vyāsa), see Mbh 15.45.9–​38.

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Moreover, it is time to take note that throughout this sequence it is Arjuna rather than their usual spokesman, Yudhiṣṭhira, who usually speaks for the Pāṇḍavas as an ensemble. He does this explicitly when they hide and retrieve their weapons, and implicitly when he tells Draupadī about his suffering in an animal womb, and likewise implicitly in his dealings with the Matsya prince Uttara and his sister Uttarā; or else all five speak jointly following his lead about their family custom with the corpse. The themes that cohere through Arjuna’s incentives—​the concealment of the weapons by their 180-​year-​old grandmother’s corpse, the year spent living implicitly in “her” womb, the disclosures upon retrieving the weapons at the śamī tree, and the cloths of varied colors he brings from the cattle-​raiding Kauravas for the Matsya princess Uttarā to dress her dolls80—​include both pre-​Oedipal fantasies of return to the womb and Oedipal intentions of finally breaking free. They also make this sequence almost a textbook case of what Freud understands by the uncanny, including intimations of entombment in the dead mother’s womb, ghosts, dolls, and gallows humor. All that is missing from Freud’s article on the uncanny81 is his starting point from Oedipal anxieties, especially loss of eyes to symbolize castration, for which Arjuna’s eunuch disguise should be adequate enough. Indeed, Arjuna’s centrality widens our sense for the poets’ uncanny humor, which can be bawdy and theological with or without Vedic ritual overtones.82 The name that Arjuna adopts while in disguise, Bṛhannaḍā, can range in meaning from “the Great Man Who Is A  Woman”—​ implying a mini-​Śiva in Śiva’s aspect of “the Lord Who Is Half-​Female” (Ardhanarīśvara)—​to “Woman With A Big Penis.”83 And he is pronounced to qualify as a “real” klība (castrato or impotent) by a Matsya court examiner of such matters who reveals, after reaching up under Bṛhannaḍā’s

80.  See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 46–​ 47, 73, on these cloths obtained pāñcālikārtham (Mbh 4.35.23a):  “for the sake of our dolls” or “for the sake of what pertains to Pāñcālī”—​i.e., Draupadī. Cf. Wulff 2014, 380, 383, 387, on this episode that also “comes into focus” through Heracles. 81. Freud 1953–​74, 17:219–​56; see ­chapter 1, this volume, for further discussion. 82. I make the point about humor having Vedic ritual overtones in this episode with the firesticks; in Hiltebeitel 2011b, 261–​64, and c­ hapter 6, this volume. 83. See Hiltebeitel 1980b, 156–​57 (2011c, 62–​63) on the theological reading of the name and the centrality of Arjuna among the Pāṇḍavas as five mini-​Śivas in hiding with Draupadī as the Goddess; Smith 2009, 246n1, on the more straightforward sexual pun.

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skirt, that his “non-​masculinity is firm!”84 The sequence offers a tour-​de-​ force tour of Freud’s map of the uncanny. As with all such things Mahābhārata, however, the solutions leave their loose ends. I do not see a way to answer whether the allusion to tree burial as a Pāṇḍava kuladharma is part of the joke. Maybe it is just meant to be misleading, like the corpse itself. More important, with regard to questions about dead mothers raised by Jonte-​Pace and Green, the Mahābhārata evidence on desire is more ambivalent about dead mothers than either Freud’s thesis or Jonte-​Pace’s counterthesis. Recall my request that readers keep in mind the “armory” or “weapons room” (āyudhāgara) where the Pāṇḍavas plan to start the fire in the lacquer house that will kill Purocana and the “tribal” Niṣāda mother and her five sons. When the brothers put this earlier stash of their weapons in such a place to augment the combustibility of the lacquer house, it appears to be only their final plan. Earlier, they were apparently preparing to escape with the weapons. When the sapper had set to work, He dug out a trench and a very deep hole. He made it in the middle of the house, with a not too wide opening at the top hidden with wooden boards that were even with the floor. For fear of Purocana, they concealed the opening carefully, and all that time the unholy plotter lived on their doorstep. They all slept in that hole with their weapons, every night, O king.85 None of the Pāṇḍavas has yet married, but just after their escape and before he kills the demon Baka, Bhīma will marry the rākṣasī Hiḍimbā and sire their son Ghaṭotkaca, and all five are very soon to wed Draupadī. Without saying it precisely, if “they all slept in that hole with their weapons”—​that is, in this transparent image of a womb—​the still unmarried but sexually matured young Pāṇḍavas must have done so with Kuntī. It is as if they came out from this womb with their mother! Yet there is also an ambivalence here. Certainly, the Pāṇḍavas never planned to escape the burning house without her, yet one could read the line by itself as if they did have such a plan! Sleeping in a womblike tunnel with one’s mother and one’s weapons, which we have seen in Book 4 are sturdy snakelike metonyms

84. Mbh 4.10.11c: apuṃstvam . . . sthiram. 85. Mbh 1.135.16c–​19b; trans. van Buitenen 1973, 290; my italics.

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of the Pāṇḍavas’ manhood, presents a fairly obvious situation for a tension between pre-​Oedipal fantasies involving both desire and aversion and Oedipal drives toward manhood—​that is, for maternal love and aversion versus sexual independence. Also important, however, are the loose ends left by having, after a third mother, Kālī, the possibility of these fourth and fifth mothers, the fourth of whom is surprisingly named Kālī as well. Elsewhere, I have maintained that this name must be understood in relation to a rapport that Satyavatī has with her husband Śaṃtanu’s previous wife, the goddess Gaṅgā.86 In brief, the divinity in Satyavatī’s name Kālī is never explicit, but it is also not to be underestimated. She is “empowered” to evoke that goddess in the Mahābhārata text.87 I shall argue that there is a connection between the epic’s subterranean fascination with dead mothers and its more widely recognized fascination with nascent goddesses, and that these two fascinations merge in Satyavatī, whose association with her namesake Kālī is never made obvious, or even worked into a matronym for her son Vyāsa, the epic’s poet. This latter does occur, but only in a belated or staggered way, in the Skandapurāṇa. It does not occur in the baseline and probably original Nepalese recension of that text, from the sixth or seventh century, but only in a later recension from about the twelfth century,88 which introduces a frame story about Vyāsa that makes his questions to the Ṛṣi Sanatkumāra about Śiva’s sanctuaries the “same” question that the Goddess once asked of Śiva, thus deepening an identity of Vyāsa and the Goddess, to begin with as listeners. As Peter Bischopp says, it is “quite revealing” that “Sanatkumāra addresses Vyāsa in the introduction” of this later recension as “Kālinandana (‘son of Kālī’). This refers to Vyāsa’s birth

86. “Clearly the two women speak in some fashion together for something primordial that is deeper than kingship. Their two rivers embrace the “Mesopotamia” (doab) of “the north of Madhyadeśa,” an exemplary land of dharma. They speak for a primordial dharma sanctioned by the gods and celestial Ṛṣis. One, a goddess, descends from a celestial river of light; the other, born from a fish, comes from the terrestrial waters of the always darker Yamunā and is “dark” herself like her instant-​Ṛṣi son, the Dark Island-​born Vyāsa (Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa). One is called “child-​killer,” but where she kills, it is with waters of liberation; the other is born bearing the smell of the killing of fish, suggesting something to do with the Law of the Fish (matsya nyāya) and the ongoing life–​death struggle of transmigration (saṃsāra), as well as a boat across its waters” (Hiltebeitel 2011a, 357). 87. See further Hiltebeitel 2011a, 367–​70 (see 367n1: Manusmṛti 3.89 “already knows of Kālī as Bhadrakālī in connection with the householder’s Bull offerings”), 372, 382–​83. 88. That is, in what Bischopp calls the hyper-​archetype of Skandapurāṇā’s Revākaṇḍa and Ambikākaṇḍa recensions (SPRA).

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from Kālī (‘the black one’).” Bischopp refers here to “a story which is told in the Mahābhārata and the Skandapurāṇa,” though we should quickly add that in the Mahābhārata, as apparently still too in the Skandapurāṇa, any reference to the goddess Kālī is what I will be calling undeveloped—​in both cases, probably intentionally.89 While incognito in Fish City, the Pāṇḍavas can thus spend a year in the womb of Satyavatī-​Kālī as both their fourth and third mothers. Meanwhile, at the śamī tree outside Fish City, one could conceive of some distinctions between the Pāṇḍavas’ four generations of dead mothers and the two still alive, Kuntī and Draupadī. The dead mother Satyavatī or the fish-​formerly-​ Adrikā could be the corpse that protects the weapons from intruders. And the goddess Kālī could be the tree itself with its hollows. But should we renew such distinctions between divine/​arboreal and human mothers, between living and dead ones? Between desire and aversion? Between attachment to the mother and freedom? To what extent does Gaṅgā impose an absolute distinction between divine wombs and human, animal, and arboreal ones? Or are all wombs a nexus of nature and better to be understood, both pre-​Oedipally and Oedipally, as one? As our three Mahābhārata dead mother texts indicate, the epic gives little purchase to such interpretative distinctions, and may in fact finally let them vanish before our eyes. When Arjuna goes back to the tree to get Gāṇḍīva, he reassures Uttara that there is no corpse in the tree, just bows!90 Prince Uttara has heard about the corpse,91 but he doesn’t mention the 180-​year-​ old mother. This leaves the joke standing, but only as an old one. The corpse may have turned out to be a red herring. 89. As Bischopp goes on to say: The epithet Kālinandana, however, is not attested in the Nepalese recension nor have I been able to trace it in any other source. It occurs twice in the five subchapters of the SPRA while two similar epithets, Kāleya and Kālija, occur respectively three and four times. Moreover, these epithets are attested in other parts of the R and A recensions as well. . . . [A]‌ll these attestations in fact occur in interpolated passages, for which there is no parallel in the Nepalese manuscripts. The use of these epithets is thus restricted to the R and A recensions, from which we can infer the hand of a different author who must have been at work throughout the text. It is significant that the first attestation of the epithet Kālinandana (SP 19.22.4* 1. 19) occurs in an additional passage in R and A just a few verses after the birth story of Vyāsa has been told. This strongly suggests that the redactor(s) of the archetype of the R and A  recensions came up with these epithets on the basis of the birth story in SP 19.1–​13. This in itself is sufficient proof that SPRA is secondary. (2006, 7–​8; cf. 58, 224) 90. Mbh 4.38.12cd: dhanūṃṣy etāni mā bhais tvaṃ śarīraṃ nātra vidyate (trans. van Buitenen 1978, 85: “Have no fear: there are bows here, not corpses.” 91. See Mbh 4.38.9–​11.

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This chapter marks a turn from mothers to goddesses as they appear primarily in the Mahābhārata. It opens new ground by explaining the distinction I  make between text and tradition, which I  will follow up in ­chapters 5 and 6; and it sets forth my views of the Mahābhārata text, which supplies our main early documentation on goddesses and the Goddess. I consider the Mahābhārata as a matrix text for the Goddess’s emergence in Indian history, culture, and literature. Studying the Goddess in the epic alongside Freud and Bose also provides an opportunity to reformulate problems I  raised in opening two lines of inquiry back in the mid-​ 1970s: one into text, the other into the Mahābhārata tradition via fieldwork on two Tamil south Indian Mahābhārata folk cults. Already mentioned in ­chapters 2 and 3, the two cults figure even more prominently in ­chapter 5. Like previous chapters, this one keeps attention on Freud to allow us to turn more to Bose in ­chapter 5.

Introducing the Mahābhārata as Text and Tradition The chapter builds upon three hypotheses, the first two of which are increasingly unsettling: 1. That the ample “baseline” text of the epic’s PCE yields evidence of a written Mahābhārata “archetype” that can be distinguished from a second version, the Mahābhārata’s south Indian Southern recension (henceforth S), whose modifications of the mainly Northern recension

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(henceforth N) baseline in about the third century mark the first traceable flowering of the Mahābhārata tradition, with the Goddess already gaining traction as one moves from N to S. 2. That well before S, the first poets of the Mahābhārata’s composing “committee”1 had begun to mythologize the domestic lives of Hindu goddesses from their familiarity with a Greco-​Roman mythological archive or repertory. 3. That names, persons, and activities of Mahābhārata women/​heroines anticipate later goddesses—​ including even goddesses like Durgā, Kālī, and Satī who await their named debuts in post-​epic Purāṇas and vernaculars. Purāṇic and vernacular Mahābhārata “popular” traditions yield “matured” forms of such heroines-​as-​goddesses that are informative for the backlight they offer on the Sanskrit Mahābhārata’s earliest text and subsequent textual traditions. The first hypothesis builds on Thennilapuram (T. P.) Mahadevan’s views, which I reviewed as an important intervention not only in Mahābhārata studies but also in scholarship on India.2 Mahadevan’s work has yet to draw others’ comments in print, but it has the potential to unsettle established views or upset my own applecart if it is ever proved wrong. The second is the obviously controversial hypothesis of Fernando Wulff Alonso’s book of which I have so far spoken incompletely in c­ hapter 3.3 This chapter will consider it further, as will ­chapter 6. Suffice it to say for now that if the Mahābhārata poets mythologized Hindu goddesses from familiarity with a Greco-​Roman repertory, they would have been working over the same materials that Freud was so familiar with two thousand years later. The third hypothesis, already operative in ­chapter 3, was shaped around some ideas of Madeleine Biardeau’s, and characterized my work in the late 1970 and early 1980s.4 For me, it now has a certain solidity that encourages testing some new ramifications. The first pressing matter is thus with Mahadevan, whose findings have impacted nearly all my writing since 2011 such that I have lately been 1. I advocate a “committee” or atelier behind the Mahābhārata’s composition; see Hiltebeitel 2001, 20, 29n120, 107n49, 169; Hiltebeitel 2011b, xxxi–​xxxv (editors’ discussion), 9–​24, 49–​ 71; Hiltebeitel 2016a, 15–​16. 2. See Hiltebeitel 2015b on Mahadevan 2008. 3. Wulff 2014. 4. See Hiltebeitel 1980a, 1980b, 1981.

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repeating myself in summarizing them.5 Since I  don’t want to do that here, I focus on what pertains to this book. One needs to hark back to the two scholars—​V. S.  Sukthankar and Franklin Edgerton—​ who did the most to theorize a Mahābhārata archetype based on their groundbreaking editorial work on the first two volumes of the PCE. As a by-​product of setting the protocols that resulted in the PCE’s retrojection of a baseline text reconstructed mainly from the epic’s N recension, Sukthankar established the precedent, which not just Edgerton but all other PCE editors followed, of additionally working out the archetype of the S recension wherever it could be reconstructed from uniformities in Southern manuscripts, and giving such alternates the notation “S” in the PCE’s Apparatus. Sukthankar found S to be “the ultimate source from which all versions of the Southern recension are, directly or indirectly, derived.”6 This important claim about S has apparently been overlooked by all scholars except Edgerton, who agreed with the claim but disagreed on various corollaries.7 Sukthankar held that S had not only late but also early (indeed, original) features, a view he could maintain owing to his idea of an “initial fluidity of the text.”8 But the only evidence he finds for “the fact of the fluidity of the original” comes from the succession of narrations in the written Mahābhārata’s frame structure.9 To claim further supportive evidence from the dynamics of the epic’s varied manuscript tradition, he supposes that “it was probably written down independently in different epochs and under different circumstances” such that “we are compelled to assume that even in its early phases the Mahābhārata textual tradition must have been not uniform and simple, but multiple and polygenous.”10 Sukthankar maintained that “both [recensions] spring from a common source, albeit a distant and somewhat nebulous source. Follow the course of these divergent streams as far back as one will, the elusive source seems to recede still

5.  See Hiltebeitel 2011e, in press-​a, in press-​c; preface to the Indian edition of Hiltebeitel 2011a [2014], xii–​xiv, Hiltebeitel 2015a and 2015b; Hiltebeitel 2016a, 61–​67; and Hiltebeitel 2016c. On scholars’ “shortsightedness” in overlooking S, see Hiltebeitel 2011d. 6. Sukthankar 1933, xxx. 7. See especially my review of Mahadevan 2008 in Hiltebeitel 2015b. 8. Sukthankar 1933, lxxiv. 9. Sukthankar 1933, lxxv. 10. Sukthankar 1933, lxxix; italics in original.

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further and lose itself in the mists of antiquity.”11 In short, “both recensions are, in final analysis, independent copies of an orally transmitted text.”12 Edgerton’s differing view was that use of the term “fluidity” to describe “the Mahābhārata tradition” had been “dangerous” when done “without definition.” Edgerton says this after wondering whether Sukthankar had “conceded possibly a shade more” to “confusion” behind the epic’s manuscript tradition than Edgerton himself would do, “or perhaps than Sukthankar himself would now”! Edgerton allows for two senses in which he could agree with the term “fluidity,” but in each case with reservations. It could refer to “the vast deal of inter-​influence and contamination between various MSS. and recensions,” but he can see no evidence of “any version not descended from our ‘original’ text.” Or “fluidity” could mean “that, before the establishment of this text, the ancestor of all our MSS., there were already different versions of the Mbh. stories”—​but in this case, he makes two qualifications: first, that the evidence for this, which he sees in “variant versions,” be understood to “go back to this text, inconsistencies and all”;13 and second, that: Whatever other versions existed before it are now, apparently, lost forever, except as they are dimly reflected in the manner described in our text itself. But this text itself was nothing “fluid”! To be sure we must at present, and doubtless forever, remain ignorant about many of its details. But we should not confuse our ignorance with “fluidity” of the text itself. That, to put the matter in a nutshell, seems to me precisely what those critics are doing who call the critically edited Mbh. an “imaginary” thing. Because we, the editors, honestly admit that we cannot be sure what form it had in many details, they jump to the conclusion that it never had any form. I, on the contrary, have no doubt that every line of the text had once a definite, precise form, even though we are now frequently uncertain about just what that form was. It is not an indefinite literature that we are dealing with but a definite literary composition.14

11. Sukthankar 1933, xxxvi. 12. Sukthankar 1933, lxxviii; italics in original. 13. Edgerton 1944, lxxvi; italics in original. 14. Edgerton 1944, xxxvi–​xxxvii; cf. Hiltebeitel 2001, 24n93; Hiltebeitel 2011d, 88.

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Edgerton’s aim is clear: to brush away as many distractions as possible from what it is that the PCE uncovers: “a definite literary composition” behind its retrojected baseline text; and behind that, something significantly less than a precursor oral epic, to which he gives the minimal name of “Mahābhārata stories” attestable in “different versions” within the text itself.15 Eleven years earlier, in 1933, at the time he wrote his groundbreaking Prolegomena to the PCE’s first volume, Sukthankar had two allegiances: one to the pride of India, the other to his philological training. His training in classical philology in Berlin from 1911 to 1914 had equipped him with the tools he used for the first three of the “four stages in the work of preparing a critical edition of a classical text.”16 These three constituted the work of the so-​called lower criticism, which for Sukthankar included crafting the PCE’s impeccable and prescient stemma codicum from over two hundred Mahābhārata manuscripts in ten different scripts,17 and defining the protocols of the PCE’s apparatus. But the fourth stage, that of the so-​called higher criticism, presented problems for Sukthankar with its final task of, as he put it, “separation of the sources utilized by the author.” On the one hand, Sukthankar detailed the limitations of this classically Western approach. On the other, insofar as such sources lay behind such a long-​“growing” multiform “cherished heritage” as the Mahābhārata.18 he still expressed himself in terms cued by the higher criticism.19 Even as he promoted his “study and regeneration of our great

15.  I  had not recalled these pages of Edgerton’s when I  wrote Hiltebeitel 2005a, 92–​93 (“Nothing of epic before what we have in writing” but “there could be praise narratives, golden age vignettes, folk tales, cult legends, etc.”); and Hiltebeitel 2011d, 113n28 (“legendary matter that had taken popular hold—​something, however, that was not yet epic”); italics in originals. I  am pleased that Edgerton’s limit-​ term “stories” leave us closer than I  realized. The difference is that he admits shadowy traces of “versions” within the Mbh text itself. See my disagreement with his treatment of Mbh 2.43–​45 and 2.46–​51 as originally distinct “versions” from “inconsistent” yet “duplicate accounts” (Edgarton 1944, xxxii–​xxxxiii); here Edgerton “concedes a shade more” than I do, overlooking “evidence of a larger narrative moving its finely set-​up dialogically crafted pieces along” (Hiltebeitel 2015a, 55; see also in press-​c). 16. Sukthankar 1933, lxxvi. 17. See Adluri and Bagchee, in press, on this stemma’s impeccability; Hiltebeitel 2015b on its prescience with respect to Mahadevan’s historical contextualizations. 18. Sukthankar 1933, lxxvii. 19. Notably in his well-​known Bhārgava hypothesis (1936), that the clan of Bhārgava Brahmins put the epic through a late redaction, as evidenced by the recurrence of interspersed Bhārgava interventions and motifs; for counterarguments, see Minkowski 1991; Hiltebeitel 1999d, 2001.

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National Epic,”20 he drew inspiration from the axioms by which a mainly German Indology had defined what the text-​critical enterprise should discover about such a “monstrous chaos” of a text.21 Sukthankar’s route back from that chaos through the “mists of antiquity” to a “true epic” of fluid bardic orality thus has a borrowed look from Western philology, for which such axioms were meant to define something significantly more than just “Mahābhārata stories.” Edgerton was right to wonder whether Sukthankar had “conceded possibly a shade more” than was wise. What is fascinating, however, is the second wonderment we find in Edgerton’s further suggestion that Sukthankar might “perhaps” not make the same concession “now.” In the year before Sukthankar died in 1943, he critiqued Euro-​American Indology’s handling of the Mahābhārata, including all such higher critical claims, in his 1942 lecture series in Bombay titled, in its book form, On the Meaning of the Mahābhārata.22 It is in these lectures that he made the remark that the German-​trained American E. W. Hopkins’s “pretentious” five-​period timetable—​in effect, Hopkins’s own route to trace the Mahābhārata back to the “mists of antiquity”—​was “as good as useless.”23 But Edgerton does not say what if anything he knew about those lectures. Edgerton’s second wonderment is haunting since it suggests he had information that Sukthankar was now closer to him than before on “fluidity.” One wonders what they talked about during Edgerton’s “numerous conferences” with Dr. Sukthankar during his July-​to-​September 1938 stay working at the Bhandarkar Institute in Poona. He was also in correspondence with Sukthankar over the proofreading of the Sabhāparvan text until not long before Sukthankar’s sudden death on January 1, 1943.24 Does anything of their correspondence survive, which might have begun with an initial exchange between Sukthankar as PCE editor-​in-​chief and Edgerton 20. Sukthankar 1933, cvii. 21.  Monstrous chaos according to Oldenberg 1922; see Adluri and Bagchee 2014, ch. 4, §B, “Aesthetic Categories,” on Oldenberg’s thirty-​ three variations on the “monstrous” (ungeheurlich) as the “unfamiliar” (unheimlich)—​the latter term familiar to us from Freud. 22. On Sukthankar’s 1911–​14 training in Berlin, see Morgenroth 1978–​79; on these “Indo-​ Germanic” pieties about the Mahābhārata in the German Indology in and before Sukthankar’s time, see Adluri and Bagchee 2014; Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013; Sukthankar [1942] 1957 (published posthumously); see 1–​31 for his rejection of the views of most “European savants.” 23. Sukhankar [1942] 1957, 9; see Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013, 13–​14, 29n85. 24. Information from Edgerton 1944, vi–​vii, other than on the suddenness of Sukthankar’s death, on which see E. C. Jhala’s introductory note in Sukthankar [1942] 1957, iv.

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as a contracting PCE editor? On these matters, with a little luck there could actually be some useful information to rescue from the dust of decades or the mists of time. We would also want to know whether an untapped correspondence might tell us about an apparent layman’s interest in psychoanalysis that seems to surface in Sukthankar’s second lecture, where he examines personal character “complexes” on the Mahābhārata’s “mundane plane” of meaning. Although Bose writes as Sukthankar’s contemporary straight through Sukthankar’s productive period, it does not seem possible to connect them. But Sukthankar’s innovative coinage of psychological “complexes” named after epic characters has the look of some familiarity with Freud. After over sixty years, Mahadevan’s hypothesis has rejuvenated Sukthankar and Edgerton’s work by suddenly giving historical muscle to the agency behind the earliest N and S recensional developments. It proposes that the community that would have been involved, the Vedic school of its śrauta ritual praxis, the scripts it would have used, and its earliest historical involvements. Migrating southward from the Pañcāla area in the northern Gaṅgā-​Yamunā doab, a distinctive set of ritually cooperating Brahmins called Pūrvaśikhās (those who wear the topknot toward the front of their foreheads) would have brought an early N Mahābhārata into the Tamil-​speaking areas during the Caṅkam period (ca. 200 bce–​100 ce). Their northern departure would have been from an area of unsettled conditions that included Greek, Śaka, and Pahlava incursions from the northwest and the challenge of a rival Brahmanical praxis in the northeast.25 At some point, probably about 250 or 300 years after they had settled in south India, their birch bark or more likely palm leaf N manuscript would have been endangered by tropical climatic conditions (getting worm-​ridden, dog-​eared, and flaky). Having also had sufficient experience during that time of performing and otherwise propagating the Mahābhārata in their no longer new southern milieu, and having begun to give shape to what they considered to be improvements, they composed S, incorporating new narratives for the 25.  Mahadevan mentions opposition to the Vājasaneyī Saṃhitā of the White Yajur Veda and Magadha hegemony as likely factors, along with the rise of Buddhism and Jainism, as influencing the Pūrvaśikhas’ departure (2008, 21–​22, 111n81), but does not consider the impact of Greek or Śaka (mleccha or “barbarian”) inroads into the Punjab, Kurukṣetra, and the doab. See Hiltebeitel 2011a, 287–​97, on the likely contemporary literary evidence of the Yuga Purāṇa.

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learned pleasure of southern audiences who would have grown used to them during those years, and also adding material for more pedestrian and opportunistic reasons.26 Figuring three hundred years for the life of palm-​leaf manuscripts and allowing fifty years for their original N manuscript to have come south, the well-​settled southern Pūrvaśikhās would have composed S about 250 years after their arrival, which, given Mahadevan’s window of opportunity, would mean some time from 100 to 300 ce. Historical considerations recommend a median date of ca. 200 ce, or at least one before 300. Mahadevan dates the S archetype by a bifurcation in southern manuscript transmission that followed a separation in the Pūrvaśikhā community occasioned by the Kaḷabhra interregnum, which set south Indian political history askew from ca. 300 to 600 ce.27 At least two copies of S would have to have been made.28 One Pūrvaśikhā group (the future Nambudiris) left for Kerala, bringing a version of S with them that would be the basis for what would eventually become the library of Mahābhārata texts in Malayalam (M) script. And the other branch (today called Cōḻiyas, now dispersed into different parts of the Tamil country) would have remained in Tamilnadu, keeping a version of S with them that would become the matrix for S’s Grantha and Telugu adaptations. From the seventh century onward, the latter swelled with additions introduced by a second migration to the south of Brahmins called Aparaśikhās (those who wear the topknot toward the back of their heads). M manuscripts were more conservative in retaining basic features of S than Grantha and Telugu manuscripts were,

26. Sukthankar (1933, xxxv–​xlvi) documents several examples of Brahmanical opportunism in a sample text, the Śakuntalā-​Upākhyāna, but I argue they are a uniform and more rampant feature of S (Hiltebeitel 2016a). 27. Mahadevan 2008 says Jain resentment of the usurpation of royal patronage by Pūrvaśikhā Brahmins with their Śrauta ritual “status kit” by the first-​and second-​centuries likely incited the invasion from Karnataka of the Jain Kaḷabhras principally into the Paṇṭiyan area (81–​ 84), where they “displaced the traditional Tamil monarchies and held sway over the Tamil country for nearly three centuries until they were expelled by Kaṭuṅkōn, the Pāṇṭiya, from the south and Siṃhaviṣṇu the Pallava from the north” (82). 28.  One group’s planned departure could have supplied incentive for another copy. Says Mahadevan, “It is of the utmost importance to note that a *Pūrvaśikhā text remains behind in the Tamil country . . . in the hands of the future Śōḻiya [Cōḻiya] Pūrvaśikhās. . . . It is also concrete evidence that the *Pūrvaśikhā version had risen in the Sangam country before the Kaḷabhra Interregnum as a text of the entire Pūrvaśikhā group: we see the text in the hands of its two branches, otherwise linked by the pūrvaśikhā tuft and rare Vedic śakhās” (2008, 40; cf. 56–​57).

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although there are clearly points where, of the three, it was only M that changed S.29 So far, I have been speaking of S in two ways: as a redactorial agency and as a text. Speaking of S as a redactorial agency, Mahadevan’s and, more recently, our basic findings are as follows: 1. S carries out a thoroughgoing remake of N with a consistency that suggests a sustained effort over a short period of time. 2. S’s work is basically custodial of N, in that for long stretches it changes nothing or very little while valuing everything it keeps. 3. But S also exhibits a Mahābhārata connoisseurship in its changes, drawing elements together in new ways from all over the text.30 The question of S as a text, now asked from the perspective of these findings, makes S, like N, a work of literature, and invites scholars to generate literary findings based on an interpretative stance. Fortunately, the studies comparing S and N that Mahadevan and I have carried out so far offer a fairly representative sample of the Mahābhārata’s textual heterogeneity.31 Based on that sample, my stance, with which Mahadevan somewhat differs,32 comes down to the following three propositions: 1. S discredits the received view of the Mahābhārata as an evolution of the drip, drip, drip of centuries. As a thoroughgoing remake of N, S establishes two amply heterogeneous Mahābhārata’s as complete and comparable texts by the third century ce. There can be no excuse for

29.  While it is M that guarantees the brevity of S, and M that is our secure foothold guaranteeing that meaningful affinities between M and the shortest N text in Śāradā script are the legitimate basis for the reconstruction of the retrojected critical text, it is not M but S that must be considered the basis for exploring these widely recognized affinities between the two recensions in their shortest versions. 30. For these three observations, more fully fleshed out, see initially Hiltebeitel 2011e, 20–​21. 31.  By heterogeneity, I  mean the Mahābhārata’s totality comprising six interlaced components: a main story, didactic material, upākhyānas (“side-​stories,” following a terminology of Goldman 2016), an author function, frame stories, and bhakti runs. See Mahadevan 2013 on a large chunk of Harivaṃśa material drawn into Book 2; see also Hiltebeitel 2006a (written after previewing Mahadevan 2008). 32.  Mahadevan’s view that an antecedent oral tradition anteceded the written text’s “textualization” does not affect his hypothesis about S. See Mahadevan, in press; Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013, part 2; and ­chapter 6, this volume.

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sidelining literary readings of either in favor of excavatory philological dissections. 2. Returning to a distinction made earlier in this chapter, as I  will be using the terms, only N is the text. S is already tradition. S is the Mahābhārata tradition’s own earliest evidence that, as it develops, the tradition does become more and more systematically Brahmanical and Hindu. 2. Behind S, N as text has an unfinished, in the sense of unpolished, feel to it,33 which allows us a return to Freud. As good as Freud’s texts are for an exploration of latencies of his later views in his earlier ones, as concerns femininity, the pre-​Oedipal, and his unresolved discussions of mother goddesses, the Mahābhārata’s N text is equally dispositive of undeveloped latencies concerning mothers and the Goddess, who at times feels like she is being freshly dreamed up. I thus submit that Freud’s concept of primary process in the dreamwork34 offers a password to N as Sukthankar has so fittingly described it: “distinctly vague, unsystematic, sometimes even inconsequent, more like a story rather naively narrated, as we find in actual experience.”35 To this quality of N, S would be secondary process. It remains to be shown that, compared to the unconventional domesticities that the Goddess has in N, in S’s first traceable flowering of the Mahābhārata tradition, she is already gaining trappings of a conventional married life. I have not made a systematic study of this pattern in the epic, but it is already evident in passages researched for this chapter. With goddesses, whether in N or S, or elsewhere the world over, all marital situations may be called “uncanny,” so I  will assume they will speak for themselves without wearing out the term. I will exemplify the uncanny domesticities of Indian goddesses by Umā-​Pārvatī (henceforth, usually Umā) and Gaṅgā:  the two wives of Śiva, both of whom will be prominent in this chapter. I  introduce the subject by turning to a unit in Mahābhārata Book 13, called the Umā-​Maheśvara

33.  Sukthankar’s terms simplicior and ornatior can be misleading; there is nothing “more simple” about N. 34. See Hiltebeitel 2000 (2011b, 31–​47). 35. Sukthankar 1933, Prolegomena, xxxvi (with his italics), written the same year as Freud’s last letter to Bose. For more on the primary-​process metaphor, see Hiltebeitel 2000.

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Saṃvāda (The Dialogue Between Umā and Maheśvara [Śiva]; henceforth UMS),36 which S has remade and amplified from beginning to end.37 Umā really is the Goddess, she whose wedding with Śiva is the story behind most Brahmanical goddess temples throughout India. A richly varied mythology plays in fine detail on the oddness of Umā’s union with Śiva. “What is she doing marrying a dope-​smoking, good-​for-​nothing yogi who dwells in cremation grounds and will take her to live in the icy Himalayas?” her parents ask. The myth has numerous Purāṇic and local tellings,38 but the Mahābhārata never tells the wedding story. Nonetheless, it certainly knows the couple as married, and the UMS tells about what must be a scene from their early marriage, in which Umā comes to terms with the new domestic situation she has gotten herself into. Gaṅgā is the only other goddess to figure in the UMS, when Umā asks her to verify and sanction all that she has said to Śiva about women’s dharma. Gaṅgā’s presence suggests that she is part of the Himalayan scene but not necessarily, yet, the third party in Umā and Śiva’s marital family. The Mahābhārata also has no version of the story of Gaṅgā’s marriage to Śiva after he broke the fall of her “descent” to earth with his matted locks and she lodged herself in his hair beside the crescent moon. Nonetheless, despite this “incompleteness” of their mythologies in N and S, it is possible to show that S fills out and updates both of their mythologies in its extensive UMS remake. Umā’s story in the UMS begins when she comes up behind Śiva and playfully covers his eyes with her hands. After the world has turned dark, Śiva’s third eye opens and burns down a mountain.39 Umā finds 36. Mbh 13.126–​34. 37. On the large size and tenor of S’s UMS amplifications, see Hiltebeitel 2016a. 38. In current ethnographic terms, according to songs collected by Willliam Sax, this is what the “newly married goddess” feels when she arrives at Kailāsa: “Oh widow that I am! My fortune has been ruined! Even birds cannot live on Kailash! There is no mouse’s squeaking; no pleasant, sweet birdsong. The birds don’t ever sing here, and there is no buzzing of flies. For sleeping, only very rough mats and for wearing, only leaves. Shiva’s ten-​ton fire belches poison to the skies. Sitting in my hut of leaves, I envy all the world. How, oh how will I ever live on high Kailash Mountain? How, oh how can I ever live in the high Himalaya?” (Sax 1991, 84) Then, once she has come on a visit to her natal home, Mother Mainuli said, “How is it in Kailash?” “Ice burns my flesh, in the air we breathe poison. Today, O my mother, I’ll eat my fill of rice pudding, and butter from seven different places, and breads that are fried with leaves from the forest. On Kailash I wear scratchy clothes made of wool, my poor stomach aches from a second-​rate grain. My wool bodice scratches, but here in your home I ate milk and rice. On high Kailash, mother, our clothes are of snow.” (Sax 1991, 91) 39. Mbh 13.127.26–​30.

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this frightful. The mountain is implicitly parental to her, being part of Himālaya, her father. So she asks Śiva four questions about things she finds strange: first, his third eye; second, his four faces, blue throat, the pināka bow he bears in his hand, and his appearance as a brahmacārin (celibate) with matted locks; third, why he rides a bull; and last, about his residence in cemeteries.40 These four questions become six in S, which omits the one about Śiva’s look of a dreadlocked brahmacārin while adding two more: about his terrible, fearful visage (or odd [or deformed] eye), and about the digit of the moon atop his head.41 The digit of the moon may move S a step closer to Gaṅgā’s marriage, since a sliver of a crescent moon appears beside Gaṅgā in iconographic representations of her as Umā’s rival and co-​wife lodged in Śiva’s hair. S routinizes and inanizes Umā’s questions by multiplying them and, toward the middle, giving them a repetitive lilting cadence. When she asks her surprising ninth question about Ŗṣidharma or Munidharma—​surprising above all in that Umā virtually coins the terms in the Mahābhārata—​N has her say: The householder-​dharma, mokṣadharma, and what is based upon the observances of the good, are explained by you for the world of mortals. These paths are highly beneficial. But I want to hear the unsurpassed Ṛṣidharma, O dharma-​knower. I always have a liking for those who dwell in ascetic retreats. The perfume that emanates from the smoke of the libations of clarified butter poured on the sacred fire seems to pervade the entire retreat. Seeing it, Maheśvara, my heart would ever delight. O god, this is my doubt regarding the Munidharma, lord. Conversant with the meaning of every dharma, tell me completely, god of gods, exactly as it is.42 Umā thus points Śiva beyond what he has said so far about dharmas (rules for behavior) beneficial for the “worlds of mortals,” and gets him to talk about the quirky dharma of Ŗṣis who share the divine couple’s Himālayan haunts. There is the personal note here that could remind Śiva of their later Purāṇic marriage story, since Umā’s fondness for ascetics would pertain

40. Question (1): Mbh 13.127.40–​42; (2): 127.46–​49; (3): 128.9; and (4): 128.13–​15. 41. Virūpākṣam . . . raudraṁ bhayānakaṁ ghoraṁ . . . rūpam; 13 App. 1,15, lines 397–​402; and candrarekhāte śirobhāge, lines 414–​16. 42. Mbh 13.129.31–​34.

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not only to the surrounding sages but also to her own famous courtship of the “erotically ascetic” Śiva.43 What the UMS describes is a space of divine and human domesticity in the high Himālayas, an otherworldly paradise that is still on earth, inhabited by presumably living ascetics but also by those who make it their afterworld:  Siddhas or accomplished saints; members of Śiva’s troops or gaṇas; and earthly and celestial gleaners who live on varied diets of next to nothing—​some, it seems, as living ghosts.44 S, however, turns Śiva and Umā ‘s profound and cosmologically rich conversation about gleaners into an unnuanced conventionalized one about vānaprasthas:  those who pursue the conventional forest-​dwelling third mode of life.45 S also eliminates Śiva’s conclusion to Umā’s question on Ṛṣidharma, where he explains how it is exemplified by a gleaner’s hospitality: When there is no more smoke, when the pestle is set down, when there are no more coals, when the people have eaten their meal, when the handing around of vessels is over, when the time for asking alms has passed by, surely [it is then, still] longing for a guest, [that] one eats the food left over. Delighted by the dharma of truth, patient, he is yoked to the Munidharma. Not arrogant or proud, the one who is neither heedless nor surprised, a friend alike to friend and foe, he is the foremost knower of dharma.46 This basic hospitality practice of awaiting two or more of these four signals for when to eat occurs in other classical texts, but except for Śiva, everyone else describes when it is that a begging guest, not the host, gets to eat. Achieving a startling effect, the UMS transforms the adage to describe Ṛṣidharma as what a gleaner host does himself when longing for a mendicant guest to honor with his meager fare. In the Mahābhārata at least,

43. See O’Flaherty 1973, 141–​71, 210–​54, and passim. 44. See Hiltebeitel 2016a. 45. A main part of S’s agenda in revising the UMS is to regularize what had emerged as the standard view of varṇāśramadharma, the “law of caste and life-​stage,” in which brahmacarya is the celibate first life-​stage before marriage comes as the second. N allows for exceptions according to an older pattern, whereby each of the four āśramas can be a lifelong choice; see Olivelle 1993; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 215–​24, 645. S, in its near-​total makeover, mentions gleaning only in unconnected ways to what N says about it profusely; see Hiltebeitel 2016a. 46. Mbh 13.129.53–​55.

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where gleaning has a certain paradoxical patina, Umā could ask Śiva for no clearer lesson in uncanny domesticity. As was anticipated in c­ hapter 1, the term “uncanny” with its associations with what is “known” and “unknown,” has the potential to play on what may be known or unknown, conscious or unconscious, both among gods and goddesses in their own domains and among humans. We can thus say with Schelling that “everything is” uncanny “that ought to have remained secret but has come to light?” I will mention two ways that the Mahābhārata opens uncanny domestic spaces for goddesses: first, in the fascination they may inspire among those imagining sexual union and marriage with them; and second, in leaving fuller details on scenes of their wedded life for later texts. In the first category, goddesses may bubble up anywhere in the consciousness of desirous males, often leaving those characters to offer their best guesses as to who or what they are meeting. Thus, when the unsavory Jayadratha is “in a marrying mood”47 and finds Draupadī unprotected in the forest, he wonders with his men whether she is “an Apsaras, a divine maiden, or an illusion fashioned by the gods (māyā vā devanirmitā).”48 His henchman, like a jackal approaching a tigress,49 can then ask her, “Who are you, bending a kadamba branch, staying alone in a hermitage, radiant like a fiery flame burning the night? . . . A goddess? A Yakṣī? A Dānavī? An Apsaras? Or a Daitya beauty? A lovely serpent maiden? Or a forest-​roving woman night-​stalker? Perhaps the wife of King Varuṇa, or of Yama, Soma, or Kubera, or of the Placer, the Disposer, or Lord Savitṛ, or are you fallen from the seat of Śakra?” Such questions are always fair ones. Other examples, each of them including the Yakṣī and demon-​woman (asurī or dānavī) as possibilities along with both human and divine ones, include two figures we shall look at again in this chapter. The epic gives at least three more examples: Gaṅgā,

47.  Van Buitenen 1978, 3:707; Mbh 3.248.6b, for vivāhakāmaḥ—​this despite his being already married to the hundred Kauravas’ single sister. 48. Mbh 3.248.10: apsarā devakanyā vā māyā vā devanirmitā—​or one could translate, “or fashioned by a god” or “. . . by the god.” Draupadī was “fashioned (nirmitā) by the trident-​bearer” Śiva (18.4.10), but was she an illusion? 49. See c­ hapter 2, this volume, note 52.

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as seen for the first time by King Śaṃtanu;50 the Sun’s daughter Tapatī,51 who will be the mother of the dynastic patronym Kuru, when she is met by King Saṃvaraṇa; and Draupadī again, when she impresses her hostess as she enters the capital of Matsya disguised as a hairdresser.52 Gaṅgā is our guarantee that the trope applies to real immortal goddesses, as well as mortal women “touched by divinity,” like Draupadī and Tapatī. On the scene involving Gaṅgā, in fact, Wulff recalls a parallel from the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite where Anchises, on the way to siring Aeneas, mentions a short list of female categories in asking Aphrodite “whether or not she is a goddess, a Nymph, or one of the Graces.”53 What is undeveloped in such Mahābhārata scenes is left for characters to narrow down, and for readers to fill in with memories (free associations, in a way) from what the text gives them to know. In the first encounter involving Draupadī, a reader, who should know more than the questioner, can realize that more than one and less than all the choices could be answered “yes,” including the last: “fallen from the seat of Śakra?” For in the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna,54 which we will come to in this chapter, Vyāsa tells how Draupadī as Śrī incarnate can marry the five Pāṇḍavas because she was once the wife of each of five former Indras who have fallen from their throne. In such moments, the options are presented in a surface manner, and the reader can answer with whatever range he or she brings from knowing the baseline text in toto, or by looking back from the Mahābhārata tradition. But answers can also be discovered at symbolic depth, as with our three dead mother texts discussed in c­ hapter 3, or in the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna. In recognizing that fuller details on scenes of her wedded life await elaboration in later texts, here I simply restate the third and most settled of my three working hypotheses:  that names, persons, and activities of Mahābhārata heroines anticipate later Purāṇic goddesses. Taken along with the other two hypotheses, however—​that the baseline Mahābhārata is a dateable text; and that it drew on Greco-​Roman sources—​Hinduism with its mythology would have to be discussed as a historical religion. Here I  turn to the second and most unsettling of these hypotheses:  that as a

50. Mbh 1.92.30c–​31b. 51. Mbh 1.160.8 and 36. 52. Mbh 4.8.13–​14. 53. See Wulff 2014, 222–​24. 54. Mbh 1.189.

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post-​ Alexandrian work, the Mahābhārata was composed by poets familiar with a Greco-​Roman archive or repertory that spanned mythologies from Homer and Hesiod to Ovid and Virgil—​the hypothesis advanced by Fernando Wulff Alonso. Since I have the luxury of relying on Wulff’s demonstrations, and proofs,55 I  can explore whether his argument can be worked with and extended—​as one might do following up on any scientific hypothesis—​even though I am hardly in a position to confirm it. Now that Wulff’s argument is on the table, it opens up new interpretative possibilities and ways of thinking through how the epic could have been composed. I will first say what I find most compelling in Wulff’s arguments, and only then recall some of what I  find less compelling, as I  began to do in ­chapter 3, I will then try to advance a corollary to what is compelling in his hypothesis: that the Mahābhārata is the Indian text that begins to articulate the domestic relations of many of the divine couples that come to “people” Indian mythology, yet who do so in more developed ways in later post-​epic Purāṇic narratives.56

A Total Mythological Language State What do I find compelling in Wulff’s argument? Wulff believes that the Mahābhārata poets worked from a “Greek repertory,” in which the Iliad impressed them the most as its centerpiece. Let me confess that well before I knew anything of Wulff or his work, I endorsed this basic hypoth­ esis in principle, on the premise of the novelty in India of epic as a genre and the reports that Alexander the Great had brought a copy of the Iliad with him to India to dream upon under his pillow.57 But I could not see how the argument could be made convincing, which it would have to be, and to scholars of both epic traditions, for it to have impact. Wulff succeeds in challenging both camps by starting from the way the Iliad was first interpreted in Greece. His long chapter on “El Plan Divino,” or “The Divine Plan,” serves to introduce all his other “connection points”

55. See especially Wulff 2014, 445, and his closing chapter (446–​81). 56.  As Ludwik observes, for instance, it is the Mbh that first gives the important Vedic goddess Sarasvatī anthropomorphic form (2007, 106–​107), yet her becoming the wife of Brahmā awaits Purāṇic development. 57. See Hiltebeitel 2001, 5–​6.

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as “by far the widest in scope.”58 In each epic (and epic tradition), a divine plan is set in motion long before the war.59 In the Greek case, texts close to the Iliad in time (Hesiod, the Odyssey, the Cypria) add range to that epic’s “Plan of Zeus.” It becomes Zeus’s secret. Zeus undertakes it to bring about the Unburdening of the Earth after he agrees to do so with the earth goddess Gaia, and deliberates with Themis, the “divine embodiment of the natural order,” in whom Wulff sees a similarity to dharma.60 In India, the Mahabharata text tells that the “secret of the gods” (devaguhyam) or “work of the gods” (devakārya)61 involves the gods’ plan, endorsed by Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva, and known by Indra, for Viṣṇu to descend to earth as Kṛṣṇa to relieve the Earth’s burden of overpopulation. I believe that these divine plans extend to further, large-​scale connection points that Wulff does not make, like one between Mount Olympus and Mount Meru as homes of the gods,62 or of a pantheon; and the prominence of marrying goddesses whom the Mahābhārata brings newly into this Hindu pantheon. One parallel that he does discuss aligns the Greek four ages, first known from Hesiod, and the Indian four yugas, with in each case an “Age of Heroes” in the slot between the last two ages.63 But most crucially, the plans implemented by Zeus and Viṣṇu-​Kṛṣṇa, though it is never so stated directly by the gods of either epic, are designed to bring about the destruction of a generation of heroes on both sides of each epic’s central war. Stories about this kind of background of the Trojan War are found in texts closest in time to the Iliad, most notably the Cypria, a text that survives in only thirty-​one fragments but is more fully known through a digest called the Chrestomathy by Proclus, about whom nothing reliable is known, and also echoed in the Odyssey and Hesiod.64 The Cypria interprets the Trojan War as “the story of an announced annihilation not only of Troy but of an

58. Wulff 2014, 79. 59. Wulff 2014, 102–​103. 60. Wulff 2014, 130. 61. These are two terms for the epic’s “divine plan”; see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 571–​74. 62. Possibly with Mounts Ida and Kailāsa as second mountains where events related to the divine plans take place apart from the gods or the pantheon as a group. Mounts Meru and Kailāsa are mentioned in Brahmanical texts for the first time in the Mahābhārata, although Meru is probably mentioned earlier in Buddhist texts as Sumeru. 63. Wulff 2008a, 116, 153–​56; Wulff 2014, 167–​69, 192; cf. Hiltebeitel 2011a, 296, 296n47; Hiltebeitel 1976 [1990], 49–​59. 64. Wulff 2008a, 110–​14; Wulff 2014, 127–​33.

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entire generation of heroes.”65 Wulff builds on this early reception of the Iliad to work out a thoroughgoing interpretation of what motivates the Plan of Zeus: the situations of hubris that arise from improprieties occasioned by the subordination of gods to humans, most notably in sexual relations between gods and humans, which the Plan of Zeus will make a thing of the past. “There are three basic stories . . . in which gods and humans intermingle in a rather crooked manner,” and in all three, Zeus can be made out managing outcomes behind the scenes. The three are:  Laomedon’s refusal of payment to Poseidon and Apollo for building the Trojan rampart that protects Troy during the war; the marriage of Peleus and Thetis; and the Judgment of Paris.66 The Indian situation makes hubris harder to spot, but mutatis mutandis, the divine plan’s motivations and outcome, are broadly the same.67 That interpretation provides the window through which post-​ Alexandrian Indian poets could have come to know the Greek epic. Yet classical Greek scholarship in the last two centuries has, with few exceptions,68 renewed a resistance to Zeus’s divine plan that goes back to Socrates, which is to “deny mythology.”69 In addition to the philosophical and moral improvements of Zeus that Plato’s stance created, Wulff proposes other reasons why Greece obscured the Iliad’s Plan of Zeus: “the rise of the city-​state eventually bestowed primacy upon the propensity to ignore this core aspect of the Iliad”;70 Greek readers and listeners would not have drawn a favorable self-​image from a god determined to wipe out Greeks and Trojans equally; and “the fact that Zeus was also the central god in the Greek pantheon most likely has a lot to do with a portion of this tradition’s refusal to accept these destructive components or accept Zeus’s plan as stated in the fifth line of the Iliad.”71 As we shallsee in c­ hapter 6, the last two centuries of classical scholarship on Homer have been paralleled

65. Wulff 2014, 92. 66. Wulff 2014, 103–​108. 67.  Some differences will be noted in ­chapter  6, this volume, in connection with the Mahābhārata’s apocalypticism. 68. Like Redfield 1975 and Heiden 2008. 69. Wulff 2014, 126; “negar la mitologia”; Wulff 2008a, 109. 70. Wulff 2014, 127. 71. Wulff 2014, 188–​89, cf. 204.

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in Mahābhārata scholarship, which has made light of its divine plan,72 has argued that it was secondary to some deeper purpose,73 or simply has euhemerized away all related mythology.74 The point when I began sensing that Wulff’s book would be of interest even before I could start it occurred with a reinforcement of this interpretation from rural Colombia. When Wulff sent me a copy of his book’s 2008 Spanish edition, he accompanied it with Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night. There, Wulff had found a reference to a library service by courier donkeys between Colombian pueblos near Bogotá. An itinerant librarian found himself in one village that would not return its borrowed copy of the Iliad. “They explained that Homer’s story exactly reflected their own; it told of a war-​torn country in which mad gods willfully decide the fate of humans who never know exactly what the fighting is about, or when they will be killed.”75 Wulff drew on this touchstone that he had found in a book published in Madrid just a year before his own.76 Wulff’s most compelling connection points also include Draupadī forher reminders of Helen of Troy. But Gaṅgā is even more important to Wulff’s thesis. Although several of the Mahābhārata’s great female characters are, as noted, touched by divinity, and in different ways, Gaṅgā is distinct from all of them as an immortal goddess. Unlike all the rest, she never dies in the human form she willingly assumes, and she never will die. She provides the most surprising of Wulff’s anchor points in hypothesizing that a Greek archive centered specifically on the Iliad lay at the fingertips of the Mahābhārata’s authors. In Gaṅgā’s part as the immortal river goddess who succors, instructs, and protects her son Bhīṣma, and eventually weeps over this treacherously slain son she had with a mortal human, Wulff finds new and significant connections with the sea goddess Thetis and her son, Achilles. Given that Wulff’s idea is that the Mahabhārata poets were familiar with the Iliad interpreted through an ongoing tradition of Greek mythology, Indian figures could partially parallel any number of Greek ones, and vice

72. See ­chapter 6 on Winternitz 1933–​34 and van Buitenen 1973. 73. See c­ hapter 6 on Brodbeck 2009 a and b and Hudson 2006 and 2012. 74. A fashion especially in India, both in retellings and by scholars. 75. Manguel 2007, 229–​30; Wulff 2014, 87. 76. Manguel 2007.

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versa. Wulff considers the Greek literary legacy a “launch pad.”77 Zeus could be paralleled by Indra as the god who leads the celestial powers78 and by Kṛṣṇa in implementing the plan to lift the burden of the Earth,79 while Kṛṣṇa could be paralleled by Athena in her attentions to Odysseus, especially in the Odyssey,80 in which “everything Athena does in Ithaca, particularly during the massacre [of Penelope’s suitors], is a near perfect précis of the various actions of the gods during the Trojan war.”81 Similar stories to Gaṅgā’s about giving birth to a mortal hero who fights in the war could also be compared with details about Aphrodite and Anchises in parenting Aeneas.82 Wulff’s approach thus does away with the quest for one-​to-​one correspondences between Greek and Indian characters and scenes, which has been the self-​defeating limitation that has stymied most studies seeking to view the Iliad and the Mahābhārata as deriving from a common source. Wulff holds that the cumulative and overarching evidence is best explained by a milieu of contact and exchange, rather than by an Indo-​ European background, although some individual themes would still be traceable to Vedic and possibly Indo-​European sources.83 He thus takes issue with Georges Dumézil’s approach to the Mahābhārata,84 while frequently citing areas of agreement with Madeleine Biardeau,85 even though she did not envision culture contact between Greece and India to have shaped the Mahābhārata. Biardeau introduced a specific post-​epic Purāṇic mythological and conceptual milieu with which the Mahābhārata is largely congruent, even if the Purāṇas themselves are later. From Wulff’s vantage, one can see that Biardeau was shrewd to insist on viewing the epic against the background of what I will call a “total mythological language state,” to coin a term that may help to convey Wulff’s intervention. Dumézil had not

77. Wulff 2014, 83–​84. 78. Wulff 2014, 184–​85. 79. Wulff 2014, 186, 192, 194, 206. 80. Wulff 2014, 187, 195. 81. Wulff 2014, 328. 82. Wulff 2014, 222–​23. 83.  Wulff 2008a, 24; Wulff 2014, 28; cf. Hiltebeitel 2011a, 379n96, agreeing with this emphasis. 84. Wulff 2014, 26–​29. 85. Wulff 2014, 20–​23, 323, 464, 472.

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clarified when his para-​Vedic Mahābhārata would have been conceived—​ one which involved a wholesale “transposition” into epic of an essentially Rigvedic pantheon around an Indo-​European or perhaps Indo-​Iranian doomsday scenario, but including “para-​Vedic” themes as well and even classical Indian “retouches.”86 Yet in titling his study of the Mahābhārata “The Unburdening of the Earth” (“La soulagement de la terre”), Dumézil was the first to recognize the “Unburdening of the Earth” from overpopulation as the overarching Mahābhārata theme. This mytheme is not likely at all to have been Indo-​European or Indo-​Iranian,87 or in its specifics, Babylonian.88 Rather, as Wulff demonstrates, even while not opposing these views, as I do, the mythological language state to which the Mahābhārata’s 86. In my first book (1976), I sought a solution that I would now find less than half convincing, that the epic would have been composed by Ŗṣi poets during the late Vedic period of the Brāhmaṇas or Upaniṣads. That is, it would have been composed by Ŗṣis who would have made the links between heroes and gods as Vedic-​style “connections” (bandhus) rather than as what Dumézil viewed as “transpositions” from myth into history. 87.  Nagy 1990, 16, disagrees:  “Zeus brings the éris ‘strife’ of the Trojan War because he intends to depopulate the Earth of the mythical heroes that weigh upon her (Cypria F 1.1–​16 Allen). Similarly, in the Mahābhārata. . . . In this way, the major epic narratives of the Greek and Indian peoples are inaugurated with a cognate theme, and it is hard to imagine more compelling evidence for the Indo-​European heritage of the epic traditions about the Trojan War.” The evidence is not compelling, however, on this cognate theme. Nagy cites no additional evidence, and neither does Vian 1970, 55, in a review of Dumézil 1968, which Nagy cites as corroboration. Dumézil himself does not even mention the Greek account in his brief discussion of the Mahāhārata’s story (168–​69), and seems to associate the Indian divine plan with the submergence and recuperation of the earth in the Norse Ragnarök myth (226), which affects no generation of human heroes at all, but only gods. See de Jong 1985, 40: “There is insufficient evidence to suggest that this theme belongs to a common Indo-​ European heritage.” 88. Burkert 1992 is the main scholar to advocate a link between the Babylonian mythology of the Atrahasis epic and the Unburdening of the Earth in the Cypria (100–​106), and implicitly in the Mahābhārata (206–​207, notes 1 and 9; he does not say whether the Indian epic would have been impacted by the Babylonian one directly, or just via the Greek epic). Burkert seems intent to cover the connection by introducing “complex structures, where sheer coincidence is less likely: a system of deities and a basic cosmological idea, the narrative structure of a whole scene, decrees of the gods about mankind” (89). But a connection between the Babylonian and Greek Unburdening of the Earth scenes is more unlikely than others he discusses (e.g., the division of the cosmos by three gods after drawing lots, 90–​91). Burkert says three attempts to destroy mankind were made “apparently at formulaic intervals of 1,200 years, by sending first a pestilence, then a famine, and finally the great flood” (89). But these numbers, which one might correlate with the Greek ages or Indian yugas, are not in evidence except for the years preceding the pestilence. The gods’ measures result in repeated trial and error because one of their own, Enki, favors men (the story focuses on Enki and Atrahasis’s repeatedly saving mankind) rather than a relief of the earth’s burden by a war planned by the highest god that targets a class of semi-​divine and, at least in the Indian case, semi-​demonic heroes. Moreover, if, as Kilmer (1972) implies, changed conditions involved a “sharp increase in settlement” “shortly after the turn of the third millennium” (174)

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Unburdening of the Earth myth belongs is distinctively Greek.89 In fact, the overpopulation theme suggests cities and urbanization in line with that process as it occurs first in Greece, and then later than that, in the second urbanization of India. The fallibility of cities seems to be implicit in the Iliad when Zeus, having, as it were, conceded the destruction of Troy to Hera, says she must return the favor by allowing him to destroy any of her beloved cities he might wish to, to which she replies: “There are three cities especially dear to me: Argos, Sparta, and broad Mycenae. Waste these if they ever annoy you.”90 According to Wulff, in answering Zeus’s “underhanded remark,” Hera’s reference to “Mycenae’s ruins” would be an allusion “to the general plan of destruction.”91 Likewise, “in the catalogue of ships in the Iliad it is presupposed that Thebes has been destroyed and that only some small Hypothebai [small settlements “below Thebes”] have been left. One usually assumes that Thebes lay in ruins still in the eighth century and that its rise to hegemonic power in Boeotia occurred later.”92 Unburdening the Earth of violent cities is not explicit during the Mahābhārata account of the war, but it becomes so in the Harivaṃśa version of the Mahābhārata’s Unburdening of the Earth myth.93 Rather than being para-​Vedic or cumulative over centuries, the language state attendant upon the Mahābhārata’s account of this myth would have to be post-​Alexander, which squares with a consensus that the Mahabharata would have been composed ca. 150 bce to the turn of the millennium.94

resulting in overpopulation of cities and “urban blight” (174), it is not cities that are targeted but people’s noise and rebelliousness. 89. On the Unburdening of the Earth, see Wulff 2014, 128–​30, 175–​77, 307–​10, 313–​15. 90. Iliad 4.31–​67, Lombardo 1997, 66–​67. 91. Wulff 2014, 108. 92. Burkert 1992, 107 and 208, notes 3 and 4, citing Iliad 2.505. 93. Couture 2006, 75; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 577; cf. de Jong 1985, 400: “the earth, oppressed by the weight of innumerable armies and fortresses, asks Viṣṇu for help. Viṣṇu promises that Kṛṣṇa will bring about a great war in which many kings and armies will be killed.” 94. On such consensus, see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 73–​74. These dates are similar to ones made in Hopkins’s parenthetical concession that “there is no ‘date of the epic’ which will cover all its parts (although handbook makers may safely assign it to the second century B.C.)” ([1901] 1969, 398); and this statement by Witzel: “We should, therefore, follow the lead of Alf Hiltebeitel, and take a much closer look at the time frame around 150 bce as that of the first assembly of the text . . . probably carried out by a group of Brahmans who worked on earlier bardic materials” (2005, 67; cf. 53–​56).

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Wulff’s book thus challenges one to think that the Mahabharata poets could have been familiar not only with the Iliad but also with the complete mythological language state that would have accompanied the Iliad with the Greeks into India. Impressed by such a body of lore, those poets could be, and would no doubt have wanted to be, innovative and creative, and have desired to say something new and totally Indian. It also offers a grip on the genre question of how India comes to suddenly have not just one but two vast epics without any reference to epic heroes or heroines in older Vedic literature. I have outlined only the most compelling elements of Wulff’s book, which I regard as sufficient to make credible his underlying hypothesis. Other more detailed connections drawn on readings of the two Greek and two Sanskrit epics are sometimes less compelling, but still include highly plausible ones. This goes for the analogies drawn in the ways a second devastation is in each case involved: in Greece at Thebes, in India at Dvārakā with the destruction of the Yādavas. The full Theban cycle brings Oedipus into it, which might bring us closer to Freud, while the end of Dvārakā brings us the cycle-​closing destruction of a city and with it, the death of Kṛṣṇa. But with the Heracles cycle, as remarked in ­chapter 3, some of Wulff’s evidence tends to become more merely plausible than fully compelling. There are also matters where I disagree with Wulff about dating the composition of the Mahābhārata and assessing its PCE.95 These differences between us effect some of his sources (Virgil and Ovid)96 and some Mahābhārata evidence he cites (Draupadī’s rejection of Karṇa as a suitor; the Apsaras Urvaśī’s curse of Arjuna to become a eunuch).97 But neither difficulty undercuts the strengths of Wulff’s basic hypothesis. Just as

95. Wulff 2014 at numerous points says the dating of the epic is unresolved (81, 84, 454, 462–​63), allowing for longer and more fluid possibilities of its assembly than I do (450), and thus for first-​century ce readings from Virgil and Ovid (2014, 25, 253, 393, 401–​406, 458–​59, 462–​63, 469). He also speaks of the “would-​be critical edition” (19–​20) and its “more spurious designation of ‘Critical Edition’ ” (77). 96. See Wulff 2008a, 2008b, 2016, and forthcoming. I regard Ovid’s early first-​century ce date to be too late (though not by very much) for his work to have been known to the Mbh poets, and favor an alternate explanation that Wulff finds “convoluted” and thus less likely (forthcoming 17, 23–​29): that, given the probability of mutual exchanges, either Ovid could be borrowing from the Mbh or the Mbh could have drawn inspiration from older Greek sources than Ovid (among them, Nicander [second century bce; see Wulff forthcoming, forthcoming-​b, 9–​10] for the story of Ambā; Apollodorus [second century bce] for Virāṭa Parvan details and sequences. 97. See Wulff 2014, 333, 386–​89.

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Mahadevan’s work helps us to formulate dates for the earliest fully ample Mahābhārata text and its dissemination, Wulff’s book helps us to imagine the conditions under which such an epic could have been conceived and composed.

Mahābhiṣa’s Gaze and the Judgment of Paris As we return to the Goddess in the Mahābhārata, let me begin by making a retrograde move, from Wulff’s standpoint, and simplify matters by starting off with some one-​to-​one correspondences between Indian figures and the most analogous Greek goddesses and heroines. The most readily comparable goddess pairings are, above all, Durgā, the virginal and unmarried goddess of war and citadels98 and Athena; the beautiful Śrī is comparable to Aphrodite, Kālī to Medusa, Bhūdevī (Earth) to Gaia (Earth), and Draupadī (whose ties with these other goddesses can be considered multiple but are mainly with Śrī) to Helen (whose main tie is more with Aphrodite). Both religions have in addition a death or nemesis goddess. Add that Wulff also relates Gaṅgā and Thetis. Things seem a little more complex, though, with Juno and  Hera. As wife of Zeus, Hera would be aligned most readily with Indra’s wife Śācī-​Indrāṇī. But as the chief consort who inhabits Olympus, she could also be aligned with Umā as the wife of Śiva in the Himalayas. With Gaṅgā and Umā, however, we go beyond one-​to-​one correspondence in that these two goddesses each bring a surplus into their various equations. Of the most readily comparable goddesses, several can and do have their stakes in the Mahābhārata action, though the situation is sketchy. Śrī as the “Prosperity” of kings (who is incarnate in Draupadī), and Earth, whose burden of overpopulation the gods seek to lift, each participate more or less passively in the divine plan insofar as it involves them by hidden and dark design. They take part in “the work of the gods” or the “divine secret” (devaguhyam), although how knowingly they do so presents an interesting question.99 Or the Goddess may be situated cryptically, as with Kālī, who may favor the Pāṇḍavas if she is already latent in the tree 98. See FI, ch. 9, note 45, on the exception in Bengal to her being unmarried. 99. I noted in ­chapter 3, this volume, that Draupadī may not know what her husbands are joking about when they speak of their grandmother’s corpse. Biardeau makes it something of a rule that a heroine such as Damayantī speaks symbolically from the Sāṃkhya idea of the unconsciousness of prakṛti as feminine matter, her blind ignorance given to “obstinancy”; matter that unknowingly yet somehow inerrantly works on behalf of puruṣa through “blind

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that hides their weapons.100 Durgā breaks this mold by siding with the Pāṇḍavas overtly—​but she does this only belatedly, in two interpolations. Indeed, Durgā’s identification with Kālī in Book 4’s Durgāstotra could remind us of Athena’s association with Medusa. Freud had obtained for his desk an Athena image with “a crudely featured gorgoneion, a representation of the gorgon Medusa’s head, here lacking its usual fringe of snakes,” on her breastplate (aegis),101 which he considered to represent the “horror of the female genitals,” making Athena “in consequence the unapproachable woman, the sight of whom extinguishes all thought of a sexual approach.”102 But even as an interpolation, Durgā hardly takes sides with the same episodic visibility or intensity as Athena. Other goddesses with more distant stakes include the goddess of death, Mṛtyu, whom Brahmā anciently consigned to help lift Earth´s burden by bringing death into the world.103 In contrast, the first thing to note concerns Śācī-​Indrāṇī as the counterpart to Hera, wife of Zeus. Like Zeus in the Iliad, Indra does meddle in the Mahābhārata war; Indra specifically takes his son Arjuna’s side.104 But his wife Śācī, unlike Hera, makes her own such meddling harder to spot.

initiatives”; heroines whose ignorance is unknowing in particular about dharma (1984b, 263); see my reservations about this in Hiltebeitel 2000b, 118–​22. 100. And possibly also as Kālī-​Satyavatī and/​or Kālarātri, the “Night of Time”; see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 367–​74, 382–​83. 101. A ca. 100 ce Roman image after a fifth-​century bce Greek model; see Freud 1953–​74, 18:273–​74; Gamwell and Wells 1989, 110, and facing plate: “Freud displayed his attachment to this bronze Athena . . . by placing her in the center of his desk and by selecting her as the sole piece to be smuggled out in 1938, when the loss of his entire antiquities collection was threatened.” 102. Jonte-​Pace 2001, 53–​54, citing Freud’s “Infantile Genital Organization” in Freud 1953–​ 74, 19:144 and note 3, where Freud credits Ferenczi on the first point and makes the remaining associations himself. Durgā means “of difficult access” and can be translated as “unapproachable.” 103. 8 App.1, lines 71–​294; Mbh 12.248–​50. Mṛtyu’s stake is nonetheless important for the pedagogy of death that her story offers twice to the grieving Yudhiṣṭhira (the Book 8 account appears in most mss.), and for similarities she bears to both Umā (her Himalayan tapas; her compassion) and Śrī (each weeps tears that bring death into the world); see Hiltebeitel [1976] 1990, 346–​47; Hiltebeitel 1978, 783–​85 (2011c, 418–​23; Reich 1998, 110–​15. The two latter studies stress the greater cogency of the Book 8 version, a probably early interpolation. Cf. Wulff, forthcoming in press, 194. A study of the Mṛtyukathā in relation to other goddesses in the Mbh would be welcome. 104. Indra supports Arjuna during his final duel with Karṇa (Mbh 8.63.50–​54) and otherwise mainly before the war when he hosts and tutors him in Indraloka (Mbh 3.43–​45, 3.164–​72, and 6.86.10–​15) and steals Karṇa’s impenetrable armor and earrings (1.104.16–​21, 3.284–​94).

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I know of nothing even tangential that involves Śācī in the Mahābhārata’s divine plan. The Indian poets supply no analogue to a Judgment of Paris that would induce Durgā, Śrī, or Śācī to favor one side in any manner as Athena and Hera do with the Achaeans and as Aphrodite does with the Trojans. The lack of this major theme, developed in the Cypria, might be taken as a gap in Wulff’s argument. Wulff emphasizes Zeus’s prompting of the Judgment of Paris and his manipulations of all three goddesses in their anger at being seen and judged by a mortal man, and then further in their shows of favor during the Trojan War.105 All of this seems to be unthinkable in the Mahābhārata. If it were a matter of judging the most beautiful of three goddesses, what Mahābhārata character could substitute for Paris? And which three goddesses would the first Mahābhārata poets have put under a mortal’s scrutiny if Durgā was not yet available to be one of them? In any case, Śācī does not figure in Wulff’s discussion of the Mahābhārata’s divine plan. Yet Wulff does include the Judgment of Paris among the prominent contact points drawn on in the Indian divine plan. It forms part of what I have called compelling about his surprising correlation of Gaṅgā with Thetis and their maternal entanglements with mortal sons. The counterpart to Paris is someone not like him at all in having anything to do with the main story. He is a royal sage (rājarṣi) named Mahābhiṣa, whose rather exceptional place in heaven—​between human lives—​may be explicable in the Mahābhārata precisely through the combination of elements brought together in his name not only from the Judgment of Paris but also from the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. According to Wulff, “Being that he had the audacity to consume and possess with his lustful gaze a goddess, who is his obvious superior, he inevitably inflames the gods’ fury and guarantees for himself an imminent reprisal,”106 which turns out to be his own rebirth as Śaṃtanu, the mortal who weds the immortal Gaṅgā himself to become the father of Bhīṣma. Yet obviously, the episode involves one goddess rather than three, no choice of that one goddess by Mahābhiṣa, and no rancor toward him on the part of two unchosen goddesses or even from Gaṅgā herself, who as we shall see seems to be bemused if not actually attracted by his audacious (if that is what it is) gaze. We must look carefully at Wulff’s argument and ask whether there are points at which

105. Wulff 2014, 115–​17, 141–​42. 106. Wulff 2014, 217.

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he may pull the two stories closer together than is warranted. But this will not undercut his evidence that the Indian poets made real modifications of Greek stories. Rather, I will seek to buttress and extend that evidence. Wulff begins by bifurcating the one Indian narrative from its beginning into alternative “explanations” for the birth of Bhīṣma. The first explanation concerns “the story of humiliated gods condemned to descend to earth as human incarnate”; after “several gods and goddesses commit a crime against a higher authority, the grand Ṛṣi Vasiṣṭha, when one of them, Dyaus, sees to his spouse’s request and steals the Ṛṣi’s cow in order to immortalize one of his [Dyaus’s] spouse’s mortal friends [by] using the cow’s milk.” The second explanation, called by Wulff the “immediate” one, is that “a human being looks upon the body of a goddess or goddesses with a gaze replete with sexual connotations and with ambiguously negative consequences.”107 Wulff accordingly splits his discussion, introducing a different Greek analogue for each “explanation.” For the first, it is a rather loose connection made on the premise that “in both epics, the condition of a goddess placed under the dominion of a mortal man is associated with an additional humiliation of various gods condemned to descend to earth under denigrating circumstances following a hierarchical conflict between supernatural beings.” The Greek case is the aforementioned “humiliation, or punishment, . . . of Poseidon and Apollo who were forced to serve a mortal man, king Laomedon, during a stretch of time which eventually results in the building of the Trojan rampart.”108 It is doubtful that this comparison has much traction. The story about Laomedon and the Trojan rampart is an outlier to the pair of connected stories that link the Judgment of Paris with the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. In the Mahābhārata, it is all, of course, a matter of one story, since Bhīṣma will be both the incarnation of the deity Dyaus, the chief culprit among the eight Vasu gods who stole Vasiṣṭha’s cow, and the son of Śaṃtanu, who himself will be the human reincarnation of the Rājarṣi Mahābhiṣa who had gazed at Gaṅgā in a way “replete with sexual connotations.” Although the first story is told in two installments with the second set between them, and with additional and even contradictory features in the continuation, which Gaṅgā narrates herself,109 little is gained by viewing them as separate “explanations.”

107. Wulff 2014, 216. 108. Wulff 2014, 215. 109. See Hiltebeitel 2011b, 382–​84; Biardeau 2002, 1:213.

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Wulff’s rather loose point of comparison is that, like the Iliad, which allows that “any relevant event whatsoever can be ascribed to the divine plan and explained in myriad forms in reference to the transgressions committed by humans or their ancestors,” the Mahābhārata “engenders the possibility to interpret such undertakings and circumstances prearranged by supernatural forces and destiny in line with the ultimate end.” These two quotations come at the beginnings of two sections, the first on the Iliad and the second on the Mahābhārata,110 in which Wulff attempts to demonstrate a similar handling of numerous events in each epic. The first mention of the two explanations for Bhīṣma’s birth is included among instances in the Indian epic where “one might contend that all the events  .  .  .  must have been put there by divine intervention, by supernatural design, whether it is actually stated or not.”111 Wulff’s implication that this story’s link with the divine plan is unstated is, however, uncalled for. The epic is explicit that the Gaṅgā-​Mahābhiṣa/​Śaṃtanu story is part of its divine plan. In the Goddess’s own words, as she is about to abandon Śaṃtanu after the birth of Bhiṣma:  “I am Gaṅgā, daughter of Jahnu, frequented by the hosts of great Ŗṣis; I have dwelt with you for the sake of success in accomplishing a purpose in the work of the gods.”112 Jahnu is a sage from whose ear the river is said to take birth; the hosts of great Ṛṣis, of course, frequent her banks, particularly in the high Himalayas; and at the base of the quarter of a verse-​length verse-​ending compound that follows is the term devakārya, “work of the gods,” which the Mahābhārata uses regularly for its overall divine plan.113 As I have said of Gaṅgā elsewhere, “Her ‘success in accomplishing a purpose in the work of the gods’ is a quite precise and early indication that the ‘work of the gods,’ which we may call the Mahābhārata’s divine plan, begins to unfold with a certain complexity. That is, it involves not only the gods and Ṛṣis but this celestial goddess, and it will have to take in more than one generation.”114 Although her words coincide with the birth of Bhīṣma, whose life Śaṃtanu thinks he saves when he breaks his marital compact with Gaṅgā at the birth of this, their eighth son, after stifling his horror at watching her

110. Wulff 2014, 198–​99, 201–​202 (§9.1.[d]‌and §9.2.[d]). 111. Wulff 2014, 201. 112. Devakāryārthasiddhyartham; Mbh 1.92.49. 113. See Hiltebeitel 2011a, 350, 572–​74. 114. Hiltebeitel 2011a, 350.

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drown the first seven, Bhīṣma’s birth is not all there is to Gaṅgā’s part in the work of the gods. Obviously, it includes her release of the seven Vasus less culpable than Dyaus in the stealing of Vasiṣṭha’s cow, so that they may return to heaven when she drowns them immediately after each is born, which comes along with Wulff’s “first explanation” of Bhīṣma’s birth. Yet insofar as devakārya implies the overall divine plan, it further includes Gaṅgā’s bringing her favor to the Bhārata-​Kuru dynasty, which she asserts to be her intention even before Mahābhiṣa is reborn as Śaṃtanu, and likewise, of course, before Bhīṣma is born as Śaṃtanu’s son. This follows from Wulff’s “second explanation.” Again, in the Goddess’s own words: So, by devotion to you will I  love115 the famous Bhārata lineage (kulam). Whoever are the kings of the earth, you116 are their refuge. I am unable to speak the qualities that are renowned of your lineage in even a hundred years; its straightness is peerless.117 Gaṅgā says this to the reigning Bhārata-​Kuru king Pratīpa at some uncertain time after Mahābhiṣa gazed up her gown. She appeared before Pratīpa in her radiant heavenly beauty out of her own river waters of the Ganges, yet only to be rejected by him. She sat on the right thigh of this Kuru king and invited him to make love to her. But because she chose his right thigh, suitable for children and daughters-​in-​law, rather than his left, where a wife or lover would sit, he invoked certain scruples and invited her to become his daughter-​in-​law instead. Agreeing, and thereby virtually assuring this apparently shrewd old king and his old wife a son all three desire,118 Gaṅgā thereby fused her bodily descent into this world with the destiny of the Lunar dynasty, declaring that her love for its kings and their lineage will extend over a future measurable by human generations—​even though these generations will not proceed from her or from her own son Bhīṣma, but from two fishy mothers with their stories about the other river, the Yamunā.119 115. bhajiṣyāmi, “I will share in/​enjoy.” 116. Plural: your dynasty. 117. Mbh 1.92.12c–​13, ending: guṇā na hi mayā śakyā vaktum varṣa śatair api | kulasya ye vaḥ prathitās tat sādhutvam anuttamam. 118. On the wife, see Mbh 1.92.19. 119. See ­chapter 3, this volume; and André Green’s discussion of mothers in the succession of generations.

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Now that this story about Gaṅgā is before us in rough outline and summary, let us look more closely at what Wulff says specifically of its connection points to the Judgment of Paris and the marriage of Thetis and Peleus. I take up the points in the order that he presents them. First, Paris judges between three goddesses by examining their bodies. But there is no reason to be deceived: to look upon a divinity which is already a sufficiently dangerous undertaking, is here brought into ballast by a gaze heavily laden with the eroticism intrinsic to a beauty contest amongst three goddesses and with the unadulterated hubris implicit in a mortal man’s judgment thereof. [For Paris to claim Helen as the prize Aphrodite gives him,] he must commit an additional sin and break the bonds of xenia, hospitality, by betraying his host [Menelaus], which inevitably leads to a lethal retaliation against him and his city.120 We have already taken note of what Wulff says, as he continues, about the basic parallel situation with Mahābhiṣa’s “lustful gaze,” which “inflames the gods’ fury and guarantees for himself an imminent reprisal”—​words that I will now omit at the first ellipsis in the quote that follows. Moreover, Wulff now attempts to extend the parallel to a breach of hospitality that shapes this reprisal. [Śaṃtanu] had once been a king, Mahābhiṣa, whose virtues and sacrifices had earned him the right to spend the afterlife as a guest in Indra’s heaven. Thus, he was one of the gods’ human guests; however, he commits a sexual transgression against none other than Gaṅgā which leads to his return to the mortal sphere and a mortal life. It occurred in one of the divine palaces where he saw the goddess arrive at a gathering; her beauty arrested his better judgment and when a gust of wind blew open her gown exposing her naked body, he looked upon her with desire while all the gods respectfully lowered their eyes. . . . As a punishment, the gods force him to abandon heaven and reincarnate himself as a mortal man, King Śaṃtanu. . . . Śaṃtanu’s human birth, therefore, seems punishment in and of itself (regardless of how much other versions

120. Wulff 2014, 216–​17.

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sugarcoat it) and the unfolding of events in relation to his life and dynasty attest to that.121 There are bits of artistic license here. The first bit is relatively innocuous, but Mahābhiṣa is never referred to as a guest of the gods in Indra’s heaven; Indra is barely mentioned in the story, and there is no issue of hospitality at all: whether to violate it or otherwise. Mahābhiṣa has simply won his place in heaven by performing numerous royal sacrifices, and he is no one’s guest.122 More significantly, however, the Goddess’s body is not exposed by the wind when she enters “one of the divine palaces” amid a “gathering.” Moreover, the gods do not “force” Mahābhiṣa’s fall from heaven, and his life as Śaṃtanu is not so clearly a “punishment.” Finally, Wulff does not bring out what is incongruous about saying that “the unfolding of events in relation to his life and dynasty attest to” Mahābhiṣa’s fall being a punishment. We must rethink the story in relation to a more precise picture of its narrative setting and the dynamics of Mahābhiṣa’s relocation. Above all, we must have it in mind that Gaṅgā is an extraordinary goddess. The story knows her as “the river goddess of the triple-​path,”123 meaning that her river traverses the three worlds of earth, atmosphere, and heaven, and that in heaven she is the ākāśagaṅgā, or Milky Way. If we start the story there,124 we shall see three main points where Wulff’s account is misleading. First, Gaṅgā makes no entrance into a drafty divine hall. Her story begins not at a “gathering” in “one of the divine palaces” but at night in outer space. “At some time,”125 while Brahmā was receiving homage from the gods with Gaṅgā among them, Gaṅgā’s garment, as radiant as the moon, was raised by the wind (or by the wind god Vāyu).126 The poets introduce the luminous celestial Gaṅgā, her robe the Milky Way,

121. Wulff 2014, 217. 122. The only mention, near the beginning, says that he “satisfied Devendra by a thousand horse sacrifices and a hundred Vājapeyas, and so attained heaven” (Mbh 1.91.2). Otherwise, Indra’s name occurs only in epithets for the story’s chief listener Janamejaya (Mbh 1.93.16–​17). 123. sā devī gaṅgā tripathagā nadī; Mbh 1.92.39. 124. As I do in two studies: Hiltebeitel 2011b, 367–​86; and 2011a, 345–​54. On the story as the Mahābhiṣā-​Upākhyāna, see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 143, 155–​56. 125. tataḥ kadācit; of the Mahābhārata’s twenty-​seven usages of this line opener, eight occur within Bhīṣma’s narration. 126. Mbh 1.91.4: tasyā vāsaḥ samudbhūtam māruteṇa śaśiprabham.

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against the background of the night sky where there are not only rivers of stars but mighty winds.127 When her garment lifts, “The host of gods then lowered their faces. But the Rājarṣi Mahābhiṣa looked at the river fearlessly. Mahābhiṣa was disdained by lord Brahmā,128 who said, ‘Born among mortals, you shall again gain the worlds’ ”129 Only Brahmā takes offense at Mahābhiṣa’s “fearlessness” or “audacity.” Gaṅgā’s appearance locates the story’s early action in the all-​encompassing heavens of Brahmaloka rather than in the lower Indraloka, although neither is mentioned. The night sky isalso where Ṛṣis, royal ones (Rājarṣis) and otherwise, are stars as well—​notably including Vasiṣṭha, who is one of the Seven Ṛṣis, the stars of the Big Dipper.130 The text uses a kind of “twilight language” to describe what happens next. Proceeding along on her path, Gaṅgā then saw the celestial Vasu gods, their energy smitten with dejection, their figures bedimmed. Having seen those forms, she asked, “Why are your forms lost? Is there tranquility among celestials?” The Vasu gods said to her, “O great river, we were vehemently cursed by the great-​souled Vasiṣṭha for a small fault. Foolishly, indeed, we all formerly came too close to Vasiṣṭha, that best of Ṛṣis, when he was seated concealed at twilight,” presumably, at dawn.131 When Gaṅgā resumes this story to Śaṃtanu as she is about to leave him, she tells him that the Vasus robbed Vasiṣṭha of his cow where he did tapas on a flank of Mount Meru,132 the cosmic mountain around which all celestial bodies revolve, with the Seven Ṛṣis high above most others and not far below the Pole Star

127. According to the story of the birth of Vyāsa’s son Śuka, the celestial Gaṅgā is associated with the Parivaha wind, the sixth of seven winds. When it is “agitated,” heavenly waters carry through the sky; it abides, having diffused the propitious water of the celestial Gaṅgā” (Mbh 12.315.46). This would seem to imply the diffusion of the celestial Gaṅgā or Milky Way, by this wind, which has also to do with the obscuring of the sun and the rising of the moon (47–​48). 128.  “Disdained” (apadhyāta). If we look back from a Purāṇic perspective, there is an emerging irony here, since in Purāṇic myth, Brahmā is often the prurient one disdained or punished for his gaze (see e.g., Dimmitt and van Buitenen 1978, 34–​35, 171; Hiltebeitel 1999c, 68–​76. 129. Mbh 1.91.5–​6. 130. Mitchiner 1982, 171–​81, 249–​78. 131. Mbh 1.91.9–​12: it is on her path (pathi) that Gaṅgā sees the Vasus’s figures bedimmed (vidhvastavapuṣaḥ), and seeing their forms (rūpān), asks them, and is answered, that they formerly came too close (atyabhisṛtāḥ purā) to Vasiṣṭha when he was seated concealed (prachannam) at twilight (saṃdhyā). 132. Meroḥ pārśve; Mbh 1.93.6–​7.

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(Dhruva, which is directly above Meru). Mahābhiṣa’s fall from heaven will thus coincide with Vasiṣṭha’s curse of Dyaus (whose name means “sky” or “heaven”) and the other celestial Vasus. A second point on which Wulff is misleading concerns the gods’ forcing Mahābhiṣa’s fall as his punishment. This is an overgeneralization. As we have just seen, only Brahmā curses Mahābhiṣa. We have anticipated that there is an interpolation by S involving Gaṅgā now. The S passage (1.911*) has Brahmā also curse her to a doubled punishment: she will join Mahābhiṣa in the world of men and do displeasing things until he becomes angry. But the PCE shows this to be a tidy but unfortunate and prudish addition, since as one immediately sees, Gaṅgā’s descent in human form is voluntary, sympathetic, and amorous: “The river, best of streams, having seen the king fallen from his firmness, went away musing about him in her heart.”133 Śaṃtanu’s years with this divinely beautiful woman are hardly just a sugarcoated punishment. And as the text makes clear, even though Brahmā’s curse is instrumental, it is really Mahābhiṣa’s karma between lives that determines his course and options. In a manner that is not without parallel in other epic upākhyānas or “side-​ stories,” of which the Mahābhiṣa-​Upākhyāna is the epic’s third, his karmic course leaves him able to choose Pratīpa as his next father “among all the kings and ascetics,”134 and it permits him to remember “the imperishable worlds he had conquered with his own acts” and to become “a man of good deeds.”135 Keeping in mind Wulff’s hypothesis, the karmic thread is significant because it shows how the Mahābhārata poets could have used the karmic process to round off their own points about scenes that in the Greek epic tradition have to do with hubris. Mahābhiṣa’s effrontery, if that is what it is, is not simply the impiety of a mortal; he is already in heaven, and thus it cannot quite be the hubris of a mere mortal. It is shaped by his desire, which strikes a like response in the Goddess as she elects to become his wife.136 It is her desire, however, that is decisive. 133. Mbh 1.91.8. 134. Mbh 1.91.7. 135. “Since he was born the issue of a serene man he was called Śaṃtanu; and remembering the imperishable worlds he had conquered with his own acts (saṃsmaraṃś cākṣayāṃl lokān vijitān svena karmaṇā), Śaṃtanu, O best of Kurus, became a man of good deeds (puṇyakarmaskṛt)” (Mbh 92.18c–​19). 136.  As mentioned, other upākhyānas portray similar stretching of the karmic process. Remembering one’s past life is a positive capacity of the good butcher in the Pativratā-​ Upākhyāna (Mbh 3.206.5), as is being able to guide one’s fall from heaven toward good

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Here is an interlude for a first Freudian interpretation, at least if we go by Ilse Barende’s construction of what Freud made of Leonardo da Vinci and his mother Caterina in her work, Le maternel singulier. According to Barende, Leonardo and Caterina are presented by Freud as having a mutual desire and mother–​son seduction in Leonardo’s infancy, which Freud in effect disowns for himself and his mother Amalia, even though it lies behind and is the point of his construction on Leonardo’s seduction, which Freud makes Leonardo pay for by sanctions.137 We now find some similar constructions in this story about the goddess Gaṅgā, whose desire is decisive in bringing about her union with Śaṃtanu, who to be sure is not her son but, rather, a reincarnation of Mahābhiṣa who takes birth in a process in which she comes to be complicit. Let us recall some features of the account we have already met. When Gaṅgā’s garment, radiant as the moon, was raised by the wind, the host of gods lowered their faces but the Rājarṣi Mahābhiṣa looked at the river fearlessly. We can now say what it is that distinguishes Mahābhiṣa’s response from that of all the gods. Whereas the well-​behaved gods uniformly give Gaṅgā, a Goddess, the respect due to her as a mother, which would be due to any lady of equal or higher standing but which we can guess is reinforced by their recognition of her as Matā Gaṅgā (Mother Gaṅgā), Mahābhiṣa still betrays his royal Kṣatriya disposition to face ahead fearlessly as if he were in battle. Small wonder that Gaṅgā leaves the scene bemused, and being a goddess, the desire in her heart easily defers its fulfillment for one human generation until Pratīpa can sire Mahābhiṣa reborn as Śaṃtanu. Her desire, moreover, is there to fulfill Mahābhiṣa-​Śaṃtanu’s, which makes it through the process of reincarnation. In the Indian context of belief in metempsychosis, that makes Mahābhiṣa-​Śaṃtanu’s matching desire intrauterine and pre-​Oedipal. Yet her being beholden above all to the gods remains her guiding purpose throughout, as she tells Śaṃtanu in no uncertain terms at the story’s end when she is about to leave him, while revealing who she really is. As we have seen, she is “Gaṅgā, cherished by the hosts of great seers. It was to accomplish a purpose of the gods that

relatives in the Uttara-​Yāyāta (Mbh 1.83.1–​10), the karma-​featuring sequel to the Yayāti-​ Upākhyāna. Specifically, being able to select one’s father, however, seems to recall only the Buddha (and recalling one’s mothers, the dreams of the virile Tantric hero; see ­chapter 1, this volume, notes 53–​57). 137. See FI, ch. 2, notes 57–​91.

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I lived with you.” As she continues, she clarifies her divine purpose with a crushing finality, and no more than a fond farewell: They were the eight Vasus of great fortune and might, these sons who had become mortals by a curse of Vasiṣṭha. There is no begetter like you on earth. And no human nurse can be found in this world like me, hence I became human to be their mother.138 By fathering the Vasus you have won imperishable worlds. Such was the covenant of the divine Vasus that they concluded with me; I was to deliver each from his human birth as soon as he was born. Thus they were freed of the curse of the great-​spirited Āpava [Vasiṣṭha.]. Let all be well with you—​I must go. Protect your son who shall be great in his vows. My temporary sojourn here was in the midst of the Vasus. Know that this son is my issue, Gangādatta, Gift of the Ganges.139 What Wulff says about sanctions against mixing the divine and human domains certainly pertains to this Indian story as well, but there is no show of hubris. The sanctions that fall upon Śaṃtanu for his fearless gaze are now as clear to us as they are to him: his seven sons were drowned before his eyes by their mother, his loving wife; now she abandons him; and he faces the loneliness of raising Bhīṣma without her. But ultimately the sanctions fall most tellingly on Bhīṣma, whose great vows to renounce kingship and to be a lifelong celibate she foretells, and who from birth will be without the breast of his mother—​that “nurse like no human woman” who did not suckle the other seven baby Vasus before she snuffed their lives out, either.

Karma and Hubris, and Strings Through Some A̅diparvan Side-​Tales Wulff’s third misleading point takes us still further into this story, for with it come some oddities that follow from Mahābhiṣa’s ability to choose his own father. Having scanned his options among “all the kings and ascetics,” he elects for another royal life and chooses King Pratīpa of the lunar dynasty. 138. She thus says they were well-​matched. While he was unique as a “begetter” (janayitā), she became the Vasus’ human mother (jananī) because “no human nurse can be found in this world like me (madvidhā mānuṣī dhātrī na caivāstīha kā cana).” 139. Mbh 1.92.49–​55, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 220, slightly modified.

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Yet the very first thing the story tells us about Mahābhiṣa is that he was “a lord of the earth who sprang from the dynasty of Ikṣvāku.”140 That is, although Mahābhiṣa comes from the solar dynasty, he is now transferring to the lunar one. Wulff leaves this incongruity unspoken for when he says that “the unfolding of events in relation to his life and dynasty attest to” Mahābhiṣa’s punishment. He must mean the lunar dynasty, with all the troubles that will befall Bhīṣma in it. But what is the point of this quite exceptional transfer? Having gotten only partial explanations,141 I believe a fuller, more satisfying one now offers itself. Mahābhiṣa’s and Gaṅgā’s complementary desires will bring the blessings of Gaṅgā from Ayodhyā, capital of the solar dynasty, whose kings, including Rāma, she has favored since her famous world-​altering “descent of the Ganges.” That great event takes us back to the reign of the Ikṣvāku king Bhāgīratha, who induced her descent. She will now extend (or possibly even transfer) those blessings to the lunar dynasty, whose capital at Hāstinapura she also flows by, far upriver from Ayodhyā. Thus she can appear to both Devāpi and Śaṃtanu on outings they take along her riverbanks. This momentous shift in her attentions, which the Goddess herself reflects on when she tells Devāpi, even before Mahābhiṣa is reborn as Śaṃtanu, that she will henceforth “love the famous Bhārata lineage” whose qualities she could not speak “in even a hundred years,”142 again shows the poets at work crafting their larger story in accord with its overall divine plan—​this time, in terms of geography and probably also chronology, since Gaṅgā’s new loyalties will extend into the Kali-​yuga and the “history” (itihāsa) that its future will include.143 It will now start to repay us to keep attentive to strings that run back and forth between the Mahābhiṣa-​Upākhyāna and other upākhyānas of the Mahābhārata’s first book, the Ādiparvan. In directing attention to this new dynastic location west of and upriver from Ayodhyā, this third upākhyāna is much like the sixth, the Tāpatī-​Upākhyāna, which, with its sequel, the Vasiṣṭha-​Upākhyāna, tells how Vasiṣṭha himself, who had long served the

140. Mbh 1.91.1ab: ikṣvākuvaṃśaprabhavo rājāsīt pṛthivīpatiḥ. 141.  Brodbeck 2011 says the shift is interior to the lunar dynasty itself, but does not show how this supposed shift affects the still prevailing notion that the dynasty remains lunar; see Hiltebeitel 2016a, 103n4. 142. Mbh 1.92.12–​13. 143. On Gaṅgā’s descent in this story marking the advent of itihāsa or “history,” see Mbh 1.93.46; Hiltebeitel 2011b, 76–​77.

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solar line (including Rāma and his father Daśaratha) as its purohita (dynastic “chaplain”), took time out from those ministrations to serve the lunar line during the reign of King Saṃvaraṇa. As a result (and perhaps because he had served the solar line), Vasiṣṭha is able to help Saṃvaraṇa marry Tapatī, the Sun god’s divine daughter, who will become the mother of King Kuru. Saṃvaraṇa had gone looking for Tapatī after she had dazzled him of her own accord, but his horse died on a mountain slope. He was fortunate, however, to have Vasiṣṭha along with him as his purohita, for Vasiṣṭha proceeded to ascend from there to the Sun to negotiate the union with Tapatī on Saṃvaraṇa’s behalf. Sometime soon after his leave of absence among the Kurus, Vasiṣṭha had some terrible troubles brought on by the cannibal Ikṣvāku king Kalmāṣapāda, who devoured Vasiṣṭha’s hundred sons. Vasiṣṭha jumped in despair from Mount Meru,144 reminding us that he would “later” be there when the Vasus came too close to him in the Mahābhiṣa Upākhyāna, and also that he could ascend to the sun in the Tapatī-​Upākhyāna. But he soon comes back east to Ayodhyā,145 agreeing to join in a levirate (niyoga) union there with Kalmāṣapāda’s chief wife so that Kalmāṣapāda’s line could continue.146 Similar geographic “reality effects” in the vicinity of Mount Meru thus link these two interludes connecting the solar and lunar dynasties, and they in turn have their repercussions in the main story. But most important is the light that the Tapatī story shines on Gaṅgā’s marriage to Mahābhiṣa-​Śaṃtanu, with which the Mahābhārata poets begin their “history.” Although nothing is told of Tapatī as a wife or mother, since one learns only of her fantastic betrothal, her divine–​human marriage precedes and anticipates Gaṅgā’s with Śaṃtanu even though its narration comes after it. If Wulff is right, however, Gaṅgā union with Śaṃtanu is explicable in the Mahābhārata precisely through the combination of elements brought together in Mahābhiṣā’s name, not only from the Judgment of Paris but also from the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. That is, the Mahābhārata

144. Mbh 1.166.41. 145. After jumping off Mount Meru, Vasiṣṭha made four more suicide attempts, the last two of which resulted in his naming two rivers of the Punjab, the Vipāśā (Beas) and the Śatadru (Sutlej) (Mbh 1.167.6–​9). See Danino 2010, 62, 263, on the Vasiṣṭha story about these two rivers. 146. Kalmāṣapāda is mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa’s solar line genealogies, but Potana, the son born of Vasiṣṭha’s levirate union, is not.

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poets, with what we would have to call a remarkable poetic economy, would have worked elements from two of the three principal instances of Greek hubris that arise from the overfamiliarity of gods with humans, and the only two that are sexually charged, to tell a story in which that familiarity is somewhat less problematic and can result from the effects of karma and a man and a goddess’s mutual (though certainly problematic) desire. Wulff has his own account of the Indian epic’s rearticulation of hubris, which he traces through “realities at play, as much in the human sphere as in the divine and their interactions,” which “are more complicated,”147 mentioning the theme of “reincarnation” among five such Indian realities, though not exemplifying it, and explaining it as least among the five. The other four are:  (1) threats against the divine order by Asuras who go beyond the Greek Titans in being a perennial menace, and who fight in the war incarnated among the world’s demonic kings;148 (2) the “questioning of Indra’s hegemonic power” by Viṣṇu and Śiva, and the “destabilizing capacities of Brahmā”; (3) “the role of the grand ṛṣis” who “represent . . . Brahmanic and ascetic components” in the supernatural world and “also appear to impinge on his [Indra’s] hegemonic power and almost appear to ‘kṣatriyasize’ traditional gods such as Indra himself”; and (4) “the affirmation of the raw power of Brahmanic strength” projected over both the human and supernatural worlds, where it can “overwhelm the Kṣatriyas and the gods of Indra’s ilk.”149 One sees the pivotal role of Indra in all these additional complications, just as we would have no difficulty in mentioning him in the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna, which Wulff mentions as illustrative of something like hubris itself: We also know that none of this eliminates the differences between human and supernatural beings, nor the exigencies of the appropriate conduct with respect to said differences:  instead it only multiplies the hierarchical elements at play and the conditions pertaining to the sins, so to speak, of hubris, as manifested by Indra’s sins against Śiva in the story of the five Indras, or against specific ṛṣis for his licentious sexual advances against their wives.150

147. Wulff 2014, 439. 148.  On the part of the Asuras going beyond the Iliad’s Plan of Zeus, see c­ hapter  6, this volume. 149. Wulff 2014, 439. 150. Wulff 2014, 439–​40.

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Reincarnation, however—​alone among these complications—​can temporarily undercut human/​divine distinctions, as we have seen in the case of King Mahābhiṣa in heaven and in his union, while it lasts, with Gaṅgā. If the Judgment of Paris and the marriage of Peleus and Thetis find echoes in the story of Gaṅgā and Mahābhiṣa, it is striking that Gaṅgā is the only goddess mentioned in that story. Unlike both Paris and Peleus, Mahābhiṣa marries the goddess he had gazed at. Yet he did not, as would befit the Judgment of Paris, gaze at the proverbially beautiful Śrī (as counterpart to Aphrodite) or ignore the beauty of two other goddesses. Nonetheless, we can now say that Gaṅgā has stakes in the Mahābhārata war. But Gaṅgā’s stakes differ from those of other goddesses, since hers are active, personal, and center on specific North Indian dynasties. She is nonetheless in consensus with the divine plan,151 and although she succors Bhīṣma and eventually weeps at his death, she never intervenes to favor him or his Kaurava side, as Thetis does for Achilles.

Umā and the Judgment of Paris What we have not yet found are ways that Umā, a counterpart to Hera, joins that divine consensus as the wife of Śiva. Generally, and in contrast to Hera, Umā’s stakes in the Mahābhārata war are represented only indirectly and in cameo roles that portray her acting little on her own and only in concert with her husband. Yet Umā’s favor is all the more intriguing. I look to Biardeau’s astute formulation of Umā’s turning of Śiva toward the world. Ending a discussion of rapports between Viṣṇu and Śiva as yogins and in the sacrifice,152 Biardeau remarks that the attributes Śiva holds in his hands—​trident, fire, antelope, skull, axe, and noose—​evoke Rudra Paśupati (“master of sacrificial victims”) in the “deer hunter” or mṛga-​vyādha myth of Aitareya Brāhmaṇa 3.33–​34, and also, later in Purāṇic texts, Śiva as the hunter-​foe of Brahmā. To this she adds a footnote: “One must make a detour to understand his association with the Goddess, who is included neither in his sacrificial function nor in his nature as a yogin: is she not all the more necessary if Śiva as a god of bhakti must also be turned toward the world?”153 Biardeau soon made this “detour,” taking as her 151.  As Wulff observes, the Mbh’s divine plan involves the gods’ consensus or unanimity (2014, 440), unlike the Iliad’s. 152. Biardeau 1976, 89–​106. 153. Biardeau 1976, 106n1.

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Ariadne’s thread Umā’s appearance alongside Śiva, each disguised as a Kirāta (“tribal” mountaineer-​hunter), when Śiva and Arjuna tussle over a boar that each has shot simultaneously. Her name “Umā” could by itself indicate the god’s benevolent dispositions towards Arjuna. When, after the combat, Mahādeva shows himself to the prince in his divine form, the Goddess is still there at his side (3.39.72; 40.55). She doesn’t intervene, she has no part in the combat, but her presence beside Śiva cannot be gratuitous, any more than the huntress costume in which she appears. If the kirāta is a certain echo of the mṛga-​vyādha of the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa, one cannot forget that the hunt takes on a new meaning in a bhakti context, involving the transformation of war into the sacrifice of the warrior. War and the hunt are essentially royal occupations.154 I assume that Biardeau has in mind here a maternal meaning of the name “Umā.”155 Biardeau goes on to mention two Mahābhārata passages that justify hunting in the name of sacrifice.156 Both recall that the Ṛṣi Agastya once consecrated all forest animals to all the divinities, thereby converting them from wild animals (mṛga) into paśu—​animals fit for sacrifice. Paśu means “cattle,” but denotes the five male domesticated animals typically suitable for sacrifice:  the human or divine male, the stallion, bull, ram, and he-​goat. Agastya could thereby justify the founding act of the hunt-​as-​sacrifice by inserting it into the “normal” sacrificial ritual. On these grounds, Biardeau concludes, “Thus the kirāta symbolizes the warrior god while the goddess as huntress who parallels him is the evocation of the goddess of combats. Her appearance here announces the hymn to Durgā pronounced by Yudhiṣṭhira at 4.6, at the moment of entering the year incognito, and the one that Arjuna . . . proffers, at Kṛṣṇa’s behest, just before the Gītā at

154. Biardeau 1978, 158 (1994, 214), my translation. 155. That is a standard etymology. 156. The first is spoken by Pāṇḍu (Vulgate 1.118.14; ce 109.14); the second by Bhīṣma (Vulgate 13.116.15b–​19a; ce 117.16–​19).

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6.23.”157 Biardeau was intent on finding not only an epic Durgā in these interpolations but also a prefiguration of her in this passage. I would say that in insisting on the epic reality of these interpolations, Biardeau lost track here of the sounder point with which she began her detour: that the Goddess’s “name ‘Umā’ could by itself indicate the god’s benevolent dispositions towards Arjuna.” That is how Draupadī cult terukkūttu dramas understand Umā’s guise as a huntress (Vēṭacci) along with Śiva the hunter (Vēṭaṉ): she has come along with Śiva to tell him to go easy on his devotee Arjuna when they come to blows and wrestle.158 As she turns Śiva’s face to the world, she favors Arjuna and the Pāṇḍavas just as Hera favors the Achaeans. Umā also makes one other cameo contribution to the outcome of the Mahābhārata war that must be taken to favor the Pāṇḍavas, although in this case, she seems at first glance to favor Duryodhana. Umā and Śiva had made Duryodhana “divine” at his birth with an “upper body fashioned from piles of diamonds, impenetrable to arrows and swords” and “a lower body . . . made by the goddess out of flowers” that “is seductive to women for its beauty.”159 Ostensibly, this favor does not commit the Goddess to either side, any more than her joint appearance with Śiva during Arjuna’s tapas commits her to Arjuna’s. Unlike the Greek goddesses, Umā’s favor in both instances results primarily from nothing more than her benevolence, and as is typical of Indian divinities, she shows her favor by gestures that appear to begin impartially. Yet Umā’s part with Duryodhana is to make him vulnerable in his thigh, where he will suffer the blow from Bhīma’s mace that kills him, having bared his thigh as an intolerable seductive insult to Draupadī during her humiliation at the dice match.

157. Biardeau 1978, 159 (1994, 214–​15). From the beginning of her Mbh research, Biardeau opposed the PCE (see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 16–​19; 2011d, 88–​91), which had sound reasons for appendicizing these two Durgāstavas; see Vira 1936, 300–​304, on Yudhiṣṭhira’s (App. 1, No. 4, in six versions including the Vulgate’s, which follows 4.5, all in Devanāgarī except for one “ins.” [insert] of the Vulgate version into a Telugu ms.); Belvalkar 1949, 710–​11, on Arjuna’s (App. 1, No. 1, following 6.22.16), found only in N mss. (two K, one B, and three D mss.). Biardeau 1977, 1981, and 2002, 1:220, are attempts to rescue a Mbh Durgā from ethnographic angles; critically, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 376, 380–​81. 158. This is mentioned in my voiceover of the scene in Hiltebeitel 1988a, part 1, but not in the description of it in 1988b, 285–​86. 159. Mbh 3.240.6–​8, trans. van Buitenen 1975, 692. The demons (Dānavas) tell this story to Duryodhana to dissuade him from suicide after a failed attack on the Pāṇḍavas; see further chapter 6, nn. 206–7.

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This, however, is not all that could be said of Umā-​Pārvatī. But before we get to back her, it will be fitting to examine the aforementioned Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna. This is a side-​tale that Moriz Winternitz dubbed “silliness” offered up “by a very unskillful hand” and “certainly” later than the fine old poetry that depicts Draupadī’s svayaṃvara or “self-​choice” marriage, to which it is a sequel. In this connection, he cites a faddishly popular line among late nineteenth-​century scholars in which Yudhiṣṭhira is erroneously thought to attribute Draupadī’s polyandry to an “ancient family custom” of the Himalayan-​born Pāṇḍavas.160 Van Buitenen would then mention the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna among the Ādiparvan’s steady diet of “inept mythification.”161 This side-​story is told by Vyāsa just after Draupadī’s svayaṃvara to justify the Pāṇḍavas’ decision to marry Draupadī jointly. It discloses how the five brothers were born as “portions” (aṃśas) of five former Indras, and that Draupadī is none other than an incarnation of Śrī. Over the years I have proposed two different readings and will now propose a third. Each draws on different kinds of “parallels” and zeroes in on different deities and portions of this upākhyāna. I  will outline briefly the first two such readings, and then go into the third in some depth. Vyāsa’s complicated story about the five former Indras will be important in ­chapter 6, but this will be my only discussion of it in full. My first approach to it, published in 1976, begins from Indo-​European, and especially Indo-​Irish, parallels and zeroes in on the goddess Śrī, whom Draupadī incarnates, and on the central portion of the upākhyāna. The second, published in 2001, begins from parallels with to some extent “outlawish” Vrātya practices found in Vedic Brāhmaṇa texts that highlight Vrātya bands of down-​and-​out sattra ritualists who engage in sworn upriver treks into high places, and zeroes in on Yama, whom Yudhiṣṭhira incarnates, and on the initial portion of the upākhyāna, and then on its ending that involves Viṣṇu and Kṛṣṇa. The third approach begins from Greek parallels, and zeroes in on the main drama of the myth involving our current Indra and Śiva. The first approach, in my first book The Ritual of Battle, concerned parallels between Śrī as a goddess of sovereignty and the Irish goddess Flaith Erenn, “the Sovereignty of Ireland.” Śrī’s tears-​ turned-​ to-​ lotus-​ flowers floating down the Gaṅgā had led the fifth Indra upriver to find 160. Winternitz 1897, 738, 756, 758; on the ancient family custom and the line supposedly supporting it, see Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013, 8–​11. 161. Van Buitenen 1973, xx–​xxi.

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the weeping woman at the river’s source. In all these accounts, one male from among a set of males has a brush with “Sovereignty,” whom he does not recognize, at some watery source,162 which results in her dropping her guise (in the Irish stories she is a hag until he alone kisses her; in the Mahābhārata, one must wait for the “low-​fortuned” Śrī163 to be reborn as Draupadī and marry Arjuna, who will incarnate this fifth Indra). He thereby obtains kingship, which the others will share only through him. I spoke of a “svayaṃvara mythologem” in which the goddess “chooses,” as Draupadī will, from among her suitors. But built into these narratives is the notion that such goddesses are fickle and inevitably leave one man or Indra for another in the course of time. Śrī thus matches up somewhat loosely with her Irish counterpart. But it is in any case she whom Indra finds at the source of the Ganges, and not Indrāṇī. Dumézil had argued that Śrī was a “retouch” of an original Indrāṇī in some putatively older state of the myth. He based his view on what turns out to be just an interpolation (he did not appreciate the gains made by the PCE).164 The second approach, in my 2001 book, Rethinking the Mahābhārata, begins at the beginning of the Pañcendra Upākhyāna.165 Some gods sat at a joint sacrificial sattra. While detained as a participant, Yama, god of death, stops killing creatures. Some of the gods grow anxious about the proliferation of humans and appeal to Brahmā that there is no longer a distinction between mortals and immortals. Brahmā says not to worry; when Yama has finished, he will have power over men. The reassured gods then go on with their sattra sacrifice until Indra sees the golden lotuses floating down the Gaṅgā. These he traces upriver to the tears of Śrī, who is weeping at the river’s source over the fall of four former Indras. Drupada now hears that the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī are the five Indras and Śrī, ordained by Śiva to become mortals and marry. Only by “unbearable” and lethal karma will they be able to regain the world of Indra.166

162.  Following van Buitenen 1973, 370–​ 75, he meets her “where the Ganges springs sempiternallly” (yatra gaṅgā satataṃ saṃprasūtā; Mbh 1.189.10d); see Hiltebeitel [1976] 1990, 143–​91, on “Śrī and the Source of Sovereignty.” 163. Śrī as a “weeping woman” and in a state of “low fortune” (mandabhāgya; 13b) would not be recognizable as her radiant self. 164. See Hiltebeitel [1976] 1990, 168–​69, 174; Dumézil 1968, 111–​13, 121–​22. 165. See Hiltebeitel 2001a, 119–​20, 135–​36. 166. Mbh 1.189.1–​26.

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As I  saw in 2001, this upākhyāna and the main story thus tie together: Yama will not be alone in bringing death to the human world. The conclusion of the gods’ rite will take place in the Mahābhārata war, which will be fought for the sovereignty of Yudhiṣṭhira who, like Yama, is called Dharmarāja. It is widely recognized in Indian traditions, and in evidence as well in the Mahābhārata itself, that Yama is really Yudhiṣṭhira’s father Dharma—​Death, as it were, warmed over as Justice.167 Vyasa goes on to complete this window into the divine plan by accounting for the births of Baladeva (Balarāma) and Kṛṣṇa, and gives Drupada the “divine eye” to see the truth of it all.168 He then reinforces Śiva’s part in what is ordained for Draupadī by retelling to Drupada the story of his daughter’s previous birth and Śiva’s boon that she will have five husbands, by which Vyāsa had earlier put the polyandry idea into Yudhiṣṭhira’s head.169 The Mahābhārata’s divine plan has certainly advanced and become clearer, if also more complicated. Gaṅgā keeps a residual role; the tears of Śrī descend from the source of her earthly waters, to be traced back to Śrī by Indra after the sattra of Yama has finished. Once Śiva ordains the births of the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī, the gods then go to Viṣṇu, who confirms all of Śiva’s arrangements. Then, plucking a white hair and a black hair from his head, Viṣṇu ordains his own incarnations as Baladeva and Kṛṣṇa.170 Unlike the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī who are ordained by Śiva to lives of lethal karma, Baladeva and Kṛṣṇa are ordained by Viṣṇu to in a certain manner direct and contain their violence—​as Kṛṣṇa has just done at Draupadī’s svayaṃvara by saying it was done in accord with his very first word in the epic, dharma. My third foray into the Pañcendra-​upākhyāna follows up on Wulff’s book as a thought experiment. For, I continue to ask, what if he is right? There should then be further ramifications of the Greek archive being drawn upon by the Indian poets than even he has found. My experiment focuses especially on an unnamed young woman in the Pancendra-​ upākhyāna, who looks to me like she is Umā-​Pārvatī, Śiva’s wife. Just after Indra fails to recognize Śrī, he also fails to recognize Śiva, irks him by

167.  On Yama and Dharma, see Hiltebeitel 2001a, 138n22, with bibliography, to which Fitzgerald 1998 should be added. 168. Mbh 1.189.35–​36. 169. Mbh 1.157.616; Vyāsa thus tells this story twice. 170. Mbh 1.189.31.

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his insolence, and is then ordered to a cave where the four former Indras are being detained. Like the Mahābhiṣā-​Upākhyāna especially, this side-​ tale is worth a closer look for recurring threads between them. Here is what happens as Don Handelman and David Shulman tell it, offering an interpretation from which mine will differ. Beginning with van Buitenen’s translation of a key verse, Śiva is: “a handsome youth, on a lion throne seated, young women about him, playing at dice on a Himālayan peak.”171 Śiva seems engrossed in the game, perhaps playing against himself. So, long as Śiva is absorbed in the game, he does not (and, we would say, cannot) tell Indra his future, although this preview is the foretelling of the Mahābhārata narrative. Only on leaving the game does Śiva show Indra five replicas of himself within the mountain peak. These Indras will be reborn as the five Pāṇḍava brothers, who will set forth on the lifelines of the Mahābhārata. The revelation—​a reflection of the god’s omniscience—​emerges only after the god stops playing. Inside and outside the game, Śiva thus embodies profoundly different moments of the cosmic process.172 Let us note that when Śiva foretells that the five Indras will become the Pāṇḍavas, that prediction is made first as a curse173 and not as an exhibition of his omniscience. Although it seems to be true formally that, “Inside and outside the game, Śiva . . . embodies profoundly different moments of the cosmic process,” as the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna tells it, the game, its interruption, and the curse are continuous moments. But more crucially, I  am rather doubtful that Śiva could be “playing against himself.” Nor is it likely that there are several young women about him. One might better translate it this way:  “a handsome youth  .  .  .  together with a young woman (yuvatīsahāyam), playing at dice on a Himālayan peak.”174 Yuvatī (“young woman”) is singular.175 In other words,

171. Mbh 1.189.14b–​d, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 171. 172. Handelman and Shulman 1997, 75. 173. abhiṣaṅgāt; Mbh 1.189.22. 174. Mbh 1.189.14b–​d, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 371. 175. Thus, Ganguli’s translation: “a handsome youth with a young lady seated on a throne placed on one of the peaks of Himavat and playing at dice” ([1884–​96] 1970), 1:417.

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one might think that Śiva is playing dice with an unnamed Pārvatī, as that is something they do quite famously in many later myths in which the stakes are typically their clothes and ornaments.176 Pārvatī could be one of a number of “young women about him.” But she is probably the single unnamed young woman said to be “together with him.” The confrontation, moreover, is full of innuendo. Indra’s first words upon seeing the “handsome youth together with a young woman, playing dice” are: “I am king of the Gods and all the world is under my sway! I am the Lord.”177 So saying, he interrupts Śiva, who even by a tame translation is “exceedingly excited by the dicing”; one could also render it “exceedingly intoxicated by the dicing” or even “exceedingly lascivious with dicing.”178 I continue with van Buitenen’s translation, except at three points (see notes) where he bypasses the text’s ongoing sexual insinuations: The God looked up at the angry Śakra and laughed at Indra and gently watched him. And under his gaze the king of the Gods grew stiff in his body and stood like a pillar.179 When he [Śiva] was then content with the game,180 he said to the weeping Goddess,181 “Now bring him a little closer to me; we shall see that his pride (darpaḥ) will no longer seize him. And Śakra, no sooner than touched by the woman, felt his limbs go limp and he fell on the ground. Said the blessed Lord of awesome splendor, “Now never, Śakra, do this again!”182

176. See Handelman and Shulman 1997, 17–​30, 74–​93 156–​57, 160–​83. 177. Mbh 1.189.15a–​c, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 371. 178.  Akṣaiḥ subhṛśam pramattam (15d); Monier-​Williams [1899] 1964, 685, gives “excited,” “wanton,” “lascivious,” “rutting,” “drunken,” “intoxicated,” “mad,” and “inattentive” as the first meanings of pramatta; van Buitenen, with “absorbed in the game” (1973, 371), omits to translate subhṛśam, “exceedingly.” 179. sthāṇur iva; van Buitenen has “like a tree trunk” (1973, 373); sthāṇu in the epic is already a name for Śiva that means “pillar” or “post,” and probably denotes his liṅgam. It could thus mean “like a pillar of Śiva,” “like Śiva,” or “like Śiva’s liṅgam.” 180. Paryāptam . . . krīḍayā; van Buitenen translates as “had then become bored with the game”, which is certainly not implied. Pary-​āp means “be content with,” “make an end of.” 181. devīṃ rudatīṃ tām; van Buitenen has “the Goddess, who was still weeping” missing the implication that the text must differentiate “the weeping goddess” from the “young woman,” also a goddess. 182. Mbh 1.189.16–​18.

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Despite Indra’s limbs having gone limp, Śiva now mentions Indra’s strength and heroism and orders him to “roll away this great king of peaks,”183 which is further described as “the peak of a great mountain”;184 and “having rolled it away, enter its middle”185—​that is, Indra should enter the middle of the mountain after rolling away its peak. There Indra will find “others like you that are light as the Sun.”186 He rolled away the peak of the great mountain and saw four others of like splendor. Seeing them he became miserable:  “Am I  perchance to become like them?” Then the god, the Mountain lord said to the Thunderbolt-​wielder, angry, having widely rolled his eyes, “O god of a hundred sacrifices, enter that cave. For you have insulted me out of folly.”187 “Widely rolling” his eyes with the same verb188 as he had just used three times to order Indra to “roll away” the peak off the mountain reinforces that Śiva is just toying with Indra. It is significant that Śiva takes things “gently” with him.189 He seems to remain, from beginning to end, in the mood of the game. Here we come to a second interval for a Freudian interpretation—​one that structurally and to some degree thematically overlaps the first. For what is the cave revealed by this roll-​away in the “middle” of the great Himālayan mountain, where Indra must join the four former Indras? It is obviously a womb symbol of entombment from which all five can be reborn. Thus, the fifth Indra is ordered to “lie down”190 like the others, to await indefinitely the time when all five may each be reborn in a human womb. For the fifth Indra, the “misery” he felt when he asked if he must

183. Mbh 1.189.19a: “roll away (vivartaya) this great king of peaks” (mahādrirājam). 184. śikharaṃ mahāgires; Mbh 1.189.20a. 185. vivṛtya caivāviśa madhyam asya. 186. Mbh 1.189.19cd. 187. Mbh 1.189.20–​21. The Mountain lord (girīśa) tells Indra, “you have insulted me out of folly (bālyāt).” 188. The verb is vi-​vṛt. 189. Śanair; Mbh 1.189.16b. Wulff misunderstands Śiva here, saying “the wily and deceitful god decrees that she is to marry five” (2014, 149). 190. śedhvam; Mbh 1.189.24d.

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share the fate of the four others in a long gestation was that of facing more immediately an image of a burial alive and entombment in the Mountain-​ mother’s womb. Here we must remember who Umā is, for just as Śiva is named here as “the Mountain-​lord,” she is, by her name Pārvatī, “the Mountain-​woman.” The mountain with its cave would be her womb metonym, which Śiva orders the fifth Indra to expose by removing its peak to lie down within it. As we saw in c­ hapter 1, live burial epitomizes for Freud an uncanny pre-​Oedipal intimation—​one that he, too, lightens up with overtones of the “lascivious” in its being a return to the mother’s womb.191 This interval invites a more straightforward Freudian symbolic reading, with nothing of mutual seduction of which the bedraggled fifth Indra is now certainly incapable. But still, a pattern holds:  the five Indras must follow an intrauterine pre-​Oedipal course to reincarnate as the Pāṇḑavas. In each case, it will require the sanction of arduous and difficult lives as human beings, although the wombs that will ultimately give birth to them will be totally human ones—​those of Kuntī and Mādrī—​rather than that of a goddess, Gaṅgā, just pretending humanity. As in the Mahābhiṣa-​ Upākhyāna, the interpretation involving Umā as Śiva’s partner in the dice match presents an epic-​launching scene where a male king (an Indra) could have seen more of a superior goddess than was “good” for him. In each case, there is a more or less benevolent curse that launches an indispensable karmic facet of the epic’s divine plan. If, then, the scene describes Śiva playing dice with Umā, it would deepen the motivation for the curse, since the intrusion would irk Śiva by interrupting his absorption in their game. But if the “young woman” is Umā, why only allude to her without mentioning her by a name? It seems that part of any plausible answer must be that the myth of Śiva and Pārvatī’s dice play was known but was not developed here. And for that, there could be several good reasons. First, for this scene and for Draupadī’s father Drupada as its immediate audience, the sexual innuendo is simply enough for the cognoscenti. Why tell more if the immediate concerns are so different? Second, if the Mahābhārata relates Umā to its heroes typically through cameo appearances that exhibit her benevolence in turning Śiva’s

191.  Recall Freud’s remark, quoted in c­ hapter  1, this volume:  “To some people the idea of being buried alive by mistake is the most uncanny thing of all. And yet psycho-​analysis has taught us that this terrifying phantasy is only a transformation of another phantasy which originally had nothing terrifying about it at all by was qualified by a certain lasciviousness—​ the phantasy, I mean of intra-​uterine existence.”

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face to the world, there would be no need to mention her when Śiva himself is delivering a world-​favoring curse that will facilitate the divine plan. Third, if Pārvatī were to back Śiva’s curse of the five Indras for intruding on their dice match, it would bring into the open a latent parallel with Draupadī’s disrobing at the dice match, which may be too dire and traumatic a matter to foreshadow in a story meant to justify her wedding. Śiva’s curse is finally that the Pāṇḍavas’ lot will be to perform “intolerable karma” born from “speeding many others to their deaths.”192 That would still leave Śiva backing the Pāṇḍavas in the war to come while committing them to acts of great violence and destruction in it. If Umā is the yuvatī with Śiva, she too, as in the two scenes where her cameo accompaniment is explicit, would be favoring the Pāṇḍavas in the war along with Śiva, now even as the five of them and Draupadī are about to take birth. Yet this is not all we should see in this story. On one point, the Pañcendra-​ Upākhyāna is closer to the Judgment of Paris than the Mahābhiṣa-​ Upākhyāna. Indra’s flaw is more clearly hubristic than Mahābhiṣa’s. As we have seen, his insolence in boasting his own divine supremacy is the height of pride (darpa) and “folly” (bālya). What is remarkable is that the Indian epic makes this one of its most salient examples of hubris as impiety—​something said not by a human mortal to an immortal deity, but by a deity to a higher deity. Here we have a glimpse of one facet of the hierarchized polytheistic theological agenda that takes the Indian epic in different directions from the Greek. This theological agenda is operative in some other epic side-​stories, or upākhyānas, as well.193 Finally, one should also appreciate that although the upākhyāna of the five former Indras never mentions the goddess Earth, we can call it

192.  Van Buitenen 1973, 372, translates as:  “You shall all enter a human womb, having wrought great feats of violence (karma kṛtvāviṣahvyam) there and sped many others to their deaths, you shall go again to the world of Indra” (Mbh 1.189.25b–​26a). 193. This makes it a mistake to posit, as Wulff seems to do, that they represent different and, as I read him, perhaps later interests than those of the main story. See Wulff 2014, 440: “One of the most jarring aspects of the Mahāhārata is the contrast between this opening unanimity [of supernatural forces] and the whole series of secondary stories which fabulate the concept of Brahmanic-​ṛṣi superiority.” 440–​41:  “Without negating the possibility that a number of these stories were appended to the work after its original composition, their profusion and even integration into the very body of the work (e.g., in the story of Śaṃtanu and Gaṅgā or in the story of Satyavatī) obliges one to reflect upon internal reasons for such a contrast.” For a more nuanced study, see Wulff 2016. Other upākhyānas where Śiva or Viṣṇu hold the higher hand include the Ambā-​Upākhyāna (Mbh 5.170–​193); Dambhodbhava-​ Upākhyhāna (5.94), another approximating hubris as impiety; Viśva-​Upākhyāna (6.61–​64); Tripura-​upākhyāna (8.24); and Nārāyaṇīye Hayaśira-​Upākhyāna (12.335).

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Vyāsa’s first iteration of the Unburdening of the Earth myth, as I will do in ­chapter 6. We can now say that is what it has been about from beginning to end. Vyāsa leaves the Earth goddess out just as he omits the names of the two goddesses who do appear in it. He tailors the story to what befits the concerns of his immediate audience. We are thus left with something of a surprise. Of all the goddesses we might have expected to be active in the Mahābhārata’s divine plan based on their parallels with goddesses active in the Iliad, the only two who are active on their own are the two—​Umā and Gaṅgā—​who go beyond such one-​to-​one correspondences by bringing Indian surpluses to their Indo-​ Greek equations. In classical Indian mythology, these are the two wives of Śiva. How Śiva comes to have these two wives is, as noted, underdeveloped in the Mahābhārata. One of the earliest references to Umā is in the Kena Upaniṣad,194 which mentions her alone.195 The story, to begin with Doris Srinivasan’s unique discussion, opens with the declaration that Brahman gained a victory for the gods (deva). The gods became elated (implying “overconfident”) in the victory of Brahman because they thought “This victory is really ours.” It (that is brahman, neuter) understood this thought of theirs. Then it appeared before them. They did not understand It (tat neuter). “What is this Yakṣa (idaṃ yakṣam, neuter)?,” they asked.196 Or, as Olivelle translates this line, “What is this mysterious apparition?” The gods first ask Agni, and then Vāyu, to find out, but each returns thwarted and baffled. Indra goes next. When the apparition vanishes before Indra’s sight, “at that very point in the sky,197 he came across a woman of great beauty, Umā, the daughter of Himavat” and asked her about the mysterious apparition. “ ‘Brahman,’ she replied.  .  .  . Then Indra immediately realized that it was brahman. . . . That is why Indra surpasses the 194. See Macdonell [1898] 1974, 74: “Umā and Pārvatī, regular names of Śiva’s wife, seem first to occur in the TA [Taittirīya Āraṇyaka] and the Kena Upaniṣad.” 195. Nikhilananda (1949–​59, 1:243), in his translation, comments that Umā “is also known as Durgā” and “the inseparable consort of Śiva, or the absolute.” He speaks anachronistically; the story is just about her. 196.  Srinavasan 1997, 206. I  begin with her translation and commentary, which should be read in full and in context. She relates the iconography of the potbellied Yakṣa to the pūrṇakalaśa, or full vase. 197. etasminn evākāśe.

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other gods, for he both came into contact with it and was the first to recognize it as brahman.”198 The text is striking, perhaps amusing, for vaunting Indra while apparently forgetting that Umā realized that the yakṣa was Brahman before he did. Yet she also appeared exactly where the strange apparition disappeared. It seems to suggest that she replaces (or even was) the apparition or Yakṣa that was Brahman. The myth previews many of the major Mahābhārata themes we have been discussing, and may be regarded as a prototype for the Indian surplus we have been pursuing in epic ramifications. First, recalling how goddesses bubble up virtually any­ where, if Umā replaces the “strange apparition” and tells things only to Indra after telling Agni and Vāyu nothing, she prefigures Gaṅgā, Tapatī, and Draupadī when they prompt the question, “Who are you? A  Yakṣī, a goddess, a demoness, a human,” and so on. Only in Umā’s case, it is not a matter of mistaking her for a Yakṣī, but of not recognizing that she replaces the yakṣa—​ a neuter term like Brahman199—​that moreover is Brahman. Second, as with so many underdeveloped epic scenes involving goddesses, this myth says just a bare minimum about Umā. As in the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna, Indra comes from the gods and has been preceded by other deities (former Indras), and he gets a comeuppance. Once again, but text-​wise earlier, we meet “something like hubris” on Indra’s part before a higher deity. But the Kena Upaniṣad is also almost as reticent about Umā as the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna is about its “young woman.” It leaves Indra to bask for now in the pride and folly that he, not Agni or Vāyu, discovered Brahman. But it also exposes him to being seen as one of this lesser echelon of deities who have something to learn from Umā as a higher divine power. Curiously also, the Kena Upaniṣad does not speak of Śiva as the husband of Umā, just as the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad does not name “her” as the wife of Śiva.200 For Śiva’s marriages, as we have noted, one must wait for the Mahābhārata and especially the Purāṇas. As noted, later post-​Mahābhārata accounts have it that Śiva married Umā first, and that

198. Kena Upaniṣad 3.12–​13, trans. Olivelle 1998, 229. 199. Srinivasan 1997, 206–​207. 200.  I  refer to the centerpiece of this Upanisad:  its teaching about the “three unborns”; see Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.9–​11, 4.5–​7. The three unborns or “goats” (two meanings of aja) are the Lord, the soul, and “she.” “She” is probably primal matter. Only one of the two male unborns (presumably the Lord) knows “her,” while the other is “ignorant.” Further ramifications relate this teaching to the two birds, friends, in one tree, in which “she” is the “tasty fig.” Although the Lord is Rudra-​Śiva, “she” has no name, divine status, or marital status in relation to Rudra-​Śiva in this Upanishad.

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Gaṅgā became her rival and his second wife after she had taken residence in Śiva’s hair, where he broke Gaṅgā’s fall to earth when she descended from outer space at the behest of the Ikṣvāku king Bhagīratha.201 Umā’s fuller Purāṇic mythology is also undeveloped in (or better, by) the baseline Mahābhārata. One could hardly foresee all the domestic twists that will come to engage her:202 that she will not only be the chief nominal mother of the six-​headed Skanda-​Kārttikeya, which the epic does refer to,203 but the mother of the elephant-​headed Gaṇeśa, Gaṅgā’s rival, and Śiva’s first wife Satī-​Kālī reborn.204 Yet if we have been led to notice ways in which Śiva and his camp take active parts in the divine plan prior to Viṣṇu, that is only evidence of the complementarity of their roles and the nonsectarian character of the Mahābhārata text. It makes perfect sense for Śiva to be preparing the ground for Viṣṇu’s incarnation as Kṛṣṇa.205 This is also illuminating when we compare Umā and Gaṅgā to Bhūdevī (Earth) and Śrī-​Lakṣmī, whom we may understand in the baseline Mahābhārata to be on their way toward being “developed” in later texts as the two wives of Viṣṇu.206 As the two 201. In the Mahābhiṣa-​Upākhyāna, when Gāṅgā sits on Pratīpa’s right thigh and hears from him why he won’t make love to her, one of his scruples is: “I would not go out of desire to another’s woman” (Mbh 1.92.6). But Pratīpa doesn’t yet know who she is, so it is gratuitous to think that he is referring to Śiva. Also, one of her reassurances is that she is a virgin (kanyā; 1.92.7). Hopkins cites three references—​two from the Mahābhārata and one from the Rāmāyaṇa—​to Gaṅgā as the “ ‘wife of ocean’ as well as of Śiva,” but with characteristic indifference does not indicate which references are to which spouse. Since the Rām. one makes her the “wife of the ocean king” (bhāryā c’odadhirājasya), it stands to reason that at least one of the two Mbh ones is to Śiva. But nothing of either sort is said about Gaṅgā anywhere near Hopkins’s two citations in the Mbh’s baseline text, or even among interpolations in its PCE’s apparatus (Hopkins [1915] 1969, 6, citing Mbh 3.90.32, 3.187.19, and Rām 2.50.25 [2.46.72 in Bhatt and Shah, eds. Baroda CE]). Śiva does break Gaṅgā’s celestial descent at Mbh 3.108.9–​14 and 5.109.6, from which their later (?) marriage unfolds. 202.  Consider the Śākta theologem in the Prādhānika Rahasya (“The secret pertaining to primordial matters”: a commentarial “limb” of the Devī-​Māhātmya featuring a prior femaleness anterior to the trimūrti gods Viṣṇu, Śiva, and Brahmā. The primal Mahālakṣmī creates Mahākālī and Mahāsarasvatī from herself so that they can each have boy-​girl twins who will intermarry, after which Brahmā and Sarasvatī produce the world egg. See Coburn 1991; and Whitehead 1921 and Meyer 1986 for ethnographic unfoldings. 203. While recounting Skanda’s birth as generalissimo of the gods’ army; Mbh 3.213–​21. 204. On Satī-​Kālī, see Hiltebeitel 1999c. In the UMS itself, Gaṅgā vouchsafes what Umā finally has to say about women’s dharma without any tipoff anywhere in the epic, as far as I can see, that Gaṅgā resides in Śiva’s hair and is Umā’s rival there as Śiva’s spouse. 205.  See Hiltebeitel 2016c, where I  make this point in terms of Mahābhārata pilgrimage stories. 206. See their roles in Tamil and Sanskrit texts discussed by Dennis Hudson in FI, chs. 7–​9.

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goddesses who have the clearest stakes in the Mahābhārata war, they too, as Umā and Gaṅgā do with Śiva, turn their eventual husband Viṣṇu’s face toward the world. As I will emphasize in ­chapter 6, it is ultimately for their joint rescue that Viṣṇu becomes Kṛṣṇa. Yet being rescued leaves each in herself basically passive. In consonance with the complementarity of their husbands, all four goddesses turn their two (eventual) husbands’ faces to the world, but with opposite outcomes. Whereas Bhūdevī and Śrī (incarnate in Draupadī) require the violent face of the dharmic and more typically benign Preserver Viṣṇu, Umā (the ultimate Devī) and Gaṅgā bring out pacific and nonviolent faces of Śiva, the Destroyer. By taking all three approaches to the Pañcendra-​Upākhyāna into view, we cover the story from beginning to end and deepen its mythological range and resonances. I will discuss it further in c­ hapter 6 as one of Vyāsa’s two iterations of the Unburdening of the Earth myth. Its range of associations make it impossible to view it as “silly” or as “inept mythologization”—​ complicated, profound, complex, oblique, or subtle, yes, but hardly “silly” and definitely not “inept.”

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Kāli ̄ and Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar Rethinking Bose’s Oedipus Mother

I now turn to an Indian narrative and iconography found in the two Mahābhārata folk cults I  have studied. Although both are likely to have older roots, each seems to have coalesced and developed within the Mahābhārata tradition, the Draupadī cult first, probably in the late medieval period, circa 1300–​1600. Insofar as the narrative features the goddess Kālī, or Kāḷi in Tamil, the myth is not found in the Mahābhārata’s classical text, in either the Northern or Southern recension. As I noted in ­chapter 4, Kālī has the greatest affinity among Greek goddesses with Medusa, with whom Freud associates the fear of castration. One of my purposes has been to show how Freud treats myths about heroines and goddesses in his theoretical writings. Alongside Narcissus, Oedipus, Laius, Hermes, Kronos, Zeus, Aeneas, and Ulysses as figures of Freud’s ‘symbolic codes for the conceptualization of unconscious structures and conflicts,” Peter Lowenberg mentions Jocasta, Juno, Alecto, Iphigenia, the Three Fates, and Medusa,1 to whom we may certainly add Antigone, Medea, Diana/​Artemis, Psyche,2 and Athena.3 I will speculate on ways that Freud’s interests might find parallels in what Bose could have known about Indian goddesses,

1. Loewenberg 1996, 17–​18. 2. See Bettleheim 1984, 13–​15. 3.  Freud would call his daughter Anna Antigone. In writing “Dora,” Freud at one point “simply substitutes Medea and [her daughter] Creüsa for Mrs. K.  and Dora, as if it were self-​understood that mythological heroines belong in case histories of neurosis” (Bernfeld 1951, 108–​109). Freud wrote an article (1953–​74, 12:342–​43) about Diana/​Artemis at Ephesus. And a little Athena was, to begin with, his “favorite” collected icon; for more on her, see ­FI, chapter 3, pp. 73, 86–87, and chapter 1, this volume.

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whose first mythologies, as also discussed in ­chapters  3 and 4, are developed in the Mahābhārata. The present topic turns on the key point of difference between Bose and Freud that arises with Bose’s findings concerning the castration complex in Indian versus European patients. As I  described their disagreement in c­ hapter  6 of Freud’s India, Bose said, contrary to Freud, that a wish for castration comes early in childhood development, during a phase when the male child identifies with the mother and wishes to be female. We saw how Bose decouples this castration wish from castration dread, which he said comes only later, after the child has identified with the father in the Oedipal phase. Freud, on the contrary, linked the entire castration complex with the Oedipus complex, and said the castration complex was based on a dread of castration without any prior wish to be female that arose with a castration wish. The theme I select by and large favors Bose. We have come to know Kālī as a singular goddess in the Indian pantheon—​one whose presences may often be uncertain and subtle. In ­chapter 3, we were aided by her folklore to identify the alleged corpse of the Pāṇḍavas’ 180-​year-​old mother through Kālī’s namesake, Satyavatī-​Kālī, the poet Vyāsa’s mother. We saw how Satyavatī-​Kālī was associated with themes of death, destruction, and disruptions of the genealogical thread of the Kaurava dynastic line, and how her fishy smell and her connections with the dark Yamunā River stood out in contrast to the goddess Gaṅgā, mother of Bhīṣma, the bright starry river of salvation who, in her declared love of the dynasty, comes to oversee its history. In this chapter, we consider a story in which we can ask whether Kālī fits the profile of a Bosean “Oedipus mother.” Questions about castration arise in cultic versions of the story we will look at when the hero, Aravāṉ, also called Kūttāṇṭavar, agrees to sacrifice himself to Kālī at the beginning of the Mahābhārata war. With the complications of that agreement, we will be brought back to our discussion of Bose’s surprising exemplum of the opposite wish as a wish to be struck, which he insists always accompanies a wish to strike. Let me recall my question, raised in ch. 4 of Freud’s India, whether the wish to be hit might be typical of snakes. Aravāṉ has a snake-​mother named Ulūpī and a human father, the great Pāṇḍava hero Arjuna. His snake-​birth is important in all accounts. The common etymology of his Tamil name is from aravu, the everyday Tamil word for “snake.”4 In this chapter, we meet his story in 4. Hiltebeitel 1991, 39.

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various versions, from different local and cultic backgrounds. The three main accounts, numbered in later sections of the chapter as versions 1, 2, and 3, deserve to be read and digested together, for each has not only the elements I single out that will interest us but also presents a moment in time with older elements and layers beneath. They all must have a shared prehistory, and they all go back somehow to the classical Mahābhārata, beyond which is a documentary void. Although we will be able to consider different matters in each version, we will be aware of Aravāṉ’s snake pedigree in all accounts, beginning with the one in Sanskrit, which I recount in the second section. But the third and last recounted cultic version will highlight that pedigree in a way that allows us to consider Bose’s exemplum as a referendum on snakes.

Snakes in the Mahābhārata The Mahābhārata has near its beginning a story that can be taken as a prototype for the Vedāntic simile of the rope imagined as a snake, of which we can at least ask what wishes would be attributed to the imagined snake. The story relies upon a distinction between “powerless snakes,”5 who evidently neither bite nor strike back, and other snakes who do. Among nonstrikers are ḍuṇḍubhas.6 When a crazed Brahmin goes about clubbing snakes because he had to give up half of his life span to bring his fiancée back to life after she had been bitten by a poisonous snake, a threatened ḍuṇḍubha says, Those are other reptiles that bite human beings, Brahmin. Do not kill ḍuṇḍubhas because we resemble snakes! Ḍuṇḍubhas share the misfortunes of snakes, though we have our own purposes. We share their sorrows, though we have our own joys. You know dharma, therefore deign not to injure ḍuṇḍubhas.”7 When the Brahmin hears the ḍuṇḍubha speaking, he holds back from beating him further, and learns from him that he was formerly a Ṛṣi who 5. avīrya sarpas, avīrya bhujaṃgas; Mbh 1.11.4. 6. The translator van Buitenen renders ḍuṇḍubha as “lizard,” although they are some kind of snake; see 1973, 442, note for Mbh 1.10.20: “the translation is merely approximate.” 7.  Mbh 10.3–​4, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 61–​62, slightly modified. See Hiltebeitel 2001, 113, 196.

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was cursed by a friend whom he had frightened when he made a snake out of straw. The friend fainted at the sight of the rope-​like straw “snake,” and when he regained consciousness, he cursed him: “As you made a powerless snake in order to frighten me, so by my anger you shall become a powerless snake.” The peaceful ḍuṇḍubha evidently has no wish to be struck, unconscious or otherwise, but he leaves it inconclusive whether the same applies to his mordacious brethren, whose misfortunes and sorrows he admits to sharing. But a conscious retaliatory wish might be hard to activate were there not behind it an unconscious wish to be struck or stepped on—​a wish easier to imagine in snakes than in people, but then people do the imagining. Now consider a curious Mahābhārata verse where Bhīma tells Kṛṣṇa how he thinks Kṛṣṇa should deal with the intransigence of Duryodhana when he goes as ambassador to the Kuru court before the war:  “A prey to his rage, obeying a wicked nature, he follows by instinct evil ways like a snake goaded with straw stalks.”8 Duryodhana is like a snake ready to strike because he obeys a wicked nature and follows evil ways by instinct. Although it is not expressly given the form of an opposite wish, an unconscious one is suggested behind the wish to strike. This is in a speech that Bhīma begins, “Speak with them in whatever way the Kurus will be prompted to accept peace, Madhusūdana; do not frighten them with war! Duryodhana is truculent, always in a rage, resentful of other people’s prosperity, and spirited:  don’t talk to him harshly, treat him gently!” Kṛṣṇa laughs when Bhīma has finished saying this, because Bhīma was uttering “words without precedent in their leniency.”9 In other words, Bhīma was expressing an opposite wish himself. In any case, snakes infest the Mahābhārata. No matter how one accesses it, one will soon run into them. Its outer frame story provides the bard Ugraśravas with the occasion not only to retell the Mahābhārata he heard recited by Vaisaṃpāyana at King Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice but, in response to questions, also to tell the stories about snakes—​including the one about the crazed snake-​clubbing Brahmin—​that lead up to that snake sacrifice as the backdrop against which Vaisaṃpāyana’s inner frame narration takes place. All the while the main story is being narrated by 8.  Mbh 5.72.8, trans. Smith 2009, 306. Van Buitenen 1978, 349, has:  “In thrall to anger, he follows his own base nature, pursuing wickedness as naturally as a snake that has been struck with sticks.” 9. Van Buitenen 1978, 349–​50.

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Vaisaṃpāyana, the snake sacrifice is going on; snakes are dropping out of the sky into the sacrificial fires in retaliation for their leader Takṣaka’s fatal biting of Janamejaya’s father Parikṣit. Among the hundred Kauravas are many with snake names, including their father Dhṛtarāṣṭra. The hundred Kauravas’ birth from a hundred pots has a snakelike feel to it, and repeatedly Duryodhana displays the trait of “sighing like a snake,” most often whenever he responds to some perceived injustice. Vishwa Adluri has the insight that snakes in the Mahābhārata are a “hermeneutic device,”10 and I will be arguing in this chapter that they are in large part there to represent the unconscious, and not tribals.11 That is, what talking monkeys are to the Rāmāyaṇa, talking snakes are to the Mahābhārata, but on a much vaster canvas. They make appearances from the start rather than only from the forest books on. And even though the two great exemplars, Hanumān and the world-​serpent Śeṣa, may both be counterexamples and stand for conscious bhakti, Hanumān is more pious while Śeṣa’s devotion is primordial and consubstantial with Viṣṇu in representing the unconscious karmic residue of unliberated beings through dissolutions of the universe.12 The snakes’ representation of the unconscious is played out less in terms of the Rāmāyaṇa’s package of humanized psychosexual themes centered on blocked birth, fratricide, and wife abduction, and musings on the “monkey mind,”13 and more in terms of basic raw wishes, hostilities, or desires. It may be that rather than look for examples of snakes wishing to be struck, we would do better just to look at situations in which snakes provoke or free up unconscious wishes. But about Aravāṉ’s own wishes and whether his snake pedigree has anything to do with them, let us just open the question. I have done fieldwork and have written extensively on the two Mahābhārata folk cults in which this snake-​born south Indian Tamil hero sacrifices himself to Kālī. As mentioned in this book’s preface, the two are the Draupadī cult, in which he is known as Aravāṉ, and the Kūttāṇṭavar cult, which knows him as both Aravāṉ and Kūttāṇṭavar. I  have written

10. Adluri 2011. 11. I address the nontribal character of snakes in the Mahābhārata, and of monkeys in the Rāmāyaṇa, in Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013 and in press-​b. Several scholars continue to view both as representing tribals. 12. See FI, ch. 7, note 30. 13.  See the impeccable “psychoanalytic observations” of Masson 1975 on the blocked cave = womb exit scene in the rivalry between the monkey-​brothers Vālin and Sugrīva.

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chapters about Aravāṉ’s Draupadī cult manifestations in two books, one on the Draupadī cult’s mythologies and the other on its rituals.14 I have also written a chapter titled “Barbarīka, Aravāṉ, Kūttāṇṭavar:  Furthering the Case of the Severed Head” in a third book.15 As to studies just of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult, I  have written four articles. I  give their titles here because they offer a preview of the ground that this chapter will cover. The first three articles were all impacted by the somewhat conventional understanding of Freud I had prior to this study. The one that takes Freud up most explicitly was the second one, titled “Hair Like Snakes and Mustached Brides: Crossed Gender in an Indian Folk Cult.” It came out a few years after the first one, “Dying Before the Mahābhārata War: Martial and Transsexual Body-​Building for Aravāṉ,” and shortly before the third, “Kūttāṇṭavar: The Divine Lives of a Severed Head.”16 More recently, in 2011, when my essays on Draupadī and the Goddess were collected into a book, I wrote the fourth article, “Kūttāṇṭavar’s Cross: Making that Young Bride, Whoever She Is, a Widow,” as a new contribution, just for that volume, to accompany the three earlier pieces, which I edited to eliminate repetitions so that the four would hang together as chapters and constitute a booklet within the book. I cite the articles only in the newer, “booklet” version because of its greater coherence. This chapter, then, is the result of a review of all these materials and of my fieldnotes, and presents a new distillation around the new considerations opened by the study of Bose’s ideas in relation to Freud’s.

Aravāṉ as Irāvat in the Sanskrit Mahābhārata Aravān is known without Kālī in the Sanskrit Mahābhārata, where he is called Irāvat, a name that cannot be derived from any word for “snake,” but may possibly be derived from Sanskrit iḍā: the oblatory substance of the sacrifice, which participants consume in common and may vie for in seeking to reap the sacrifice’s fecund benefits.17 Irāvat is the only child born from a brief union of Arjuna and the serpent maiden Ulūpī, and he

14. Hiltebeitel 1988b, 317–​32; Hiltebeitel 1991, 283–​319. 15. Hiltebeitel 1999a, 414–​38. 16. Hiltebeitel 1995, 1998, 1999b. 17. This connection was made by Biardeau 1976, 143–​44, and Biardeau 1980-​81, 222-​23. CR 89, 222–​23. It would mean “He who possesses the oblatory substance.”

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dies fighting on the eighth day of the Mahābhārata war. The text has only those two segments that concern Irāvat: the stories of his conception and his death on the war’s eighth day. The first can always be counted on as known or implied, but only the second remains a prominent part of his story in the two cults, with much added. I first tell the text’s story of Irāvat’s conception, which only provides background, since his name is not even mentioned in it. Once the Pāṇḍavas marry Draupadī and Yudhiṣṭhira has been crowned,18 they establish themselves in their new half of the kingdom at Indraprastha.19 Soon, the sage Nārada “by chance arrived.”20 He sees the Pāṇḍavas sitting on five thrones with one queen. Once Draupadī has left the room, he tells the five an upākhyāna, or “side-​story,” to impress them with the need to avoid a breach among them. Two demons, Sunda and Upasunda, were safe in the boon that death could come to them only if they killed each other. But they did so over Tilottamā, a femme fatale whom the celestial architect had fashioned at the gods’ bidding to Śrī-​like perfection—​from diamonds and all the world’s most beautiful things21—​ to tempt the pair to fight. Having heard this side-​story, the Pāṇḍavas make a compact:  “Anyone who would see one of the others while he is sitting together with Draupadī must live in the forest for twelve years as a brahmacārin,” or celibate.22 We soon learn that “sitting together” is a euphemism for having sex.23 After a “long time,” a Brahmin comes crying to Arjuna that thieves have stolen his cows; unless the thieves are caught and his cows returned, it will be a rebuke to Pāṇḍava rule. Arjuna says, “Don’t fear,” but faces a dilemma: the Pāṇḍavas’ weapons are “where Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira was with Krishnā [Draupadī].” It would be great adharma, thinks Arjuna, for

18. Portions of what follows are revised from Hiltebeitel 2001, 264–​68. 19. Mbh 1.199.26–​28. 20. Mbh 1.200.9. 21. Mbh 1.203.12–​17. 22. Mbh 1.204.28. It is twelve years, according to PCE. Van Buitenen 1973, 446, thinks one year was the “original duration,” as does Oberlies 1995, 181. But Arjuna must not only go all around India; for nine months of this “year” he stays near Maṇalūrā for both the beginning and end of Citrāgadā’s pregnancy with their son Babhrūvāhana (Mbh 1.209.24), and as Brodbeck 2009a, 186 and note 24, mentions, he stays for three winters (trihimāḥ samāḥ; Mbh 1.207.23), for which van Buitenen 1973 has “three months.” 23. The term for “sitting together is sahāsīnam.

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the king were he to overlook this. He convinces himself to face death in the forest to avoid adharma. “Having followed the king in entering,24 taking leave, grabbing his bow, delighted,” Arjuna “addressed the Brahmin, ‘Come quickly.’ ”25 Catching the thieves and returning the cows are easy, but upon his return Arjuna tells Yudhiṣṭhira, “The compact is completely overstepped by my seeing you. I will go dwell in the forest. That was surely the compact we made.”26 Yudhiṣṭhira, hearing this “disagreeable word unexpectedly,” tries to smooth things over: “What you did, O hero, in following my entry27 is not disagreeable. I forgive it entirely. It is not a transgression in my heart. Surely the younger following the entry of the elder28 is not an offense. The breach of the rule is the eldest’s following the entry of the younger.”29 The poets do not have to tell us that when Yudhiṣṭhira claims to find nothing “disagreeable” in his “heart” about Arjuna’s interruption and gaze, that his heart would be troubled. If Draupadī begins to find her multiple marriage emotionally less satisfying than it was to this point, she will have no one to blame but Yudhiṣṭhira, who upheld the mother’s word that made her polyandrous.30 But Arjuna holds to principle: “ ‘One should not observe dharma through fraud.’ So, I have heard from you! I will not waver from truth. By truth I took the weapon.” Off he goes to dwell in the forest for twelve years.31 One begins with the obvious question: Why did the Pāṇḍavas keep their weapons in the bedroom? A Draupadī cult analogy is useful. It is as if the bedroom is like a Draupadī temple, where the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī’s ceremonial weapons are stashed, to be taken out for festival processions.

24. anupraviśya rājānam. 25. Mbh 1.205.1–​19. 26. Mbh 1.205.24. 27. anupraveśe. 28. guror anupraveśo. 29. yavīyaso ‘nupraveśo jyehasya vidhilopaka (Mbh 1.205.26–​27). 30.  Kuntī says, “Share it [her] all equally” (Mbh 1.182.1–​4), thinking Draupadī is alms (Hiltebeitel 1988b, 200). See Mohanty 1990, 279, on Pratibha Ray’s Oriya novel Jajnaseni depicting Draupadī’s final recollections. This bedroom scene is bowdlerized (she is massaging his feet); the surprise is that Draupadī wants to come with Arjuna into the forest as a celibate like Sītā, to which Arjuna cruelly replies that Sītā had only one husband (Ray 1995, 163–​67). 31. Mbh 1.205.29–​30.

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As we saw in c­ hapter 3, the Pāṇḍavas’ weapons are their tokens of virility, and Arjuna wants his back. I have translated the repeated use of anu-​pra-​viś-​as “follow in entering,” for it carries sexual connotations in the context of the Pāṇḍavas’ tenuous marriage protocols.32 One may gather that if the younger can follow the entry of the eldest, but not vice versa, Arjuna may find something distasteful in Yudhiṣṭhira’s having his current turn with Draupadī, since it would transpire after at least one previous cycle of passing Draupadī down by order of seniority, with the result that Yudhiṣṭhira would have “followed in entering” after the turn of his youngest brother, Sahadeva—​ indeed, after all four of Yudhiṣṭhira’s younger brothers. Moreover, considering that Yudhiṣṭhira is called not just “eldest” but also “guru,” Arjuna’s “gazing” is a kind of “violation of the teacher’s (guru’s) bed,”33 one of the worst sins. Indeed, given that a guru and eldest brother are equivalent to a father, Arjuna sees an approximation of the “primal scene,” with Yudhiṣṭhira and Draupadī perhaps unleashing the disturbingly lethal, old, and actual primal-​scene memories of Pāṇḑu and Mādrī when the two brothers were about three and five.34 Moreover, anu-​pra-​viś-​ also means “attack”:  Yudhiṣṭhira and Draupadī are vulnerable when Arjuna “completely oversteps” his compact by “seeing” them.35 All this aside, however, we may guess that Arjuna has more common reasons to be fed up. As the one who agreed to come third in order with Draupadī after winning her as a virgin bride, he may not be eager to get “sloppy seconds” (really, sloppy thirds) a second time. Of course, the poets are not so indelicate. Yet we know that this scene ends the honeymoon, and it seems Arjuna is quite eager to end it. Once the “delighted” Arjuna has invaded the bedroom, stood his ground on the principle of the compact, and left for his twelve years of “celibacy,” Draupadī will wait until Arjuna has returned to have her one son with each Pāṇḍava. Her five sons are born a year apart, and Arjuna’s is named third,36 so Arjuna must have again taken his turn after his two older brothers.

32. See notes 24 and 27–​29, this chapter. 33. gurutalpa; see c­ hapter 2, this volume, note 41. 34. See c­ hapter 2, this volume, notes 36–​37. 35. sadarśana, more than “seeing,” is “the act of looking steadfastly, gazing”; Monier-​Williams [1899] 1964, 1144: (MW, 1144): perhaps best, “staring.” 36. Mbh 1.213.72, 79.

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But the account is uninformative. Once bedroom intimacy has been interrupted by the brother who won Draupadī, she will now start missing him in this first and really—​lasting twelve years—​longest of what will be Arjuna’s many estrangements from her.37 Arjuna thus sets out vowed to penitential brahmacarya, or celibacy. But his pilgrimage, or tīrthayātrā, starts out incongruously for a penance. Arjuna is joined not only by Brahmins, hermits, and varied storytellers: “When the strong-​armed creator of the fame of the Kauravas went forth,  .  .  .  he was followed . . . by those who pondered on the supreme Soul, and pure devotees of the blessed Lord.38  .  .  .  [He] went forth, like Indra surrounded by the Maruts.”39 Evidently Arjuna loves stories, both to hear them told about others and to be the subject of a developing one himself. But what is striking in this entourage are the various bhaktas of Bhagavan just cited. They are the tip-​ off that this entourage is there not only to entertain Arjuna; they tag along also to celebrate his greatness, presumably with intimations that he is the friend of Kṛṣṇa (Arjuna is Nara of the pair Nara and Nārāyaṇa), as he sets off on his first adventure, “like Indra.” Indeed, if one looks across the baseline Mahābhārata, this is typical of the fanfare that attends Arjuna’s birth,40 his journey doing tapas to get celestial weapons from Śiva and Indra, his duel with Karṇa, and so on. But we soon enough find that the scene from which he has just parted is still high on Arjuna’s mind. Having traversed beautiful forests, streams, and lakes and seen meritorious tīrthas, or holy spots, he reaches Gaṅgādvāra,41 the site of today’s Hardwar, where the River Gaṅgā reaches the plains. It is here in the north, not so far from Indraprastha, that Arjuna has the first of the four

37. Cf. Mbh 3.38.19–​25, Draupadī’s sadness on Arjuna’s departure to obtain weapons; 3.142, missing him; 3.144–​46, her forest hardships and “colorful frolics” (krīitāi . . . vicitrāi; 145.43, at the prospects of seeing him after five years; 3.161.29, just back from heaven he sleeps beside the twins; 4.23.24 (see Hiltebeitel 1980b, 161), harsh and cryptic words during their estrangement while incognito (see ­chapter 3, this volume); 14.89.1–​10 (see ­chapter 6, this volume; and Dumézil 1969, 164), she won’t hear of his having any imperfection on his return from the year of guarding the Aśvamedha horse. 38. ādhyātmacintakāḥ, bhagavadbhaktāḥ. 39. Mbh 1.206.1–​4, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 400. 40. Mbh 1.114.28–​64. 41. Mbh 1.206.6.

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encounters with women that make his “penitential” tīrthayātrā a sexual conquest of the four regions and a “Rabelaisian joke.”42 He will meet (and “wed”) Ulūpī here in the north, marry Citrāṅgadā at Maṇalūrā in the east, free five Apsarases from possession by crocodiles at a lake in the south, and finally marry Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma’s sister, the “auspicious” Subhadrā, near Dvārakā in the west, who seems to become his “favorite” when he brings her—​and her alone—​back to Indraprastha to meet Draupadī.43 Since Ulūpī comes first, it is to Arjuna’s relations with her that we may assign the breakthrough that allows him to regain the sexual prowess of a hero that his raconteurs could sing about to his devotees and to those who ponder the supreme soul. Indeed, we may detect the outcome of this putative bardic process in the next verse, where Vaiśaṃpāyana tells Janamejaya to “Listen to his wondrous feat,”44 which Arjuna did there at Gaṅgādvāra, as if the whole story, at least for now, was only about him. It is presumably evening. While the Brahmins who settle at Gaṅgādvāra with Arjuna make the spot exceedingly beautiful by lighting agnihotra fires on both sides of the river, brightened by offerings of clarified butter and flowers, Arjuna descends into the Gaṅgā to bathe.45 And having consecrated himself there and made water offerings to his ancestors,46 he was about to emerge from the water, O king, wishing to perform the fire-​rites when the strong-​armed man was pulled under the water by Ulūpī, the maiden daughter of the Snake-​ king,47 urged on by desire.48 Then the Pāṇḍava saw a high-​piled

42. See Subramanian 1967, 55. 43. See Hiltebeitel 1988b, 220, on Subhadrā’s auspiciousness and her homecoming, worked out to lessen Draupadī’s jealousy; Hiltebeitel 1988b, 215, and Hiltebeitel 1991, 378–​83, on Subhadrā as “favorite” (vāvātā) and Draupadī as “chief queen” (mahiṣī) with respect to Arjuna, following Gehrts 1975, 186–​87. 44. tasyādbhutaṃ karma śṛṇu; Mbh 1.206.7. Adbhuta is the name of the rasa, translated as “the wondrous” and “the uncanny,” that I singled out for attention in ­chapter 1, this volume. 45. Mbh 206.8–​11. 46. tarpayitvā pitāmahān. 47.  nāgarājasya kanyayā. I  render kanyā as “maiden” rather than the (at least in English) stricter term “virgin,” for what will be obvious reasons. 48. kāmayānayā.

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fire in the most honored palace of the snake Kauravya. Kuntī’s son Dhanaṃjaya did the fire rites there, and the sacrificial fire, as he offered into it, unhesitantly became gratified with him.49 It seems that Ulūpī has dragged Arjuna from Gaṅgādvāra all the way (indefinite as the distance is) to the palace of the snake-​king Kauravya, her father, and that Arjuna is able to complete the fire rite he had intended to do at Gaṅgādvāra there, in a sort of mirror underwater world. Kauravya is one of numerous snake-​kings of this mirror-​world,50 but it can be no accident that his name is one that is interchangeable with Kuru and Kaurava, and is used for various Kaurava kinsmen, including Arjuna.51 It is as if Arjuna has lucked out in meeting a girl with a matching pedigree by name. On a small scale, their union will be like that between the Ṛṣi Jatatkāru and the serpent-​woman Jaratkāru, the parents of Astīka, whose birth the chief snakes had hoped for, and who dramatically brings about the end of Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice, as his snake kinsmen had planned. In fact, both unions are occasioned by interrupted ancestral rites.52 It is as if to say that Irāvat, like Astīka, will have a place in two Kauravya lineages; a paternal human one (Arjuna’s) and a maternal snake one (King Kauravya’s). More on this shortly. After doing the fire rites, “the son of Kuntī then with a slight smile said to the Snake princess, ‘What moved you to act so rashly, O timid, radiant one? What is this so plentiful region, and whose daughter are you?’ ”53 Ulūpī replies that she is the snake-​daughter of Kauravya “of Airāvata’s lineage.” Just seeing you descending into the waters54 for the consecration, Kaunteya, I am confounded by the god of love.55 On your account, O

49. Mbh 1.206.12–​15. 50. See Mbh 1.31.4–​16, listing him beside Dhṛtarāṣṭra among the chief snakes, and 1.52.12, enumerating those of his line who were drawn into the fire at Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. 51. See Sörensen [1904] 1963, 402 (citing 1, 6503, 6531, and 10 other passages). 52. On all this, see Mbh 1.33–​53, beginning with the ancestral rites. 53. Mbh 1.206.16–​17. 54. Samudragam. 55. kandarpeṇāsmi mūrcchitā.

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joy of the Kurus, I am churned by the bodiless god.56 Enjoy another today by the gift of yourself, in secret.57 That Ulūpī uses an ordinary word for “ocean” (samudra) for “the waters” must connote the vastness of the waters she comes from, and thus also that her son’s conception will be oceanic. I  note that the pūcāri, or priest, at one Kūttāṇṭavar temple—​at Tevaṇūr—​volunteered that Aravāṉ-​ Kūttāṇṭavar was born to Nāgakkaṉṉi “in the sea.” It is worth recalling Romain Rolland’s term, the “oceanic feeling,” which left Freud “no peace” after Rolland imparted it to him. In Aravāṉ’s experience, the “oceanic” would not be just a pre-​Oedipal feeling, which Freud in effect conceded,58 but a prenatal one going back to his conception. (Such details will again be pertinent in this chapter’s closing section.) Arjuna now states the reason for his self-​restraint: I am appointed by Dharmarāja to do this brahmacarya for twelve years, my lovely one, I am not my own master.59 Yet I still wish to do what is pleasing to you, O water-​farer. Never before have I spoken a lie. How may it be that I do not lie and also be pleasing to you and still not violate my dharma, O Snake-​girl?60 Ulūpī begins with the surprise that she not only knows the story (news travels as quickly and freely from the human world to Nāgaloka as it would between the conscious and the unconscious), but has even heard the intimate details: I know, Pāṇḍaveya, how you are roaming the earth and how your guru appointed you to brahmacarya. When you were still living with the daughter of Drupada, you made a compact that any one of you who would foolishly follow in entering61 should have to do brahmacarya in the forest for twelve years.62 56. anaṅgamathitām; Anaṅga, the one without limbs, is a name for Kāma, whose limbs Śiva burnt to ashes after he aroused Śiva’s desire for Pārvatī. 57. Mbh 1.206.19–​20. 58. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 288; FI, ch. 3, notes 21–​23. 59. nāham asmi svayaṃvaśaḥ. 60. Mbh 1.206.22–​23. 61. anupraviśen. 62. Mbh 1.206.24–​25.

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Ulūpī uses the precise term anu-​pra-​viś-​that Arjuna and his “guru” Yudhiṣṭhira used during their exchange, thus completing the total of six such usages in the whole epic text.63 Knowing all this, she has evidently thought ahead to a solution. First, she addresses one verse to Arjuna’s predicament: This exile of any one of you is because of Draupadī. What you do for the sake of dharma is there [i.e., it applies only to her]; there dharma does not diminish. She then restates her appeal: You are beholden to rescue the distressed, broad-​ eyed man. Having rescued me, your dharma is not stained. Or if there might be a subtle transgression of dharma, that would still give you merit, as you would have given me my life. Enjoy me, a devotee,64 Pārtha: that is the view of the good, lord. If you won’t do it, think of me dead.65 Observe the foremost dharma, mighty-​armed one, by giving life. I surrender to you for refuge, O best of men.66 You have always protected the destitute and unprotected, Kaunteya. I seek your protection; I weep, distressed. I am praying to you out of desire,67 therefore do my pleasure. You must satisfy me by giving yourself.68 Vaiśaṃpāyana then supplies the outcome: Thus addressed by the maiden daughter of the lord of Snakes, Kaunteya did all that as she desired, looking to dharma as his

63. Ulūpī’s usage (Mbh 1.206.25) and the other five are thus unique; nowhere else is the term used in this sense. 64. bhaktāṃ bhajasva māṃ. 65.  I  adopt Brodbeck’s translation of na kariṣyasi ced evaṃ mṛtāṃ māṃ upadhāraya; Mbh 1.206.29cd), of which he says, “This might not be entirely hyperbolic; a sonless woman cannot enter ancestral heaven” (2009a, 184n14). 66. Puruṣottama; considering that she has just called herself Arjuna’s “devotee,” this term could have the theological overtones it has for Kṛṣṇa. 67. abhikāma. 68. Mbh 1.206.26–​32.

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motive. And having spent the night in the palace of the Snake, the majestic hero arose with the rising sun from Kauravya’s dwelling.69 That ends an adhyāya, or chapter, and is all that the Poona Critical Edition (PCE) says on the matter, for now. The next chapter begins with Arjuna back among his entourage of Brahmins, “telling it all” to them, and quickly departing for the Himālayas. A Northern recension (N) interpolation rounds things off by adding that Ulūpī went with Arjuna from her father’s palace to Gaṅgādvāra, and before taking leave there, gave Arjuna the boon of invulnerability in water.70 But a Southern recension (S) interpolation is more informative: “A son was begotten of her, very delightful to the mind: the high-​fortuned greatly powerful valorous Irāvat.”71 Yet it is not as informative as it might be. As an addition, it probably just bespeaks S’s early tendency, by around 250 ce, to fill in names it knew from its connoisseurship of the whole Mahābhārata.72 It is unlikely to reflect a knowledge of the story that Southern Tamil Mahābhāratas begin to tell about Aravāṉ as early as Peruntēvaṇār’s ninth-​century Pārata-​veṇpā, since that story has no corresponding S interpolations where Irāvat reappears. Sanskrit Irāvat and Tamil Aravāṉ are on different textual tracks. We may thus say that Irāvat’s birth originally goes unmentioned. For the PCE, his birth from a snake-​mother remains part of the text’s unconscious until certain background is filled in at the time of the story of his death on the eighth day of battle. Everything we learn about Irāvat by name thus comes from the one long adhyāya, or chapter, that includes his death scene during the war’s

69. Mbh 1.206.33–​34. 70. 2029*. Bhīma also tangles with snakes. In the baseline text, Duryodhana, in a series of attempts on Bhīma’s life, first tried to drown him while he was sleeping at Pramāṇakoṭi, binding him in creepers, from which Bhīma broke free in the water; “Another time when Bhīma was sleeping, Duryodhana brought crazed, poison-​fanged, virulent snakes” to bite him, but they failed to penetrate his skin (Mbh 1.119.32–​42). The latter scene does not take place in the water. But in a lengthy N interpolation, Bhīma meets the snakes in the water and gets their blessing and nectar. When Vāsuki arrives, he finds Āryaka, a serpent “grandfather of the father of Kuntī” (Ganguli [1884–​96] 1970, 1:287), who appeals to him to let Bhīma drink of the vessels of nectar (1 App. 72, lines 10–​19); see Sörensen [1904] 1963, 92. S also introduces a six-​line interpolation (1.1312*) that brings the encounter with the snakes underwater. Both brothers gain underwater invulnerability in N interpolations only. 71.  1.*2025:  putram utpādayām āsa tasyāṃ sa sumanoharam/​ irāvantaṃ mahābhāgaṃ mahābalaparā-​kramam. 72. For other examples, see Sukthankar 1933, xxx; Hiltebeitel 2011d.

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eighth day in Mahābhārata Book 6, the Bhīṣma Parvan. There we find that, contrary to the “radiant” and seemingly self-​ motivated lustful maiden that Ulūpī appeared to be in the conception story, she was a childless widow, her Nāga husband having been slain by Suparṇa (Viṣṇu’s heavenly bird, Garuḍa).73 Having become cheerless, she was bestowed upon Arjuna by her father Airavat, the serpent-​king,74 who seems to be the same as Kauravya “of Airavata’s lineage.” As Brodbeck says, “the Ulūpī business might in the light of events leading up to” Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice be reviewed “as an attempt by the snakes to save themselves”75—​although it could not have anything to do with Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice unless the snakes were prescient, since Janamejaya is three generations into the future. In any event, Irāvat was thus begotten “upon another’s field” (that is, “another’s wife”).76 That note of illegitimacy is compounded by one of family discord among the Nāgas, which may parallel the one between the Kauravas and Pāṇḍavas:  Irāvat was abandoned by his (unnamed) father’s brother, who hated Arjuna,77 and was raised by his mother in Nāgaloka.78 This enmity may be a hint that Irāvat might have some conflict behind him if he favors Arjuna’s side. The account also tells that Irāvat went to Indraloka as soon as he learned that Arjuna had gone there to get divine weapons, to tell Arjuna who he is, and possibly that he exists—​in any event, reminding Arjuna of his union with his mother, which Arjuna does recall.79 His visit thus

73. Mbh 6.86.7. 74. nāgarāja. 75. Brodbeck 2009a, 184n12. He is alluding to the business of the two Jaratkārus, the male human and the female a snake, whom the snake-​chiefs groom to rescue them through her son Astīka; see note 52, this chapter. 76. parakṣetre; Mbh 6.86.8d. 77. Harindranath Avaroth and Pradip Bhattacharya note that the seventeenth-​century commentator Nīlakaṇṭha from Benares fills in here with the name of the snake Aśvasena (Mbh 6.87.9; Kinjawadekar 1929–​33, vol. 4), who hates Arjuna for killing his mother at Khaṇḑava forest, and during the war tries to kill him as a snake-​arrow shot by Karṇa. He is known in the epic’s first book as a friend of Takṣaka, and in Book 8 as his son. See Mahabharata_​ [email protected] Digest Number 1818, September 12, 2016. But Nīlakaṇṭha often provides names that Vyāsa leaves blank, and gives no explanation for this plausible identification, which could be a north Indian tradition or Nīlakaṇṭha’s own invention. Cf. Brodbeck 2009a, 185–​86, raising difficulties with the term pitṛvya, “father’s brother,” implausibly imagining it could refer to Yudhiṣṭhira. 78. Mbh 6.86.9. 79. I allude to the ancestral story of King Duṣyanta feigning that he knows nothing of the son, Bharata, whom he secretly conceived with Śakuntalā (see Hiltebeitel 2011e). In the PCE, Irāvat folds his hands and says. “I am Irāvat, blessings be to you. I am your son, lord”

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doubles Arjuna’s own ascent to Indraloka to meet his own father, Indra. By reminding Arjuna of his affair with Ulūpī, and filling Arjuna with joy and paternal affection, Irāvat lays claim to Arjuna’s paternity just as Arjuna does with Indra. In return, Arjuna says Irāvat should assist the Pāṇḍavas in the upcoming war. The text leaves this the only other hint, beside what is said about his paternal uncle’s hatred for Arjuna, that Irāvat might have considered doing otherwise. Irāvat’s eighth-​day fight at first pits him against six Gāndharan brothers of Duryodhana’s crony Śakuni, called Saubalas. Pierced “like an elephant” with lances and hooks, he is bathed in blood, but his natural “firmness” remains.80 He tears off the lances and rushes at the Saubalas on foot, bearing a sword while they remain on horseback. Severing arms and other limbs, he kills five of them. Duryodhana then sends out Alambuṣa, a terrifying Rākṣasa demon also called Aṛśyaśṛṅgin, who bears a grudge against the Pāṇḍavas for killing one of his Rākṣasa relatives. Each using his powers of illusion (māyā), they rise into the sky. Although Irāvat repeatedly severs Alambuṣa’s limbs, cutting him again and again “like a tree,” they grow back with new vigor81 Then an unnamed Nāga of Irāvat’s mother’s lineage82 arrives surrounded by many other Nāgas and assumes “a mighty form like the serpent Ananta.”83 This snake momentarily “covers” the Rākṣasa with Nāgas until Alambuṣa, after “reflecting,” assumes the form of Garuḍa and devours all the snakes. Seeing the Ananta-​like kinsman of his mother’s line devoured, Irāvat is confounded,84 whereupon Alambuṣa beheads him with his sword, leaving the severed crowned and ear-​ringed head to fall to the ground “resplendent like a lotus or the moon.” The warriors on both sides fight on with heightened intensity, as if “possessed”85 by Rākṣasas and bhūtas, or ghosts.86 There are themes that carry forward from Irāvat to Aravāṉ: death on the war’s eighth day, hints that the hero is caught between the two sides, the

(Mbh 6.86.11c–​e), to which a number of N manuscripts add, “and he introduced himself” (nyavedayata c’ātmānam; 6.*343). 80. Mbh 6.86.32–​33. 81. Mbh 6.68.58–​62. 82. anvayo mātṛkas tasya. 83. dadhāra sumahad rūpam ananta iva bhogavān; Mbh 6.68.66–​67. 84. vimohitam. 85. āviṣṭāḥ. 86. Mbh 6.68.70–​80.

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possessed fighting that follows his beheading, his dismembering others versus dismembering himself, and the crowding of his whole career into one day or one chapter. Yet one must wonder how the Tamil tradition has taken this one very minor hero, this hero for a day, and given him such a rich and varied mythology.87 In the Draupadī and Kūttāṇṭavar cults, his mythology tells narratives about a hero who is invariably iconographically represented as a smiling, usually red-​faced, severed head (see figure 5.1).

Aravāṉ’s Boons, Deaths, and Doubles in Tamil Sources We now begin to notice differences between Aravāṉ’s treatment in myth and in ritual, with iconography midway between them. The two Tamil “classical” versions of the Mahābhārata by Peruntēvaṇār (ninth century) and Villiputtūr Āḻvār (fourteenth century) are the oldest literary sources to which we may trace the changes found in today’s Draupadī cult and Kūttāṇṭavar cult folklores. They are indispensible for outlining the scaffolding of boons that Aravāṉ obtains from Kṛṣṇa to compensate him for his sequence of three main deaths:88 Historical Order of Boons 1. die fighting as a hero (Peruntēvaṇār) 2. see the war’s fighting (Villiputtūr) 3. one-​day marriage (1897 chapbook drama)

Narrative Order of Deaths 1. battlefield sacrifice (day 1) →2. slain be Alambuṣa (day 8) →3. of surviving head (day 18)

Peruntevaṇār is the first text to tell that Kṛṣṇa promised Aravāṉ that for doing battlefield sacrifice, or kaḷappali, he would still be able to die a warrior’s death on the battlefield, fighting up to the eighth day even without his flesh and blood. On the eighth day, Aravāṉ fights resolutely, prompting Duryodhana to order Alampucaṉ (Alambuṣa) to kill him. At first, Aravāṉ outmatches Alampucaṉ, but then Kṛṣṇa tells Alampucaṉ to take the form of a Brahmany kite, or “Garuḍa,” which enables him to kill Aravāṉ.89 87. Cf. Hiltebeitel 2011c, 214. 88. See the three-​death three-​boon schema as outlined in Hiltebeitel 2011c, 217 and 277. 89. See Venkatesha Acharya 1981, 137–​44, 155; Maṇivaṇṇaṉ 1984, 13–​14; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 216.

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Figure 5.1  Collage of twenty severed heads of Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar Collage of twenty severed heads of Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar, all of them raising the Freudian question of upward displacement of castration. Most are wooden, red-​ faced processional icons that remain year-​round in Kūttāṇṭavar’s sanctums, or at Aravāṉ’s niche or chapel in Draupadī temples. Two are stone icons in Kūttāṇṭavar temple sanctums, and two are masks. Under either name, about 60 percent of his images are fanged, a trait he probably gets from his snake-​mother. Note the one portrayal of his head as that of a ghost (preta; [Row 1, column 4]), from Cholavantan, near Madurai. Source:  Original photos by Alf Hiltebeitel; arrangement and editing by Eric Evans and Kelsey Pope, Dodge Chrome, Washington, D.C.

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Villiputtūr then adds the beginnings of the second boon. Aravāṉ asks Kṛṣṇa to enable him to watch the war for a few days. After performing kaḷappali, his head survives “like a radiant lamp.”90 It is not clear whether the “few days” goes up to the end of the war, as is told in the folklores of the two cults, or lasts only to the eighth day when he is beheaded by Alampucaṉ.91 The prewar kaḷappali as the first death obviously then correlates with the third boon. This boon is traceable historically only to an 1897 chapbook edition of the drama Aravāṉ Kaṭapali Nāṭakam, though the play’s composition is probably somewhat earlier. As far as I know, it is performed only at Draupadī festivals, but I surmise that it was composed showing an awareness of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult, since in it Kṛṣṇa briefly takes the form of the Enchantress Mohinī to marry Aravāṉ. In Draupadī cult circles, at perhaps as many as two thousand Draupadī temples that can be found in villages, towns, and cities anywhere in Tamil-​speaking south India, though more rarely in the deepest southern districts of Tamilnadu, Aravān has a special niche, shrine, or chapel. He is worshiped for his prewar self-​sacrifice to Kālī as goddess of the battlefield. The basic story is told already in Peruntēvaṇār’s Pārata-​veṇpā, and is retold in the drama just mentioned. Thanks to a tip from the youngest Pāṇḍava, Sahadeva, who was loyal to his reputation as an astrologer, Duryodhana had learned what the date should be and that Aravāṉ would be the ideal victim. Duryodhana went and got Aravāṉ’s consent, and was planning on having Aravāṉ do kaḷappali on the night of the new moon. Kṛṣṇa was at first quite upset that his own plan (until now, apparently a secret) to have Aravāṉ do kaḷappali to assure the Pāṇḍavas’ victory was preempted. He was about to leave for Dvārakā in a huff, until Yudhiṣṭhira dissuaded him. Then he started plotting. He got all the Brahmins to perform new-​moon ceremonies a day early. This induced the Sun and Moon to appear together in the sky to see what the “infallible” Brahmins were up to, with the result that the conditions for a night with a new moon were met a day early, and Aravāṉ could offer kaḷappali for the Pāṇḍavas on it. Aravāṉ’s preponed battlefield sacrifice would now be for the side that includes his own father, Arjuna, his four paternal uncles (the other Pāṇḍavas, Arjuna’s brothers) who are also Aravāṉ’s surrogate fathers, and his surrogate mother (as far as their “joint family” is concerned), Draupadī. Aravāṉ cuts himself in 90. malarnta tīpam ena. 91. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 216, with clarification from David Shulman.

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thirty-​two places (one informant says the thirty-​two locations for cuts are on his head, at the point between the eyebrows, on one temple, on the nose, on his two earlobes, two lips, two knuckles, two wrists, two elbows, two shoulders, two knees, two insteps, on the chest, the stomach, and on each of his ten toes).92 In return, Aravāṉ remains able—​thanks to a boon from Kṛṣṇa—​to fight and “die” on the eighth day of battle, as he has always done in the story told in the Sanskrit epic. But now, according to Draupadī cult folklore, he fights up to the eighth day with his body desiccated by his sacrifice to Kālī, which leaves him so weak that all that remains alive is his severed head. Undaunted, at some point93 he asks for an additional second boon from Kṛṣṇa—​that of being able to watch either the remaining ten days of fighting or to watch the entire eighteen-​day Mahābhārata war, from the top of a post or a mountaintop, from which his decapitated head can oversee and ultimately assess the fighting. As both cults tell it, it is to his head that the surviving Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī go with Kṛṣṇa to resolve a dispute that had arisen among them as to whose weapons won the war. Speaking oracularly, Aravāṉ’s head says it was the noncombatant Kṛṣṇa94 whose discus he saw lopping off all the warriors’ heads and whose conch he saw holding them, or else that he saw the conch blowing, the discus beheading, and Kālī’s skull bowl holding the blood.95 As we begin to look now at cultic enactments of these unfolding narratives, the interactions of myth, ritual, and iconography present their own new keys, one of which is the theme of doubling. It is as if the life and death, or better lives and deaths, of this deity parcel themelves out through the “uncanny” theme of the double, which can be played out, to begin with, around the deity’s having two names, or a red face and a gold face.96 Doubling stories are found not only in the name of Kūttāṇṭavar, however. Two monumental heads of Aravāṉ were photographed in 1919 at the

92. The informant was Adikeshava Pillai, who performs at both Draupadī and Kūttāṇṭavar festivals, and whom I met at the 1982 Mēlaccēri Draupadī festival (Hiltebeitel 1988b, 327) 93. For variations and three different solutions, see Hiltebeitel 1988b, 325. 94. Amid the preparations for the war, Kṛṣṇa had agreed to serve as Arjuna’s charioteer but not to use his weapons, while all his troops would go to Duryodhana. 95. See Hiltebeitel 1999a, 427, 433, with variants from traditions about Barbarīka. 96.  See the paired gold and red heads from Kumāramaṅkalam in ­figure  5.1 (upper left), about which it is said the gold one was stolen and the red one then caught the robbers. On “parceling out and repetition” in “pure ritual,” where they can be said to begin their

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Hajiyar Street Draupadī temple in Kumbakonam,97 which still houses one of those heads—​the largest known in Tamilnadu and the only head comparable in size to the oversized head of Aravāṉ in Singapore, in Southeast Asia (see figure 5.2). But the reason, and possible local story or myth, behind there having been two massive heads at Kumbakonam, and for his having lost one of them, have in the meantime been lost. It is nonetheless really Kūttāṇṭavar who repetitively parcels out the theme of the double most uncannily, as two instances that will bear on later discussions can begin to demonstrate. Curiously, both these doublings come in geographically paired temples. Kūttāṇṭavar may have both a village temple and one in wilder terrain. Tevaṉūr (Tiruvannamalai Taluk, North Arcot [now Tiruvannamalai] District) has two such Kūttāṇṭavar temples, the wilder one on a forested mountain near the village. The Tevaṉūr festival runs for twenty days.98 About forty miles north at Peṉṉaivalam (Tirukoyilur Takuk, South Arcot [now Villupuram] District), a similarly structured festival occurs over ten days. The small, wilder temple is built on a big boulder in an uninhabited area near a tamarind tree beside a Kālī temple, surrounded by forests. Kūttāṇṭavar’s processional head and arms fill the space of its sanctum, and they are kept there throughout the year (see figure 5.3). The head is “immoveable” until the eighth day of his ten-​day festival, when it is taken down from the rock temple and carried around the village. That night he marries Mohinī, and village men wear tālis through the next day (those with me laughed, answering me that no Alis [eunuchs and transvestites] attended). On the ninth day, the head rides on a chariot (tēr) to the aḻukaḷam (weeping ground) near the tamarind tree for kaḷappali, after which comes a firewalk more typical of a Draupadī festival. The tenth day ends the festival with the head’s last tour of the village for Dharma’s coronation, after which it is returned to the temple on the boulder. There I learned that after the war, Kṛṣṇa made Kūttāṇṭavar a god: “No one else in the Mahābhārata agreed to give up his life. Since you agreed to that, you will be worshipped as a god after your death, after eighteen days of seeing the fighting. And one of these days you will command the “movement of thought in two different but complimentary directions” with doubling, see Lévi-​Strauss 1971, 670–​75. 97. See the photograph in Shastri [1916] 1974, 127–​28, and fig. 139. 98. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 285–​89.

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Figure 5.2  Monumental heads of Aravāṉ; (a) Kumbakonam; (b) Singapore (a) Monumental head of Aravāṉ, the largest known in Tamilnadu, at the Hajiyar Street Draupadī temple in Kumbakonam. As of 1916, there were two large heads beside each other. In 1990, the pūcārī did not know about the second head, so I sent him Shastri’s published photo of it from 1916, for which in 2012 he thanked me and showed me the picture he now treasured. (b) Aravāṉ at his Singapore chapel, with an oversized head that is affiliated with Draupadī’s temple and festival there. Source: Top: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel. Bottom: Sri Aravan by Kirk Siang, from Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons License CC BY-​SA 3.0.

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Figure  5.3 Kūttāṇṭavar’s head and forearms (a) in remote Peṉṉaivalam temple  (b) in fields surrounded by forests (a) At Peṉṉaivalam (Tirukoyilur Taluk, South Arcot [now Villupuram] District), Kūttāṇṭavar’s processional head and his forearms fill the space of his small sanctum, and are kept there throughout the year except during the festival when the head is taken on processions that involve his village temple. (b) The small Kūttāṇṭavar temple is built on a big boulder in an uninhabited area surrounded by forests. Source: Photos by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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Figure  5.4 Kūttāṇṭavar doubled by “Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch.” Kūttāṇṭavar sanctum, Putūr Kūttāṇṭavar (on the right) is virtually doubled by Kaṇṇaṉ-​Pēṭi, “Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch” (on the left). On the poster between them is Aiyaṉār, called Hariharaputra, “son of Hari (Viṣṇu) and Hara (Śiva).” In Putūr village, North Arcot (now Vellore) District. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

army because you wanted to fight for your father Arjuna.” The speaker99 added that “Kūttāṇṭavar will never die. For him a thousand years is one night, another thousand is one day. So two thousand years is a twenty-​ four-​hour day;” Perhaps this tells us something about how his divine head experiences his ten-​day festival. A rapport between Kūttāṇṭavar and Kṛṣṇa is both more striking and more uncanny at Putūr village (Vellore Taluk, North Arcot [now Vellore] District), and also at nearby Pulimēṭu (same taluk), where the same doubling is between the two of them. As shown in figure 5.4, Kūttāṇṭavar on the right has beside him a look-​alike Kaṇṇaṉ-​Pēṭi, “Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch,” virtually his double, extending even to the cobra heads (reminiscent of Śiva) rising from their crowns. Both have mustaches.100 On the poster between them is Aiyaṉār, called Hariharaputra, “son of Hari (Viṣṇu, as

99. One of five men from the village who met me at the temple. 100. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 249–​57.

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the tempress Mohinī) and Hara (Śiva),” who was conceived when Viṣṇu transformed himself into Mohinī and seduced Śiva. (I will be returning to both of these doubles, among others, at the close of this chapter.)

A Draupadī Cult Version of Aravāṉ’s Battlefield Sacrifice We come now to what I  have billed as version 1.  It is a typical Draupadī cult telling of Aravāṉ’s battlefield sacrifice: a performative version, on which I also draw from the chapbook drama with the earliest known date of 1897. It is the play that mentions Mohinī, who makes—​as we shall see—​a very brief and superficial appearance, as if this Kūttāṇṭavar cult feature of the story had perhaps been added in. The drama is a staple at longer Draupadī festivals that host ten or more dramas,101 whereas I have no indication it has ever been performed at a Kūttāṇṭavar festival. I supplement the narrative with observations by my two chief actor-​informants, the brothers R. S. Natarajan and R. S. Mayakrishnan, and from seeing the play performed by their troupe. I begin from what amounts to a shocked protestation of innocence by Yudhiṣṭhira to Kṛṣṇa: “Oh, Listen, Swami, lord of the world, shouldn’t we first offer a wild buffalo, elephant, boar, horse, camel, sheep, cock or deer for the Āyudhapūjā.” Yudhiṣṭhira is ready to perform a Dasarā ceremony that typically involves a buffalo sacrifice and an āyudhapūjā, or honoring of royal weapons—​what in parts of northeastern India goes by the name of Durgāpūjā. Indeed, one may say that the whole Aravāṉ story, with Kālī in place of Durgā, has its roots in the folk Mahābhārata tradition, first evidenced in Peruntēvaṇār and then in the Draupadī and Kūttāṇṭavar cults, as a continuation and elaboration of the interpolated prewar Durgāpūjā offered by Yudhiṣṭhira in the epic’s Northern recension.102 Speaking from his typical “depressive position,”103 Yudhiṣṭhira is shocked that Kṛṣṇa expects him to draw benefit from a human sacrifice. Kṛṣṇa explains: “The victim should be handsome, truthful, observant of customs, and ētirrōmaṉ.” That is, he should be one whose hair stands on end.104 My two main dramatist informants say this occurs when people are 101. See Hiltebeitel 1988b, 165–​67. 102. See c­ hapter 3, this volume, notes 75–​85. 103. See c­ hapter 2, this volume, note 35 and passim. 104. For other meanings and implications of this term, see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 227–​28, 245–​ 49, 256, 261, 271–​73.

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startled, and refers to the victim’s capacity to feel awe when about to sacrifice himself to the Goddess. Having realized that Kṛṣṇa is calling for a human victim, Dharma (Yudhiṣṭhira) has scruples: “Is it a thing to be purchased?” Kṛṣṇa replies that there are only four possible candidates: Śalya, who has sided with Duryodhana; Arjuna, whom the Pāṇḍavas cannot lose or they will perish; Aravāṉ, “who doesn’t belong to us”; and Kṛṣṇa himself. All other possibilities eliminated, Kṛṣṇa offers to be the victim.105 Horrified, Dharma says he would rather go back to the forest. Then Aravāṉ steps forth, chides Dharma for vacillating, and says he is obviously the victim Dharma would prefer. If Aravāṉ had not already agreed to do kaḷappali for Duryodhana, he would do it for the Pāṇḍavas. From that point on, Dharma never again demurs. Leaving it for Kṛṣṇa to work out the details, Yudhiṣṭhira congratulates Aravāṉ for his “courageous” dedication to his “father” Duryodhana. Kṛṣṇa then seeks Ulūpī’s maternal consent. For a long time, she weeps, pleading with Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas. But when she goes to Aravāṉ, he tells her she is no longer his mother nor he her son, as he has now dedicated himself to Kālī. Ulūpī departs in tears. Then, once Kṛṣṇa has preponed the night of the new moon, and just before Aravāṉ tells him he wants to be married, Kṛṣṇa asks Aravāṉ if he will cheat in any way. Aravāṉ assures him that he is fearless. Kṛṣṇa then tells him to take up a knife for the “miracle”—​aṟputam, from Sanskrit adbhutam meaning an “uncanny” wonder106—​of cutting his own body. Aravāṉ then asks for all three boons at once, and Kṛṣṇa grants him dying by fighting and seeing the entire war from a “good position.” “But who” he asks, “will let their daughter marry someone about to die?” Suddenly Kṛṣṇa is replaced on stage by himself as Mohinī, who dances, bells tinkling, looking like “a crore of suns.” Aravāṉ ties a tāli around Mohinī’s neck to complete their quite unconsummated marriage. With all his boons granted, Aravāṉ is ready for kaḷappali. Kṛṣṇa (back to being himself) leads them to Kurukṣetra. Ulūpī comes again to weep. Dharma makes offerings in the weapons-​hall107 to Kālikātēvi. The fearsome Goddess comes before Dharma’s royal presence108 on the battlefield holding a drum and trident in her hands, dancing and singing of

105. In the Villipāratam, Kṛṣṇa is the only alternative (see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 233n14). 106. See ­chapter 1, this volume, note 5. 107. āyutacālai. 108. koḻu.

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herself as “Great Kālī of Heroes.” Dharma welcomes, honors, and anoints her. As Aravāṉ bows to her, Arjuna weeps affectionately, lamenting his inability to intercede. At this point, possession109 may come on the Arjuna and Kālī actors and on those in attendance, but Aravāṉ in contrast will be stern, brave, impassive, stiff, and silent. He removes his chest plate and shoulder epaulettes. Then, kneeling on one knee and extending the other leg stiffly out in front of him, he draws a cloth over his body that covers the cutting of his thirty-​two “limbs.” All the bits of flesh supposedly removed are put in a large copper pot or sacrificial vessel.110 The immobile actor, kneeling and draped from the neck down, looks much like the effigy of Aravāṉ at Draupadī cult’s paṭukaḷam or battlefield rituals,111 which depict him, his head set on a post-​body with outstretched arms, with a sheet draped from his neck (see figure 5.5). After his effigy has been fed “blood-​rice”112 by tossing it in his face, women may pick off bits of it if they want to get pregnant.113 Like other Mahābhārata heroes or vīraṉs in the Draupadī cult, Aravāṉ’s role is defined by martial feats, of which self-​decapitation is an acknowledged mode of offering for warriors worshiping the Goddess during the early medieval period. Warriors cutting their necks in front of the goddess Durgā are shown in numerous temple sculptures in the Draupadī cult’s core region around Mahabalipuram.114 For Freud and Bose, decapitation symbolizes castration—​as would every one of the thirty-​two cuts that Aravāṉ makes in doing battlefield sacrifice. Although his penis is never mentioned among the thirty-​two body parts he cuts, one will see that the symbolism is transparent. Yet we can say with Bose that Aravāṉ has no castration dread. He carries out his dismemberment and offering to Kālī in perfect equanimity. He shows no partiality toward his Pāṇḍava fathers and Draupadī, and he indicates that he would have done the same for his Kaurava uncles led by his “father” Duryodhana.

109. āvēcam. 110. palipāttiram. 111. The paṭukaḷam is the “place of lying down’ or dying—​i.e., the battlefield as a ritual terrain (or vice versa). 112. irattucōṟu. 113.  For this account more fully, see Hiltebeitel 1988b, 320–​24; on the blood-​rice, see Hiltebeitel 1991, 292. 114. See FI, ch. 6, note 24.

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Figure  5.5 Aravāṉ’s body at Draupadī festivals; (a) with snake; (b) kneeling for kaḷappali. (a) The typical scaffolding for Aravāṉ’s body at Draupadī temples in her cult’s core area near Gingee is to wrap straw around a post topped by a tripod, from which two prongs serve as stubs to which his outreaching forearms will be added. At Tailāpuram (Vanur Taluk, South Arcot [now Villupuram] District), a bulbous pedestal and a snake trailing along the ground ahead of, and seemingly merging into him, are locally added features. (b) A sheet is draped from his neck to the ground, under which he gives the impression that he is kneeling while performing kaḷappali (Tindivanam, South Arcot). Source: Photos by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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Confusion of Mothers: A Distillate Version from the Deep South Draupadī is the five Pāṇḍavas’ polyandrous wife, the incarnation of the Aphrodite-​like beautiful goddess Śrī, and the Goddess of her own Draupadī cult, and not to be confused with the goddess Kālī, who for present purposes is just the dread and deadly Goddess of battlefields to whom Aravān offers kaḷappali. And yet some confusion of mothers is an important part of his story. Nowhere is this more vividly the case than in version 2:  an atypical narrative connected with a Draupadī temple in the deep south. In Tirunelveli District, the Vīravanallūr Draupadī temple has a story about a “pillar of victory”115 that has been erected in front of the temple, at its northeast corner. The pillar’s dimensions—​four-​sided base, eight-​sided midsection, and rounded top—​meet the specifications of a yūpa, or sacrificial stake, and also of a liṅgam116 (see figure 5.6). Put in place over sixty years ago, it was said to “have been erected at the paṭukaḷam or battlefield by the Pāṇḍavas.” It figures in the following story. Before the war, Arjuna went to ask for Kṛṣṇa’s help in the upcoming battle. Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna saw Aravāṉ straddling two mountains, sharpening a sword on a third, and vowing to kill the war’s victors. Kṛṣṇa said, “Son or whatever, this one cannot be allowed to live.” After Kṛṣṇa’s embassy to the Kuru court came up empty of peaceful results, he learned that Duryodhana had gotten Aravāṉ to agree to perform battlefield sacrifice, with the expected result that Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira would lose his head. So Kṛṣṇa began plotting. He arranged for Aravāṉ to marry an ill-​fated princess named Kāmavaḷḷi.117 As the couple was about to go to the nuptial chamber, he told Aravāṉ not to consummate the wedding that night; he should go and hug the pillar of victory, hiding under a white cloth. That, he said, would keep Duryodhana from cutting it down, “which would result in your father [Arjuna] losing the war and your mother [Draupadī] never tying her hair.” Then, in a disembodied voice, Kṛṣṇa told Draupadī, “Duryodhana has sent this demon118 to cut down the pillar. He’s there at the foot of the pillar trying

115. It is called both jayakampam and jayastampam. 116. See Biardeau 2004, 38, 45–​46. 117. Kṛṣṇa knows this from knowing Kāmavaḷḷi’s horoscope. 118. Arakkaṉ.

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Figure 5.6  Victory Pillar, Vīravanallūr; Draupadī in “form of Kālī” beheads Aravāṉ Sketch of the “pillar of victory” hugged by Aravāṉ at Kṛṣṇa’s connivance, erected in front of the Vīravanallūr Draupadī temple in Tirunelveli District. It meets the specifications of a sacrificial post (yūpa) and a liṅgam:  four-​sided base (mostly below ground), eight-​sided midsection, and rounded top (cf. Biardeau 2004, 38). Hugging the pillar leads to Aravāṉ’s beheading by Draupadī in the “form of Kālī.” Source: Memory sketch by Alf Hiltebeitel.

to pull it out. Go there as Vīramākālī119 and kill him.” Draupadī goes there as Mākālī. She has a thousand heads, two thousand arms and is in the form of anger personified. Without waiting to see who is lying there, she cuts off Aravāṉ’s head. Aravāṉ shouts, “Ammā” [“Mother”]! Only then, realizing it is her son, she shouts out “Makaṉē” [“O son”]. She weeps, holding the head; she walks around the pillar, and goes to the temple to offer pūjā. She then sets off with a sword to Dvārakā to kill Kṛṣṇa, knowing he is behind it. But Kṛṣṇa has his wives greet her with festoons until her anger subsides. She asks Kṛṣṇa why he made her “kill my son with my own hands.” Kṛṣṇa takes her back to Aravāṉ on the battlefield (paṭukaḷam) and asks him to repeat what he said when he was straddling the two mountains, sharpening his 119. On the form of Kālī (Kālīrūpam) and “fierce form” (akora uruvam) of Draupadī and other occasions on which she took it, see Hiltebeitel 1988b, 289–​94, 302–​308.

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sword. Aravāṉ replied, “I said I would stand by the loser and fight against the victor.” Kṛṣṇa then says, “With the thirty-​two bodily marks only he is a match for Arjuna, So I plotted to get rid of him with your husband’s consent.” Aravāṉ then says he wasn’t serious that he would stand by the loser; “but now that it is done,” he wants to know whether dharma or adharma wins the war. So Kṛṣṇa put the life120 in Aravāṉ’s head and placed the head on the pillar, and Aravāṉ watched the war until Duryodhana’s thigh was split, and then he reached the feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa.121 The story seems to be a distillate of elements that have passed through both cults before reaching the deep south. It is told at a Draupadī temple and features two allusions to Draupadī tying up her hair at the death of Duryodhana, when she would fulfill her vow to do so as the culmination of Draupadī cult paṭukaḷam rites, which would include the rituals for Aravāṉ. But it also tells about Aravāṉ straddling two mountains while sharpening his weapon, which I  have heard most adjacently at a Kūttāṇṭavar temple in Coimbatore, as we shall see.122 The story also omits Aravāṉ’s most traditional second death on the eighth day of fighting, and tells mixed versions of the two others. The war-​ending death of Aravān’s severed head, if typical of both cults, is probably older in the Draupadī cult. Meanwhile, Kṛṣṇa finds Aravāṉ an otherwise unknown bride so that he does not die a bachelor. Though I have found one Draupadī cult parallel,123 the proliferation of alternate “afterthought brides” is more typical of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult. Both deaths are fused, in that together they win him Kṛṣṇa’s heaven. But what is striking is that the story is told around Aravāṉ’s calling Draupadī “mother” when she beheads him in front of her own temple in the form of Kālī. Aravāṉ’s real mother is neither Draupadī nor Kālī, but the serpent-​maiden (Nāgakanyā; Tamil Nākakkaṉṉi) Ulūpī (see figure 5.7). Confusion of mothers is not unique to this one account but is a staple in the story.

120. uyir. 121. Hiltebeitel 2011c, 317–​18. 122. The story is in any case found in both cults, and it is not possible to trace it to one or the other. In more recent fieldwork in 2002, I met it twice in Draupadī cult contexts near Dharmapuri. 123. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 316n5. In Thanjavur District, I was told at a Draupadī festival that the bride is Paravanācciyāḷ, daughter of Kṛṣṇa’s “younger brother” Sātyaki. See also 216–​17, 259; Aravāṉ’s third boon of marrying is little in evidence in Draupadī cult circles.

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Figure  5.7 Nākakaṉṉi with cobra canopy and fanged lion; Kūttāṇṭavar temple, Teṭāvūr The name Ulūpī is known to Tamil speakers, but Nākakaṉṉi is her usual name in Tamil stories about her son, in which she appears prominently. I have found an icon of her in only one place: in connection with the Kūttāṇṭavar temple at Teṭāvūr, Attur Taluk, Salem District. Of interest is her cobra-​head canopy and the coiled snake she stands on, which are reminiscent of the seat of the Viṣṇu on Freud’s desk (see FI, ch. 7). The lion beside her would seem to make up for her appearing fangless. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

At the Tindivanam Draupadī temple, about twenty miles east of the medieval capital of Gingee (Ceñci), the center of what I  call the cults’ “core area,” according to the temple’s pūcārī, Draupadī wants Aravāṉ sacrificed because he is “too hairy.”124 In Kūttāṇṭtavar cult settings, when Aravāṉ takes leave of the village where the festival is performed, he takes leave of his mother in the form of village goddesses like Māriyammaṉ, Kāmākṣiyammaṉ, and Keṅkaiyammaṉ (Gaṅgā).125 And as we shall see, at the Kūttāṇṭavar festival I studied in Coimbatore, the mother of the hero’s bride for a day is named Kāliyakkaḷ, or “elder sister Kāli,” a multiform of the name Kāliyammaṉ, “mother Kālī.” She and Nākakkaṉṉi have temple-​ “houses” where Aravāṉ spends his last hours, and it is at his mother-​in-​law Kāliyakkaḷ’s temple-​house that a fondly lain rose-​petaled bed is prepared 124. See Hiltebeitel 1988b, 322. 125. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 293–​94, 380–​81.

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for the couple’s icons to spend their nuptial night together before he takes his leave for kaḷappali. Having multiple overlapping mothers is, moreover, psychoanalytically interesting. Here we may take some cues from Stanley Kurtz’s book All the Mothers Are One: Hindu India and the Cultural Reshaping of Psychoanalysis. Kurtz is convinced that psychoanalytic interpretations of Hindu India have mistakenly worked from a Western model, assuming that a natural-​mother and single-​father continuum is normative and missing the importance of surrogate mothers in the extended paternal joint family. Kurtz takes the model generated so far to have missed this point in analyzing the male child. Rather than being shaped by a frustrating laxity on the part of his natural mother that ill-​prepares the boy for a shift at about age five to the world of an emotionally distant father, the alternate mothers of the extended family reinforce that seeming laxity in contexts that demand the natural mother practice respectful avoidance of affection toward the child and have the role of instilling positive outcomes in the child of renunciation of desires, and of thus easing the male child into the distant father’s family group, which has also become theirs. Kurtz posits a pre-​Oedipal phase—​the ek-​hi or “just one” phase—​where “all the mothers are one” followed by an early Oedipal phase, which he calls the “Durga complex” and which may function simultaneously with the ongoing pre-​Oedipal, in that all the mothers remain one while the child experiences hostility toward the father and desire for the mother. I am, however, wary of several things here:  of taking this essentially north Indian Brahmanical joint family household model as normative for Hinduism; of too much reliance, as with many other scholars, on the paradigm of the good/​bad “split mother”; of seeing the paternal mother-​in-​law in particular as keying the formation of Kālī;126 of positing so close a correlation between human and divine mothers, or between social structure and myth; and of paying too little attention to girls and to multiple fathers. The matter 126. Kurtz 1992, 108–​109: My discussion of the complex splits occurring at the prototypical moment of withdrawal of the child by the mother in the presence of the mother-​in-​law may have already been recognized by those familiar with the Hindu Goddess as an account of the springing forth of the terrible goddess Kali from the fierce but fundamentally benign Durga. . . . I think that the birth of Kali. . . . is rooted in this moment and others like it. That is, the withdrawal of the mother from the child and the turning over of the child to the care of the mother’s mother-​in-​law or sisters-​in-​law is experienced by the child as an abandonment of his now uncontrollable demon-​self into the clutches of a horrible being sprung from his own angry but fundamentally good natural mother.

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of multiple fathers is an obvious limitation when it comes to Aravāṉ, who thinks not only of the five Pāṇḍavas as fathers, including notably Yudhiṣṭhira and the astrologer Sahadeva, who first names him as the ideal victim, and Duryodhana and his hundred brothers, but also Kṛṣṇa, who, as we have only begun to see,127 is the most complicated and troubling paternal figure of all. Kṛṣṇa’s paternity is proverbial, as he is the father and mother of all beings.128 But what is important is that Kurtz does offer a workable theory on how Hindu goddesses are assumed to be one, and raises questions that can be asked of our Mahābhārata story, which at least begins in a Brahmanical text in which the Pāṇḍavas with Draupadī and the Kauravas form two parts of an extended household that supposedly lives by Brahmanical norms, from which Arjuna, on his “Rabelaisian” tīrthayātrā, has the inclination to break away. In fact, all of Arjuna’s tīrthayātrā weddings are atypical of Brahmanical norms. His second, to Citrāṅgadā, is according to the bride’s father a putrikā marriage, in which the bride has arranged to act like a son to her sonless father, thus making her son matrilocal but in his grandfather’s house;129 and the marriage to Subhadrā is of the “Dravidian” cross-​cousin type, but is carried out under patrilineal norms.130 But Irāvat, both as his story begins in the Sanskrit Mahābhārata and in the Tamil narratives about Aravāṉ, has the most aberrant upbringing. He may be “something of a putrikā,”131 but none of his snake kin seems to benefit from his birth. His mother, unlike Draupadī, never has to observe respect behavior before her husband’s mother (Kuntī), whom Irāvat seems rarely to have met.132 Irāvat-​Aravān will not grow up patrilocally but matrilocally.

127. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 316n3: Wendy Doniger 1999a, 265–​66 says, “Aravan thus one-​ups Oedipus by sleeping with (a transvestite formation of) not his mother but his father.” To which I say, “The idea of Kṛṣṇa’s fatherhood could, of course, have something behind it, but is not developed.” Doniger’s discussion is poorly sourced. Also, more immediately, Kṛṣṇa is a transvestite double of Kālī. 128. Bhagavad Gītā 9.17, 11.43, 14.3–​4 [henceforth BhG]. 129. See Brodbeck 2009a, 186–​87, citing Mbh 1.207.21–​22b. 130. Now that he is back near enough to home, Arjuna sends swift messengers to Indraprastha for Yudhiṣṭhira’s consent to marry Subhadrā (Brodbeck 2009a, 188); and when the Pāṇḍavas go into exile, Arjuna and Subhadrā’s son Abhimanyu is raised along with Draupadī and the Pāṇḍavas’ five sons by Subhadrā and others of Kṛṣṇa’s family, presumably including Kuntī, while Draupadī and the Pāṇḍavas are in exile (Mbh 3.180.24–​30; 224.10–​14). 131. According to Brodbeck 2009a, 185. 132. Draupadī does so on her first night as a newlywed when she sleeps at her five husbands’ feet, after Kuntī tells her how to divide up the family’s food, leaving the last portion for herself (Mbh 1.184.4–​9).

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To his snake-​mother, he seems to be a love child; to his human father, he seems to be the outcome of an impetuous opposite wish. Kurtz is aware of Bose. He leads into a discussion of Bose by saying, “A study of the male child’s response to early shifts from the natural mother to the in-​law mothers and linking this to renunciatory castration imagery has yet to be undertaken.”133 He then devotes to Bose the closing pages of his chapter on others’ clinical studies of Indian patients. Unfortunately, he does not account for Bose’s idea of the “Oedipus mother” and with it, Bose’s argument that the wish to be female goes back to an early “pre-​ Oedipal” phase. He just represents Bose as saying “that the castration anxiety is merely a defense against the deeper wish to be female.” Kurtz thus presents Bose as offering “a case of reverse ethnocentrism by an ‘Indian Freud’ ”! He cites just one of Bose’s articles, “The Genesis and Adjustment of the Oedipus Wish,” and says: “Unfortunately, Bose’s case reports tend to be brief, and they are particularly thin on accounts of the family background of the patient. This prevents me from reanalyzing Bose’s fascinating material on explicit castration imagery from the standpoint of the natural mother/​in-​law mother dynamic.”134 Kurtz does not mention Bose’s “The Mechanism of Defiance,” “A New Theory of the Mental Life,” or “The Genesis of Homosexuality,” or list them in his bibliography. He thus fails to reckon with the articles that present Bose’s most detailed case studies, including material on the family backgrounds of his patients, as well as in the third article just mentioned, Bose’s most complete statement on castration. All this is unfortunate, since Kurtz has touched on some worthwhile issues. He discusses the emergence of the nuclear family in modern urban India as presenting a background for Hindu Indian case studies closer to his Western model.135 That would seem to describe the situation of Bose’s best-​described Calcutta patients, whom I discussed in c­ hapter 6 of Freud’s India. Their problems involve numerous women of the family, like the mother’s sister and various “cousin-​sisters,” but not the paternal mother-​in-​law so prominent in the typical extended joint family. In this vein, Kurtz is plausible, even as he overemphasizes the uniformity of the Brahmanical model and gives it no historical depth, where he says of the

133. Kurtz 1992, 216. 134. Kurtz 1992, 218–​19. 135. Kurtz 1992, 196–​97, 214–​16.

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subject of one of Sudhir Kakar’s case studies, “What is striking about K’s family is that it represents extended family principles displaced into a dysfunctional nuclear family context.”136 Kurtz was not aware of Aravāṉ’s story, but he would probably have had a field day with it, working out the implications that it represents the Pāṇḍavas’ and Kauravas’ extended family principles displaced onto the son of a dysfunctional single-​mother family. Kurtz writes: “The crucial work of the ek-​hi phase lies in the gradual realization by the child that his true mother is a collectivity. This realization consolidates an ego of the whole, the child’s sense that he is whole and good in so far as he contains and is contained by the group.”137 The category of “ego of the whole” for what a joint-​family upbringing constructs through the pre-​Oedipal stages of oral, anal, and phallic sexuality138 resembles, at least teleologically, a sociological variant of Bose’s more philosophical “theoretical ego.”139 Kurtz could no doubt turn to his “ego of the whole” to account for Aravāṉ’s keeping his whole extended family in view as he performs kaḷappali. One would then expect him to follow this up with his ideas about a “phallus of the whole”: that “the consolidated ego of the whole, then leads by way of the Durga complex to a phallus of the whole.”140 This he exemplifies by Kṛṣṇa’s sexual “play” with the cowherdesses (Gopīs), by castration myths of Śiva, and by beheadings by the Goddess, where the severed liṅgam, or head, is in some manner restored.141 It may sound at first like Kurtz could still be describing Aravāṉ, whose enlivened severed head usually survives, first atop a liṅgam-​like pole: My argument is that we need to take these restorations seriously. To my way of thinking, the mythological act of demon decapitation represents the punishment of the child’s incestuous wishes and the empowerment of the child-​man at a more mature level by the group. The phallus is thus restored.142

136. Kurtz 1992, 196. 137. Kurtz 1992, 143. 138. Kurtz 1992, 101–​103. 139. See discussion in FI, ch. 4. 140. Kurtz 1992, 149. 141. Kurtz 1992, 144–​59. 142. Kurtz 1992, 154.

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It is hardly clear what Kurtz means when he moves from describing “transformations” of beheadings of demons “into self-​ castrations.” But this, too, he could try to apply to Aravāṉ, who is considered to be rakshasic—​that is, at least partly demonic. Still, Kurtz’s reading is perhaps a bit too rose-​tinted for Aravāṉ or for the tragic, depressive feeling of the Mahābhārata. Even if it is suggestive for Aravāṉ as a Draupadī cult hero, Kurtz does not speak adequately to all the transformations of Aravāṉ’s story in the Kūttāṇṭavar cult.

The Kūttāṇṭavar Cult Story in Coimbatore: A Wish to Be Struck? We thus come to the second setting in which one can find Aravāṉ:  his own cult. This second cult is found almost exclusively along a southwest-​ to-​northeast belt across the central Tamil-​speaking countryside. There, approximately forty-​five temples regard Aravāṉ as the main deity and call him additionally Kūttāṇṭavar.143 The name Kūttāṇṭavar is rarely used at Draupadī temples and is not even known at most of them. Kūttāṇṭavar means “the dancing god,” implying that he is a sort of mini-​folk form of Śiva as “Lord (or more literally, King) of the Dance” (Naṭarāja). Version 3 is an account from the southwestern end of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult belt in Coimbatore District that gives an especially rich description of kaḷappali in a Kūttāṇṭavar cult setting. But before I get to it, I must say what I can about the sweep of Kūttāṇṭavar temples north of Coimbatore, in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri Districts. I canvassed these temples twice, in 1998 and 2004, going back the second time because I had found things at most of the seven temples visited to be in a state of long neglect. That had not changed by 2004. In these wider northwestern reaches of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult, Kṛṣṇa tends to find Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar a bride for a day who is just about as desperate as he is, each one with different, poorly recalled, or else atypical marital arrangements. The bride’s name is variously Mohinī, Lakṣmī, or at Maṉṉāṭippaṭṭi in Dharmapuri District, “a daughter of Kṛṣṇa” called either Subhadrā (as a daughter Kṛṣṇa rather than his sister, who marries Arjuna) or Naṅkai. The name Subhadrā was used there in 1998:  Subhadrā marries Kūttāṇṭavar after the war rather than before it, when he has just spoken as an oracular head on a post

143. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 211–​11, for a map of Kūttāṇṭavar cult temple sites.

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and told the quarreling Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī that Kṛṣṇa really won the war. It was then that Kūttāṇṭavar said he would like to marry to avoid a hellish destiny in Nāraka, and Subhadrā then married him when all that remained of him was his live head and his skeleton. In 2004, however, the name Naṅkai was all my informant there could recall about Kṛṣṇa’s sister. In Dharmapuri District, the bride is generally impersonated by “a member of a downtrodden community.”144 Moreover, old patterns are found at two mountainside villages. At N.  Tattakal and Pāppampāṭi, both in Dharmapuri District, the bride is impersonated by an Irula pūcāri. The Irula community was long ago “chased to the hills” by those who are now landlords in the plains. As of 1998, N. Tattakal’s last festival was held in 1967. It is said there that Mohinī was born in her next birth as an Irula, which is why an Irula pūcāri marries Aravāṉ. It is the “custom” for an Irula man to say yes when he is asked if he wants to marry Aravāṉ. The Irula man would come from outside the village, and be paid to perform his part. Landed Vaṉṉiyārs from the village provide him with bangles, sarees, and a gold tāli (wedding necklace), and after the wedding, as priest or pūcāri, he wears the white saree of a widow. After three months, the widow bathes in the river and is fed by the village. At Pāppampāṭi, the festival has been better kept up, being performed once every six years. Three-​fourths of the way down a mountainside, a small, open Kūttāṇṭavar temple with upraised spikes or spears set in the ground in front of it shelters Kūttāṇṭavar’s large red head (see figure 5.8). About a quarter of a mile distant and below it, just across a main road, is a Perumāḷ (Viṣṇu) temple, with which Kūttāṇṭavar’s festival is joined. The little shelter for Kūttāṇṭavar’s head is thought to be very old, perhaps going back almost five hundred years to Vijayanagar times. Here, too, Kūttāṇṭavar has an Irula pūcāri, but this one’s role is hereditary, and he lives in a neighboring village. On the sixteenth day of the Perumāḷ festival, Kūttāṇṭavar’s big red head is fixed to his body and adorned with flowers on a chariot (tēr), making the whole about thirty to thirty-​five feet tall. On the seventeenth day, it is pulled to a pantal, or shed, in front of Kūttāṇṭavar’s mountainside shrine, and then dragged away for his kaḷappali. A goat is sacrificed and Kūttāṇṭavar’s head is taken down. The Irula pūcāri was not identified by name as any particular bride, and does not enact their marriage; but he wears a yellow sari, breaks his 144. The latter according to Rajarathinam 1995; see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 384–​85, on some of the weddings.

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bangles, and cuts his tāli, and he is considered to remain married from one festival to another. After ancestral offerings are made where the goat was sacrificed, the head is carried down to the Perumāḷ temple. From there, it is brought to the river that runs through the valley, where four Dalit men are charged with singing oppāri dirges for Kūttāṇṭavar. The four then carry the head from the river back up to the Perumāḷ temple. Then on the eighteenth day, Bhāratam (Mahābhārata recitation) is completed, after which they give back Aravāṉ’s life (uyir koṭuttal) with singing at the Kūttāṇṭavar temple, while the reenlivened head remains with Perumāḷ. Finally, ten days later, a death ceremony is performed, at which a mixture of blood and rice called piṇḍa prasādam is distributed at a platform of bricks by the river.

Figure 5.8 Pāppampāṭi Kūttāṇṭavar temple on a slope with spears in front At Pāppampāṭi, Dharmapuri District, Tamilnadu, a small open Kūttāṇṭavar temple on a mountainside slope, with upraised spears set in the ground in front of it, shelters Kūttāṇṭavar’s large red head. A  festival is held jointly with a Perumāḷ (Viṣṇu) temple in the valley below. Kūttāṇṭavar has a hillsman (Irula) pūcāri, reminding one of the Pūlūvar hillsmen’s prominence around Coimbatore. Source: Memory sketch by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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It is remarkable how much of this pattern involving the Irulas and Dalits is repeated, in different forms, at Ciṅkanallūr and Kūvākkam. There is also, at both Dharmapuri sites, just as there is at Ciṅkanallūr and Kūvākkam, a deeply structured affinity between Kūttāṇṭavar and Perumāḷ. At N.  Tattakal, Kūttāṇṭavar is worshiped as Perumāḷ in Purattāci month (August–​September), when the big festival at Tirupati is done for Viṣṇu. And at Pāppampāṭi, Kūttāṇṭavar’s head goes to the Perumāḷ temple after kaḷappali and remains there representing Kūttāṇṭavar’s salvation in union with Perumāḷ, and fusing their festival for its conclusion. Now, at the southwestern end of the Kūttāṇṭavar cult belt, in Coimbatore District and in and around the city of Coimbatore, where I did more intensive fieldwork, the desperate search for Kūttāṇṭavar’s bride leads to Pommiyammaṉ, pronounced “Bommiyamman,” or “Doll-​ lady” or “La Muñeca.” It is she who rather poignantly figures in my article “Kūttāṇṭavar’s Cross” when Kṛṣṇa sets out to “Make that Young Bride, Whoever She Is, a Widow.” In this area, Kuttantavar’s body is made from crossed strips of wood from a vaṉṉi (Sanskrit śamī) tree linked with the Vedic fire cult, by which Kūttāṇṭavar’s body is made into the shape of a cross (see figure 5.9), presenting possibilities that his sacrifice in this particular area has been informed by Christian symbolism and Roman Catholic missions.145 I tell the story from a handwritten manuscript called Pākavatam, which I call the Kuricci Pākavatam.146 I borrowed and copied it from trustees of the same area’s Kuricci Kūttāṇṭavar temple. I also draw on an oral account given by Krishnaswami Konar, a pūcāri of the Ciṅkanallūr (pronounced “Singanallur”) Kūttāṇṭavar festival that I  attended in 1995. The two accounts are largely consistent, as is the case for the surprising number of Kūttāṇṭavar temples (I visited seven) across the Coimbatore city area, of which Ciṅkanallūr’s has the grandest festival. Asked about the battlefield sacrifice, Kṛṣṇa says that kaḷappali “needs to be performed by an ētirrōmakkārar (someone with ētirrōmaṉ or hair that stands on end): when the flesh is cut, an ētirrōmakkārar won’t bleed, and he won’t shed tears due to pain. Because Aravāṉ is an ētirrōmakkārar, he will fight in the war as a pure hero,147 and he needs to be married.” So, 145.  I  discuss the historical plausibility of an interpretatio christiana in Hiltebeitel 2011c, 376–​96. 146. There seem to be suggestions that the text is viewed as an extension of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. 147. cuttavīraṉ.

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Figure  5.9. Ciṅkanallūr; (a)  Pommiyammaṉ as bride-​widow; (b) Kūttāṇṭavar’s cross (a) Pommiyammaṉ is fated to be a widow before her wedding day is over. She is introduced before the wedding, holding flowers and lemons, the latter denoting sacrifice. (b) Kūttāṇṭavar’s body is shaped on a cross in the Coimbatore area, as here at Ciṅkanallūr, holding a bow in his left hand. Both photos are from the Ciṅkanallūr Kūttāṇṭavar festival in Coimbatore city. Source: Photos by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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they start the search for a bride. Yudhiṣṭhira utters the line I made the subtitle of my article: “Don’t you think we’ll end up as sinners—​because we’ll make that young bride, whoever she is, a widow.” Kṛṣṇa says, “For this girl the strength of her tāli is not strong—​on the same day it is tied it is immediately cut. It is just the girl’s head-​fate.148 Neither I nor anyone else can change this.” Kṛṣṇa and Bhīma search the city of Ayodhya149 in its various castes’ quarters, offering gold; but no one will give a daughter whose tāli will be cut the day she marries. In the end, they go to the Pūlūvar quarters. The Pūlūvar men assemble and decide not to give a girl even for her weight in gold. But Kāliyakkaḷ of the Pūlūvar street has a daughter she is willing to give, and steps forward to give this girl, Pommiyammaṉ, in marriage. The Pūlūvar men now change their tune:  “In our country’s tradition we are not giving this girl. You have to give the equivalent of her weight in gold.” Kṛṣṇa and Bhīma agree to pay the price for her, and Pommiyammaṉ is made to sit on one side of the Chettiyar’s scales.150 Having given the gold, they bought Pommiyammaṉ.151 Pommiyammaṉ is an orphan of mysterious origins: “without a father or mother, without siblings,” or—​for the latter—​“without her own birth.”152 Bhīma and Kṛṣṇa then prepare for the wedding, put out sweetened boiled rice, or pongal, and set out for Nākakkaṉṉi’s house to get Aravāṉ. Ulūpī greets her “elder brother”153 Kṛṣṇa with a lighted camphor flame and lime reddened with turmeric. She puts out a throne for him and Bhīma to sit on. But when Kṛṣṇa says they have come for Aravāṉ’s wedding, having set the date for it, she won’t accept his word until Bhīma vouches for it. Kṛṣṇa rushes things to make Aravāṉ dress as a bridegroom, in silk. Nākakkaṉṉi comes with the wedding party to the wedding shamiana in Ayodhyā. Aravāṉ ties the tāli. Kṛṣṇa gives gifts to all the wedding guests and Brahmins, after which he wants Aravāṉ to go immediately for kaḷappali. But the bride and the bride’s people come running to Kṛṣṇa and ask for a boon—​just to leave

148. talaiviti. 149. It is Hāstinapura in the Ciṅkanallūr pūcāri’s account; Ayodhyā in the Kuricci Pākavatam. 150. Chettiyars are a merchant caste. 151. poṉṉai koṭuttu pommiyammāḷai vaṅkaṟāṅka. 152. tāyum takappaṉaṉṟi taṉṉuṭaiya piṟappumiṉṟi. Translated by Perundevi Srinivasan, noting the ambiguity; see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 340n 33 and 376. 153. Kṛṣṇa is “elder brother” to all of Arjuna’s wives.

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Aravāṉ there for day. Kṛṣṇa says, “Let them be well today.” Dharma asks again, “Should we rule just at the cost of these young people’s lives?” Kṛṣṇa goes to Kurukṣetra. He sets up a board on which it says the war will last eighteen days, and arranges spatial positions for the two sides: south and west for Duryodhana, north and east for the Pāṇḍavas. The warriors gather in those positions. At this point Kṛṣṇa calls on Añjaneyar (the monkey Hanumān) to get Aravāṉ from Kāliyakkaḷ’s house. Añjaneyar goes and asks for him, but the Pūlūvar men tell him that Aravāṉ is in the cucumber fields.154 Añjaneyar searches the cucumber fields, and comes back. Añjaneyar finds the bridegroom’s friend,155 asks him, and get’s the same answer. He becomes angry, ties the bridegroom’s friend to his tail, and drags him to Nākakkaṉṉi’s house. Añjaneyar asks for Aravāṉ. Nākakkaṉṉi says she has not seen him since he left with Dharma and Kṛṣṇa as a bridegroom. She starts crying, having come to know he will be sacrificed. Añjaneyar drags the bridegroom’s friend with his tail back to Kāliyakkaḷ’s house. He breaks through the doors, finds Aravāṉ sleeping (in the ritual, on the rose-​petal bed), and wakes him up. Añjaneyar tells Aravāṉ that his friend is tied to his tail. Aravāṉ unties him. Aravāṉ is very angry and ready to fight with Hanumān, who tells him, “Cool down your anger, O wild-​haired Aravāṉ.”156 Aravāṉ leaves with Pommiyammaṉ for Kurukṣetra. The ritual accentuates his leavetaking just from Pommiyammaṉ (see figure 5.10), but the Kuricci Pākavatam has a wider scope. Nākakkaṉṉi joins him on the way, cries, and tells his whole life story from her wedding with Arjuna to this point. She tells him, “I would happily give you leave if you were going to war.” Aravāṉ says, “The Pāṇḍavas are calling me. So, I am leaving, mother.” He reaches Kurukṣetra where the Pāṇḍavas are waiting. They take him on their laps and cry, saying “We are going to rule at the cost of this young person’s life.” Kuntī is there and cries. The Young Pañcapāṇḍavas (Draupadī’s five sons, one by each Pāṇḍava) cry. Draupadī also cries. She tells Aravāṉ, “I became wife of all five, though Arjuna was the only one to

154. As the Ciṅkanallūr pūcāri tells it, these words—​of likely sexual overtones—​are said by Kāliyakkaḷ, of whom he asks “What of Kāliyakkaḷ? If Hanumān asks for Aravāṉ, does she tell him, lock the house, and put her son out playing front of the house? Tell him that he has probably gone to Nākakkaṉṉi’s house? I wouldn’t know.” 155. māppiḷḷai tōḻaṉ; a sort of best man. 156. kōpam taṇiyumayyā kōramuṭi aravāṉē.

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Figure 5.10 Ciṅkanallūr; Kūttāṇṭavar before kaḷappali holding his last meal Under his right arm, a cross-​shaped Kūttāṇṭavar keeps his last meal of tamarind rice (kaṭṭuccōṟu) brought in procession for him by Pommiyammaṉ before he goes for kaḷappali. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

marry me. Although you are not born out of my womb,157 you are my son. And now things have come to such a pass that you will have to die to make us live.” Aravāṉ takes leave of Draupadī and goes to the Kālī temple. Kṛṣṇa asks if Aravāṉ has any thoughts now. Aravāṉ says, “I am not afraid of dying in kaḷappali, but I am a pure warrior. I should either kill the enemy or be killed by them. Instead of either of these, I am being killed at the kaḷappali. I  have a great wish to fight at the war.” Kṛṣṇa says “You people think that if it is kaḷappali, it is cutting and giving the head (see figure 5.11). It is not so. We will just bathe him, and we will adorn him with various ornaments, and we will give a sword into his hand. And he should just cut a little. That would suffice. And he should give naivedyam to Kālī.”158 Kṛṣṇa arranges the kaḷappali in the hall of

157. vayiṟṟilē, “stomach.” 158. Naivedyam is ordinarily cooked food offered to the presiding deity of a temple.

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Figure  5.11. Sowcarpet temple, Chennai.Aravāṉ hands his head to Kālī for kaḷappali Across the state of Tamilnadu from Coimbatore, in Chennai, Aravāṉ’s kaḷappali is shown as his head-​offering to Kālī (this would be what Kṛṣṇa says people “think” kaḷappali is, according to the Kuricci Pākavatam). Kālī’s temple would implicitly be at the Kurukṣetra battlefield. Wall fresco in ardhamaṇḍapa, Sowcarpet temple, Chennai. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

weapons, with numerous offerings to Kālī—​fruits, vegetables, opium, arrack, store-​bought marijuana,159 vadais, dumplings, various lights, blood sacrifice,160 and so on. Aravāṉ is given a bath.161 He is made to wear a red garland. They put the sword in front of the Goddess and do pūjā to the sword. After Aravāṉ takes the sword in his hand, he worships Kālī and kneels on both knees. Then he cuts from all thirty-​two limbs,162 keeping the portions in front of Paraśakti. He starts dancing. And he starts chopping up his own body as he is dancing and throwing it to Kālī (see figure 5.12). At the same time, he shouts, “Accept me in kaḷappali.” Without getting upset, without the body withering, without being afraid for his life, without his body trembling,

159. kaṭai ganja. 160. uyir bali. 161. apiṣēka. 162. aṅkams.

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(a)

(b)

Figure  5.12 (a)  Tailāpuram. Kūttāṇṭavar begins kaḷappali by slicing his arm; (b) nine grains (a) Also across the state of Tamilnadu from Coimbatore, Kūttāṇṭavar begins his battlefield sacrifice (kaḷappali) to Kālī by slicing his arm. This scene from the roof-​line sculpture at the Tailāpuram Kūttāṇṭavar temple (Vanur Taluk, South Arcot [now Villupuram] District), where Kālī dances before him, suggests something of his dance in the Kuricci Pākavatam—​as if he were playing the violin. (b) On the grounds of this temple is a garden where sprouts of nine grains are sown that will be torn up and distributed as prasādam (signifying the deity’s grace) after his kaḷappali. Source: Photos by Alf Hiltebeitel.

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without shedding blood,163 without crying, without even drinking water, he did this in the dance until he became tired. He fell forward in prostration by touching the ground with his eight limbs.164 Then he swooned and fell in a faint. The five Pāṇḍavas came, lifted, and revived him, and washed his face. Aravāṉ rose up and all worshiped Kālī. The war began.165 We see the dance of the mini-​Śiva Kūttāṇṭavar replace the immobile posture of Aravāṉ at the kaḷappali scene as it is portrayed in the Draupadī cult drama and on the Draupadī cult paṭukaḷam. The Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī have all taken him on their laps; there is something childlike about Aravāṉ. Here, Aravāṉ is wept over by Ulūpī’s mother-​in-​law Kuntī: our candidate for Yudhiṣṭhira’s “dead mother” and Kurtz’s candidate for the prototype of Kālī. Poor Pommiyammaṉ is a kind of orphan daughter of Kāliyakkaḷ, who by her name “elder sister-​Kālī” is a multiform of Kālī herself. For the record, Pūlūvars are a low-​caste group linked with the hills around Coimbatore. They are said to have had a former, centuries-​old rivalry with Vēḷḷālars, the landed dominant caste in the region who allegedly forced the Pūlūvars into the hills. This rivalry and accommodation probably plays itself out in myth and ritual through the marriage of Pommiyammaṉ into the high-​caste Pāṇḍava family, with Aravāṉ as the linking figure. Pommiyammaṉ is thus a low-​caste Pūlūvar bride like Aravāṉ’s Irula bride in Dharmapuri District. What is most suggestive in this account, however, are the ways that Aravāṉ’s own mixed—​indeed, contradictory—​snake and human heritage is represented. On the human side, one striking feature is his wild hair, which no snake would have. But mixing the two is Kṛṣṇa’s characterization of him as suitable for kaḷappali because he is an ētirrōmakkārar (one whose hair stands on end), who will neither bleed nor shed tears due to pain. His mother’s weeping aside, it is above all Aravāṉ’s not bleeding that must catch our eye. Add to that the description at the end that he fell forward in prostration by touching the ground with his eight limbs. As the Tamil Lexicon indicates, cāṣṭaṅkam, or cāṣṭaṅka-​namaskāram, is “prostration by touching the ground with the eight limbs, viz., two hands, two knees, two shoulders, chest, and forehead.”166 That is, Aravāṉ—​the serpent-​woman’s son whose name is commonly derived from aravu, “snake”—​lengthens out

163. uttiram vatiyāmal. 164. cāṣṭaṅkamāka viḻuntu viṭṭāṉ. 165. Summarized from Hiltebeitel 2011c, 339–​43. 166. Tamil Lexicon (1926–​39) 1982, 3:1,898.

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like a snake.167 I take this to confirm what I wrote in 1991: Aravāṉ performs kaḷappali at a Kālī temple at Kurukṣetra, which itself, as a paṭukaḷam, or “place of lying down” or “place of dying,” is conceived of ritually as a north-​ facing Kālī temple. A Hindu temple is laid out according to a geometric diagram, called the vāstu-​puruṣa-​maṇḍala, “the circle [even though it is a square] of the Puruṣa of the site.” Mythically, the Vāstupuruṣa is sacrificed to create the diagram he becomes. Where the Vāstupuruṣa is a snake, he is the world-​encompassing serpent Ananta or Śeṣa. With “the shape of a nāga,” he can be referred to as the vāstunāga. The two commonest designs depict the vāstunāga laid out on either a chessboard-​like sixty-​four squares (eight-​ by-​ eight), or with eighty-​ one squares (nine-​ by-​ nine). Either way, thirty-​two gods, identified by spatial orientation and said to represent the “lunar mansions” of the zodiac, receive offerings, where they fit into squares around the outer border. There are precisely thirty-​two outer squares in the nine-​by-​nine design, and twenty-​eight squares in the eight-​by-​eight design, in which deities are doubled at each corner to make the total of thirty-​two.168 Here we have a model for Aravāṉ’s cutting his body in thirty-​two places to make into offerings, and for his lengthening out snakelike when he prostrates himself by touching the ground with the eight limbs. The scenario matches, or overlaps with, one that we meet in some Kūttāṇṭavar cult narratives where Ananta can be Ulūpī’s “grandfather” who sought to help Aravāṉ in his eighth-​day fight with Alampucaṉ. It is not that he helps by “covering” Alambuṣa, as the unnamed huge snake “like Ananta” does in the Sanskrit epic. Ādiśeṣa (the primal Śeṣa) or Ananta himself aids Aravān by coiling around his desiccated body and restoring his flesh with snake flesh, until he sees Garuḍa, is scared off, and vanishes.169 As N. Dandapani, one of the best raconteurs familiar with Kūttāṇṭavar cult lore around Kūvākkam,170 told it,

167. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 376–​77. 168. See Hiltebeitel 1991, 310–​12, citing Kramrisch [1947] 1976, 1:85–​86; Volwashen 1969, 45; Dagens 1985, 20–​22. 169. See Hiltebeitel 1988, 329. According to my two main dramatist informants, this story is played by actors performing the play Aravāṉ Alampujaṉ Caṇṭai Naṭakam, a kind of sequel to the play on Aravāṉ’s Kaḷappali. The play is not performed at Draupadī festivals, but is, according to them, performed at Kūttāṇṭavar festivals. No dramas were performed at the Kūvākkam Kūttāṇṭavar festival in 1982 or 1990, but the story is known there. The printed version (Pūvaṉ n.d.) does not include the story. 170. The theme of desiccation of Kūttāṇṭavar’s skeletal remains, followed by a restoration of fleshy parts, can be a reminder that Shulman and Handelman see a regional affinity between Kūttāṇṭavar’s story and that of Bhṛṅgin, which I noticed in FI, ch. 6, notes 46–​48.

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Aravāṉ thinks of Nākakaṉṉi for help, who tells her father, Nākarājaṉ (the Snake-​king), “My son is going to fight. He needs strength.” So, you know all those cobras, snakes, different sizes, suiting different parts of the body—​fingers, arms, thighs—​came and wound around different parts of Aravāṉ’s body. His skeleton now became stiff with all the snakes wound around him. He finished off one army-​division completely in an hour and a half.171 Kṛṣṇa thought, “What is this? We won’t have anything left for others!” Kṛṣṇa was the illusionist (māyāvin) who had come to lift the burden of the Earth. Kṛṣṇa did another trick172 and called Garuḍa to appear in the sky. When even the shadow of an eagle falls, the cobras will disappear. Alampucaṉ appeared just at the right time, while the nāgas were falling off from Aravāṉ’s body. While Aravāṉ was losing all his strength with the snakes falling off, Alampucaṉ cut off his head.173 Just as the serpents or the primal Ananta join flesh for a time with Aravāṉ for his eighth-​day fight, the final movement of his kaḷappali is to lengthen out to become one with the laid-​out diagram of Ananta as the vāstunāga. This is a fragment of a longer narrative in which Aravāṉ’s head falls into a river and turns into a child. Dandapani will tell the continuation in the next section. Dandapani is a sculptor who repairs and makes wooden and masonry icons at temples of all kinds. He is from Tailāpuram village, near Pondicherry, where Draupadī and Kūttāṇṭavar have a rare pair of adjacent, separate temples. Indeed, knowing his style from a Draupadī, Arjuna, and Pōttu Rāja he sculpted for me, he probably sculpted the Kūttāṇṭavar in figure 5.12 (a). To answer our Bosean question in the title of this section, we cannot say that Aravāṉ’s kaḷappali itself involves a wish to be struck; we can only say that he is impassive to pain and open to the same result for either side. Yet we may get as close to such a wish as the imaginations behind his story will take us when he is about to do kaḷappali as a “pure warrior” and says of what will remain of him, “I have a great wish to fight at the war.” There, with his reconstituted snake body, he will for a time invite the futile blows of Alampucaṉ.

171. The Kauravas are known to have eleven army divisons, the Pāṇḍavas seven. 172. tantiram. 173. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 285.

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The Kūvākkam Kūttāṇṭavar Festival and the Wish to Be Female I close this chapter concentrating on the northeastern section of the belt where Kūttāṇṭavar is worshiped, near Villupuram and inland from Pondicherry. There one finds Kūttāṇṭavar’s biggest festival at the little village of Kūvākkam, not far from Chidambaram (the grand temple home of Śiva Naṭarāja), close to the Bay of Bengal. Especially at Kūvākkam and at some Kūttāṇṭavar temples near it, Kūttāṇṭavar attracts the worship of Aravāṇis—​a spectrum of transgender people that includes transvestites, hermaphrodites, and castrated so-​called eunuchs (in north India called Hinjras). As I  noted in this book’s preface, when I  did my fieldwork at Kūvākkam from 1981 to 1994, they used the term Alis to refer to themselves, but they have, since then, as a community, adopted the hero’s name and call themselves Aravāṇis. I will adopt the current usage except where it is anachronistic. Aravāṇis identify with the additional third boon that Aravāṉ gets from Kṛṣṇa, which Kṛṣṇa promises after Aravāṉ says he will agree to perform battlefield sacrifice for the Pāṇḍavas if Kṛṣṇa supplies a wife for him, even for just a day, so that he does not have to die a bachelor, which would deny a warrior the reward of going to heaven. At Kūvākkam, the Mohinī myth is thus a major component of the cult—​so much so that it has been ritualized and mythologized in at least three different ways by three participating communities: by Kūvākkam’s and neighboring villages’ Dalits or Harijans (as Untouchables called themselves when I  did my fieldwork); by other villagers who are mostly of the Vaṉṉiyār caste (local landlords in the region); and by the Aravāṇis, who make arrangements to lodge with villagers’ families (see figure 5.13) or at hotels in nearby towns (like the Rolex Hotel in Villupuram) for the few days that they attend the eighteen-​day festival on its fourteenth or fifteenth to its sixteenth days. The Harijans’ ancestors (in this case, I use the term that was ritually operative) are credited with originally finding Aravāṉ’s head under a thorny bush, and one of them has the hereditary right to portray Aravāṉ’s bride at a ceremony on the festival’s second day, which the Harijans sponsor. This marriage takes place as a double wedding. While two Harijans represent the bride and groom, so do two Vaṉṉiyārs. According to the Vaṉṉiyārs, Aravāṉ is marrying Mohinī peṇ, “Mohinī the woman.” Mohinī peṇ, or “Mohinī the woman,” is the way the Kūvākkam village Vaṉṉiyārs characterize Mohinī, and that is consistent for Vaṉṉiyars at other Kūttāṇṭavar

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Figure  5.13  Day fifteen of Kūvākkam festival, an Ali in front of house she will rent Eye-​contact. An Ali on the fifteenth day of the Kūvākkam Kūttāṇṭavar festival in front of the still unvacated house she will be renting for the night. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

temples in North and South Arcot.174 But the Harijan bride had no idea that he was impersonating Mohinī. When I inadvertently passed the information along to him, he was taken aback and surprised, though not displeased.175 His role continues through the sixteenth day, guarding the wedding spot and watching over the seedlings of nine grains sown in the ground there to see that they are not eaten by goats. He is called the Cāttukkāraṉ.176 The participation by members of low-​caste communities in the person, or mythology, of Aravāṉ’s bride is a feature that is paralleled at other Kūttāṇṭavar temples far and wide—​ often where the bride is someone other than Mohinī, as we have just seen with Pommiyammaṉ as 174. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 250–​52, and ­figure 5.4 on the iconography festival at Putūr in North Arcot, where a mustached Kṛṣṇa is both Kaṇṇaṉ peṇ and “Kṛṣṇa the eunuch” (Kaṇṇaṉ pēṭi). 175. I plead guilty to bringing about an “interpreter effect” here; see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 296. 176. On the ritual and the role of Cāttukkāraṉ, see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 295–​97.

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a Pūlūvar in distant Coimbatore, and at some of the Kūttāṇṭavar temples in Dharmapuri District. In contrast, Aravāṇis make a theological distinction and call Mohinī the “Ali avatāra.”177 Two things are important in this designation: one is that avatāra denotes Kṛṣṇa’s (in this case, not Viṣṇu’s) “descent,” which he makes according to his divine plan; the other is the obvious identification with him by the Alis or Aravāṇis, which enhances their community. In these circumstances where different communities know and tell Kūttāṇṭavar’s story cumulatively but differently, there is a sort of layered effect in which no one version of Aravāṉ’s kaḷappali stands out. I have in any case not heard a version that I could tell here to portray what is distinctive about Kūvākkam and its Kūttāṇṭavar festival. Still, this layered effect can be put to advantage, for it suggests reading the Kūvākkam festival like a palimpsest. Each of the three communities has a sense of the festival that we can read like a sonar probe. In their varied accounts, we can see things that are old and basic that are paralleled by what is known about Aravāṉ and Kūttāṇṭavar elsewhere, including of course in the three kaḷappali narratives told earlier from both the Draupadī and the Kūttāṇṭavar cults. As I  said at the beginning of this chapter, they should all be read and digested together, for each not only has the elements I  singled out that have interested us but also presents a moment in time with older elements and layers beneath. Over time, there has been cross-​fertilization as people and information have traveled. For instance, at Ciṅkanallūr, I  saw one sole Aravāṇi on successive days in 1995 sizing up the festival, then on the fifteenth day dressed in widow’s white. At a most unusual Draupadī temple at Cōḻavaram village in North Arcot District, Mohinī has a double marriage with Aravāṉ and Kūttāṇṭavar represented by their four respective icons (see figure 5.14) that seems to be as old as the temple (said to be a hundred years’ old). Similarly, at several Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri Kūttāṇṭavar temples, the name Mohinī seems to be old and unconnected with Kūvākkam; but at Vellalur, another Kūttāṇṭavar temple near Ciṅkanallūr, the chief pūcāri knew Pommiyammaṉ also as Mohinī, whom he did associate with Kūvākkam. That was in 1990, before the recent spate of publicity about 177.  See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 221, regarding Alis saying the Mohinī avatar is one of “mixed gender” (āṉ peṇ kalappu) taken to marry the vīraṉ Aravāṉ, the term is used only by Alis as a theological position (Hiltebeitel 2011c, 260).

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Figure  5.14 Cōḻavaram Draupadī temple; two torsos of Mohinī, one each of Aravāṉ, Kūttāṇṭavar, and Kṛṣṇa Two headless torsos of Mohinī, one of Aravāṉ, one of Kūttāṇṭavar, and one of Kṛṣṇa at the Dharmarāja-​Draupadī temple in Cōḻavaram (Vellore Taluk, North Arcot [now Vellore] District). This is one of very few Draupadī temples to include a cult for Kūttāṇṭavar. On the twelfth of its thirty days of Mahābhārata recitation, the war begins, and with its beginning comes kaḷappali. All five torsos now have their heads. The Mohinīs double marriage at this point is with Aravāṉ and a slightly larger Kūttāṇṭavar. Kṛṣṇa will stand in the center, radiating, as it were, the two Mohinīs beside him, while the two bridegrooms flank the Mohinīs. The Mohinīs receive tālis and sarees. Village men dress as women and dance, but Aravāṇis are not present. Eighteen days later, when the war ends, Aravāṉ’s and Kūttāṇṭavar’s heads are brought out in procession for paṭukaḷam ceremonies. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

the Kūvākkam festival. And I learned at Kūvākkam that back in about the 1960s, an Ali named Devi had radically transformed the festival from what it had been earlier. Although a Kūttāṇṭavar festival at Kūvākkam is mentioned in late nineteenth-​and early twentieth-​century British colonial regional manuals and gazetteers, these sources do not report eunuchs in attendance. I was told that Devi had a vision there and saw the Kūvākkam festival’s potential for enriching the life of her community, which has come in great numbers only since Devi’s time, increasing the interest of Alis and Aravāṇis, who number over a thousand yearly at the festival these days. The British manuals also did not mention participation by Untouchables, whose roles

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Figure 5.15  Kūvākkam. Kūttāṇṭavar’s wooden processional head freshly repainted Kūttāṇṭavar’s wooden processional head, removed after a year in place from the sanctum and freshly repainted red, white, and black, shown after its annual paint stripping early in the morning of the Kūvākkam festival’s sixteenth day, with his mustache still askew—​one of the last features restored to signify the head’s revival for his forthcoming festival closing processions. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

are probably old. They mentioned only the large concourse of Vaṉṉiyārs (whom they called Śūdras and Pallis).178 Although individuals of other communities do have ritual offices they carry out, I will stress the interplay of Harijans, Vaṉṉiyārs, and Aravāṇis in the kaḷappali ritual at Kūvākkam. I will follow the course of several sequential rites, all involving Aravāṉ’s head, on the festival’s sixteenth day, which go on from three in the morning to well into the next night. Aravāṉ’s head must be made ready for the entire day. 1. The large red, white, and black-​painted head has been removed from its position as the sole icon in the Kūttāṇṭavar temple’s sanctum and taken to an adjacent shed, where all the paint and parts, notably its moustache, are removed, repainted, and refitted (see figure 5.15). At about 3:40 178. For discussion, see Hiltebeitel 2011c, 217–​19, 277–​81.

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a.m., after the eyes are the last detail repainted, the head is taken out for Aravāṉ’s processional “eye-​opening.” The head is set on a palanquin and a yellow cloth covering the eyes is removed. The palanquin with the head on it is then marched through the village’s streets. The Harijan band of drummers, called the rāja mēlam or “king’s band,” is conspicuous in this, as in all the following processions. 2. The placement of the head atop the post which rises from the center of the chariot, built that night, is the culminating moment after daybreak. From head to toe, Kūttāṇṭavar stands about thirty to thirty-​five feet tall, about the same as the figure reported at Pāppampāṭi. Vaṉṉiyārs and their kinsmen from surrounding villages have overseen the construction. But the Aravāṇis, who fill the concourse and the fields outside the temple, steal the show, making for a brilliant send-​off. Signaled by the explosion of five tons of camphor, perhaps a thousand Aravaṇīs release jasmine garlands from their hair, which they toss so that they seem to fly snakelike onto the effigy, where they are gathered in by waiting hands to fill out his body and hang like a profusion of flowery snakish hair (see figure 5.16). The picture I have in my mind (I was so stunned that I forgot to take pictures) is like snakes dropping from the sky into the fires at Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice. 3. Kūttāṇṭavar’s chariot begins his day-​long procession, on which he performs kaḷappali, strenuously lamented by Aravāṇis until about noon (see figure 5.17). In the hot sun, the jasmine garlands fade to brown, and one by one they are tossed off from the effigy, now like pieces of Aravāṉ’s flesh, giving him a dying and increasingly desiccated look. The Aravāṇis lament this removal of his flesh as his kaḷappali. They then break off from their dirges well before Kūttāṇṭavar’s effigy reaches the weeping ground, or aḻukaḷam, the name for the Kūttāṇṭavar cult’s ritual battlefield, or paṭukaḷam. They conclude their mourning by cutting off their tālis and breaking their bangles at a post, where villagers also go to do the same thing. Then they bathe, put on white saris as widows, let their hair fall, and most go home. They are not seen at further sites or events. 4. The procession takes Kūttāṇṭavar’s desiccated effigy to the grove of trees called the weeping ground, or aḻukaḷam, reaching it around 3 p.m. Here, some Vaṉṉiyar villagers lament over Kūttāṇṭavar, who has ridden forth on a chariot in the morning, only to fight and die his second death in battle here by mid-​afternoon. 5. Atop the chariot, Aravāṉ’s head is now covered again with a yellow cloth. Within the grove that represents the weeping ground is the site where the second-​day double marriage of two Harijans and two Vaṉṉiyars took place, at which the Cāttukkāraṉ has since then protected the seedlings

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Figure 5.16  Kūvākkam. Kūttāṇṭavar, his body lined with jasmine strings tossed by Alis. Happier as a just head, Kūttāṇṭavar sets off still smiling at daybreak with his head atop the post on his chariot, his body formed around a scaffolding of straw and an outer covering of freshly tossed jasmine strings that will wilt and be discarded in the hot sun as the day wears on. He suffers and dies doing kaḷappali to Kālī. Kūvākkam village. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

from goats. Discharged now from that duty, the Cāttukkāran goes home. The seedlings are abandoned, and a large basket of reddened sacrificial rice, called “blood-​rice,” is placed in front of Kūttāṇṭavar’s chariot for public consumption. It goes quickly to whoever grabs it, which women do who want to have children, just as they do in eating blood-​rice at Aravāṉ’s sacrifice at Draupadī festivals.179 179. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 303–​305.

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Figure 5.17  Kūvākkam. Alis lament Kūttāṇṭavar’s kaḷappali before his chariot Aravāṉis (Alis) strenuously lament in front of Kūttāṇṭavar’s chariot until about noon, when they consider his kaḷappali to be complete. Kūvākkam village. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

6. High atop the chariot, Aravāṉ’s head is still wrapped up in the yellow cloth. Dirge-​like, the chariot is pulled its last quarter-​mile to the edge of a lake near an open-​air Kālī temple, reaching there at evening. There the head is taken down, still covered by the yellow cloth, from the desiccated scaffolding of the body. 7. The still-​covered head is taken to a lakeside Kālī temple and lain on its back for the ceremony of uyir perutal, or “recovery of life.” By nightfall, a very small contingent of villagers sees to these final revival rites for the head that evening at the Kālī temple, said to mark the nearby lake bed as the cremation ground. The Mahābhārata reciter recapitulates the boons Aravāṉ obtained from Kṛṣṇa, singing, “Give me one day of war to fight. If you give me that, I’ll be willing to sacrifice my body. You should give me eyes to see and ears to hear.” 8. Beginning at about 9 p.m., at a series of waystations along the route, the head is set upright, uncovered, adorned with a headdress made of

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Figure 5.18 Kūttāṇṭavar’s head, revived at Kālī temple, then danced back to his sanctum. Toward the end of the sixteenth day, Kūttāṇṭavar’s head is danced atop the heads of a relay of possessed Vaṉṉiyars from Kālī’s lakeside cremation ground temple back into its place in his own temple’s sanctum, reversing what was done at beginning of his festival when the head is first taken out. The headdress made with jasmine strings that fly about wildly indicate the head’s restored vitality after kaḷappali, and exhibit the dancers’ possession. Kūvākkam village. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

plantain stalks fitted with strings of jasmine. The strings of jasmine swing like dreadlocks as Vaṉṉiyar dancers carry the head on their heads to relay it back to its regular place in the sanctum of the Kūttāṇṭavar temple (see figure 5.18), where the head is reinstated at about midnight. I go back now to Kṛṣṇa, who has initiated a one-​night sex change to marry Kūttāṇṭavar for a day as Mohinī, the “Enchantress.” In local Tamil folklores, Mohinī is best known as the female form that Viṣṇu takes to seduce Śiva, producing their son Aiyaṉār as Hariharaputra (“son of Hari-​ Viṣṇu and Hara-​Śiva”) in a well-​known South Indian myth.180 But Mohinī 180. Oppert 1893, 508, and ­figure 5.4; Masilamani-​Meyer 2004, 19-​22. See above on Putūr, at note 100.

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is also a kind of succubus who steals upon young men at night playing tinkling bells, before leaving them to go mad or killing them.181 When Mohinī makes such appearances, she wears a white sari (like a widowed Aravāṇi), yet she wears flowers in her hair (which a widow would have to eschew).182 Aravāṇis thus participate in the Kūttāṇṭavar cult through a complex identification. They identify with Kṛṣṇa-​Mohinī, who saves Kūttāṇṭavar from the unwanted fatality of dying a bachelor, yet who also lures him to his harsh sacrificial death; and they identify with Aravāṉ-​ Kūttāṇṭavar, whom like Kṛṣṇa-​Mohinī they marry for a day, and who heroically undergoes a castration-​like series of rituals that leaves him as nothing but a liṅgam-​like severed head with hair. It is worth reminding ourselves that Freud considered the snakes around Medusa’s head on Athena’s breastplate to represent vaginal hair and the horror of the female genitals. Again, everything was assigned by Freud to a “horror of castration.”183 With Kṛṣṇa becoming Mohinī and with the Aravāṇis’ ritualized identification with Mohinī in marrying Kūttāṇṭavar, we can thus come to our discussion of Bose’s different understanding of castration imagery and the wish to be female. I begin with the roosters which villagers formerly sacrificed in great numbers by throwing them up to the top of the Kūvākkam Kūttāṇṭavar temple where they were beheaded on the morning his effigy sets off. Sometime between my 1982 and 1990 fieldwork there, that changed when the state government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board took over administration of the temple and its festival, and sided with public opposition to animal slaughter. As of 1990, signs were posted to announce that the practice was discontinued. Instead, roosters were only tossed up to the top of the temple and left alive, or they were beheaded elsewhere, off to the side. Be that as it may, the rooster (or cock) is the “vehicle” ridden by the goddess of the main pan-​ Indian temple for Hinjras in Ahmedabad, Gujarat:  the goddess called Bahucārā-​ Mātā (Mother Bahuchārā). The Tamil term kuñju, or “penis,” also means “little chick.” The piece of cockscomb is called koṇṭai, which means “hair bun.” It is the term used to describe a woman’s hair when she puts it up in a bun or chignon, or before she loosens or dishevels it. As Kūttāṇṭavar marches forth to dismember

181. See Caplan 1989, 57; Obeyesekere 1981, 139–​40; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 299–​300. 182. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 269. 183. Freud 1954–​76, 18:273.

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himself in kaḷappali before fighting his last battle, Aravāṇis can make the connections between the hair they put up and dress with jasmine-​ garlanded hair buns to wed Kūttāṇṭavar; the garlands they toss to compose his body on the morning of the festival’s big sixteenth day, which are soon tossed off when they have begun to wilt and droop; and the cutting of pieces of the cockscombs of sacrificial roosters. After Kūttāṇṭavar’s battlefield sacrifice, without waiting for his final fight, they let their own hair down in the high-​noon heat of the same hot day to become disheveled mourning widows. Their castration operation itself is called nirvāṇam, connoting “nakedness,” on which Ar. Narulla, the author of a small book sold at the 1990 festival titled Long Live Alis (Alikaḷ Vāḻkkai), says, “they must be as naked as the day they were born.”184 Nirvāṇam is typically “conducted on the night of the full moon of the month of Chittirai” (in April–​May, the hottest month of the year), during which the Kūvākkam festival occurs, as does “the night on which Kṛṣṇa took the Ali avatāra to marry Aravāṉ the hero.” When the penis is cut off, the cut piece (tuṇṭu) and blood are placed in a bucket of water, or in a new pot. According to one account, no blood should touch the ground. The tuṇṭu swells up and bobs around or quivers with a “half-​life”;185 it throbs or dances like Kūttāṇṭavar’s head. Later it is taken and buried in a small pit. Alternatively, again based on information from the Kūvākkam festival, “The Alis hold the new pot which contains the blood with the candidate’s member, place it on their heads, and go dancing and singing continuously in a procession. Then they go and release it in the sea.” If successful, the operation requires about a month of strict cleansing before recovery. These accounts derive from Aravāṇis who worship Kūttāṇṭavar. However momentarily, like Kūttāṇṭavar’s head, the severed penis takes on a new half-​life. At Kūvākkam and several other of his temples, Kūttāṇṭavar’s head was first discovered floating down a river or bobbing on the sea. Aravāṉ’s head is said to look “happy”186 when his flower-​bedecked chariot sets out. As a head, he floats, dances, sees, and hears, buoyed up as he

184. As the name for the castration ritual, one may be reminded of Freud’s discussion of a “nirvana principle” associated with the death instinct in The Ego and the Id, and of André Green’’s emphasis on the negative in the dead mother complex. Cf. also Lewin 1950, 151, on nirvāṇa and the dream screen. 185. pāti uyir. 186. caṃtoṣam.

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Figure 5.19  Three Ali contestants for “Miss Kūvākkam,” 1990 Three contestants for the annual title “Miss Kūvākkam” in front of the Kūttāṇṭavar temple there, where the 1990 contest was held. Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

sets forth before this sea of devoted faces, bobbing about in the swim of some elated oceanic feeling.187 Sad, however, he suffers in the embodied state, fleeting as it is for him (one day’s daylight in an eighteen-​day yearly festival), so that he can cut himself in thirty-​two places, marry, make love, die in combat, and feel with his toes and fingers. Aravāṇis, who cannot reproduce sexually, say that they go to Kūttāṇṭavar festivals to participate in strenuous rituals lamenting their husband Kūttāṇṭavar’s death, and to “increase their iṇam,” or “species,” by attracting a crowd. They also press for political reforms and “have fun” in extra activities like beauty pageants (see figure 5.19) and others mentioned in this book’s preface. Bose, a Bengali, who traveled little, would certainly have been familiar with Hinjras, who have the custom of annoying Indian middle-​ class families, like his, by coming to their doors dressed up as outlandish women, to dance as a blessing for newborn babies or at family weddings. But he was almost certainly not familiar with the two Tamil cults that feature Aravāṉ. He could not have been familiar with the Kūttāṇṭavar cult in

187. See note 58, this chapter. On Romain Rolland’s “oceanic feeling” as an elated state, see Lewin 1950, 160; FI, ch. 8, notes 112–​13.

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Kūvākkam in the form I found it, since the changes attributed to Devi and the coming of Aravāṇis in large numbers have occurred there since his time. But the cult supports Bose’s theories. It supplies Indian evidence for a “castration wish,” and for a link between that wish and a desire to be female. Numerous Aravāṇis interviewed said they had felt like they were women trapped in men’s bodies. That Aravāṉ’s kaḷappali involves an offering to Kālī, doubled by Kṛṣṇa in a seductive female role, can also be cited as support that the imagery traces back to an early phase in child development. Bose had argued that the castration wish and the wish to be female go back before what he called the “Oedipal point” to what would now be called a pre-​Oedipal phase. There, what he called the “Oedipus mother” can, he said, take on a compelling role. She represents what Bose referred to as a “joint parental imago,” which we might see being played out by all of Aravāṉ’s joint mothers and joint fathers, and not just by Kṛṣṇa and Kālī, in whose name they all act, in relation to an implied Śiva (Kālī’s husband, who in some myths and iconography is also castrated by her) with whom Kūttāṇṭavar identifies as “the dancing god.” This point finds some of its best support from a set of related themes I have only alluded to, leaving them largely on the side until now. There are three of these themes: Aravāṉ represented as a child, his happiness as an oceanic feeling, and the theological fatherhood of Kṛṣṇa. I noted the child theme where the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī take Aravāṉ on their laps, and the oceanic theme beginning with Aravāṉ’s underwater birth, and just now in interpreting his happy look metaphorically as he sets forth embodied in flowers facing his own sea of troubles. The theological fatherhood of Kṛṣṇa has been noted in passing, and I will continue to refer to it only as implicit. The child theme is central for understanding Kūttāṇṭavar at Kūvākkam. Aravāṉ may be just old enough to marry, but I believe that his attitudes are thought to go back to his earliest childhood upbringing among snakes. To view these themes more fully and as a pre-​Oedipal nexus, we can go back to two of our best Kūttāṇṭavar cult storytellers:  the icon sculptor N.  Dandapani and the Ciṅkanallūr pūcāri Krishnaswami Konar. First, Dandapani’s account continues: the snakes have filled out Aravāṉ’s flesh down to “his fingers, arms, and thighs” and fought his eighth-​day fight. After Garuḑa appears, what happens next to his severed head? While Aravāṉ was losing all his strength with the snakes falling off, Alampucaṉ cut off his head. The head fell into the Carapaṅka River. There it changed its form. From the head (ciracu) a child (cicu;

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Sanskrit śiṣu) was born. They gave him a new life.188 They gave the child born from the water the name Kūttaṉ. He fought Kūttācūraṉ and killed him. Thus, he got the name Kūttāṇṭavar.189 This story, which gives Aravāṉ and Kūttāṇṭavar sequential double identities and makes Kūttāṇṭavar a child-​god in his chief action of protecting the area around Kūvākkam,190 relates his childishness to an all but foolproof boon that Kūttācūraṉ had obtained from Śiva: he could not be “defeated by anyone except a head from a body that has thirty-​two marks191 that turns into a child, a person born from water and not from a mother’s womb.”192 This calls for a change in perspective on all that has preceded, in that around Kūvākkam, Aravāṉ and Kūttāṇṭavar differ as two phases of one personality. What emerges, though, is that it is primarily Kūttāṇṭavar as a child whose head, at Kūvākkam, is worshiped and tended with devotion throughout the year, and that his embodiments as Aravāṉ are a feature of his ritualized yearly presences, every one of them quickly doomed to become a painful past. From this new perspective, his oceanic birth from Nākakkaṉṉi becomes a birth no longer just from her but also directly from the waters. Without this notion of a double identity, however, the oceanic waters and the theme of childhood are even more prominent in an additional narrative that Krishnaswami Konar gave at Ciṅkanallūr. Like the “distillate” account mentioned from Vīravanallūr, it includes a story about Kṛṣṇa finding Aravāṉ straddling two mountains while sharpening a weapon. Before Aravāṉ was born, he had heard in his mother’s womb that Kṛṣṇa would want to kill him, since he could prevent the Mahābhārata war from going as Kṛṣṇa planned. So Aravāṉ came out of the womb feet first and kicked Kṛṣṇa into the ocean. Later, when Kṛṣṇa was on his way to meet the Pāṇḍavas before the war,

188. maṟu uyir uṇṭupaṉṟāṅka. 189. Hiltebeitel 2011c, 283–​84. 190.  The story also places a river near Kūvākkam where none is found today. I  draw on the parallel account of the 1990 Kūttāṇṭtavar festival’s Mahābhārata-​reciter Muttucāmi Piḷḷai (Hiltebeitel 2011c, 219–​21). Kūttāṇṭavar gets his own temple and protects the area with the blessings of Draupadī! 191. lakṣaṇas. 192. Hiltebeitel 2011c, 282.

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he saw a youth astride two mountains with one leg on each and sharpening an arrow on a third. That is, it is an arrow, as it is in all northern variants about Barbarīk,193 and not a sword, which is what it was at Vīravanallūr. Learning who he is, Kṛṣṇa invites Aravāṉ to show his power, and points to a banyan tree, asking him to shoot so that the arrow pierces every leaf. When Kūttāṇṭi shoots, he pierces all the leaves but one. The one he saves is “for Kaṇṇaṉ who is on the banyan leaf at the end of the Kali-​yuga.”194 Krishnaswami Konar’s account from Ciṅkanallūr fuses three distinct elements: the prenatal audition, followed by the breach birth and kicking of Kṛṣṇa into the sea; the straddling of the two mountains and the sharpening of a weapon on a third; and the confrontation over the banyan leaf. I will stick to calling them elements, but one could also describe them as three distinct themes or mythemes, or even myths. Krishnaswami Konar’s narrative is the only one I  have met that includes any of these three elements from a Kūttāṇṭavar cult setting. Otherwise, I have met only the first two parts in Draupadī cult contexts. I heard the first part at two Draupadī cult locations in Dharmapuri District and one at Draupadī’s “original temple” at Mēlaccēri/​Gingee. One of the Dharmapuri accounts, told by R. Lakshmanan, the pūcāri of an old Draupadī temple at Palancode, is the only one I recorded in any detail: When Nāgakkaṉṉi was pregnant, she asked Kṛṣṇa to narrate the story of the universe. Kṛṣṇa told her the whole thing, and then started describing the Mahābhārata war. Then he realized that Nāgakkaṉṉi had listened to only three sentences and gone to sleep, and that it was Aravāṉ who was listening to the whole thing. So, he realized that this child, if he lives, might attempt to change the entire course of the war. He decided to get rid of him by making him perform kaḷappali. 193. In parallel stories about Barbarīk, it is always one or more arrows rather than a sword. See Hiltebeitel 1999a, 414–​38. 194. Hiltebeitel 1999a, 437–​38; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 390–​91. The end of the Kali-​yuga can refer to the pralaya.

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A detail is missing here that Krishnaswami Konar supplies:  there is no kicking of Kṛṣṇa into the sea. The second element, as described earlier at the Vīravanallūr Draupadī temple, in which Kūttāṇṭavar sharpens a sword rather than an arrow, seemed to be told in an account that distills themes from both cults. But the weapon sharpening between three mountains seemed likely to echo the north Indian mythology of Barbarīk, who has special affinities with Kūttāṇṭavar. That also applies to the third element, for the test that Kūttāṇṭavar passes of shooting leaves with the arrow is paralleled in stories about Barbarīk. The connection between the last two parts could suggest a diffusion into the Kūttāṇṭavar cult through Andhra Pradesh of the north Indian mythology of Barbarīk. My sample total of five examples from the Draupadī cult is, however, small. All six accounts cropped up unexpectedly when I was not looking for them. In three instances (at Ciṅkanallūr, Mēlaccēri, and P. Kuliyaṉūr), the prenatal audition story cropped up at places where I did my most intensive fieldwork.195 This suggests that it must be more widely known in Draupadī cult contexts than I can show by examples. The present version is the only one to link the prenatal audition with the straddling of the two mountains, and the two together with Kṛṣṇa on the banyan leaf as Vaṭapātraśāyin (see figure 5.20). Recall how the Draupadī cult version of the prenatal audition told at Palancode omits the kicking of Kṛṣṇa into the sea. With no kicking of Kṛṣṇa into the sea and no subsequent link-​up with the banyan leaf, the oceanic theme disappears. It is the first and the third elements together that make the myth oceanic. So far, then, it is only the one Kūttāṇṭavar cult story from Ciṅkanallūr that sets up the oceanic parity between Kūttāṇṭavar and Kṛṣṇa by having Aravāṉ kick Kṛṣṇa into the sea. Krishnaswami Konar’s narrative might be his unique sequencing of three distinct myths or elements, but whether it is or not, it is deft, ingenious, and almost telegraphically brief. Aravāṉ, under the diminutive and it seems affectionate name “Kūttāṇṭi,”196 refers to Kṛṣṇa using the affectionate and colloquial form “Kaṇṇaṉ” to allude to

195.  At P.  Kuliyaṉūr, my chief informant Murugan alluded to the story in passing; at Mēlaccēri, it was brought up by Maduraikavi, the middle of three brothers whose roof we slept on during the festival, who never told me anything else before or since. 196. According to this narrator, Aravāṉ requested of Kṛṣṇa that he should be worshiped as Kūttāṇṭi in the village (ūr) and as Mallāṇṭi in the fields or forests (kāṭu). See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 391n95.

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Figure 5.20  1974 Calendar art of “Kṛṣṇa Lying on a Banyan Leaf.” “Kṛṣṇa Lying on a Banyan Leaf,” 1974 Calendar portraying Kṛṣṇa Vaṭapatraśāyin, printed in Shivakashi, near the temple associated with Kṛṣṇa Vaṭapatraśāyin in Shrivilliputtur (both in Virudhunagar District, between Madurai and Tirunelveli). Note the suggestion of a cobra’s multiple hoods in the waves rising to his right in back of him, which are incongruous in this fishbowl-​like scene. Compare Figure 6 in FI showing the snake but not the ocean. Source: Collection of Alf Hiltebeitel.

the image of Kṛṣṇa as Vaṭapātraśāyin, Kṛṣṇa “Lying on the Banyan Leaf,” floating on the cosmic “single ocean” during the triple world’s dissolution. On the one hand, in not shooting the one remaining leaf, Aravāṉ intimates that he holds back from shooting Kṛṣṇa, whom he knows, or at least knew pre-​Oedipally from before he left the womb, will want to

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kill him.197 On the other hand, he leaves the single leaf as a sign of devotion, or bhakti, to this cosmic pre-​Oedipal baby form of Kṛṣṇa-​Nārāyaṇa whose revelation in the Sanskrit epic the Ṛṣi Mārkaṇḍeya had told about to his fathers and Draupadī in the company of Kṛṣṇa himself, after which the five and Draupadī took refuge in him.198 Aravāṉ, too, thus reconciles himself to Kṛṣṇa, who as a child may be said to bring out and share an oceanic and pre-​Oedipal affinity with him. Aravāṉ suspends the possibility of any menace toward Kṛṣṇa, just as he will do in performing kaḷappali on behalf of all his other fathers, toward whom his stance is not Oedipal, either. In fact, where the second and third elements of such a story are told elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh and Nnorth India about Bhīma’s son or grandson199 Barbarīk, they remain focused on a precocious child with whom Kṛṣṇa shares a chilling but knowing laugh.200 As at N. Tattakkal and Pāppamāṭi in Dharmapuri District, one finds a deeply structured affinity between Kūttāṇṭavar and Kṛṣṇa-​Viṣṇu-​Perumāḷ at Ciṅkanallūr,201 just as one finds such a rapport, differently worked out, in Kūttāṇṭavar’s relationship to Kṛṣṇa as Mohinī at Putūr, where Kūttāṇṭavar shares his sanctum

197.  Aravāṉ’s prenatal memory, well attested in Dharmapuri District, may build from the popular Mahābhārata story that his brother Abhimanyu recalls what he heard while in the womb from his father Arjuna about breaking into a circular military array, and then fatefully trying out the method himself while Arjuna is detained elsewhere on the battlefield, only to face death because he does not remember what Arjuna said about getting out of the array. The text itself tells only that Abhimanyu knew how to get in but not out (Mbh 7.34.19), which Arjuna himself recalls teaching him (7.50.21ab). 198. Mbh 3.187.50–​53; see ­chapter 1, this volume. 199. Barbarīk is either Bhīma’s son of a son of Bhīma’s son, the rākṣasa Ghaṭotcaca. 200. See Hiltebeitel 1999a, 431, 435; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 389. The stories have many common features (childlike persona, siding with the war’s losers, thirty-​two marks, snakelike hair, the oracular head), but Kṛṣṇa never has to arrange a marriage for Barbarīk. 201. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 390: This sense that Kūttāṇṭavar is a son whose sacrificial death brings God’s presence and grace to the world is clearly intensified at Ciṅkanallūr. It is reinforced in the story (down to calling it Pākavatam); in the iconography (with Kṛṣṇa playing the flute both in the sanctum and on the entrance fresco); and in the ritual (down to the leaning of the tying-​post on the pedestal of Kṛṣṇa’s icon before Aravāṉ is finally tied to it for kaḷappali). Only at Coimbatore area temples does one find Kṛṣṇa as the permanent icon in the sanctum playing the flute, as at Ciṅkanallūr. Their complicity is unnerving: it is as if Aravāṉ knows all along that he is dancing to Kṛṣṇa’s tune. As Kūttāṇṭāvar, “Lord of the Dance,” he takes on dimensions of a little Śiva who is offering himself not only to Kṛṣṇa but to mother Kālī. Cf. what is said theologically about Kūttāṇṭavar at Peṉṉaivalam (­figure 5.3).

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space with his double, a happy-​faced Kaṇṇaṉ Pēṭi (Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch), with an image of Hariharaputra between them.202 And we have also seen such an affinity at Kūvākkam. As to Aravāṉ’s mothers, just as Draupadī is among those who take Aravāṉ on their laps and weep before his kalappaḷi, so at a Draupadī temple ritual in Thanajvur District does Kālī take Aravāṉ on her lap, face upward, during kaḷappali.203 Kālī is never described as a horrific, threatening, or Medusa-​like “bad mother” as Aravāṉ performs his castration-​like ritual. Kūttāṇṭavar may be old enough to play in the cucumber fields and marry, but his attitude toward his mothers is one of a pre-​Oedipal child and not one of sexual conquest. We would thus not want to say that Bose’s idea of an “Oedipus mother” applies to Kālī alone. With all his mothers and fathers, the joint parental imago for whom Aravāṉ does kaḷappali has stacked the hero’s case in a way that is overdetermined. What I am saying is that, although neither Freud nor Bose knew about the south Indian mythology and cults of Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar, they provide a good review of issues that arose between them. It is a review that shows Bose had the theoretical wherewithal to understand the cults from his work with Indian patients. As for Freud, there might be something of interest here, too, were he to follow the lines of thought he laid down in his study of Leonardo da Vinci, and perhaps also those developed by Ilse Barende and Henri and Madeleine Vermorel concerning the joint image of the “maternal singular,” introduced concerning Freud’s fabulation of Leonardo’s “vulture mother.” According to Freud, Catarina’s desire for a man was unfulfilled during her son’s earliest years in the absence of his father,204 just as our hero’s “snake mother” was without her mate during her son’s earliest upbringing. In each case, the hero is later raised to his decisive tasks by fathers and mothers of his father’s extended family. Perhaps Freud could have made something of this coincidence of having bird and snake mothers.

202. See ­figure 5.4. 203. See Hiltebeitel 1991, 294–​95, and fi ­ gure 5.12. 204. See Vermorel and Vermorel 1993, 504–​507; Barande 1977; see FI, ch. 2, notes 76–​79 and passim.

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Moses and Monotheism and the Mahābhārata Trauma, Loss of Memory, and the Return of the Repressed

This chapter will answer what is meant by the lead title of this book. Freud’s Mahābhārata will turn out to be more than a readers’ lure, and something else beyond a medley of varied Freudian readings of Mahābhārata themes, scenes, and episodes, which it has been since ­chapter 2. Drawing on all the preceding chapters, what will emerge is a new theory of the Mahābhārata that can be called “Freud’s Mahābhārata” because he inspired it. To say that, however, is to say that theory has worked in oblique ways. The work of Freud’s that inspires this chapter is Moses and Monotheism, which, somewhat like this chapter, waited a long time before it was brought together, and in many ways marked a departure from all that Freud had previously written.1 It is Freud’s last completed full-​length study, and until recently is probably his least understood and least appreciated work. It is probably fitting that his last work should have provided the inspiration for this last chapter. Freud’s Moses and Monotheism has been given new life recently for what he says about specifically religious traditions, on which there is an excellent discussion by Richard Bernstein in his short book, Freud and the Legacy of Moses.2 As Bernstein emphasizes, in Moses and Monotheism Freud is asking about distinguishing features of religious traditions, which he treats as 1. See Schorske 1993, as cited in c­ hapter 1, this volume. 2. Bernstein’s contribution is noted in this volume’s preface.

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analogous to individual neuroses. The upshot is that religious traditions cannot be studied solely in terms of their consciously held contents. We must assume their unconscious contents have been impactful, too. In Judaism’s case, this means being attentive in Judaism’s history to the impact of early trauma, defense, outbreak of neurosis, and partial return of the repressed,3 the last of which can be negative or positive: a return of what a religion holds as the highest—​for Freud, monotheism—​and not just what one usually means by repression.4 Now, Freud may have been off the wall with his idea that the Jews killed Moses, yet still have had something of tremendous importance to say about the need to think about—​ and indeed, to posit—​the unconscious, and about the ongoing interplay between conscious memories and unconscious memory traces that shape a religious tradition.5 This chapter also draws on Freud’s much earlier book, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious,6 and on my own most recent book on the exceptional prominence that the Mahābhārata gives to forest-​based gleaners. A  number of gleaners’ tales, told as rebukes to the landed and wealthy, may be described as trenchant or tendentious jokes.7 Together with Moses and Monotheism, attending to Freud’s joke book and to gleaners enables me to repackage “Freud’s Mahābhārata” in Hindu terms. The chapter has three sections. The first opens on gleaners and moves on to my ideas about how the Mahābhārata was composed, which can be considered as providing the ground conditions for my new Mahābhārata theory—​just as the question of the text’s composition has been ground zero for any theory of the text. The second focuses on Vyāsa as he exemplifies what I mean by saying that the epic’s Brahmin composers were “out-​of-​ sorts.” Returning to the question of Mahābhārata humor, opened up in ­chapter 3, I discuss some of Vyāsa’s horseplay as interpreted via Freud’s

3. Bernstein 1998, 40, 72–​73; this is Freud’s “formula for the development of a neurosis” (Freud 1953–​74, 23:80). 4. Bernstein 1998, 32, 117–​20. 5. Bernstein 1998, 63–​64, 108–​109. 6. Freud 1953–​74, 8:9–​258. 7. See especially the “Side-​tale of the Mongoose” (Nakula-​Upākhyāna; Mbh 14.92–​96), which ends Book 14, about an angry half-​golden or golden-headed mongoose who appears from his hole to disparage the ostentation of Yudhiṣṭhira’s just completed horse sacrifice (aśvamedha) as inferior to a gleaner’s hospitality to a ravenous guest (Hiltebeitel 2001, 78–​79; Hiltebeitel 2016a, 71).

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book on jokes. The third section then explores the central premise of my new theory by tackling the correlation that the chapter as a whole posits between India’s second urbanization and the Mahābhārata’s myth of the Unburdening of the Earth.

The Mahābhārata’s Gleaners Tales and Its Out-​of-​Sorts Brahmin Poets In positing a traumatic response to urbanization behind the Mahābhārata, I will be looking at the way the text represents cities. Although there may be other explanations, I will work with the idea that its treatment of cities provides evidence of a collective amnesia that I will call an urban unconscious. I will thus be moving in a different direction from Freud, whose “great man” theory of the trauma resulting from the murder of Moses finds no analog in the total blank the Mahābhārata has on the origin, development, and decay of cities. Tempting as it might be to some, I thus do not begin from the Upaniṣadic question, “Where are the Pārikṣitas?” This question is asked in an early Upaniṣad, and could allude to King Parikṣit, a descendant of the Pāṇḑavas, whose death by snakebite occasions the snake sacrifice that goes on during the epic’s main inner-​frame narration.8 His death qualifies as a traumatic event for his son Janamejaya, but nothing suggests that he was a great man in the way Freud thought of Moses, or that his death affects the shape and plot-​twists of the Mahābhārata story. By the second century bce, when the Mahābhārata was probably composed by a committee of “out of sorts Brahmins,”9 one sees that the text has registered the impact of the rise of cities without in any way tracing it. For the epic poets, the second urbanization belongs with unnamed and ostensibly forgotten and repressed events and conditions of a fairly recent historical period. Opposite the text’s urban unconsciousness of the rise of cities is the recurrent vividness with which it portrays forest gleaners, whose forest life is depicted as timelessly ancient. My 2016 book on gleaning in the Mahābhārata, particularly the gleaners of Kurukṣetra, becomes pertinent here, since the epic repeatedly exalts the abstemious gleaner’s life:  not as a point of advocacy, since not everyone could ever

8. See Bṛhad-​Āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.3.1, and later on the three figures named Parikṣit in one of the epic’s dynastic lineage lists. 9. See Hiltebeitel 2001, 2, 19–​21, 27–​28, 169; Hiltebeitel 2015b, 154.

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be a gleaner, but as a check on the sumptuous ways of even the epic’s most honored heroes—​notably Bhīṣma and Yudhiṣṭhira, who live in capital cities and who are, respectively, the teller of, and first listener to, most of the epic’s stories about individual gleaners. A direct juxtaposition between gleaners and cities is found in a collective gleaners’ tale set at Naimiṣeya Kuñja, a tīrtha or pilgrimage site along the route taken by Kṛṣṇa’s brother Balarāma as he moves upstream toward Kurukṣetra on the Sarasvatī River while the Mahābhārata war goes on. Back in the Krta-​yuga, the Sarasvatī River-​goddess once changed her course to double back and flow eastward for a spell so that she could create “bowers” (kuñjas) that would accommodate the Naimiṣeya Ṛṣis. Prominent among these Ṛṣis were eight recognized types of gleaners:  Vālakhilyas, Aśmakuṭṭas, Dantolūkhalins, Saṃprakṣālas, Wind-​eaters, Water-​partakers, Leaf-​eaters, and those whose bed was the bare earth.10 After they had finished a twelve-​year sattra [a type of sacrifice with no patron-​sacrificer in which the priestly participants are themselves the sacrificers], many returned because of the tīrthas. “Because of that proliferation of Ṛṣis, the tīrthas on the southern bank of the Sarasvatī became citified.11 Up to Samantapañcaka [i.e., to Kurukṣetra itself ], that far, the best of twiceborns resorted to the bank of the river out of greed for tīrthas (tīrthalobhāt).” The Ṛṣis filled the ten directions with the sound of their personal recitation (svādhyāya) and made the river shine by their luminous Agnihotras, like the celestials [beautifying] the Gaṅgā.”12 But after they had gathered, “they did not see room at Kurukṣetra.” They tried measuring the site with their sacred threads. “Sarasvatī then appeared before that crush of Ṛṣis who were without hope and beset with anxiety.” She “turned back out of compassion for the Ṛṣis, having created many bowers,” and then, facing westward again, resumed flowing.

10.  Vālakhilyas are thumb-​sized Ṛṣis who hang from trees like bats; Aśmakuṭṭas crush grain using two stones; Dantolūkhalins use only their teeth as mortars to husk grain; Saṃprakṣālas wash their utensils daily so that nothing gets stored in them, and the rest are clear in translation. 11. Mbh 9.36.41c: tīrthāni nagarāyante; Ganguli [1884–​96] 1970, 7:114, translates, “all looked like towns and cities”; Meiland 1997, 123: “looked like cities.” The term nagara first appears only in late Vedic liiteratre. It is not used in the ṚgVeda, which uses only pur for fortified strongholds, or in middle Vedic literature, which introduces the term durga for a fort in the Atharva Veda; see Erdosy 1985, 92. 12. Cf. in ­chapter 5, this volume, the nearly identical description (Mbh 1.206.8–​16) of Hardwar on the Ganges, while Arjuna is making love under water with the serpent woman Ulūpī.

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The tale, vividly dispositive of an unconscious epic attitude toward cities, is from a time in the krta-​yuga (the first or primal age of perfection), well before even India’s first urbanization. The forest-​habituated Ṛṣis’ anxiety had paralyzed them when they were faced by “citified” conditions, and only the river’s miraculous change of course relieved them. Moreover, the miracle made the place and the upriver trek beyond it toward and into Kurukṣetra a holdout for gleaners two yugas later. When Balarāma moved on from Naimiṣeya Kuñja after giving wealth and edibles to the site’s resident Brahmins, he found the Sarasvatī’s forested tīrthas still “teeming with many Munis living on air, water, fruit, or leaves, Dantolūkalikas (a diminutive, with a -​ka suffix), Aśmakuṭṭas, and Vāneyas.13 It resounded with the sound of personal recitation, abounded in hundreds of wild animals, and was brimful of nonviolent men foremost in dharma.”14 Since one doesn’t hear of cities in the Kṛta-​yuga, the original gleaning Ṛṣis’ trauma over “citified” conditions had thus faced them with what might be called incipient urbanization, But what about those who still lingered there during the time of the Mahābhārata war when, at least as the epic tells it, actual cities were not far away? The Mahābhārata knows of cities as well as real urban conditions, but it seems to invest in a “janapada nostalgia” that projected a preference for an early intermediate stage in which a certain limited number of kingdoms—​ called janapadas or “footholds of the people”15—​would have organized the landscape of northern India, each with a royal city surrounded by forests, where things could be kept, in the epic poets’ imaginations, to adaptable Brahmanical norms. Thus, for instance, it is in the forest just outside of Hāstinapura, the Kuru capital, that the story of Ekalāvya takes place, where Arjuna and the Brahmin Droṇa come across this Niṣāda (tribal or outcaste) boy honoring the earthen image he has made of Droṇa, and Droṇa

13. Vāneyas are simply those who live in the forest. 14.  Ahiṃsrair dharmaparamair nṛbhir atyantasevitam. For further details see Hiltebeitel 2016a, 81. 15. The phrase “janapada nostalgia” comes from Robert Goldman, who spoke it orally at a conference in Pondicherry in 1995. Enumerations of sixteen janapadas are found in Buddhist and Jaina literatures, but not in the Mahābhārata. Erdosy 1985, 92n30, offers a Buddhist list of fourteen with capitals; Aṅga (Campā), Avanti (Ujjain), Gandhāra (Taxila), Kāśi (Vārāṇāsī), Kosala (Ṥrāvastī), Kuru (Indraprastha), Magadha (Rājgir, then Pāṭaliputra), Māla (Kuśinagara), Matsya (Virāṭa), Pañcāla (Ahichattra), Ṥakya (Kapilavastu), Ṥūrasena (Mathurā), Vatsa (Kausambī), and Vṛji (Vaiśālī). Note: The Kuru capital listed is not Hāstinapura and the Ikṣvāku capital is not called Ayodhyā but its older non-​epic name of Ṥrāvastī.

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demands Ekalāvya’s right thumb as his guru’s fee so that Ekalāvya cannot challenge Arjuna as the best bowman among Droṇa’s disciples.16 Or as Romila Thapar notes, beginning an asute discussion of such nearby forests, forest produce was among the valued gifts to Yudhiṣṭhira at his Rājasūya sacrifice: “fragrant wood, honey, herbs, furs, and deerskins . . . are valued both in themselves and because forest produce was appreciated by the host society. . . . Although life in the forest is contrasted with that of the court, the physical entity of the forest was not clearly demarcated or segregated. It was land beyond the village and evidently not much acreage had been cleared for fields since forests seem to have been easily accessible to village dwellers.”17 Note the easy shift that Thapar makes from describing court life to that of villagers. The Pāṇḑavas and Kauravas’ movements in the epic’s first four books are threaded through such cities and the forests that surround them. In Book 1 the Pāṇḑavas spend their earliest years outshining Duryodhana and his Kaurava brothers in and around the old capital city of Hāstinapura, as in the story of Ekalāvya. The Pāṇḑavas then move on through the forests to two other strange cities within the Kuru realm: Varaṇāvata, where they escape Duryodhana’s plot to burn them to death in a lacquer house; and Ekacakrā, where they bide their time hiding out from Duryodhana in the disguise of Brahmins until Bhīma kills the cannibal demon Baka, ending his racket of demanding a human to eat once a year along with a cartload of buffalo meat and rice.18 At Ekacakrā they first hear about Draupadī’s svayaṃvara, and set out for Kampilya, the capital of the southern Pañcālas, to attend it. And soon after they have married Draupadī, they get Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s permission to build their own capital, still within the Kuru realm, in a forest tract. Their new capital at Indraprastha thus fatefully divides the one kingdom in two. Book 2 then presents Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya at Indraprastha and its Hāstinapura sequel, the dice match, as a tale of two cities, after which in Book 3 the Pāṇḑavas must spend twelve years in forest exile, entering no cities, until they mark out the capital city of the Matsyas in Book 4 as the place to spend their final thirteenth year of exile incognito. Yet even while life in and around the capitals would go on under modified sylvan norms, the text repeatedly returns to the ideal of the “good”

16. Mbh 1.123.10–​39. 17. Thapar 2000, 637. 18. See c­ hapter 2, this volume, on both episodes, and c­ hapter 3 on the first.

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(sat) and the “strict” (śiṣṭa) life of those (singling out especially gleaners) who cultivated a rural, forest life and eschewed the new “mixed caste” dharmas of Brahmins and Kings who had adapted to the proliferation of “confused” urban occupations.19 When the gramarian Patañjali in about 150 bce describes śiṣṭas as “Brahmins in this abode of the Ārya . . . who possess at a time only as much grain as fits in a small pot, are not greedy, act out of duty, not because of some obvious motive, and have attained full proficiency in some area of traditional knowledge without the need for anything such as explicit instruction,”20 his description fits our image of the staunch ethic and discipline of Vyāsa and of the epic’s out-​of-​sorts poets, yet Patañjali describes śiṣṭas in a way that would make them seem soft in comparison with the far stricter non-​grain-​storing practices of all gleaners.21 I must now say something about my views on who the Mahābhārata poets probably were, along with what I  mean by saying they were “out-​ of-​sorts Brahmins.” I hold that the Mahābhārata was composed at some time between 150 bce and the turn of the millennium by a committee, workshop, or atelier of Brahmins over a short period of time of no more than two generations. By this I allow that the rough joins, heterogeneities, and seemingly “historical” contradictions one finds in the text can be understood as interpolations, but that rather than being entered hundreds of years after their adjacent content, they would have to have been no more than a few decades younger, and in many if not most cases just minutes, hours, days, or at most a year or two later than what surrounds them. The poets probably lived in Pañcāla, in the Gaṅgā-​Yamunā doab. One can make such a geographical point based on the likelihood that they would have been Pūrvaśikhā Brahmins, whom T. P. Mahadevan sees as responsible for the composition of both the Northern and, a few centuries later, the Southern recensions of the epic, and who Michael Witzel locates in Pañcāla in the period just mentioned, as well as before it.22 The poets tell an inordinately large number of tales about people of Kurukṣetra, including not only incidents about kings and the prestigious or mighty 19. See Hiltebeitel 2016a. 20. Cardona 1990, 5 and 15n8. 21.  Samprakṣālas are one of the few who keep utensils, yet they wash them daily so that nothing is stored in them. The antipathy to storing grain contrasts with the Buddhist Vinaya rule that allows storage only up to seven days. 22. See Mahadevan 2008; Witzel 1997.

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but also stories about simply ordinary people, including gleaners—​as if they were recalling a folklore of the place.23 The poets’ recurrent exaltation of gleaners is emblematic of their being “out of sorts,” as is the likelihood that they would have done their composition independently and on a shoestring without the patronage of any royal house. Being capable of composing and disseminating the Mahābhārata without major royal patronage, the poets would have enjoyed a measure of freedom from political, if not dynastic, pressure; from financial interactions that this would entail; and from the constraints of lauding a contemporary royal biography. If I am right, that should make the politics of these Brahmans all the more interesting.24 Being able to draw also on some legendary lore apparently just a few centuries old for their main story, and plausibly on varied heterogeneous texts for their didactic sections, their aim would have been to compose in a big bang a one-​hundred-​thousand verse Bhārata-​Saṃhitā de novo. At some point, one may imagine a migration to Pañcāla from the Kurukṣetra area, perhaps even within the living memory of their leader, whom the committee of poets would have pseudonymized as Vyāsa. Some others in the composing committee, now probably living in Pañcāla as an adjacent region to Kurukṣetra, must also have had family histories there. Through the roughly three-​hundred-​year period of the second urbanization and on to the time of composition, it is perhaps permissible to propose that the committee of poets had forebears, both spiritual and genetic, with roots in the Punjab, Kurukṣetra, and Pañcāla areas, and that some of them would have earlier moved back and forth between the northwestern locations and the doab. I  think of these forebears as the poets’ rustic ancestors, and it would be pertinent to imagine their movements being guided during this three-​hundred-​plus-​year period25 by difficulties 23.  See Hiltebeitel 2016a, 2, 61, 67, 74; Hiltebeitel 2016b on singularities of Kurukṣetra tīrthas. 24. Fitzgerald defines the epic poets’ Brahman politics only in relation to contemporary kings (2002, 66n10; 67; 79n15; 85), who would have lived in large capitals of late post-​second urbanization type. On the contrary, holding to what the text itself says and does not say, I think that positing, and then searching for royal patronage, which Fitzgerald feels he must supply twice for the two different recensions he posits, is a forced and pointless task. In brief, was there first a “main Mahābhārata” possibly composed under the Cedi king Karavela, whom Fitzgerald pulls out of a hat (2010b), and then a normative epic produced under the Guptas that fills in with various 4 “bhakti runs” and subtales? 25. The conventional dates for the second urbanization are 600–​300 bce, with allowance for related developments both before and after (see Kumaran 2014, 582; Kenoyer 2015, 103,

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that confronted them as they would have sought safe and peaceful havens, probably moving back and forth between the Punjab (including Kurukṣetra) and the doab.26 For what reasons is it appropriate to think of this period as traumatic for these ancestors? By the time the second urbanization was under way they would have faced hard choices as to where to live; whether under foreign domination by the Achaemenids in the northwest or in Pañcāla, where the Nanda menace of rule by Śūdra murderers27 loomed farther to the east in Magadha. Nearing the end of Nanda rule, by keeping their ear to the ground they could have learned, by the time that Alexander and the Greeks arrived, about his slaughters of at least two “cities of the Brahmins,”28 and they would have found that the Punjab was getting so “citified” that forests would have been getting hard to find.29 With the Greeks receding somewhat into the background in Bactria, and Candragupta and Aśoka asserting Mauryan rule in the Taxila before either even began his imperial consolidation from Magadha, we come to the Mauryan phase of the relatively recent intervening period before the time of composition. During this Integration Era (316–​185 bce), as Mark Kenoyer calls it,30 they would almost certainly have made their main residences in some part of the Mauryan empire, probably with some of them getting familiar with the Himalayas, Vindhyas, and other out-​of-​the-​way regions. They would, in my opinion, have felt not so much the strong impact of any one Mauryan emperor, as I will soon explain, but the cumulative challenge of the heterodox movements themselves that the first three emperors are said to have espoused: Candragupta, Jainism; Bimbisara, the Ajivikas; and Aśoka, Buddhism. In any case, at some time probably after 150 bce they would all have finally assembled in Pañcāla at some sylvan location, perhaps an āśrama, to compose the Mahābhārata.

recognizing this as a period of “early chiefdoms, city states, and historical polities” within a broader “regionalization era”). 26. I track a supposed itinerary of these rustic ancestors in Hiltebeitel forthcoming-​b. 27.  Mahapadma Nanda is said to have exterminated all the Ksatryas. And one of his successors was a Ṥūdra barber’s son who slept with a queen, then killed the reigning Nanda and all his eligible sons. 28. One in Sind (see Eggermont 1975) and one in the Punjab (see Sastri 1969, 72). 29. See Sastri 1969, 63–​74, on reports of as many as two thousand cities in the Punjab. 30. See Kenoyer 2017, 103–​104.

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Nonetheless, the Mauryan period is important for us as a totality, since three Mahābhārata scholars—​Nick Sutton (1997), James Fitzgerald (2001, 2004a) and Madeleine Biardeau (2002)—​have recently thought that Aśoka has a special place in the conscious memory of the epic poets. I have written about their efforts twice,31 discussing them in connection with a 1989 article of mine that all three had overlooked. I  pointed out that my position had been closest to Biardeau’s in that we both attempted a “decoding” (to use her term) of the Jarāsaṃdha episode in Mahābhārata Book 2, but that she had not convinced me that Jarāsaṃdha could be interpreted as a figure representative of an antipathy specifically to Aśoka. Meanwhile, Sutton and Fitzgerald saw Aśoka as motivating the poets’ portrayal of Yudhiṣṭhira—​Sutton positively and Fitzgerald darkly.32 I  did not think that this one Mauryan emperor would have made such a strong and decisive impression on the epic poets that they would deem him that generative of the epic’s plot. I had rather “decoded” Jarāsaṃdha through two key terms of Sarvāstivādin Buddhism, the dominant Buddhist sect in north India at the time of the epic’s likely composition. As I put it in 2005, the upshot of my 1989 article was that, “like Biardeau,33 I attempted to relate the opposition between Kṛṣṇa and Jarāsaṃdha to ground conditions, with Mathurā being connected not only with [Kṛṣṇa’s] need to operate in the epic from Dvārakā but with the prominence in Mathurā during the period of the Mahābhārata’s composition of both Jainism and Buddhism.”34 But my greater emphasis was on Jarāsaṃdha as a figure in juxtaposition with Kṛṣṇa, through whom—​or rather, through both of whom—​the Mahābhārata poets could bring into relief a contest between Brahmanical and Buddhist cosmological and soteriological ideas. Moreover, thinking of the epic’s problematization of fighting royal Brahmins, especially Droṇa,35 I said, with Puṣyamitra Ṥunga in mind (the Brahmin general who assassinated the last Maurya in 185 bce and founded the Ṥunga dynasty),

31. Hiltebeitel 2005b; 2012–​13. 32. To counter what the poets would have considered the hypocrisy of Asoka’s “dharma campaign,” they would portray Yudhiṣṭhira as the son of Dharma, the god of death, in whom they could portray a justification for sanctioned killing by Ksatriyas, such as Fitzgerald finds lacking in Aśoka’s campaign against the Kaliṅgas. 33. Biardeau 2002, 2:751. 34. Hiltebeitel 1988a, 98. 35. But consider also Kṛpa, Aśvatthāman; and see Rāvaṇa.

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that Aśoka would not even be the most likely figure to have left recent traces in the Mahābhārata poets’ memories.36 Thus I wrote: I did not single out Aśoka to the extent that others have come to do, but would rather place him in a long history of Brahman dissatisfactions not only with heterodoxies and heterodox rule, including not just the Buddhists but the Jains, but further with rule by Brahman kings. Further, as Biardeau notes, the post-​Mauryan era marks a rise in the significance of the northwest as a place opposed to the more orthodox center. There one finds the Yavanas, Śakas, and Yue-​chi, with a great stūpa at Puruṣapura/​Peshawar, and Taxila/​ Takṣaśīlā as a crossroads of mixed population following destructive wars, while commercial exchanges are open with the West and China37—​all of which may have something to do with the way the northwest is represented in both epics as a place where kingdoms (Gandhāra,38 Madra, Bālhīka, Kaikeya) have questionable dharma, [and from which troubles come.]39 Whatever it was that made me dubious about taking those presumed known events of recent history as determinative of basic features of the Mahābhārata story, it is pleasing to me now to see that I  was keeping the way clear for a deeper and older explanation, which I  am now able to offer in the traumatic unconscious impact of cities during the second urbanization. Still, much further back than the second urbanization, yet also continuing into it, there is the whole of the Veda, with which the Mahābhārata poets also had a deep relationship that we must now turn to. For Brahmins’

36. On Puṣyamitra’s revival of the horse sacrifice as probably recalled in the Harivaṃśa, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 582–​84; cf. Hiltebeitel 2001, 163 and n115 (with references to Sutton 2000), Fitzgerald 2001, 84 and I (2001, 16–​17) agree that the epic’s negative evaluation of Brahmin rule could be evidence for a post-​Śuṅga or mid-​Śuṅga date. 37. Biardeau 2002, 2:149. 38. Biardeau 2002,1:531. 39. See Karttunen 2017, 31: “Bactria had been difficult enough to subjugate and India proved to be still more difficult”; “It may well be that Bactria was always a source of trouble and that it was on the first possible occasion that the satrap Diodotus revolted in or soon after the middle of the third century” separating his satrapy from the rest of the Seleucid empire. “In this he was soon helped by the secession of Parthia, which virtually cut Bactria off from the remaining Seleucid state.”

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memories did go back further than the second urbanization, into the Vedic oral tradition. Now, Freud saw oral tradition under two lights. As he was seeking what he called the “historical truth,”40 by which he meant the traumatic event of the murder of Moses, Freud put no special stock in oral tradition since it mainly, as he saw it, told pious cover-​up contradictory versions of the Moses story. But he admitted and relied on some, principally the Levites, whom he believed would have kept memories of the “historical truth” alive and passed them on eventually to the Prophetic tradition, which then returned what had been repressed to Mosaic monotheism. Freud was thus speaking of oral tradition in the context of an ongoing debate over its historical reliability versus what one finds in written texts.41 He did not consider, and was probably unaware of, the distinctive character of the Vedic oral tradition, which as early as the ṚgVeda had worked out a mnemonic system of oral transmission whereby Vedic texts could be passed on from generation to generation with tape-​recorder-​like fidelity.42 Indeed, Brahmins committed their memories to the faithful reproduction not only of the ṚgVeda but also of the whole corpus of Vedic, or śruti—​“heard” or “revealed”—​texts. Yet the epic poets’ memories of the Veda were very partial on matters of content. One may thus speak of a partial Vedic consciousness or a preconscious that the epic poets could partially enter into, which would have to be differentiated from their urban unconscious, in that the Veda was known to the Brahmins in the composing committee while the second urbanization was nameless and unknown. The Veda was intimately known to Brahmins who could faithfully recite it. But there were tremendous gaps in what they could recall of its meaning. I will thus reserve the term “unconscous" for the rise of cities. Brahmins’ partially conscious memories of the Veda would have been a factor in the shape the poets gave the Mahābhārata in past time. The epic poets knew of cities as if they were already always there and projected features of current second-​or first-​century urban architecture back into them.43 It is thus a vague Vedic world, set shortly before the onset of the Kali-​yuga, that must hold our attention for a while, for that is where

40. Bernstein 1998, 68–​74. 41. Bernstein 1998, 43–​46. 42. On the tape-​recorder image, see Witzel 2005, 25. 43. See Hiltebeitel, forthcoming-​b, and in agreement, Erdosy 1985, 84.

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the Mahābhārata occurs. Its baseline N text, again in V. S. Sukthankar’s words, “is distinctly vague, unsystematic, sometimes even inconsequent, more like a story rather naively narrated, as we find in actual experience.”44 As I  suggested in c­ hapter  4, Freud’s concept of primary process in the dreamwork offers a password to N, while to this quality of N, with all its smoothing out, S would be secondary revision.45 It is especially in composing the Northern recension that Brahmins’ unconscious memories would have to have been a factor in the shape they gave the Mahābhārata in past time. Drawing on what was retrievable, they created a backdrop of the whole Vedic period: in royal terms, from Kings Yayāti and Pūru past Bharata and Kuru down to Parikṣit and Janamejaya. And, as Mahadevan has recently shown, they accomplished this in three successive saṃhitās, or “collections.” Beginning with the Ten Maṇḍala Saṃhitā (TMS) of the ṚgVeda, which gathered together hymns from various clans and their singers who lived between the sixteenth and eleventh centuries bce, there followed in the eleventh to ninth centuries the Trayi-​Vidyā Saṃhitā of the classical Vedic ritual, accomplishing the diversification of oral knowledge from the one ṚgVeda into three Vedas, and consigning their memorization to Brahmins affiliated with one or another of them. And this, in turn, was followed up from the eighth to third centuries by the Saṃhitās of Veda Caraṇas or Śākhās (branch offshoots from the three Vedas), which saw to the extension of Vedic techniques of memorization to long, predominantly prose texts:  the Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇyakas, Upaniṣads, and Śrauta Sūtras. Mahadevan speaks of a “slope of Saṃhitā-​ization,” such that each phase climaxes in a summation of its Paideia, or “Vidyā,” its “learning or knowledge”: “a positive ‘Saṃhitā-​ization’ slope, each phase punctuated by a Vidyā-​Saṃhitā of the phase, increasing in size from Phase I  to Phase III, a sum of all knowledge generated in the phase through the Vedic Oral Traditions.”46 Mahadevan sets this up to show continuity with the Mahābhārata as a fourth encyclopedic “100,000-​verse Bhārata Saṃhitā,” and in the most impressive and informed argument made to date, he discerns a long concurrent development of the epic through a parallel oral

44. Sukthankar 1933, Prolegomena, xxxvi (with his italics), written the same year as Freud’s last letter to Bose. For earlier reflections on the primary-​process metaphor, see Hiltebeitel 2000. 45. See c­ hapter 4, this volume, notes 33–​34. 46. Mahadevan, in press, ch. 1.

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tradition that culminates in its “first textualization”47 in the N recension baseline text probably in the second century bce. He has thus staked out a position that differs markedly from mine and the one that I one-​sidedly attributed to him, outlined in c­ hapter 4, which views N simply as the first composed “text” rather than as the first textualization of something prior. As is evident from what I have said about his work in ­chapter 4, I have viewed another facet of Mahadevan’s studies as most illuminating—​that is, his work on the Mahābhārata’s textual stemma from, in his present terms, this “first textualization” on into the history of the Mahābhārata textual tradition. In fact, I once misunderstood Mahadevan to have written only about this “first textualization” and its aftermath, and had enthused over what I mistakenly called his “big bang theory” of the Mahābhārata. I  had actually read the term “big bang” into his 2008 study, and when I asked him about it, he replied, with a puzzled look, that it wasn’t there! A  more careful reading of that work should have alerted me that these current ideas were already under formation. More recently, before reaching his present position, he asked me if I  thought he was “whistling Dixie”—​ that is, engaging in wishful thinking—​to which I  answered in print with a reluctant “yes,” because his theory presumed what it sought to explain and had not met my three criteria for a theory about the formation of the Mahābhārata:48 1 . There must from the beginning be a story. 2. There must be at least the nucleus of an epic story that could become the Mahābhārata. 3. There must be relevant evidence of this story as a Mahābhārata in formation. It was particularly on the third criterion that I said Mahadevan was “whistling Dixie.” Mahadevan had tried out a variant of Michael Witzel’s view that the Mahābhārata had begun to take narrative form from modifications on and development of the account of the ṚgVedic “Battle of the Ten Kings”—​or, as Witzel prefers to call it, deploying a tribal idiom to translate rāja, “The Battle of the Ten Chieftains.” Witzel says that after a bardic epic began from the tribal history of a Bhārata–​Pūru opposition in the Battle 47. Mahadevan 2008, 102n10; he also calls it just a “textualization” (3, 21, 61) and a “redaction” (7–​8, 11, 19 [“final redaction”], 89, 109n31). See Hiltebeitel 2015b, 154. 48. See Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013, part 2; Hiltebeitel 2015b, 154.

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of Ten Chieftains, it would, probably in sequence, have been “patterned” on the fight between the Devas and Asuras, compounded by the theme of rivalry between paternal cousin-​brothers (bhrātṛvya), and glossed to restore “the balance of the universe at the beginning of a new yuga.”49 But Witzel admits that there are “no remnants” in the whole Vedic period of this “early hypothetical ‘Bhārata’ epic” he attempts to reconstruct;50 and thus there is no evidence of such a Mahābhārata in formation.51 Yet Witzel draws no connection between his explanation of the epic’s development from dichotomous opposition between tribes and his quite widely accepted notion of the late ṚgVedic emergence of the Kuru state.52 Witzel does not imagine a cataclysmic epic war marking the Kuru state’s beginning or end. Had he done so, it could only be as a second-​tier stage in the development of an epic that began with the earlier “Battle of the Ten Chieftains.” But Mahadevan tried out such an idea in 2011, proposing it for the Kuru state’s end, for which he supposed an epic connection with the death of the aforementioned Parikṣit, not taking into account that the epic’s genealogies list three Parikṣits.53 As I  said, “although I  think this may well be the best argument that could be made,” I was “not optimistic that it could be made convincing,” since it leaves totally unaccounted for the main epic story of the four generations from the marriage of Gaṅgā and Śaṃtanu to the death of Abhimanyu—​that is, everything covered by the Unburdening of the Earth myth, including the five Pāṇḑavas and Draupadī and the hundred Kauravas headed by Duryodhana.54 No longer beginning from the “Battle of Ten Chieftains,” Mahadevan now introduces a Vedic background, or “backroom,” in which the Mahābhārata would have gestated around a “Brahma-​kṣatra grid.” It would have favored the Brahma side, which might be aligned with our discussion of the tension between śāntarasa and vīrarasa readings;55 and it would

49. Witzel 2005, 35. 50. See Witzel 2005, 34–​35, 50, on shifting tribal dichotomies and 32, 33, on remnants and hypotheticals. 51. It is not until the grammarian Pāṇini, about 350 bce, that one finds brief reference to a few named epic characters in illustration of grammatical rules. 52. Witzel 2005, 28, 68; cf. Witzel 1997, 266. 53. Mahadevan 2011. On the multiple Parikṣits, see Hiltebeitel, in press-​b. 54. See Hiltebeitel 2012/​2013, part 2. 55. See ­chapter 1, this volume.

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thereby have supplied the conditions to produce a peace-​and patience-​ oriented epic, with the prominence it gives to Yudhiṣṭhira, along what Mahadevan now aptly calls the śravas side of an Indo-​Greek contrast between the cognates śravas, “hearing” (as with the verses orally passed on by the Vedic Ṛṣis) and kleos, “fame” (as with the Fame of Achilles). And from within the epic narrative, Mahadevan singles out ways in which he finds the career and ancestry of Vyāsa recapitulating all three Vedic “Saṃhitā-​ izations” while he is engaged in “authoring” the fourth. As Mahadevan mentions, according to the epic and the Hindu tradition, the four Vedas were “arranged” by Vyāsa, who supervised the collection of the ṚgVeda by his disciple Paila.56 These forays do take us into the fringes of the main story, and they make it less definitive to use my three criteria against Mahadevan’s view that the epic underwent older developments prior to its “first textualization.” This is where I think Freud can step into the breach. I believe it is fair to say that Mahadevan’s construction is built entirely on what the Brahmin tradition, as it is formed and develops, remembers consciously of its first three “Saṃhitā-​izations” of śruti texts, as it makes its way toward the formation of its great smṛti saṃhitā, the Mahābhārata. Now, śruti and smṛti are terms that mark a great divide in the history of Brahmanial texts—​śruti meaning what is “heard,” connoting the Vedic revelation; smṛti meaning what is “remembered” and connoting “textualized memory”57 or, as some say, “tradition.” In “textualizing” the Mahābhārata as “memory,” however, Brahmins would be the heirs to longstanding gaps that had emerged in how they remembered the Veda. Brahmins had transmitted the Veda to memory to be able to recite it with a tape-​recorder-​like fidelity. This was already a primary accomplishment of the first “Saṃhitā-​ization” of the TMS. But through the process of memorized recitation for ritual use during the “Mantra period” of the second “Saṃhitā-​ization,” and more so during the proliferation of Vedic prose texts during the third, along with significant language change from Vedic to classical Sanskrit, a situation resulted in which the remembered śruti, and particularly the Vedic mantras recited from the first and second “Saṃhitā-​izations,” had lost their meaning. As A. L. Basham has said,

56. See Mbh 1.57.75–​76. 57. Olivelle 2005a, 168.

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The paṇḍits who transmitted the Ṛg-​Veda preserved its sound with scrupulous accuracy, but they had forgotten much of its sense. . . . The earliest gloss of the Ṛg-​veda, that by Yāska, generally dated to the 6th century bce, shows that even then there were doubts about many words. Very few traditional paṇḍits of older times, though they remembered the Ṛg-​Veda perfectly, had more than a vague idea of what it meant.58 I have noted in Freud’s India how the Mīmāṃsakas, as the most Vedically orthodox of the six schools of Indian philosophy, reflected on this situation, staunchly making the most of it with regard to mantras that mentioned devatās, or divinities:  that “devatā is nothing but word” (śabdamātram devatā); or that that “devatās are meaningful words, nothing more and certainly nothing less.”59 There is also the earlier assertion by Kautsa, perhaps from the fourth century bce, that “mantras are without meaning” (anarthakā mantrāḥ). Kautsa was apparently talking about meaning in the context of contradictory linguistic usage rather than through a process of forgetting. His views were drawn on by the Mīmāṃsakas.60 But Mīmāṃsakas, having such a constricted view of divinities, could not have had much if anything to do with the composition or transmission of the Mahābhārata. As Frits Staal says, “The ṚgVeda is the earliest, most venerable, obscure, distant, and difficult for moderns to understand—​hence it is often misinterpreted or worse, used as a peg on which to hang an idea or theory.”61 That is the situation we now face with not just one theory but two:  Mahadevan’s, based as I  have said on conscious reiterations along a steepening slope of “Saṃhitā-​izations” that take us from Vedic śruti to classical Sanskrit smṛti; and mine, which calls attention to gaps in memory caused by those transmissions and posits a concurrent semi-​conscious process. Granted, I  have only been able to be brief with Mahadevan’s view, which is vividly presented, far more richly and adroitly documented than I  have indicated, and still overlaps fruitfully with my views of the

58. Basham 1989, 9. 59. See FI, ch. 5, notes 29, 45 (the second quoting Śabara, the first quoting Francis Clooney). 60. See Staal 2009, 141–​45. 61. Staal 2009, 109.

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Mahābhārata’s textual developments. I must now round off my own view where it differs. First, I do not posit that forgetting the meaning of the Veda constituted a trauma for Brahmins. In fact, where Brahmins fear forgetting the Veda or regard it as a sin, they speak only of forgetting what they have worked so hard at with their compulsion for rote recitation itself, particularly their svādhyāya or silent “private recitation,”62 and not forgetting its meaning. Thus, Manu 11.262 says: “Even if he has slaughtered these three worlds, and even if he has eaten food of anyone at all, no sin taints a Brahmin who retains the Rg-​veda in his memory.”63 One trauma is enough: the one tied to the experience of urbanization for which the Earth calls forth the apocalyptic divine plan of her unburdening. Yet urbanization increased and diversified the population of Brahmins in conditions that exacerbated both types of forgetting. The rise especially of Buddhism in connection with urbanization coincided with an increase and diversification of the population of Brahmins in conditions that exacerbated the forgetting of the Veda. As more Brahmins undertook lower-​caste trades, fewer were priests or scholars who took the recitation seriously. It was also probably during the early Mauryan64 period that Buddhist texts started critiquing the Brahmins’ rote recitation as mumbo jumbo. Buddhists had worked out comparable methods of memorization, but applied them to texts whose meaning was primary and inescapable. In the Tevijja-​Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya 13), for instance, the Buddha asks, “Is there even a single one of these Brahmins learned in the three Vedas who has himself seen Brahmā face to face?” and, having repeatedly heard “No,” to that and to follow-​up questions, he asks, “Well then, Vāseṭṭha, what about the ancient seers of the Brahmins, mantra-​makers, mantra-​preachers [of whom he names ten of the most prominent ṚgVedic Ṛṣis], whose ancient mantras and verses are chanted, uttered, and collected by the Brahmins of today, who sing them and recite them, and having sung them make others recite them, did they ever say: ‘We know and see when, how, and 62. See the Mahābhārata story of the youthful Sārasvat, son of the river Sarasvatī, who keeps up his svādhyāya practice during a twelve-​year drought when all the older Brahmins flee the river and forget the Veda because of hunger, and then teaches the rest to remember their practice (Mbh 9.50; Hiltebeitel 2016a, 75–​76). Cf. Manu 11.57 on “forgetting the Veda” and “reviling the Veda” among six sins equal to drinking liquor. 63. Olivelle 2005a, 229 trans. 64. An estimate for the composition of the main Pali suttas is early third century bce. See Hiltebeitel 2011a, citing Witzel 1997, 307–​308.

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where Brahmā appears?’ ” Again hearing “No,” he says the Brahmins’ teachings are “only laughable, mere words, simply empty, utterly vain” and concludes, “these three Vedas are called the threefold desert, the threefold forest, the threefold misfortune of the Brahmins learned in the Three Vedas.” Aside from ignoring such remarks or becoming Buddhist converts, as some evidently did,65 it is difficult to know what Brahmins in general made of such reviews. But the Mahābhārata poets devised their own clever answer to the heterodoxies. While from time to time they gave Hindu voice to major Buddhist, Jain, and Materialist ideas,66 the Mahābhārata never credited those ideas to their respective sources. The heterodoxies themselves were denied separate existences, and their views were explained away as those of naysayers (nāstikas). This occlusion was no doubt deliberately and thus consciously constructed into the epic narrative, which, in setting its story in a vague Vedic pre-​Kali-​yuga past, left only one material sign of Buddhism as such: a futuristic reference when Mārkaṇḍeya shifts to the future tense to tell Yudhiṣṭhira that before Viṣṇu will come as the savior Kalki to restore the Kṛta-​yuga, the Kali-​yuga will have gotten so bad that eḍūkas (stūpas, or Buddhist reliquary mounds) will dot the landscape of India.67 Buddhism must have impacted the composers of the epic most strongly, since it grew into dominance in those years and left the most obvious traces. Eventually, Mīmāṃsakas met the Buddhist challenge head-​on with counterarguments, as Hyoung Seok Ham shows from the repudiation of those arguments by the Buddhist scholastic Bhāviviveka. Bhāviviveka could have been answering the Mīmāṃsaka commentator Kumārila, if one reverses their usual dates,68 or he could have been answering an unnamed precursor to Kumārila. In either case, the Mīmāṃsā position

65. See Tsuchida 1991. 66. The only Brahmin assigned a heterodox teaching appears to be a certain Śaunaka, who delivers a yogic variation on the Buddhist eight-​fold path to the Pāṇḍavas as they prepare to enter the forest-​life (Mbh 3.2; see Hiltebeitel 2001, 172; Hiltebeitel 2011b, 533n45). Otherwise, Draupadī expresses materialist views for which Yudhiṣṭhira dubs her a “naysayer” (Mbh 3.38; see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 323–​25); a Śūdra butcher airs distinctly Jain views of ahiṃsā (Mbh 3.205; Hiltebeitel 2011a, 476n142); and the demon Bali is the mouthpiece for a passage recalling the Jain doctrine of the six leśyas or colors of matter (Mbh 12.189; Bedekar 1968, 1967. 67. Mbh 3.188.64–​67. See Hiltebeitel 2011b, 528–​31. 68.  “Bhāviviveka (500–​ 70) is generally dated earlier than Kumārila (600–​ 50)” (Ham 2016, 85).

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included rejoinders that the Buddha cannot be omniscient based on any agreed upon pramāṇa, or “means to knowledge,” and that the omniscience of the Buddha cannot be based on an uninterrupted transmission.69 What is surprising, though, is that three of the five portions of Bhāviveka’s text—​a chapter of the Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā that is dedicated to a refutation of the Mīmāṃsakas—​are concerned with the Mahābhārata as the fifth Veda. In these sections, there are different arguments mainly based on quotations from the Śānti-​and Anuśāsana-​Parvans’ teachings on ahiṃsā (nonviolence) taken as a critique of Buddhist meat eating, which Bhāviviveka endorses. He in turn castigates the Mīmāṃsakas for their absolute vegetarianism, and inveighs against Brahmanical notions that there are multiple Vedas, asserting that a fruit tree yields only one type of fruit.70 This latter argument holds to the singularity and primacy of the ṚgVeda, the one that really counts, just as the Buddha had done, and ridicules any notion that Vyāsa had divided the Veda into three or four Vedas, much less authored a fifth.

Vyāsa’s Horseplay in the “Vedic” Past In this section we will suspend our interest in urbanization and cities, since Vyāsa seems to avoid them whenever possible. We shall come back to them in section 3.  Our topic now is the author’s part in an elaborate Vedic joke. Yet humor is proverbially hard to gauge when dealing with another culture, especially an ancient one.71 There is no telling what unconscious thoughts the Mahābhārata poets would have brought to their joke-​work,72 which is such a strong component in their deamwork-​like text. It is also risky to “explain the rationale” of any joke, which others will inevitably have seen differently, or can be expected to do so after reading what you have to say.73 Such concerns have already arisen in ­chapter  3, 69. Ham 2016, 88–​91. 70. Ham 2016, 15–​18, 80–​86. 71. See my discussion of the Aggañña Sutta in Hiltebeitel 2009, 89–​90. 72. We will see Freud use this phrase in Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, which he does often on analogy with the dream work. 73. G. Legman is careful to make these points in his erudite Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1968), and exhibits the result by showing through over eight hundred pages how jokes are so often their own tellings of other jokes. He is “proud to have learned a great deal” from Freud 1905, which he calls “the clearest general statement as to the sociological and psychological function of erotic humor” (11–​12).

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where I discussed the putative main joke in Mahābhārata Book 4 where the Pāṇḑavas say they are putting the stinky corpse of their hundred-​and-​ eighty-​year-​old mother in a śamī tree to keep intruders from finding their weapons. As with a joke of the Buddha’s I analyzed elsewhere,74 we can expect to find some unsurprising common denominators. At a deep level, jokes in the Mahābhārata, like the joke by the Buddha, will involve a play on religious behaviors (the Vedic fire-​sticks ritual and the śamī tree; in the Buddha’s case, Vinaya rules for monks), the senses, usually smell (the Buddha tells of the befoulment of the once “Fragrant Earth”), and sex. Variations on such themes are virtually infinite. As noted, the Veda, and especially the ṚgVeda, was remote from the epic poets. In my 2001 Rethinking the Mahābhārata, I  wrote, “The Mahābhārata is saturated with Vedic allusions; applying Eric Auerbach’s memorable phrase for the Bible, it is ‘fraught with [Vedic] background.’ ” I was saying that the epic most typically treats the Veda by way of allusion. To be sure, allusion implies distancing. Freud shows that in jokes and dreams—​allusion can be linked with displacement. As I  introduce Vyāsa’s part in another example of Vedic humor by allusion, I  would like to explore what I  consider to be the benefit of keeping an eye out for many additional jokes within and alongside the main account. This will be no different from what I did in ­chapter 3 in discussing the smelly dead mother joke. As in ­chapter 3, where I compared my own interpretation to Fernando Wulff Alonso’s, I will again be helped by turning to a different interpretation, in this case of an episode in the fuller epic story that features this main Vedic joke. This different interpretation comes in an essay titled “Karmayoga and the Vexed Moral Agent”75 that was recently sent to me by Arti Dhand. Dhand contrasts the soteriology of karmayoga with its ethical resonances, and concerns herself with three Mahābhārata tales involving what she calls “subaltern” characters who interact with Brahmins where this karmayoga ideal of doing one’s duty as desireless action seems ethically repugnant. I will discuss only her first case—​that of an “unnamed” woman whom she calls the dāsī, or “slave.” But first, a word on karmayoga, a cardinal teaching of the Bhagavad Gītā. Dhand approaches the Mahābhārata synchronically, but there are many different views on what that might mean. She tends 74. Hiltebeitel 2009, 84–​86, 89–​90. 75.  The article was emailed to me on February 26, 2017, asking for my thoughts, and I responded with a rough draft of the comments included below.

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to view it as a text through which one can trace certain dominant ideas or ideals: nivṛtti/​pravṛtti (the orientation toward ceasing worldly activity and “returning” to ultimate reality, versus the orientation toward drawing benefit from worldly activity), and karma yoga, being two examples that have shown up in her works. I have a hard time objecting, since I also think the text has motivating ideas behind it. I thus would not want to say that either of the ideas are unpromising ones. But I do observe that Dhand tends to read the two ideas just mentioned into passages where the terms themselves are not used. Regarding karmayoga, she says, “Ultimately, it forms the loudest message in the Mahābhārata, repeated in myriad passages.”76 She may or may not be right that it is what the passages she cites are about, but even if she is correct, it should make a difference that the poets are representing such a major idea without mentioning the term itself. For me, the first order of business in approaching the text is to appreciate the distinctive character of whatever passage I discuss. This is my usual point in emphasizing the text’s heterogeneity and in positing committee authorship. But it can lead to different sorts of conclusions. For instance, I agree with Dhand that karmayoga is almost hopelessly, as regards ethics, entangled with Arjuna’s Kṣatriya caste svadharma. But I  would attribute that entanglement entirely to the Bhagavad Gītā. As I  have said, usages of karmayoga are extremely rare elsewhere in the epic and outside of it in contemporary texts,77 and it does not always have the same connotations.78 I am tempted to think of the Gītā in the epic as a singly conceived and authored text left to stand out for its central grandeur, one whose ripple effects show the results more of an editorial process than a governing intention interlaced and overarching meaning.79 In fact, it says we have the Gītā “by the grace of Vyāsa.”80 Perhaps that means something. Here, then, paraphrasing her account when not quoting it, is how Dhand tells the story of the dāsī: “a minor slave character squeezed into

76. Dhand 2017, 3. 77. See Manu 2.2–​5, 2.68, 6.86, 10.115, 12.12, 12.86–​90; and Rāmāyaṇa 5.45.30; and discussion in Hiltebeitel 2011a, 535–​40, 553. 78. Dhand mentions, for example, that Bhīṣma speaks to Yudhiṣṭhira about karmayoga toward the end of the Śānti-​Parvan, which is true; but he hardly can be said to use the term in the Gītā’s sense. 79. On ripple effects, see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 452–​53. These would seem to imply that the Gītā would have been earlier than the passages that ripple out from it. 80. BhG 18.75.

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four verses of the Mahābhārata’s 100,000 total.”81 When the queen mother Satyavatī implores her son Vyāsa to resolve the first of the Kuru dynasty’s succession crises by impregnating one of the dead king’s widowed wives, Vyāsa agrees to perform the ritual of niyoga, “whereby widows may have children through a proxy—​in this case, their ascetic brother-​in-​law Vyāsa.” Alarmed by the sage’s “unkempt appearance,” the senior widow Ambikā shuts her eyes and is “rebuked” to have a blind son, Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Since, as I pointed out in c­ hapter 2, a blind king cannot rule, the younger widow Ambālikā must take her turn, and “registers her fright by going pale,” which results in her giving birth to the pale Pāṇḍu.82 When Satyavatī beseeches Vyāsa to go to Ambikā again, the elder widow “cleverly substitutes her dāsī for herself.” Here is the full account in van Buitenen’s translation: The princess of the Kāśis decked a slave woman, as beautiful as an Apsarā, with her own jewelery and sent her to Kṛṣṇa [Vyāsa]. When the seer came, the woman rose to meet him and greeted him, and with his consent she lay with him and served him with honor. The seer waxed content with the pleasure of love he found with her, and he spent all night with her as she pleasured him. When he rose, he said to her, “You shall cease to be a slave. There is a child come to your belly, my lovely, an illustrious man-​child who shall be mindful of dharma and become the most sagacious man in the world.”83 Dhand distills the story as follows: When the seer came, the woman rose to meet him and greeted him, and with his consent she lay with him and served him with honor. The seer spent all night with her as she pleasured him. Much satisfied the sage blesses her with a wise and thoughtful child, who in future years would serve as minister and counsel to his royal half-​brothers.84

81. Dhand 2017, 13. 82. Dhand says “sickly,” probably thinking that Pāṇḍu had leukodermia, as is widely said but hardly certain. 83. Mbh 1.100.23–​27, trans. van Buitenen 1973, 23, slightly modified. 84. Dhand 2017, 13, cites only Mbh 100.24–​26.

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Dhand now interprets: The dāsī is an insignificant character to the narrative, one of thousands like herself, such a throwaway that she does not even merit a name. Yet in this episode, she is cast as the model karmayogin, performing her assigned task without hesitation or doubt. She has no expectation of reward. Unlike the princesses, she is not swayed by his disagreeable appearance, nor is she motivated by desire. Her position in life relegates her to a life of servitude to the upper classes, and she performs uncomplainingly, with apparent detachment from any personal emotion. For such exemplary conduct, she is rewarded with the wisest child.85 Dhand then concludes her discussion of the dāsī, first by giving karmayoga “its due”: Through her mental detachment from the situation, the dāsī no doubt achieves philosophical distance from her unenviable lot in life, and through this wise, spares herself the pain of feeling bitterly the injustice and disempowerment of her position. Karmayoga anesthetizes her to the trauma of her existential reality by pointing to the far goal. If her desire is freedom from saṃsāra, this is an effective strategy because on the soteriological plane, the worldly realm is ultimately inconsequential and practically illusory, . . . But . . . the injustice and disempowerment of the dāsī’s position is plainly not illusory. The scandal of slavery exists; its oppression is real, painful, palpable, and material, and in one of its terrible perversities, through her karmayogic muteness, her irrebellious acquiescence, the dāsī shares a hand in its perpetuation.86 Clearly, Dhand finds nothing humorous in the dāsī’s story, as she does in her other two “karmayoga” tales that are held together, in a single side-​ story told by Mārkaṇḍeya, by the “comic note” that a crane, once, sitting on a branch of a tree above a “pompous” Brahmin, shit on the Brahmin’s head while he was sitting under the tree “studying his Veda,” whereupon

85. Dhand 2017, 13. 86. Dhand 2017, 13.

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“the bird instantly dropped dead at his feet,” killed by the Brahmin’s “injurious thought.”87 Looked at more closely, however, the dāsī’s story has at least the trace of a subtle joke. Unlike Dhand, I have imagined that the dāsī sized up the situation as one in which she decided to make the most of the opportunity it offered for a break in her daily routines. All we are told, in any case, is that “beautiful as an Apsaras,” she “rose to meet him and greeted him,” “lay with him and served him with honor,” that he “spent all night with her as she pleasured him,” and released her the next morning from her slavery, which Dhand omits. Although Dhand tells us that “she is not swayed by his disagreeable” and “unkempt appearance,” Vyāsa had confronted Ambikā not only with his visual ugliness but also his smell: If she “bears with my smell, my looks, my garb, and my body,” he had said, Ambikā “shall straightaway conceive a superior child.”88 Although Ambikā clearly wants no repeat of her eye-​shutting experience, one might think that in the time (nine months?89) it took her to give birth to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Vyāsa would have had time to bathe and otherwise clean up his act. What this means, though, is that although the joke will ostensibly be about the two princesses, it is more cryptically on Vyāsa, the author, who opens this uncertainty to leave this doubt about himself. The Buddhist poet Aśvaghoṣa tells a further-​detached and apparently derogatory and more tendentious version of the story in which Vyāsa goes to a prostitute named Kāśi-​Sundarī, “the beautiful woman of Kāśi [Benares].” That is where Ambikā and Ambālikā and their as yet unmentioned oldest sister Ambā come from, and where this “beautiful woman” would have been their dāsī. This recognizes the dāsī’s acknowledged Apsaras-​like beauty and gives her a name and a different job. And the joke is again on Vyāsa, whom she kicks in the head.90 At this point, without giving it away, I should say two things about the joke on Vyāsa: first, about his unkemptness, and, second, about how I will be interpreting the joke in the larger text. First, let us consider Vyāsa’s kibitzing in his own text:  By my rough count, Vyāsa makes forty-​one

87. Mbh 3.197.1–​6; see Dhand 2017, 14. 88. Mbh 1.99.33. 89. A piece of Draupadī cult folklore from Dharmapuri District, from a play about the birth of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Pāṇḍu, tells that because Vyāsa was a Ṛṣi, all his sons were born instantly. Given the gaps in the story, this makes perfect sense. 90. Sullivan 1990b, 290–​91.

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interventions in the main story,91 of which this one is the very first, the most dramatic and impactful of all, and one of the longest in terms of both the length of the narration and his time on stage. When Vyāsa was born he willed the growth of his body and parted from his parents that very day, telling his mother that should she want him for anything, she would only need to think of him and he would appear “when things are to be done.”92 When she finally thought of him some years later, he was in the Himālayas dividing the Veda into four. Still, he arrived instantly, only to learn that he was being called on to perform niyoga with his mother’s widowed daughters-​in-​law. Prior to all his arrivals, Vyasa has been performing arduous austerities (tapas). But his unkemptness in this scene is our tipoff that, where he shows up for social occasions, he is the consummate out-​of-​sorts Brahmin. Second, one has the basic story that the dāsī’s tale is a part of, which I  will be regarding as laced with Vedic jokes. It occurs near the middle of the epic’s first book. The ultimate punchline to it will come, however, much later in the text—​very late in the large twelfth book in a unit that is commonly thought to be an obviously very late interpolation. My view that the text was authored over a short period of time by committee is thus useful to the joke as I see it, for it allows me to regard the punchline as given during the composition of the fundamental baseline text, rather than being made long after it, when the initial “Vedic” impetus to it could have been forgotten. This position of the punchline in the second of two disparately located textual units means that I will be taking the whole joke as a kind of Vedic shaggy-​dog or talking-​horse story.93

91. Hiltebeitel 2001, 46–​91. All forty-​one occur only in Vaiśaṃpāyana’s inner frame narration. I assembled the references to Vyāsa in Books 12 and 13 under just one of the forty-​one with the heading “Present for most of Bhīṣmas battlefield oration” (69–​71), and skirted Vyāsa’s appearance in the Nārāyaṇīya. There is a view that all references to Vyāsa and his “author function” are late intrusions into what must have been originally a purely heroic epic (see especially Grünendahl 1997, 210–​12, 223–​24). 92. Mbh 1.57.23. 93.  The best treatment of a shaggy-​dog story is Legman’s, of the “Sleeve job” joke (1968, 500–34, with bibliography on 503 and 617). The “bell-ringer” joke is current today: After a long job search, a man without arms or legs gets a job ringing a church’s bells, which he does very well with his head. But he dies one day on the job, and is replaced after another long search by his identically disabled brother, who also rings the bells well but eventually dies on the job. The teller has two punch lines. First, when asked who the first bell ringer was, a churchman says, “I never asked, but his face sure rings a bell.” About the second, another says he “never asked, but he was sure was a dead ringer for his brother.” For a suitable talking-​horse story, see “(Long) The Tale of Two Horses (Very Long),” www.reddit.com.

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Now Freud, in his Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, does not discuss shaggy-​dog or talking-​horse jokes. But he says much that is relevant to them in writing about what he calls “tendentious jokes,” which he inventories as including hostile (aggressive), obscene, cynical, and skeptical jokes.94 He begins with instances where a joke’s author is describing someone else, often by comparison with an animal like a calf or an ox.95 But as Freud notes, such jokes also may be turned by an author against himself, or the people with whom he identifies, as is the case with many Jewish jokes. He writes, A particularly favorable occasion for tendentious jokes is presented when the intended rebellious criticism is directed against the subject himself, or, to put it more cautiously, against someone in whom the subject has a share—​a collective person, that is (the subject’s own nation, for instance). . . . [A]‌number of the most apt jokes . . . have grown up on the soil of Jewish popular life. They are jokes about Jews and directed against Jewish characteristics. . . . The Jewish jokes which originate from Jews . . . know their real faults as well as the connection between them and their good qualities, and the share which the subject has in the person found fault with creates the subjective determinant (usually so hard to arrive at) of the joke-​work. Incidentally, I do not know whether there are many other instances of a people making fun to such a degree of its own character.96 That is a good invitation to ask whether Hindus did something similar in the Mahābhārata. Leaving aside that with Vyāsa we are talking about a fictive author, similar questions can be raised. For instance, what Freud asks about whether the tendentious jibe at a joke’s author is warranted may also be asked of Vyāsa. Freud illustrates such jokes by examples that portray “the relation of rich and poor Jews to one another”: the Schnorrer

94. Freud 1953–​74, 8:137; on cynical and skeptical tendentious jokes, see 8:110 and 115. 95.  Freud 1953–​74, 8:47–​48; while they are looking at a financial kingpin drawing adulation in a Paris salon, Sonlié remarked to Heine, “Look at the way the nineteenth century is worshiping the Golden Calf,” to which Heine replied, “Oh, he must be older than that by now!” implying “he’s an ox already”; cf. 27. 96. Freud 1953–​74, 8:111–​12.

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(beggar) and a charitable householder, or the Schnorrer and a baron.97 By a little stretch, these are pairs by which we could identify the poor out-​ of-​sorts Vyāsa and his hosts, the Kuru royal family. Then, in surveying “the achievements of tendentious jokes,” Freud says “most prominence has been assumed by—​what is most easily seen—​the effect of jokes on the person who hears them. More important, however, from the point of view of our understanding, are the functions accomplished by jokes in the mind of the person who makes them or, to put it in the only correct way, the person to whom they occur.”98 This comment can put us face to face with the “oceanic mind” of Vedavyāsa, and with the Mahābhārata as his “thought entire.”99 Freud says that “every joke calls for a public of its own and laughing at the same jokes is evidence of far-​reaching psychical conformity,”100 which I would rather call a congruity. Freud now introduces his ideas of economy and pleasure. Having stated earlier that “[g]‌enerally speaking, a tendentious joke calls for three people”101 (opening a discussion I will come back to), for now, he will “try to study the psychical phenomenon of jokes with reference to their distribution between two people,” making a “provisional suggestion that the psychical process provoked by the joke in the hearer is in most cases modeled on that which occurs in its creator”: “The external obstacle which is to be overcome in the hearer corresponds to an internal inhibition in the maker of the joke.” Among internal inhibitions, he singles out repression as being “of special interest, because it is so far reaching” in its “function of preventing the impulses subjected to it, and their derivatives from becoming conscious. Tendentious jokes . . . are able to release pleasure even from sources that have undergone repression.” Thus, if “the overcoming of external obstacles” in the hearer “can in this way be traced back to the overcoming of internal inhibitions and repressions we may say that tendentious jokes exhibit the main characteristic of the joke-​work—​that of liberating pleasure by getting rid of inhibitions.”102 We can interpose here 97. Freud 1953–​74, 8:112–​13; “baron,” conveniently, is van Buitenen’s translation of “Kṣatriya.” 98. Freud 1953–​74, 8:133–​34. 99. Vaiśaṃpāyana is the first to narrate the epic as Vyāsa’s “thought entire” (Mbh 1.55.2)—​the second being the bard Ugraśravas, who supposedly retells it in the outer frame (Mbh 1.1.23). The epic is “sprung from Vyāsa’s oceanic mind” (manaḥsāgarasaṃbhūtām; Mbh 1.53.34a). 100. Freud 1953–​74, 8:151. 101. Freud 1953–​74, 8:100. 102. Freud 1953–​74, 8:134.

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the Hindu inhibitions of respect that would in the usual circumstances mitigate against a scurrilous portrayal of a poor and venerable Brahmin. Freud’s example of a would-​be insult is “so strongly opposed by feelings of propriety or of aesthetic culture that the insult cannot take place,” or, should it “break through as a result of some change of emotional condition or mood, this breakthrough by the insulting purpose would be felt subsequently with unpleasure,” with the result that “the insult does not take place.” Let us suppose, however, that the possibility is presented of deriving a good joke from the material of the words and thoughts used for the insult—​the possibility, that is, of releasing pleasure from other sources which are not obstructed by the same repression.  .  .  . As soon as the latter is permitted the new release of pleasure is also joined to it. Experience with tendentious jokes shows that in such circumstances the suppressed purpose can, with the assistance of the pleasure from the joke, gain sufficient strength to overcome the inhibition, which would otherwise be stronger than it. The enjoyment obtained is not only produced by the joke: it is incomparably greater. It is so much greater than the pleasure from the joke that we must suppose that the hitherto suppressed purpose has succeeded in making its way through, perhaps without diminution whatever. It is in such circumstance that the tendentious joke is received with the heartiest laughter.103 A bit later, Freud takes up the conditions that must be fulfilled “[i]‌f a quota of cathectic energy capable of discharge is to be liberated in the third person.”104 Freud thereby turns back to the “factor of economy,” of which he says, “a joke’s brevity is of a peculiar kind—​‘joking’ brevity’ ”105 In our coming to “a better understanding of the psychical processes of jokes, the factor of relief takes the place of economy. It is obvious that the former gives a greater feeling of pleasure. The process in the joke’s first person produces pleasure by lifting inhibition and diminishing local expenditure; 103. Freud 1953–​74, 8:136. Strachey, the editor of Freud’s 1953–​74 Standard Edition, notes that in The Interpretation of Dreams (5:478ff), Freud offers “a parallel theory to explain the often-​ exaggerated amount of affect in dreams.” 104. Freud 1953–​74, 8:150. 105. Freud 1953–​74, 8:156.

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but it seems not to come to rest until, through the intermediary of the interpolated third person, it achieves general relief through discharge.”106 I believe that this “brevity of a peculiar kind” that “does not come to rest” until “it achieves general relief through discharge” very well befits the Vedic shaggy-​dog/​talking horse story I will be attributing to Vyāsa. As I will now attempt to show, the dāsī’s tale in Book 1 is part of complex and deeply resonant joke built on allusions to two Vedic rites: a sexually loaded subrite of the aśvamedha, or horse sacrifice, and sexual union by niyoga, the “appointment,” which was practiced in ṚgVedic times but was frowned upon and finally, it seems, strongly disallowed by The Laws of Manu and other authorities around the time of the Mahābhārata’s likely composition.107 Niyoga is the most frequently cited of the kalivarjyas—​ literally, practices “to be shunned in Kali” that went on in a previous yuga, or age. Often the previous yuga in question is that of “the Veda,” and the kalivarjya is said to have since been disallowed in the Kali-​yuga because of a decline in men’s constitutions.108 That Vyāsa breaks through these inhibitions as “the author” is the first thing to understand about this overall Vedic joke. The aśvamedha subrite calls for the chief queen, or mahiṣī, to simulate sexual intercourse with the sacrificed horse under a linen blanket after it has been slain by suffocation, while her three co-​wives—​the king’s “favorite” (vavatā), his “discarded wife” (parivṛkti), and his lowest wife (palagālī)—​circulate back and forth around the scene slapping their thighs and fanning themselves with the hems of their saris’ shoulder-​pieces, and then exchange “slangy and crude” riddling mantras with the priests.109 In both epics, these details are handled by Vedic allusion, and it is quite possible that the Rāmāyaṇa’s handling of its two aśvamedha scenes is doubled 106. Freud 1953–​74, 8:157–​58. 107.  After several verses allowing it under restrictions, Manu says, “By twice-​born men a widow must not be appointed (to cohabit) with any other (than her husband), for they who appoint (her) to another (man) will violate the eternal law. In the sacred texts which refer to marriage the appointment (of widows) is nowhere mentioned, nor is the remarriage of widows prescribed in the rules concerning marriage. This practice which is reprehended by the learned of the twice-​born as suitable for cattle is said to have occurred in the reign of Vena [a bad king]” (Manu 9.64–​66). 108. See Hiltebeitel 2011a, 270n59; Lingat 1973, 189–​95; Gonzáles-​Reimann 2014, 359; Kane 1946, 926–​68. 109.  See Jamison 1996, 65–​ 66, 69–​ 70; Hiltebeitel 2011b, 270; Knipe 2015, 236, imagining: “the chief queen lies down and entwines her legs with those of the stallion as the adhvaryu places its massive penis against her vagina.”

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by allusions to those in the Mahābhārata.110 The allusive nature of the epic scenes does not, of course, require exact replication of what is called for in the Vedic ritual texts. For example, before Draupadī does her stint as mahiṣī lying down with the dead horse “for three minutes according to rule” at Yudhiṣṭhira’s postwar aśvamedha in Book 14,111 her “friend” Kṛṣṇa is asked about their mutual “friend” Arjuna, who has been away for a year guarding the horse, with which he is now returning. Kṛṣṇa entertains those present—​including, it seems, Vyāsa who is this aśvamedha’s chief priest—​with a joke that suggests that Draupadī has her mind not only on the horse but also on Arjuna, fusing the two, and suggesting that she would rather be looking forward to lying next to Arjuna—​a pleasantry that makes Draupadī look at Kṛṣṇa “askance.” Although her three co-​ wives with Arjuna—​Subhadrā as Arjuna’s “favorite,” Citrāṅgadā as his discarded wife, and the serpent-​woman Ulūpī as his lowly wife112—​have all three come for the ceremony, they don’t form a thigh-​slapping “slangy” chorus around Draupadī, probably because they are not co-​wives of King Yudhiṣṭhira for whom this aśvamedha is being performed, but of Arjuna.113 Vyāsa’s current niyoga scene, which includes the story of the dasī, comes much before Draupadī’s uncomfortable horseplay in Book 14. In Book 1, an aśvamedha scenario can be detected only by allusion, but the allusions are multiple and unmistakable. First, it is a question of a special mantra that is uttered by the mahiṣī while she is lying with the dead horse:  “O Ambā, Ambikā, Ambālikā. No one is leading me. The little horse is sleeping.”114 The three names, by which the mahiṣī addresses her three co-​wives, mean roughly “O mother, mama, mommy,” or better, “O mama, mamita, mamacita.” Being “led” probably implies led to matrimony. In fact, some texts give the mahiṣī an additional modified mantra,

110.  See Goldman 1984, 77:  Ṛśyaśṛṅga, King Daśaratha’s aśvamedha priest, “is perhaps viewed as serving the purpose of Vyāsa or the other Mahābhārata practitioners of niyojana, or levirate [i.e., niyoga], only through an act of sacrifice in place of direct sexual liaison with the king’s wives.” I extend his point: “just as Ṛśyaśṛṅga’s Aśvamedha has a hidden niyoga agenda, Vyāsa’s niyoga agenda has a hidden Aśvamedha agenda” (Hiltebeitel 2011b, 269), on which see later. 111. Mbh 14.91.2; see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 263. 112. These identifications were worked out by Biardeau (2002, 2:615, 636) on the premise that Arjuna, not Yudhiṣṭhira, is the “ideal king.” 113. Summarizing Hiltebeitel 2011b, 261–​64; cf. 248–​53. 114. A more common variant with the same meaning begins “O Ambā, Ambālī, Ambikā.” I cite the variant with the names that occur in the Mahābhārata.

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substituting yabhati, “is fucking,” for nayati, “is leading,” for when she is covered by the blanket and has moved the horse into a copulatory position. Meanwhile, the “sleeping” horse is being invited to regain his sexual stamina.115 The names Ambikā and Ambālikā are, of course, familiar as the mothers with whom Vyāsa sired the blind Dhṛtarāṣṭra and the pale Pāṇḍu through niyoga, before the dasī takes her turn with him. We thus mark a point where the niyoga plot begins to coincide with the aśvamedha allusions. Other details further enhance such an innuendo. Vyāsa stipulates that the two widows should undergo a year-​long vow before he lies with them, and says he will then give his dead brother sons like the frequently paired Vedic gods Mitra and Varuṇa. The year-​long vow replicates the aśvamedha requirement that the queens must remain abstinent for the year while the horse wanders. But Satyavatī says matters are too pressing to give the widows a year for such a vow. The joke’s plot has also deepened, since before she called on Vyāsa, Satyavatī first tried to “appoint” her stepson Bhīṣma to sire sons with Ambikā and Ambālikā as his deceased brother’s “two mahiṣīs” (mahiṣyau,116 in the dual). It is doubtful that a kingdom can have “two mahiṣīs,” or “chief queens.”117 Saying this in her urgency and confusion, Satyavatī not only forgets or overlooks that Bhīṣma made a lifelong vow of celibacy; her confused reference to two mahiṣīs anticipates the division between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas and, more immediately, prefigures how Vyāsa will interact with the two princesses. Moreover, there is a pun here. Mahiṣī, besides “queen” also means “she-​buffalo,” just as mahiṣa refers to the male water buffalo, as with the demonic Mahiṣāsura. In a rite that features Vyāsa’s horseplay, this unflattering “double entendre”118 characterizing the two princesses as “impure” animals unfit for a proper Vedic sacrifice is ready to be picked up by the attuned ear. Ambikā’s and Ambālikā’s roles come into full relief, however, only when we recall their older sister Ambā, who rounds out the aśvamedha

115. For these and further details, see Jamison 1996, 67; Hiltebeitel 2011b, 270. 116. Mbh 1.97.9a. 117. This is the only such dual usage in the Sanskrit epics. 118. See Freud 1953–​74, 8:45, on puns, “which pass as the lowest form of verbal joke, probably because they are the ‘cheapest’—​[and] can be made with the least trouble”; 8:40, on examples of double meaning in “which the effect of the joke depends quite specially on the sexual meaning. For this group we may reserve the name of ‘double entendre [Zweideutigkeit].’ ”

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allusions that their three names contain together, and who would have been the sole mahiṣī in the niyoga plot were she still around. Yet she did not stick around to marry a Kuru prince along with her sisters. Indeed, although I need not elaborate on her complicated story, her union as sole mahiṣī would have been, impossibly, one with Bhīṣma rather than with Vyāsa. Although her name along with those of her sisters holds place for an aśvamedha scenario, she had insisted that to be the senior wife, it would have to have been within a proper marriage to Bhīṣma, and not in a union by niyoga with Vyāsa. It is thus solely Veda-​Vyāsa who steps into our doubly motivated plot, along, of course, with the “two mahiṣīs” and the dāsī. It is now, when Vyāsa hears from Satyavatī that the two mahiṣīs cannot afford a year for a preparatory vow, that he demands the reduced vow of them: that they bear “my smell, my looks, my garb, and my body.”119 It is their failure to carry out this reduced vow that results in their sons’ blind and pale births. And now we come to the point of this Book 1 episode as in itself a Vedic joke. I think what the Mahābhārata poets want to do is suggest an innuendo that beneath the already potentially disagreeable submission to proxy siring (niyoga) to which the two widows are asked to submit, there is the further suggestion that, insofar as they are two mahiṣīs (chief queens and she-​buffaloes), the smelly and misshapen author Vyāsa, in uniting with them, cryptically takes on the role of the revived sacrificial horse. Veda-​Vyāsa thus comes out smelling something like a sexually active aśvamedha horse. As in Yudhiṣṭhira’s postwar aśvamedha, a human character seems to be imagined in the horse. But what I  want to argue now is that unlike the intimation shared by Kṛṣṇa and Draupadī about Arjuna, which is local to that episode, Vyāsa is well-​groomed for his role elsewhere, in the Nārāyaṇīya. As far as these jokes go, I thus move from what I consider solid ground to relatively unexplored territory. The Nārāyaṇīya is a unit rarely remarked on for any kind of humor.120 That metatext, which supplies a bhakti encryption of both Vedic and “Purāṇic” allusions, has seemed axiomatically late

119. Mbh 1.99.43ab. 120. Solid ground for the first, since I spelled out some of the aśvamedha humor in the niyoga scene to an appreciative audience at the Fourth International Veda Conference in Austin, Texas, in 2007, and have gotten “knowing” reactions to the published version of the conference paper in Hiltebeitel 2011b, 259–​78). Almost new territory for the second, since my one isolated giveaway reference to Vyāsa speaking the punch line “from the horse’s mouth” (2011b, 215) has, it seems, gone unattended.

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to most scholars, but here we have a case where it may be taken to decrypt Vyāsa’s appearance in a standard baseline episode. The Nārāyaṇīya comes to its deepest moment of disclosure with three dips to the outer frame.121 That is, the dialogue level shifts three times from the main inner frame in which Janamajeya asks questions of Vaiśaṃpāyana to the outer frame in which the Ṛṣi Śaunaka asks questions as the leader of the Ṛṣis of the Naimiṣa Forest to the bard Ugraśravas, usually called Sauti.122 More than this, these dips begin from the vast, ongoing Śāntiparvan-​Anuśāsanaparvan dialogue that runs through most of Books 12 and 13 between Yudhiṣṭhira and Bhīṣma. And in two of the three cases, the first and third dips reach what I have called the outermost frame, in which Vyāsa dialogues with his five disciples on the back of Mount Meru while dividing the Vedas and teaching them the Mahābhārata he has composed there. Each dip calls on the authority of Vyāsa either by quotation or by proxy or, in the third case, by having the aged author speak himself to Janamejaya, addressing him across the six generations that separate them for the only time in the epic that he breaks his silence as a seated attendee (sadasya) at Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice.123 The full schema is thus a tour de force, with the dialog shifts achieved by the artifice of moving from level to level to make the initial questions drive the shifts, so that the “same” question asked at one level can be answered at another, deeper level, and ultimately by Vyāsa. The first dip cites Vyāsa at length,124 following a question byYudhiṣṭhira to Bhīṣma that Śaunaka rephrases to Sauti, who answers by recalling what Janamejaya once asked Vaiśaṃpāyana, who then quotes Vyāsa. The big question that they all have in common concerns the relationship between Brahmā and Viṣṇu in sponsoring, respectively, pravṛtti and nivṛtti rites. Vyāsa begins by telling that he won the triple-​timed knowledge of past, present, and future by the grace of Nārāyaṇa after performing the most arduous asceticism (tapas) along the shore of the Milky Ocean—​useful knowledge for the occasion, since his narrative concerns mainly the

121. This is by my reconstruction of the PCE’s text; see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 187–​220. 122. No story links the Ṛṣis of the Naimiṣa Forest with the Naimiṣeya Ṛṣis mentioned earlier in this chapter in connection with gleaning, but obviously the first dwell in the forest from which the latter get their name. I explore various ways to relate them in Hiltebeitel 1999a, 265–​66, 285–​93; 2001, 98–​109, 123–​30, 155–​61, 285–​86. 123. See Hiltebeitel 2011b, 270n48, and the generational depth chart in c­ hapter 3, this volume. 124. Mbh 12.327.14–​98, quoting Vyāsa from 21–​98.

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long-​ago Kṛta-​yuga. Vyāsa learned that after Viṣṇu enjoined the other gods to worship him (Viṣṇu) in a pravṛtti manner, as humans would worship them, Brahmā stayed behind, desiring to see him, at which point “the god [Nārāyaṇa], having assumed the form of the Horse’s Head (Hayaśiras), appeared to him reciting the Vedas with their limbs, bearing a waterpot and rosary.”125 Earlier in the Nārāyaṇīya, Nārāyaṇa mentions the Horse’s Head among his “manifestations” or prādurbhāvas (the Nārāyaṇīya uses the term to introduce what later texts call Viṣṇu’s avatāras, or “descents”126), in a long speech to Nārada. Now, the Horse’s Head embraces Brahmā and, before withdrawing into himself (or disappearing), reveals that when, in the course of the yugas “it becomes intolerable to bear the work of the gods, I will manifest myself as guide according to my self-​knowledge.”127 Here we learn that the Horse’s Head not only sings Veda but speaks. Indeed, with the words prādurbhāvaṃ gamiṣyāmi (“I will manifest myself”) there is a possible anticipation of tadātmanam sṛjāmy aham (“I create myself”) in Bhagavad Gītā 4.7d. He may thus be foretelling his incarnation as Kṛṣṇa. And with the reference to the “work of the gods” (devakārya) he may be anticipating Kṛṣṇa’s Unburdening of the Earth. Vyāsa then closes with the information that he too has seen the Horse’s Head: “the hidden, who is seen through knowledge, the imperishable and perishable, this undecaying god goes about everywhere, his way unalterable. Just so was this one formerly seen by me with the eye of knowledge.”128 The second dip has Vaiśaṃpāyana speak for Vyāsa by proxy, which he does by “the grace of Nārāyaṇa,”129 providing in Vyāsa’s presence his answer to a question of Śaunaka’s that Vaiśaṃpāyana had once asked of Vyāsa. The question is, Why did Nārada make a fantastic return “run” from the celestial White Island (Śvetadvīpa), where he had been vouchsafed a vision (darśana) of Nārāyaṇa by himself, alone, to the Badarī hermitage

125. Mbh 12.327.81. The question of whether the Horse’s Head has arms, as this verse and the next cited seem to imply, cannot be decided based on the Nārāyaṇīya, which also has a passage (Mbh 335.46cd), discussed below, that suggests nothing below the neck. See Hiltebeitel 2011b, 213n62. 126. Mbh 12.326.56 and 94; for the list, see verses 94–​95 and see Hiltebeitel 2011a, 256, 277, 590n71, and 671. 127. Mbh 12.327.84c–​85. 128. Mbh 12.327.96–​97b. 129. Mbh 12.331.19.

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on Mount Gandhamādana, having first dropped down on Mount Meru,130 to “see” Nara and Nārāyaṇa “here” in this world? Nārada’s run allows him to confirm that the two (Nara and Nārāyaṇa) are one with the One (Nārāyaṇa), a matter about which Vyāsa had revealed several deep mysteries, but nothing further about the Horse’s Head. That changes with the third dip. In this case, why Nārāyaṇa took on the Horse’s Head manifestation becomes both Śaunaka’s question to Sauti and Janamejaya’s driving question—​except that this time when Janamejaya asks Vyāsa, Vyāsa answers him directly, drawing again on his knowledge of the three times. Before this, however, Vaiśaṃpāyana makes certain textually preparatory moves. First, after Nārada passes a thousand years in Nara and Nārāyaṇa’s hermitage, giving “exclusive” devotion to Nārāyaṇa,131 he finally moves on to Mount Himavat, thus clearing the way for Vyāsa to remain the central Ṛṣi for the rest of the Nārāyaṇīya. Vaiśaṃpāyana now reveals for the first time in the whole epic that in making the Mahābhārata, Vyāsa is Nārāyaṇa: “This one is our guru, the Ṛṣi, son of Gandhavatī [Satyavatī132], and by him this is told, son, this glorification of the supreme self, heard from him by me; and this is told to you, sinless one.133 Know Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa as the lord Nārāyaṇa. Who else could be the maker of the Mahābhārata, O tiger among men.” The “this” that “is told” and italicized twice in one verse must be the Mahābhārata, for that is what Vaiśaṃpāyana continues to be talking about in the next verse. It is thus not what Vyāsa will now tell Janamejaya about the Horse’s Head. We shall thus have to wait for the aftermath of this speech to see what is meant by Vyāsa’s oneness with Nārāyaṇa, which will finally provide the punchline to this elaborate Vedic joke. Śaunaka formulates the question to Sauti, who says he will reply by recounting Janamajaya’s doubt about the same question. Janamejaya’s doubt is said to be about “this form of the god Harimedhas with the 130.  The coordinates aligning Meru and White Island are thus “intergalactically” vertical. White Island is above Mount Meru; ūrdhvam, at 12.322.8, connotes not just “distance,” as most translators have it, but also “height.” 131. Exclusive (ekāntya) bhakti, or devotion to Nārāyaṇa, typifies the Pañcarātra sectarian character of the Nārāyaṇīya, which some have confusingly called monotheism. 132. Thus, recalling his mother by her fragrance, which began as fishy; see ­chapter 3, this volume. 133.  Mbh 12.334.8:  tenaitat kathitaṃ tāta māhātmyaṃ paramātmanaḥ/​tasmāt śrutam mayā cedaṃ kathitaṃ ca tavānaga. As translated, tenaitat kathitaṃ means “and this is told by him” and cedaṃ kathitaṃ ca tava means “and this is told to you.” Cf. Hiltebeitel 2011b, 208–​209.

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Horse’s Head,” which is informative since it gives the Horse’s Head “manifestation” the name Harimedhas. He then asks about “That god bearing the Horse’s Head whom Brahmā saw, what is the reason that the god took this form?”134 Vyāsa’s reply now covers some familiar ground, as he tells the Nārāyaṇīya’s version of the Madhusūdana myth135 in which Brahmā awakens Viṣṇu from his yoganīdrā (yogic sleep)136 to slay the two demons Madhu and Kaiṭabha, of tāmasic and rājasic births, who had ascended the lotus stalk and stolen the Vedas just as Brahmā was emitting or (re-​)creating them, and entered the Rasā (a river or “current”) in the great ocean of the northeast.137 Brahmā speaks heartrendingly and prototypically about his loss of the Vedas: The Vedas are my supreme eye. The Vedas are my supreme strength. The Vedas are my highest foundation. The Vedas are the supreme brahman. All the Vedas are stolen from me by the power of the two Dānavas. Surely my worlds are born darkened without the Vedas. What shall I do without the Vedas, risen up to create the worlds? O alas, great woe comes from the loss of the Vedas. . . . Who will lift me up now that I am sunk in this ocean of grief?138 Brahmā then thinks of Hari-​Nārāyaṇa, recalls how they have cooperated in prior creations, and implores his aid, reinforcing the point that with the loss of the Vedas as is eyes, he is “born blind.”139 Nārāyaṇa then awakens and assumes the vast, cosmic form of the Horse’s Head, which this time is described only from the neck up: Having taken on lunar splendor with a body that had a beautiful nose, having made the auspicious Horse’s Head, receptacle of the Vedas, the lord, by his head, then became the sky with its constellations. His long hairs [of his mane] were of the same splendor as the rays of the sun. His two ears were the hell of downward space, his forehead

134. Mbh 12.335.7–​8. 135. See FI, ch. 8, and ch. 9, notes 40 and 57. 136. Not personified as active in his awakening. 137. Mbh 12.335.26–​27. 138. Mbh 12.335.29–​31, 32ab. 139. Mbh 12.335.42ab.

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was the Earth as the bearer of beings, the great rivers Gaṅgā and Sarasvatī were his eyebrows. Soma and Sūrya [moon and sun] were his eyes, his nose recalled the twilight, the adornment [on the forehead?] was the syllable Oṃ, his tongue was fashioned of lightening, the renowned soma-​drinking ancestors became his teeth, O king. Goloka and Brahmaloka became the great-​souled one’s lips. Kālarātri [the Night of Time] that transcends the guṇas [the three “strands” of matter], O king, became his neck.140 Freud’s comments on nonsense and absurdity in jokes,141 overstatement jokes,142 and that jokes may play on “teleology in the structure of animals,”143 may excuse the impious wonder in us whether this particular cosmic vision is itself a seriocomic parodic joke. But we will have to content ourselves with that wonder. The self-​manifested Horse’s Head then sets off for the Vedas’ retrieval, entering the Rasā and uttering “Oṃ” with a resonant sound that was smooth everywhere it went. Hearing it, the two demons then bound the Vedas and hurled them into the Rasātala, the surface of the Rasā current, where the Horse’s Head grabbed them and gave them back to Brahmā. Nārāyaṇa then returned to his own nature “established in the body of Aniruddha, of immeasurable vigor, under the influence of the sleep of yoga, defined upon the waters on a bed abounding in serpent coils prepared to his own measure and surrounded by a circle of flames.” The demons, having heard the “Oṃ,” went toward the sound. Overcome by rajas and tamas, they uttered a “great laugh“ at finding Nārāyaṇa asleep on the serpent, recognizing the one who had returned the Vedas to Brahmā.144 Awakened and ready for battle, Madhusūdana then slew them with no indication of where or how. 140. Mbh 12.335.44–​48. 141. Nonsense may result from either playing with words, “which yields manifest pleasure,” or playing with thoughts, with the latter yielding pleasure only “in the lifting of an inhibition” (Freud 1953–​74, 8:138n1). Absurdities may be only apparent (8:113) and may distract attention in the course of the joking process (8:153). 142. Freud 1953–​74, 8:72, 173. 143. Freud 1953–​74, 8:94. 144. Mbh 12.335.57b–​58, emphasis added; the demons’ “great laugh” is at 59cd. The demons also laugh, but at the awake god, at Mbh 3.194.19a. Aniruddha is a Pañcarātra feature here; see FI, chs. 8 and 9.

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Then Brahmā turned around, his enemy slain, provided with the Vedas, and fashioned all these mobile and stationary worlds. Having given the grandfather the foremost intellect for the creation, the god Hari disappeared there as he came. Having slain the two Dānavas, having assumed the Horse’s Head body, he took on that form again for the sake of pravṛtti dharma. Thus, did Hari whose share is great become the Horse’s Head.145 Vyāsa continues to speak of the Horse Head’s boon-​ giving capacities: “Indeed, if a Brahmin listens regularly to it, his recitation [of Veda] is never lost. Having praised with fierce tapas the god bearing the Horse’s Head, the sequence [of recitation] was obtained by Pañcāla on the path pointed out by Rāma.”146 Although the rest is obscure, the Horse’s Head is said to have imparted to a certain Pañcāla the krama-​pāṭha style of Vedic oral recitation by memorizing paired syllables (ab, bc, cd, etc.).147 Vyāsa then mentions the Horse’s Head specifically for the last time—​“Thus this Horse’s Head narrative has been told to you, ancient and consistent with the Veda, as you have asked me”148—​before he winds up his whole narrative with a lengthy praise of Nārāyaṇa for being the “self-​nature” or essence of all things.149 Vyāsa’s version of the Madhusūdana myth accentuated three novelties that he introduces into it: the theft of the Vedas, the Horse’s Head, and context for the demons’ laughter. It is not clear how Brahmā at first “emits the four Vedas of attractive form,”150 or what form they have when they are stolen and lost. The Horse’s Head as a “receptacle of the Veda,”151 uttering the sonorous “Oṃ,” represents oral Veda, though in retrieving the Vedas after the demons have “bound” them,152 he may return them

145. Mbh 12.335.66–​69b. 146. Mbh 12.335.70–​71. 147. Cf. Mbh 12.330.36–​38, and see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 214. 148. Mbh 12.335.72. 149. Mbh 12.335.73–​89; his self-​nature (ātmaka) pervades everything. 150. Mbh 12.355.25cd: sṛjantaṃ prathamaṃś vedaṃś caturaś cāruvigraham. 151. Mbh 12.335.44d: vedānām ālayam. 152. Mbh 12.335.52ab: tatas tāv asurau kṛtvā vedān samayabandhanam.

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as books to Brahmā.153 The demons’ big laugh, in its context, just before they become victims of their impiety, seems to anticipate that the Horse’s Head—​which they apparently never saw—​had the last laugh on them. With Nārada’s exit from the Nārāyaṇīya having put the focus on Vyāsa, we have followed the author’s Vedic horseplay as a theme to be continued. Sure enough, Vyāsa gets back to it when he reveals he has had a double birth:  “I was born of that god Harimedhas’s grace and named Apantaratamas, born by Hari’s command. And again [as Vyāsa] I was born the celebrated joy of the family of Vasiṣṭha. I have thus told of my former birth. So, I am born a portion of Nārāyaṇa by Nārāyaṇa’s grace.”154 As we have seen, in “making the Mahābhārata,” Vyāsa is Nārāyaṇa. That is now reaffirmed along with a statement about his former birth, when, during a previous age (manvantara), as Apantaratamas he also divided the Vedas and “was born of the grace of Harimedhas.” That is a name, as we have seen, for the Horse’s Head as a manifestation of Nārāyaṇa. We cannot really say that being born in his former life “by the grace of Harimedhas” does not also apply to his being born “again” in this one “by the grace of Nārāyaṇa.” Let us say that it probably does. Harimedhas is a name for Nāṛāyaṇa as the Horse’s Head. Vyāsa would thus also be claiming birth “by the grace of Harimedhas.” That the name Harimedhas stands here by itself probably has to do with the pacing of Vyāsa’s self-​ disclosure, saving this detail for last. We now see what has been at stake for Vyāsa to have waited for these two “later” chapters in order to reveal that all along he has been a portion of Viṣṇu. Now, in the name Harimedhas, medhas means “essence,” “sap,” “pith,” or “sacrificial essence.” It is a reference to the vapā, or omentum, that a priest carefully extracts as the “fat” of the sacrificial animal. As David Knipe says, the omentum is “a caul-​like skein of flesh said to contain the essence (medha[s]) of the sacrifice.”155 Vyāsa thus reveals that he is born of the sacrificial essence of the Horse’s Head. Minimally, this is the point where we have a right to be reminded of Vyāsa’s unions with the two mahiṣīs in the heir-​seeking niyoga scene back in Mahābhārata, Book 1. The situation, however, is paradoxical. For one thing, Nārāyaṇa as Harimedhas may have

153. In poster art, Brahmā in the cup of the lotus is typically shown holding manuscripts in his four hands. 154. Mbh 12.337.54–​55. 155. Knipe 2015, 216.

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a sacrificial essence or medhas without—​especially if he is just a Horse’s Head—​having an omentum, or vapā. Moreover, technically, a horse, unlike a goat, is not supposed to have a vapā.156 Knipe says that among contemporary Vedic ritualists in Andhra Pradesh, “a layer of belly fat is stripped in its place.”157 The lack of a vapā does not, however, stop King Daśaratha from smelling the smoke that rises from the horse’s “omentum” (vapā) during an extension of his aśvamedha that he carries out with a desire for a son and a royal heir.158 Perhaps it is just a curious coincidence that Vyāsa terrorizes the two mahiṣīs above all by his smell. As Freud says, sometimes we cannot know all of what makes us laugh.159 I submit that these unknowns and incongruities are what make for good Vedic humor, like those found in the tree burial of the Pāṇḍavas’ 180-​year-​old mother. Here I must allow myself one last and inevitable bad joke: that Vyāsa’s shaggy-​ dog story has turned out to be a shaggy-​horse or a talking-​horse story.160 Let us now return to the quick treatment of the dāsī in the niyoga scene as another of the nearly forgotten mothers of the Kuru royal line. It can now be considered as a semi-​detached part of the niyoga scene. Vyāsa has slept with the two mahiṣīs only because of the unavailability of the real mahiṣī, Ambā, whose name rounds out a threesome of “mothers” celebrated in the aśvamedha. The dāsī must substitute for Ambā, the real eldest of the three, as well as for the next-​available eldest, Ambikā. We can now look at the dāsī’s story as part of the joke about three or four women and Vyāsa, rather than as a “subaltern” tale about karmayoga in which, by acceding 156. See Goldman 1984, 151, 308. 157. Knipe 2015, 262. 158. Rām 1.14.29–​30; see Hiltebeitel 2011b, 268. See note 32, this chapter. 159. I paraphrase Freud’s conclusion here. See Freud 1953–​74, 8:112: “with tendentious jokes we are not in a position to distinguish by our feeling what part of the pleasure arises from the sources of their techniques and what part from those of their purpose. Thus, strictly speaking, we do not know what we are laughing at.” On “the only two purposes that” a tendentious joke “may serve,” hostile aggressiveness or sexual exposure, see 8:96–​97. 160. See Legman 1968, 9, bringing shaggy-​dog and talking-​horse jokes together as evidence that “under the mask of humor, our society allows inifinite aggressions, by everyone and against everyone, In the culminating laugh by the listener or observer—​whose position is really that of the victim or butt—​the teller of the joke betrays his hidden hostility and signals his victory by being, theoretically at least, the one person present who does not laugh.” Cf. 113: “Probably the most important element in understanding any joke is to grasp clearly and from the beginning, who is the butt. This not only means determining which of the characters in the story receives the hostile impact of the punch line (so well named), but whether, for that matter, the butt is actually any character in the story at all. The listener, in particular, may well suspect that he is the butt, as in shaggy dog and other interminable stories.”

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to the master–​slave dialectic, she “achieves philosophical distance from her unenviable lot in life, and through this wise, spares herself the pain of feeling bitterly the injustice and disempowerment of her position,” as Dhand so deftly portrays her. The aśvamedha jokes, like the Harimedhas sequel, are shared primarly among males—​the author Vyāsa, other officiating Brahmins, Arjuna and his brothers. Unlike the Harimedhas sequel, however, they also target women, are deeply about sex, and insofar as our main aśvamedha joke has the structure of shaggy dog or talking horse story, it may be said to make its audiences the butt. But we must also bear in mind what the text says about the immediate male audiences of the jokes: in most cases, they are knowing Brahmins, such as Ṥaunaka and the Naimiṣa Forest Ṛṣis in the case of the revelations about Harimedhas; and in the smelly 180-​year-​old dead mother joke, Arjuna’s four brothers. Freud’s analysis of tendentious hostile and sexual jokes is about the “exposure” of a woman, or women, and, as noted earlier, it singles out three people: “the one who makes the joke, . . . the object of the hostile or sexual aggression, and the third in whom the joke’s aim of finding pleasure is fulfilled.”161 I  will now analyze Draupadī’s trauma at the dice match—​that so-​called friendly game between rival cousin-​brothers—​in these terms as a skein of jokes gone horribly wrong. We have looked at this scene from a different perspective at the end of c­ hapter 2, and must come back to it still again to appreciate its redemptive side. What provokes Duryodhana to invite the Pāṇḍavas to Hāstinupura for the dice match is that he cannot tolerate his insistent recollection, about which he may be mistaken,162 of Draupadī’s laughter at his own self-​ inflicted jokes on himself—​his slips and falls into dry and wet water tanks, and his bumping his head—​while he was in Indraprastha, the Pāṇḍavas’ new capital, for Yudhiṣṭhira’s coronation. He thus gets his father to invite Yudhiṣṭhira in turn to the “friendly dice match” at Hāstinapura. There, once Yudhiṣṭhira has staked and lost his four brothers and himself, and has wagered away Draupadī, Duryodhana orders his vilest brother Duḥśāsana to drag Draupadī into the hall, which he does by her hair while she is

161. Freud 1953–​74: 8:100–​101. 162.  See my “Did Draupadī Cause the Mahābhārata War?” (Hiltebeitel, in press-​c; also, 2015a). The baseline N text has Duryodhana tell this only to his father after a prior, otherwise parallel, speech to his crony Śakuni omits it. S then destroys this no doubt purposeful ambiguity by having Duryodhana say that Draupadī laughed in both of his speeches.

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menstruating, clad only in a single bloodstained garment. Watching her as “he shook her wildly, he cried cruelly ‘Slave!’ and laughed aloud. And Karṇa applauded his word to the full and, heartily laughing, acknowledged it”; Duryodhana and Śakuni joined in, while everyone else in the hall “was filled with misery beyond measure.”163 Karṇa, answering Duryodhana’s one “good” brother Vikarṇa’s defense of Draupadī, then says he sees nothing wrong in dragging her into the hall in a single garment:  “The Gods have laid down that a woman shall have one husband, scion of Kuru. She submits to many men and assuredly is a whore! Thus, there is, I think, nothing strange about leading her into the hall, or to have her in one piece of clothing, or for that matter naked!. . . the Pāṇḍavas themselves have all been won here according to the law. Duḥśāsana. . . . Strip the clothes from the Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī.”164 Karṇa thus provokes the ultimate exposure of Draupadī’s disrobing. Yet even after the “wonder” of the saris keeps her clothed, Karṇa continues his taunts: There are three who own no property, a student, a slave, and a dependent woman. The wife of a slave, you are his now, my dear; a masterless slave wench, you are now slave wealth! Come in and serve us with your attentions: that is the chore left you in this house. Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s men, and not the Pāṇḍavas, are now your masters, child of a king! Now quickly choose another husband who will not gamble your freedom away.165 Egged on by Karṇa’s words, Duryodhana now says to Yudhiṣṭhira, “who was sitting silent and mindless,” that he should answer Draupadī’s question, “ ‘whether you think she was won or not,’ and crazed by his ascendancy, he took his loincloth and looked invitingly at Draupadī, then, smiling up at Karṇa, and taunting Bhīma, he exposed to Draupadī, who was watching him, his left thigh, soft like a banana tree and auspiciously marked, an elephant trunk and a thunderbolt in one”166 Finally, Duḥśāsana continues his taunts even after the Pāṇḍavas lose the return dice match and head into exile, again saying Draupadī should choose one of the

163. Mbh 2.60.37–​39. 164. Mbh 2.6134–​39. 165. Mbh 2.63.1–​3ab, trans. van Buitenen 1975, 143–​50, 161, for this and following two quotes. 166. Mbh 2.63.9–​13.

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Kauravas now that the Pāṇḍavas are eunuchs to her. Prancing about in front of Bhīma, “he challenged him, ‘Cow! You cow.’ ”167 Karṇa, Duḥśāsana, and Duryodhana alternate as the first-​ person jokers; Draupadī is the second person targeted; and the two sets of cousin-​ brothers form collectively the third person as  the intended audience, of which the one party finds anything but pleasure, while the other does enjoy pleasure, but with each word and gesture sealing an eventual doom. It is, however, the situation of the epic’s good and ill humor in a vague, lost, and all but forgotten Vedic past, and not the jokes themselves, which are artfully and thus consciously constructed, that interests us as unconscious—​as a spur for the Mahābhārata to be a Return of the Repressed. What is repressed—​the women and the sex included—​would go back, almost all of it, to what Mahadevan calls the first “Saṃhitā-​ ization” of the TMS of the ṚgVeda. In the TMS, archaisms were present at every turn, in practices like niyoga and in language, including by one estimate 383 non-​Sanskritic words from one or more substrate languages.168 Most important, in the latest portion of the TMS, a Brahmin class was instituted at the top of a hierarchy with a new rule of exogamy that henceforth governed the forty-​nine or so clans that had composed the hymns, balanced by a rule of endogamy that now made Brahmins of all forty-​nine and thus instituted the whole new Brahmin class.169 Before that, there was a more fluid multiligual and essentially pre-​caste society than the one that must have soon evolved. It is the more fluid pre-​caste society with its archaisms that was beyond later Brahmins’ consciousness, shaped as it was by the rules just mentioned, yet made accessible by the Mahābhārata’s Vyasid poets in a positive, indeed hallowed, form as a Return of the Repressed.

India’s Second Urbanization and the Unburdening of the Earth Coming back to cities, I must still demonstrate two things in support of my proposed theory: a correlation between Indian’s second urbanization 167. Mbh 2.68.10–​14, 19. 168. See Kuiper 1955. 169. Both the “loan words” and the exogamy/​endogamy rule are discussed by Mahadevan, in press, as evidence of what he calls the “e pluribus unum” character of the TMS’s “constitution.”

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and the Unburdening of the Earth myth, and the need for a new theory to address this correlation. To begin, we should recall the gains that were made in ­chapter  4 in discussing Wulff Alonso’s treatment of the myth. I found his discussion of the Unburdening of the Earth myth to be impressive, central to his argument, and very solid. We may thus carry forward his point that the Iliad India could have come to know would have been shaped by the cyclic epics, especially but not only the Cypria,170 through which the Trojan War is interpreted as “the story of an announced annihilation not only of Troy but of an entire generation of heroes.”171 Yet on this score, the similarities between the Iliad and the Mahābhārata already entail structural differences in the ways the plan is plotted. With it requiring the annihilation of a generation of heroes on both sides, the Iliad’s divine plan becomes Zeus’s secret, which Zeus keeps not only from men but also from each of the other gods, whereas in the Mahābhārata the “work of the gods” is a “secret of the gods” that several—​indeed, it seems, most—​gods share once it is made, and some humans learn of it as well. Moreover, unlike Zeus, who as an immortal carries out his intrigues coming and going into the epic action from afar, typically from Mount Olympus, Kṛṣṇa plots everything as a mortal, moving now and then from the sidelines in Dvārakā into the very midst of the action. I would also like to carry forward my idea of a “total mythological language state”: not one, however, but a convergence of two. On the one hand, Wulff appears to be correct that the Unburdening of the Earth myth has a distinctly Greek background, and as I further insisted, that it is unlikely, at least in India, to have had Indo-​European, Indo-​Iranian, or Babylonian roots. On the other hand, Biardeau is right to say that the Purāṇic language of three plus four worlds all seven centered on the Earth, plus the time-​ frames supplied by creations, pralayas, yugas, kalpas, and manvantaras are a nexus in which this Greek mytheme is digested and given play. How does it play out in connection with urbanization and the destruction of cities? As evidence of Greece’s priority, this process is older in Greece than India’s second urbanization. But again we find differences 170. Chronologically the Cypria comes before the Iliad, telling such episodes as the Judgment of Paris and the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Three Indo-​Greek sculptures also depict post-​Iliad scenes from cyclic epics: one found at Ai Khanum in Bactria shows the rape of Cassandra by Ajax from the Little Iliad (Bernard 1975, 322), and two from Gandhara are sequential scenes of the Trojan Horse on wheels entering Troy, from the Iliou Persis (“The Sack of Troy”) (Karttunen 2017, 285n184; Allan 1946; Khan 1990). 171. Wulff 2014, 92.

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in the myth’s implementation. The destruction and fallibility of cities is in play in the Iliad when Zeus deviously tells Hera she must return his favor for the destruction of Troy, and she reples that he can “waste . . . Argos, Sparta, and broad Mycenae . . . if they ever annoy you.”172 In contrast, the Unburdening the Earth of violent cities in the Mahābhārata is clear only in one case: that of Dvārakā. But the end of Dvārakā comes after the war with the foretold death of Kṛṣṇa. It is Kṛṣṇa’s own city whose flooding by the ocean ends the whole cycle of destructions in a suitable pralayic image of the deluge. For the rest of the epic, the destruction of cities is largely implicit. It is not the cities themselves that are destroyed but their mostly demonic kings along with their massive armed forces, in a way that is more systematically carried out than anything concerning cities in the Iliad. But the destruction of cities becomes explicit in the Harivaṃśa version of the Mahābhārata’s Unburdening of the Earth myth.173 It is around this systematicity that we may theorize a correlation or fit between the Unburdening of the Earth myth and India’s second urbanization. Whether it is cities themselves, as in the case of Dvārakā and in the Harivaṃśa, or their vast armies that are destroyed, the holocaust at Kurukṣetra leaves the image of widowed cities across the land. This image is there explicitly for Hāstinapura when Draupadī says, in words reported by Vidura to Dhṛtarāṣṭra as she leaves the city for the forest after she has been abused at the dice match: “Wearing a single garment, weeping, her hair loose, menstruating, her wet garment stained with blood, Draupadī spoke this word: ‘Those on account of whom I have reached this condition, their wives, in the fourteenth year, with their husbands slain, their sons slain, their relatives and dear ones slain, their limbs smeared with the blood of their relatives, hair loose, menstruating [? rajasvalāḥ], having thus offered water to the dead, will enter Hāstinapura.’ ”174

172. Iliad 4.31–​67. 173. Couture 2006, 75; cf. de Jong 1985, 400: “the earth, oppressed by the weight of innumerable armies and fortresses, asks Visnu for help. Visnu promises that Krsna will bring about a great war in which many kings and armies will be killed.” 174. Ekavastā tu rudatī muktakeśī rajasvalā

śoṇitāktārdravasanā draupadī vākyam abravīt yatkṛte ‘ham imām prāptā teṣāṃ varṣe caturdaśe hatapatyo hatasutā hatabandhujanapriyāḥ

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This of course happens to the hundred Kaurava widows in Book 11, the Strī Parvan, as the outcome of the Unburdening of the Earth. It is, moreover, universalized there as widows, mothers, sisters, and daughters from all over India—​including Draupadī herself who mourns for her brothers, her father, and her five sons by the Pāṇḑavas—​weep over the slain. These basic similarities and differences have thus led us to the point where we are faced by the way in which the Mahābhārata treats the Unburdening of the Earth myth most distinctly, which may be said to flow from the way it develops its own counterpart-​narrative to “the story of an announced annihilation not only of Troy but of an entire generation of heroes”—​Wulff’s terms for what the Iliad does from the standpoint of the Cypria. Let us turn to one of the epic’s main iterations of the Unburdening of the Earth myth. It occurs in Book 2, right after the killing of Jarāsaṃdha and just before the killing of Śiśupāla, when Nārada shows up with the great Ṛṣis to witness Yudhiṣṭhira’s coronation at his Rājasūya sacrifice, and falls into a kind of reverie: Watching the assembly of the entire baronage (sarvakṣatrasamāga mam); . . . he recalled the tale that had long ago been spun in the dwelling of Brahmā at the time of the partial incarnations. Knowing this assembly was an assembly of Gods, Nārada called to mind the lotus-​eyed Hari. The lord Nārāyaṇa, slayer of the enemies of the Gods, conqueror of enemy cities, had himself been born in the baronage to keep his promise [to the Earth]175—​he, the creator, who of yore had commanded the gods, ‘Ye shall regain your worlds after killing one another.” When he had thus ordered all the Gods, the propitious master of the world, the blessed Nārāyaṇa was born on earth in the house of Yadu, in the lineage of the Andhakas and Vṛṣṇis, as the foremost of those who uphold dynasties, and he shone with superb beauty as the moon among the stars. He, enemy-​ crushing Hari, the strength of whose arms Indra and all the Gods revere, had indeed become man. “O woe, the self-​created god will himself carry off this powerful baronage that has grown so great,” such was the thought upon which Nārada reflected, who knew the

baṇdhuśoṇitadigdhāṅgyo muktakeśyo rajasvalāḥ evaṃ kṛtodakā nāryaḥ pravekṣyanti gajāhvayam. (2.71.18–​20). 175. My insertion, just to be clear, since Nārada does not mention her.

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laws, for he knew that Hari Nārāyaṇa was the lord who is to be praised in sacrifices.”176 Set right between the killing of Jarāsaṃdha and the Śiśupāla episode, the passage shows Kṛṣṇa’s Unburdenening of the Earth to have begun precisely with those two episodes. It is the most dispositive of the revelations of the burden of the Earth myth’s sweeping destructive impact that will include kings and princes of the hundred presumably mostly god-​born lineages whom Kṛṣṇa saved from Jarāsaṃdha’s prison, and the demon-​ born kings and princes including Jarāsaṃdha’s eastern allies. With Nārada’s knowing “that Hari Nārāyaṇa was the lord who is to be praised in sacrifices,” it clearly foreshadows Kṛṣṇa’s killing of Śiśupāla, whom Kṛṣṇa will behead precisely during the key Rājasūya subrite in which Śiśupāla, the incarnation of the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu,177 berates the choice of Kṛṣṇa as the most deserving of praise of all attending. Nārada’s pivotal reverie about Kṛṣṇa’s pending lifting of the burden of the Earth can also alert us to the problems that Biardeau and Fitzgerald make for themselves by placing Aśoka, who has nothing directly to do with that myth, at the center of their theories. But Fitzgerald makes an additional mistake that Biardeau, who theorizes around a tension between Buddhist and Hindu forms of bhakti,178 does not make. He wants his “main Mahābhārata,” and with it his truncation of the burden of the Earth myth into the “divine raiding party of the gods,” to represent a pre-​bhakti stage in the Mahābhārata’s growth. Having left it to John Brockington to argue for the “lateness” of the whole Jarāsaṃdha episode, which includes plenty of bhakti elements,179 Fitzgerald says the Śiśupāla episode exemplies the non-​originality of “all episodes that elaborate some form of devotion to Viṣṇu, Śiva, or Kṛṣṇa.”180 Fitzgerald joins those who treat “bhakti runs” as axiomatic evidence of lateness, whereas for me they are just one of the 176. Mbh 2.33.10–​20. 177. Mbh 1.64.5—​listed second, after Jarāsaṃdha as the incarnation of Vipracitti, in the list of incarnated demons. 178. Biardeau 2002, 2:776. I build on this important premise in studying the parallel bhakti symbols and themes that Aśvaghoṣa draws on between Kṛṣṇa’s entry into Jarāsaṃdha’s Magadha and the Buddha’s entry into Magadha during the reign of Bimbisāra (Hiltebeitel 2011b, 625–​26, 651–​52). 179. See Brockington 2002, 2005. 180. Fitzgerald 2006, 271–​72, quoted in Hiltebeitel 2011b, 51n14. Fitzgerald’s other examples of nonoriginal bhakti passages are “the essential portions” of the BhG, Arjuna and Duryodhana

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six ingredients of the epic’s heterogeneity.181 Earlier in this same essay, Fitzgerald singles out bhakti as almost uniquely excluded from his “main Mahābhārata”: while I believe there were additions and modifications made to it in the centuries prior to its general finalization in Gupta times, I believe that none of these radically altered its basic form. I think the most significant modification the epic underwent in these centuries was its leavening with bhakti themes and the extended temporal perspectives of the kalpa and yuga theme.182 But kalpas and yugas are typically linked with the Mahābhārata’s bhakti cosmology and soteriology. It is, in any case, hard to see Kṛṣṇa’s part in lifting the burden of the Earth when all Fitzgerald gives us is a bhakti-​less divine raiding party of the gods. Nārada’s episode-​linking reverie has no place in Fitzgerald’s or in Brockington’s discussion. Yet Nārada’s reverie remains in place, with its evocations of bhakti and its mention of cities—​“The lord Nārāyaṇa, slayer of the enemies of the Gods, conqueror of enemy cities, had himself been born in the baronage to keep his promise.” This is the only reference to cities in any Mahābhārata iteration of the Unburdening of the Earth myth. It can remind us that traumatic memories of India’s second urbanization cast against an older “Vedic” story recalled from a deep past are more likely to lie behind this myth than the relatively recent troubles during the reign of Aśoka. The Mahābhārata develops its distinctive handling of this “announced annihilation not only of [cities] but of an entire generation of heroes” in what I referred to as the “total mythological language state” that Biardeau articulates out of the epico-​Purāṇic cosmological themes of the yuga, the kalpa, and the pralaya. What needs to be stressed now is the way these themes interconnect in a distinctive apocalyptic vision. The Mahābhārata’s Unburdening of the Earth myth is apocalyptic in ways the Greek myth is not. Both the Iliad and the Mahābhārata can be conceived of under Wulff’s formulation, which he derives from the Cypria, that a divine plan has at Kṛṣṇa’s bedside to obtain his boons for battle (5.7), “and several highly polished examples of Kṛṣṇa bhakti in the narrative wake of Yudhiṣṭhira’s abhiṣeka” (his coronation; 12.40–​56). 181.  These are, along with the main story, bhakti runs, upākhyānas, didactic teachings, an author function, and frame stories; see this volume, ch. 4, note 31. 182. Fitzgerald 2006, 269n14.

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designed a war that will result in the deaths of a semi-​divine (demigod) generation of heroes fighting on both sides. But only the Mahābhārata describes the death scene in numerically global proportions. Asked by Dhṛtarāṣṭra to tell him how many died at Kurukṣetra, Yudhiṣṭhira instantly counts their staggering number:  1,660,020,000,183 thereby revealing—​as Biardeau saw184—​the side of himself that is an incarnation of Yama, the god of the dead around whom Vyāsa revealed the facet of the Unburdening of the Earth myth that involves the apocalyptic divine plan to restore Yama’s strength to kill humans in the “Myth of the Five Former Indras”—​interpreted in ­chapter 4—​that he told at Draupadī’s svayaṃvara (her wedding).185 Although both epics envision the depopulation of capital cities, only the Mahābhārata speaks of many of those cities being ruled by incarnated demons. Only the Mahābhārata conceives of its war as having a surviving divine remnant. There are ten survivors totally, seven on the Pāṇḍava side (Kṛṣṇa, his sidekick Sātyaki, and the five Pāṇḍavas) and three on the Kaurava side (Aśvatthāman, Kṛpa, and Kṛtavarman). Along with Kṛṣṇa, who is God (that is, Nārāyaṇa), and Aśvatthāman who is a protégé of Śiva, all the rest are also portions (aṃśas) of deities, so that no incarnate demons survive the war. Even down to the end of the Mahābhārata, when all the heroes born of divine “portions” dissolve back into the gods from whom they came in the heavenly worlds, there is an apocalyptic outcome that is nothing like the ongoing individual destinies of the dispirited shades of the Iliad’s heroes in Hades.186 Along with its having Greek affinities, if we are to consider the Mahābhārata to be modeled on a Greek repertoire, the apocalyptic character of its divine plan would have to be an Indian redirection given to the Unburdening of the Earth myth. I have also been hinting at the relation between the Unburdening of the Earth myth and the Mahābhārata’s great women characters. Fittingly, the trauma of the second urbanization that provokes the Mahābhārata’s apocalyptic divine plan results not only in the deaths of so many incarnate gods and demons at the Kurukṣetra battlefield. It is transposed onto a female character, the goddess Earth, whose own trauma is felt and shared by

183. At Mbh 11.26.9–​10; see Fitzgerald 2004a, 72; Hiltebeitel 2016a, 108, 115n3. 184. Biardeau 1989, 322. 185. See c­ hapter 4, this volume. 186. See Austin 2009 on the non-​karmic outcome of the exodus of the aṃśas going back to the deities who imparted them, and Odyssey, Book 11.

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many of the epic’s women characters as incarnate or incipient goddesses themselves, including not only Draupadī, but also Ambā, Kuntī, and Gāndharī.187 All four experience profound traumas early in the epic that get intensified by and through the war. Kuntī recalls how four males took advantage of her—​her father, her foster father, the sage Durvāsas, and the Sun god Sūrya, with the latter leaving her pregnant when she was just a girl with a child—​Karṇa—​she had to abandon, whose death she mourns when the war is over. Gāndhārī painfully aborted herself after two years of an unfinished pregnancy and then, after the children miraculously survived, lost all of her hundred Kaurava sons in the war. Ambā fueled her anger over her mistreatment by Bhīṣma to the point of changing sex to kill him, and then was killed “himself”/​“herself” in the war’s final bloodbath by Aśvatthāman. I thus for the first time draw a connection between the trauma of the Earth brought on by demonic overpopulation and the traumas experienced by several women characters, especially Draupadī, during her hair-​pulling and disrobing by the demonic Kauravas, who pitilessly joke about her as they violate her. It is the trauma of Draupadī at the dice match that drives the action of the epic up to the point that the final bloodbath claims the lives of her five sons, and the vengeful curse of Aśvatthāman leaves her barren. While it may be that the Earth’s final unburdening and vindication is criss-​crossed by these further sufferings of Draupadī, her sufferings also come with the fulfillment of her prediction, cited earlier, of the widowhood of the Kaurava women. Her vindication is moreover made fully clear at the culmination of Draupadī festivals when she gets to mount Duryodhana’s chest, and, with Kṛṣṇa assisting, puts up her hair with the blood from Duryodhana’s thigh. The centrality of Draupadī’s trauma is fused with the Earth’s, making the apocalyptic depopulation the doing of both in a narrative that makes it easy to understand how she graduates from being an incarnation of Ṥrī, the Earth’s “Prosperity,” to being for those who worship her, the Goddess herself, the para-​Ṥakti: the “supreme power” of the universe. There is, however, more that follows from Draupadī’s connections with the myth of the Unburdening of the Earth. As Perundevi Srinivasan reminded me in responding to a summary of this book that highlighted

187. I am tempted to add Ṥakuntalā here, whose traumatic treatment over her marriage—​ though only in the “original” Northern recension—​anticipates Draupadi’s (see Hiltebeitel 2011e), and is told immediately after Vaisampayana’s first iteration of the Burden of the Earth myth. But the argument would complicate matters in my presentation.

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this chapter,188 seeing a connection between Draupadī and the Earth is not new to me. Thirty-​five years ago, in my 1982 article “Draupadī’s Garments,” I wrote about the heroine as an embodiment of the Earth, leading me to end the article saying, “the miraculous saris that reclothe Draupadī . . . are also the garments of the Earth.”189 Srinivasan also recalls that earlier in that article I  had linked the “miracle” of the saris as a symbol with the Earth holding the power of her own renewal, which is “inexhaustible” except at the time of the world dissolution (pralaya). In looking back at that article, I  was struck by passages I  cited where Kṛṣṇa shows Arjuna the “Earth of battle” (raṇabhūmi, yuddhabhūmi)190—​that is, the battlefield—​ and says at great length that although she looks ghastly, the Earth is mysteriously beautiful and resplendent,191 and by the frequent similes that compare the Kurukṣetra battlefield to a girl or woman:  “the Earth shone forth like a wanton young woman (pramadā) adorned with diverse kinds of ornaments”;192 “as a dark young girl (yuvatiḥ śyamā) would wear garments in white dyed with red safflower”;193 “Wet with blood sprung from the bodies of men, horses, and elephants, the Earth was like an all-​ accessible resplendent woman (nārī prakāśā iva sarvagamyā) attired in burnished gold, garlands, and red ornaments”;194 or, she was like a widow shorn of the jewels that were the “warrior-​bulls” who fought and died upon her.195 These four descriptions even seem to make Earth age through the battle books, and any one or all four could be taken to evoke Draupadī at different points in her life, or as different others see her. I also see now that in referring to the “miracle” of the saris, I  missed the significance of a verse that describes the foiling of Duḥśāsana’s attempt to strip her using the superlative of the term adbhuta, the “wondrous,” which, as was noted in c­ hapter 1, approximates the “uncanny.” As Draupadī’s garments were being torn off and repeatedly replaced, “Then there was a shout

188. Srinivasan 2017, 7, commenting on Hiltebeitel 2017. 189. Srinivasan 2017, 8, citing Hiltebeitel 1980a (2011c, 51). I further argued that she embodies each of the five material elements of prakṛti (nature or matter). 190. Mbh 7.123.41, 8.41.99. 191. Mbh 7.123.30–​41, 8.41.26–​59. 192. Mbh 6.92.63. 193. Mbh 8.36.9ab. 194. Mbh 8.68.34. 195. Mbh 9.28.6; Hiltebeitel 2011c, 49–​50.

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of approval there, a terrible roar from all the kings, having watched the greatest wonder in the world” (tad adbhutatamam loke vīkṣya).196 For the poets to treat the non-​disrobing of Draupadī as “the greatest wonder in the world,” or “the most uncanny happening” that they would ever see, cannot be taken lightly. Srinivasan brings my current discussion of the uncanniness of this scene further along, turning the discussion from Sanskrit to Tamil. “In fact,” she writes, “the event of the disrobing of Draupadī at the climax scene of the dice match could well fit the themes of māyā (illusion) and adbhuta (wonder). . . . I find that the epic’s adbhuta rasa, or the sentiment of marvel, is at the pinnacle when new saris appear on Draupadī’s persona.” Srinivasan thus recalls my point in c­ hapter 1 that these two prominent epic terms approximate Freud’s sense of the “uncanny,” and finds support for her claim in an epistemology of the rasas that she extrapolates from the Tamil grammar, the Tolkāppiyam, which has a subsection devoted meyppātu, the term that corresponds to Sanskrit rasa. The Tolkāppiyam speaks of “eight major categories of emotion”:  “the humorous,” “the loathsome,” “the heroic,” “the awesome,” “the compassionate,” “the terrifying,” “the furious,” and “the erotic,” in which one recognizes equivalents of the eight basic rasas, minus “the peaceful” (śāntarasa). The term that parallels Sanskrit adbhuta is “the awesome” (marutkai). It is based on the Tamil word marul, for which the Tamil Lexicon provides two meanings: “confused or bewildered vision, illusion,” and “astonishment, wonder.” In contrast to Sanskrit adbhuta, Srinivasan can thus say that “the Tamil term marutkai encompasses both the theme of māyā or illusion and adbhuta or wonder.”197 Srinivasan shows how the disrobing scene “fits” the category of the uncanny in Tamil. “Explaining marutkai, the Tolkāppiyam describes the four characteristics of objects, namely, putumai or ‘newness,’ perumai or ‘expansiveness,’ ciṟumai or smallness, and akkam, ‘the creation (of a rare object) that produces it.’ Of all these, putumai is the [most] pertinent.” She translates the disrobing passage from Villiputtūr’s fourteenth-​century rendering of the Mahābhārata into classical Tamil as follows:  “As the senseless one [Duḥśāsana] was disrobing the garment, thousands of new

196. Hiltebeitel 2011c, 36, citing Mbh 2.61.42. 197. Srinivasan 2017, 9.

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garments of multiple colors, as they were gracefully bestowed [by Kṛṣṇa], divested incessantly.”198 Srinivasan notes that the verb uri, urital, which she translates as “divested,” is most often used for organic processes, such as a snake “shedding” its skin or bark “peeling” off a tree, and concludes: “In other words, the ongoing flow of new saris, even though bestowed by Kṛṣṇa, is conceived as inherent to the persona of Draupadī, surfacing and regenerating at the moment of her crisis.” The organic “newness” of the saris is, however, most fully developed by the twentieth-​century Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati, who shows many familiarities with the performative traditions of Draupadī cult dramas. In his play Pāñcālī Capatam (The Vow of Pāñcālī [Draupadī]), the term putu (“new”) is used over and over, along with the verbal forms of valar, “to grow.” As Draupadī surrenders to Kṛṣṇa, the saris that “grow, grow and grow”199 “are ungraspable in thought and of diverse colors”; indeed, the next verse begins: the saris grew “with their threads of gold and silk, various new new new newnesses.”200 Srinivasan says, “The newness, manifested in the form of diverse colored saris, . . . amounts to their having been buried or concealed in Draupadī’s body or person.”201 Srinivasan then observes that in Freud’s “The ‘Uncanny,’ ” one of the ambivalent meanings of the German heimlich is a “buried spring or a dried up pond.” And she notes, as we did in ­chapter 1, that both heimlich and unheimlich “converge on something that is ‘concealed and kept out of sight.’ ”202 One could say that the multiplication of saris as “the most uncanny thing in the world” proves Freud’s point that the uncanny produced by literary effects does go beyond everyday life, even in the Mahābhārata. Yet even here the Mahābhārata tradition supplies a confirmatory analogue from everyday Indian experience that relies on the identity of Draupadī’s body with the Earth. In the terukkūttu drama Cūtu Tukil Urital (Dice Match and Disrobing) that is performed so centrally at Draupadī festivals, Duḥśāsana asks, “By the millions and millions, beautiful and variegated,

198. Villiputtur 2001, Capā Paruvam, Cūtu Pōr Carukam, p. 402, verse 93. 199. vaḷarntaṉ vaḷarntaṉ vaḷarntaṉavē; Srinivasan 2017, 9. 200. putupputup putupputup putumaikaḷāy; Srinivasan 2017, 10, citing Bharati 2000, 2:390, verse 96. 201. Srinivasan 2017, 10. 202. Srinivasan 2017, 11.

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Figure  6.1  Draupadī-​Māriyammaṉ temple fresco, Vāyalūr; women see wonder of the saris Draupadī’s disrobing, in a wall fresco painted at the Draupadī-​Reṇukā/​Māriyammaṉ temple in Vāyalūr village, Vriddhachalam (formerly South Arcot) District. Note on the left the gallery of what seem to be startled women, there to wonder at the miracle. This one temple shared by these two goddesses is in my experience unique in Tamilnadu, and paralleled only partly in Singapore where Draupadī has a side-​ temple or chapel at the large Māriyammaṉ temple in the city’s “little India.” Source: Photo by Alf Hiltebeitel.

as the winged ants come out of the anthill in a great exodus, how many tens-​of-​millions (koṭis) of saris must I peel?”—​again, using the verb uri.203 Indeed, we could say that their coming from Draupadī’s person and body is one of the subtle messages of the split scene of a Vorticist-​style temple fresco—​its Vorticism enhanced by the horse and the wicker backdrop of a processional palanquin left in the foreground—​that shows Kṛṣṇa to be the source of the saris “concealed and kept out of sight” precisely from the women who watch Draupadī’s disrobing from their gallery on the left, with wide-​eyed, seemingly startled looks (see figure 6.1), while the men can see Kṛṣṇa handing them down to her from the wall above the women. Perhaps it is women who get the real or full realization of this uncanny scene, while men—​with devotional eyes to see Kṛṣṇa, at least ones like Bhīṣma whom one can make out through the wicker of the palanquin—​can still exclaim 203. Hiltebeitel 1988b, 274n30.

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it “the greatest wonder in the world.” That the earliest baseline Sanskrit Mahābhārata reconstructed in the PCE left it as Draupadī’s own dharma that produces the wonder probably left at least half its public asking who personally could be behind it, for which, as the history of the interpolations shows, Kṛṣṇa was the only conceivable answer.204 Our third and last take on Draupadī’s disrobing thus shows how despite the flaws of Yudhiṣṭhira and the cruel humor of the leading Kauravas, the epic makes it Draupadī’s redemptive scene—​with a symbolism that repeatedly connects her with the Earth. Let me now try to justify why it is fitting to call the Unburdening of the Earth myth the Mahābhārata’s central myth, its all-​encompassing “background myth.” It is central for several reasons. First and most fundamentally, it is central within the epic because it is the epic’s ultimate explanation for the Mahābhārata war. One can also see its centrality by looking at its main tellings. Its first telling is by Vaiśaṃpāyana, the narrator of the epic’s inner frame. After he introduces his guru Vyāsa, from whom he learned the epic, he launches the Mahābhārata with an account of the Unburdening of the Earth myth as background to his entire narration under the title of “Descent of the Original Genealogies” (Ādivaṃśāvatavaraṇa), referring to it also as the account of the “partial incarnations” (aṃśāvataraṇa) of gods and demons, birds, snakes, and other classes of beings (Mbh 1.58.25–​59.6; 61). His is the first of the myth’s five major iterations, each having the status of a revelation. The four others are two by Vyāsa (in Books 1 and 11: Vyāsa’s first comes in the just-​mentioned myth of the “Five Former Indras” and the second in his postwar words of consolation to Dhṛtarāṣṭra); third is the one recently quoted by Nārada (in Book 2); and in closing the epic, a last, again by Vaiśaṃpāyana, tells of the dissolution of the divine portions back into their heavenly persons (in Book 18). In that the myth thus begins and ends Vaiśaṃpāyana’s inner frame narration, Simon Brodbeck can justifiably also call it “the frame story.”205 One could even propose that the five revelations occur in a ring structure, with Vyāsa’s two flanked on the outside by Vaiśaṃpāyana’s pair, and with Nārada’s as the kernel. To these five may be added a complementary sixth, which presents the scenario from the standpoint of the demons. Once, when they learned that Duryodhana, in a moment of distress, was contemplating suicide, the demons had

204. See Hiltebeitel 2011c, 35–​39; Hiltebeitel 2001, 240–​59. 205. Brodbeck 2009a, 33.

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him spirited away to their underworld realm where they urged him not to “wreck their party,”206 and announced they would infiltrate the key combattants who would fight for him, seeing to it that the Pāṇḑavas would be killed at Kurukṣetra. It cannot be called a revelation of what will happen, since it will prove false about the Pāṇḑavas. But Duryodhana returns from it thinking “it had all been a dream”; and when he began to see the demonic effects upon Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Kṛpa, and others, he “did not tell anyone about it.”207 To restate this third section as part of a recapitulation of this whole chapter’s main points, having noted that the Mahābhārata casts itself as occurring in a vague Vedic time, earlier than the second urbanization, I posit that the Unburdening of the Earth myth is a screen or filter through which the epic’s reality effects and uncanny fictions are projected back into the older Vedic past. As a screen, it marks off anything prior to the second urbanization as what I  call “Vedic allusion” rather than history, and it implies that the epic story has been built on top of an “urban unconscious.” This apocalyptic myth, which probably owes its main features to the Iliad’s “plan of Zeus,” is about relieving the goddess Earth from overpopulation that, in the Indian case, has resulted from demons being born into royal lineages, which the gods have taken birth as the epic’s heroes to counteract. These demons occupy some of the main urban capitals, most notably, in the epic story, that of king Jarāsaṃdha of Magadha, which from the fifth century on becomes the center of imperial rule under heterodox influences—​particularly Buddhist ones under Aśoka. I  interpret the Earth’s overpopulation against the background of India’s second urbanization, which could have been strongly felt well before Aśoka, but also later than Aśoka for it to take hold as the myth in the epic: a development that confronted the older rural and village-​based Vedic Brahminism with a trauma that the epic poets reflect upon not only in the cataclysmic slaughter that relieves Earth’s burden on the epic’s battlefield but also in the poets’ proliferated tales exalting forest-​based gleaners. Let me insist that since this myth, according to the Mahābhārata, explains the origins of the Mahābhārata war, it deserves a strong reading. But most scholars have left it unnoticed or tried to explain it away. As to the different ways the Unburdening of the Earth myth has been treated, I am

206. This is van Buitenen’s felicitious translation of te svapakaksayam; 3.239.19; 1975, 691). 207. Mbh 3.239–​-​40.44.

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not aware of many who have even noted it, so this cannot be a history of a problem. I begin with Moriz Winternitz, who is the earliest I know of to have treated one of the myth’s iterations. Winternitz is among those who seek to sideline the myth with demeaning remarks that compare it unfavorably to passages understood to include an older bardic oral epic component having roots in history. He says that the story Vyāsa tells Drupada to justify Draupadī’s polyandry—​ the myth of the five former Indras, which I have been touting as Vyāsa’s first iteration of the Unburdening of the Earth myth—​is “silly” and “inept mythification,” and lacks the authentic epic’s “style.”208 Yet let us note something distinctive about Vyāsa’s skill in narrating this myth. Although it is definitely an iteration of the unburdening of the Earth myth, which Vaiśaṃpāyana first iterates after hearing it from Vyāsa, Winternitz does not identify it as such. And we can hardly blame him for an oversight, since Vyāsa does not mention the Earth in this account, or even just allude to her as Nārada does in his third iteration. As we noted in ­chapter 4, Vyasa keeps the focus on the concerns of his immediate listeners, principally King Drupada and Yudhiṣṭhira who are negotiating Draupadi’s polyandry, and leaves not only the goddess Earth unmentioned but two other goddesses who play significant parts in his story unnamed.209 Starting out with very similar language, J.  A. B.  van Buitenen, in introducing his translation of Mahābhārata Book 1, which contains the first two iterations of the Unburdening of the Earth myth, now slants the first rather than the second as both “inept mythification” and “silly,” and speaks of “epic tone” instead of “style.”210 In his hands, “inept mythification” and “extremely silly” describe the results of the first iteration of the myth by Vaiśaṃpāyana, who tells how numerous gods and demons took birth in royal families. Van Buitenen places that first iteration on the “fuzzy edges” of the first of three “perimeters” of the originally bardic main story. The “second perimeter” is then where inept, silly mythologizations of the main story would be traceable. He wishes to make two points. The first is that “there is no reason at all why Bhīṣma should be the son of the river goddess, why Karṇa should be the son of the Sun, or why the Pāṇḑavas

208. Winternitz 1933–​-​34, 174. 209. See the last section of c­ hapter 4, this volume. 210. Van Buitenen 1973, xx, 6. These usages seem to be independent of Winternitz, who is not cited in van Buitenen’s “Sources Quoted.”

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should have been begotten by various deities.” With this third silliness he covers what he might say about the myth of the five former Indras, Vyasa’s first iteration.211 His second point is that “as usual in such pious transformations, the results are less than gratifying: they take away from a man’s virtue while adding nothing to the God’s.”212 Van Buitenen does not hesitate to make both these points several times. Like Socrates, he is “denying mythology.”213 Recently, another trend, one that adresses the myth’s operation in the epic as a whole rather than just its discrete iterations, has been to try to diminish the myth’s importance, in effect to explain it away on either aesthetic or statistical grounds as nonessential to the epic. Most remiss in not thinking this through has been Emily Hudson, basing her stance on what she calls the epic’s “aesthetics of suffering.” For her, Vyāsa’s second disclosure of “the divine plan is bookended” by discussions of time, a statement she follows up with a long note that she begins with the absurd question, “Does Vyāsa really think that the story of the Burden of the Earth provides a sound explanation of the war?”214 In her earlier dissertation, Hudson found Vyāsa’s explanation to Dhṛtarāṣṭra that he has lost his sons by a “divine design” to unburden the Earth less “persuasive” than consolations by Saṃjaya and Vidura.215 Equally cavalier is Brodbeck in getting at the myth statistically, agreeing with Hudson that it is not prevalent. Although it is true that most of the Mahābhārata’s Kṣatriya women, whose grief over their slain husbands his article is about, are uninformed about the “secret of the gods” and are victims of its “Kṣatriya ideology,” it is an oversight to say, “The Mahābhārata’s central characters are ignorant” of that secret. Here is just a short list of characters who have learned about it from Kṛṣṇa or Vyāsa. Brodbeck’s point is manifestly untrue of the Pāṇḍavas, Draupadī, Karṇa, Duryodhana, Bhīṣma, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Vidura, Drupada, and Aśvatthāman. Brodbeck speaks of a “lower level” of human action that “remains primary” over a “higher level”—​one whose “cosmic interpretation of the war is used sparingly.” He finds “depart[ure] in details” 211.  Van Buitenen thus sees no thread linking the first and second interations, and likewise has nothing to say about Nārada’s third iteration in his Introduction to Mbh Book 2; 1975, 3–​30. 212. Van Buitenen 1973, x1x. 213. See Wulff’s remark, cited at note 170, this chapter. 214. Hudson 2012, 137–​38. 215. Hudson 2006, 148–​49.

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and “discrepancies”216 in the ways the divine secret is told in different situations. In his book, he writes “we see how cosmic stories might retrospectively arise.”217 The category of “used sparingly” is simply the old problem of the glass being half empty or half full.218 Brodbeck offers the only discussion I know of about the myth’s different iterations, but with the intent to expose differences between them, suggesting they would have arisen belatedly and from different times and hands. To date, only James Fitzgerald has offered an attempt to look at the myth in the Mahābhārata as a whole. But, as we have seen, he undercuts the Unburdening of the Earth myth by repackaging it as a myth of his own, one that he considers to be historically more penetrating. Fitzgerald’s “divine raiding party of the gods” that “purges” the Kṣatra is his idiosyncratic shorthand for the myth of the Unburdening of the Earth.219 Fitzgerald thinks this “divine raiding party of the gods” serves as the trigger by which the Pāṇḍavas are introduced as newcomers into his “main Mahābhārata,” which before this, in an oral tradition, would have probably concerned a Kuru/​Kaurava rivalry with their neighbors, the Pāñcālas. That is how his theory morphs into an updated version of the younger Adolf Holtzmann’s inversion hypothesis. The Mahābhārata’s central myth is left as a late addition to this older oral epic that has somehow become connected with Brahmin rage at Aśoka. To take the Unburdening of the Earth myth as a late entry into the story, one that introduces the Pāṇḍavas as a divine raiding party of the gods, is a severe truncation and underestimation of the richness of the myth as it relates the goddess Earth and the epic’s heroines. Let me, then, conclude with a restatement of my main thesis and my new idea. In pursuing Freud’s point in Moses and Monotheism that religious traditions should be studied from what has shaped their past unconsciously, including repressed trauma that affects historical memory, my new theory of the Mahābhārata focuses on its central myth, which seems to have intensified a Greek source. I argue that the myth’s strength

216. For the quoted material, see Brodbeck 2009b, 47, 40, 50, and 36, in that order. 217. Brodbeck 2009a, 262. 218. I made this objection to Luis González-​Reimann’s remark (2002, 86 and passim) that one cannot credit references to the Mahābhārata war taking place between yugas, because one finds that “late” notion referred to only nine times. Such arguments “have made the glass half empty. Many important things are said in the epics just once” (Hiltebeitel 2011b, ­chapter 5, note 14). 219. See Fitzgerald 2004a, 99n97.

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in India comes from what I have called an urban unconscious, which for Brahmanism was traumatic. An urban unconscious may not convince everyone, but it is needed to explain the lack of memory about the rise of cities during India’s second urbanization, and it fits the known facts about village Brahmanism, goddesses, and cities. That is, it allows for a fit between the history of the second urbanization as we can reonsruct it220 and the myth of the Earth’s unburdening, with the Earth’s own crisis paralleled by the experiences of the epic’s chief heroines. If, as I suggest, this myth functions as a screen through which still older memories would not pass, it weakens arguments for an ancient oral Mahābhārata going back to “Vedic” times. Yet. as with Freud’s Judaism, what is unconscious and repressed returns as something positive—​not as monotheism, however, but as a polytheistic Vedic past in which Vedic divinities are constantly being upstaged by Viṣṇu, Śiva, Brahmā, and the Goddess, the new post-​ṚgVedic gods of bhakti who set Kṛṣṇa to the task of relieving the Earth’s burden. The Mahābhārata story is thus the “recovered memory” of a Vedic past just as it is a return of partially unconscious and forgotten meanings about that past.

220. See Hiltebeitel, forthcoming-​b, which goes into the second urbanization in detail.

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Addendum

Trauma Studies and Literature Since the 1980s

Although ­c hapter  6 came to me as what I  called in this book’s preface a bolt from the blue, in the five months or so that I worked on it, it became the most overwritten chapter in the book. Bringing the chapter to an end thus meant stopping the writing. I drew the line at what followed from the book by Richard Bernstein that had inspired the chapter, and I  kept the discussion rooted in Freud’s focus on trauma and latency in Moses and Monotheism. Having also worked in discussion of his 1905 book on jokes around the figure of Vyāsa,1 and integrated the chapter with themes addressed in earlier chapters, I  put some final touches on its conclusion and sent it along with the final copy of both this book and Freud’s India to the publisher as ready for production. Nonetheless, although the writing stopped, the research didn’t. I  owe to Perundevi Srinivasan’s “Duryodhana: A Post-​Victim and a Melancholic Heterosexual Subject,” a chapter in our forthcoming co-​authored book on Draupadī and Duryodhana festivals in Dharmapuri District, Tamilnadu, an awakening to the burgeoning field of trauma studies that I  was unaware of when I wrote ­chapter 6. Srinivasan shared her chapter with me just after I had sent off the manuscript, alerting me to two developing and intertwining branches of trauma studies I could well have drawn into the chapter. One is post-​Freudian psychoanalytic work on trauma linked with interest in shell shock, as it was called during World War 2, and post-​traumatic stress

1.  See now also Hiltebeitel forthcoming-​a, focused directly on, and widening the scope on Vyāsa.

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disorder (PTSD), as it has been named and medicalized since the 1980s. The second, even more germane, is a movement begun in the 1980s involving trauma studies and literature. In the first vein, Srinivasan alerted me to Howard B. Levine, who views Freud’s work on trauma as one of the most enduring facets of his oeuvre. Levine writes, “Trauma is whatever outstrips and disrupts the psyche’s capacity for representation and mentalization. Absent the potential for mental representation, these events and phenomena are historical only from an external, third-​person perspective. Until they are mentalized, they remain locked within an ahistorical, repetitive process as potentials for action, somatization, and projection.”2 Srinivasan also alerted me to Cathy Cruther’s Unclaimed Experience:  Trauma, Narrative, and History, which also emphasizes the nonrepresentability of traumatized experiences while they remain latent, and discusses trauma in Freud’s Moses and Monotheism as it is borne out in both individuals and Jewish history as Freud presents it.3 Although I could have stated it more emphatically, I make the point that through, it seems, several centuries of latency, Hindus had no representation of the second urbanization.4 Moreover, if, as I  suggest, the Mahābhārata poets finally represent the trauma of urbanization by the Unburdening of the Earth, that would be testimony to the epic’s power as a literary work whose originality lies in its well-​wrought apocalyptic vision. Cruther’s is the only work from these new readings that I was tempted to cite in c­ hapter 6, for its eerie parallel to Kṛṣṇa’s showing the battlefield—​ beautiful with imagined flowers—​to Arjuna from their chariot. In her treatment of the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, Cruther comes to a moment when the woman character says to her Japanese lover, in French, drawing from John Hersey’s description of wildflowers growing from the ruins of Hiroshima as seen by a woman who had earlier witnessed the total devastation and was being transported by ambulance from one hospital to another to treat her recently amputated leg: “on the fifteenth day too. Hiroshima was blanketed with flowers. There were cornflowers and gladiolas everywhere, and morning glories and day lilies that rose again from the ashes

2. Levine 2014, 214–​24. 3. Cruther 1996, 6–​36. 4. See now Hiltebeitel forthcoming-​b where I explore this point and the second urbanization more fully.

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with an extraordinary vigor, quite unheard of till then.”5 Both texts uncannily present the premature regeneration of the devastated Earth. As I soon realized, a whole new journal has been devoted to the convergence of trauma studies with modern literature,6 and from a little further probing, I  learned of works that related trauma studies to ancient literatures as well, especially the Bible, where some interests in female trauma and apocalyptic are closer to mine7 than those in Greek literature have been. Alan Greaves’s “Post-​Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Ancient Greece:  A Methodological Review” says one cannot read PTSD directly back into classical literary texts primarily because they never tell us enough to identify the syndrome, omitting, for instance, flashbacks. He nonetheless regards PTSD as both universal to the human species and susceptible to varied cultural expressions. He finds a fruitful debate about “the best documented example of any form of traumatic shock in Greek historical writings,” as that of Epizelos, a hoplite soldier at Marathon who in 490 bce, according to Herodotus, went blind just after the soldier fighting next to him was killed by a large bearded Persian. Greaves likewise praises Jonathan Shay’s “Learning about Combat Stress from Homer’s Iliad” and Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam:  Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character.8 These works open rich possibilities for comparative work with Indian literatures, including both Sanskrit epics, which as far as I  am aware are yet to be studied from this new perspective.9 But trauma studies and ancient Greek literature have headed in a different direction from mine. I do mention the holocaust of the Mahābhārata war as

5.  Cruther 1996, 53. Hershey’s description, mentioning many more flowers and other plants, explains, “The bomb had not only left the underground organs of plants intact, it had stimulated them” (Cruther 1996, 54–​55 citing Hersey 1946, 99). 6. Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, in its fifth year, published by the University of Nebraska. 7.  Frechette and Boase 2016, 1–​24. See also in this book chapters by Ruth Poser, “No Words: The Book of Ezekiel as Trauma Literature and a Response to Exile,” 27–​58; Elizabeth Boase, “Fragmented Voices: Collective Identity and Traumatization in Lamentations,” 49–​ 66; Christopher Frechette, “Daughter Babylon Raped and Bereaved (Isaiah 47): Symbolic Violence and Meaning-​ Making in Recovery from Trauma,” 67–​ 84; and L.  Juliana M.  Claessens, “Trauma and Recovery:  A New Hermeneutical Framework for the Rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13), 177–​92. 8. Greaves 1991, 561–​79; Shay 1994. See also Shay 2002. 9. Although see Goldman and Goldman 1996, 58, on Rām 5.17.1–​3, where the “traumatized heroine” Sītā, just after her abduction, on hearing Rāvaṇa first approach the grove where he keeps her captive, “curls up in a fetal position, trembling like a plantain tree in a gale.”

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background for the trauma I discuss, but my chapter focuses on trauma in areas that are mentioned by Greaves as additional to combat stress: A wider range of traumatizing events has now been identified as being potential causes of PTSD. In addition to military combat, these now include rape, natural disasters, road traffic accidents, torture, and wartime traumas experienced by non-​combatant civilians. PTSD can also be caused by social trauma, when the individual feels that their social standing or personal integrity has been violated by feelings of shame, expressions of racism, or catastrophic social embarrassment.10 What I address—​to pare this list down—​is trauma experienced by women characters that include symbolic rape, “wartime traumas experienced by non-​combatant civilians,” and “social trauma” dealing with not only what an individual feels but also what a community feels when “their social standing or personal integrity has been violated by feelings of shame, . . . or catastrophic social embarrassment.” When I  sent off this book to be published and began work on the book with Perundevi, I first thought of the new project as a nearly total departure, with only a minimal opening for a different discussion of Freud. Perundevi’s chapter has changed that. We had first envisioned our joint effort as being about “Women Worshipping Draupadī” in the Dharmapuri region as a crossover, or “burnt-​ over,” district that had fostered an “antitriumphalist Mahābhārata” atypical for Tamilnadu.11 Perundevi’s new chapter has ripened that notion with her reflections on Duryodhana’s melancholic heterosexuality, which in turn opens up possibilities for further examination of a depressed position centered on Kuntī and Yudhiṣṭhira, a dead mother complex, and the adbhutarasa that both Perundevi and I will be able to relate back to this volume. As mentioned in chapter 1 n. 10, I have already, since writing this book, drafted an essay on adbhuta rasa in the Mahābhārata, which I cannot list since it does not yet have a publisher.

10. In O’Brian and Boatright 2008, 89–​100. 11. On the tendency of Tamils to treat both epics as triumphalist, see Hiltebeitel 2016, 147–​50.

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Index

Acropolis  1, 24, 28 adbhuta, the wondrous, the marvelous  xviii, 3 n. 6, 4, 40, 143 n. 44, 159, 254–​55, 268 adbhutarasa  xviii, 40, 268 adharma  139–​40,  164 Agastya, killing animals while hunting is not killing  118 aggression 243 n. 160, 244 Aiyaṉar, as Hariharaputra  157, 191 Ājīvikas 211 Alambuṣa, beheads Irāvat in eighth day of war  149–​50 Alexander the Great  94, 100, 211 Ali avatāra 185 n. 177 Ambā  71, 227, 233–​34, 243, 253 Ambā, Ambikā, Ambālikā  227, 233–​35,  243 Ambikā, Ambālikā  71, 74, 225, 227, 233–​34,  243 aṃśas (portions) of gods and demons take birth in ruling families  120, 252, 258 Ananta  149,  181–​82 Anantadeva  1, 22, 29 Añjaneyar (Hanumān) secures Aravāṉ for kaḷappali (Coimbatore area)  176

“announced annihilation . . . of an entire generation of heroes”  95, 247, 249, 251 the Cypria’s interpretation of the Iliad  249, 251 in Nārada’s iteration of the Unburdening of the Earth myth  250–​51 Anzieu, Didier  21–​22, 35 Apantaratamas 242 Aparājītā  62, 68 Aphrodite  93, 98, 102, 104, 108, 117, 162 Apocalyptic  27, 96 n. 67, 251–​53, 259, 266, 267 Biblical apocalyptic  266–​67 Mbh’s distinctive apocalyptic vision  251–​52 Aravāṉ  xiii, xix, 8, 66–​67, 133–​201 astride two mountains and sharpening a weapon on a third  163–​64,  197 birth of  137–​38, 145, 147 meets Arjuna in Indraloka 103 n. 104, 148–​49 multiple mothers of  162, 164, 166, 168, 195, 201 multiple fathers of  154, 160, 166–​67, 195,  200–​01

82

288

Index

Aravāṉ (cont.) his snake kinfolk  141–​42, 148–​49, 181 and his Snake mother  134, 147–​49, 151, 159, 164–​65, 167–​68, 175–​76, 180, 196, 201 Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar  145, 151, 170, 192, 201 and Barbarīk  138, 153 n. 95, 197–​98,  200 double weddings of  183–​86 and Kūttācuraṉ 196 Aravāṉ-​Kūttāṇṭavar festivals  140–​41, 153 n. 92, 154–​58, 165, 171–​74, 181 n. 169, 183–​98 intercaste roles at wedding rituals between Vaṉṉiyārs and Dalits  183–​85 between landed castes (Vaṉṉiyārs, Velālars) and hillfolk (Irulas, Pūlūvars)  171–​2,  180 Aravāṉis, Alis (Hiñjras)  xiii, 183–​90,  192–​95 Devi’s role in in inspiring participation by  186, 195 lamentations for Kūttāṇṭavar by  188, 190, 194 Arjuna 18 n. 19, 40–​43, 45–​47, 60–​61, 64–​66, 69, 71, 73–​75, 78, 101, 103, 118–​19, 121, 124, 138–​49, 152–​53, 157, 159–​60, 162, 164, 167, 170, 175 n. 153, 178, 182, 200 n. 197, 206 n. 12, 207–​08, 224, 233, 235, 244, 250 n. 180, 254, 266 Aśoka Maurya  211–​13, 251, 259, 262 Asuras’ parallel to the Unburdening of the Earth myth  258–​59 aśvamedha 64 n. 41, 142 n. 37, 204 n. 7, 232–​35,  243–​44 Aśvatthāman 212 n. 35, 252–​53, 261 Athena  20, 22–​24, 26, 28–​29, 98, 102–4, 133, 192

Atrahasis, Babylonian epic  99, 247 avatāra, avatar  185, 193, 237 Āyudhapūjā  62–​63,  158 Bachofen, Johann Jakob 28 n. 104 Bactria, Balkh 213 n. 39, 221, 247 n. 170 Bahucārā-​Mātā, rooster-​riding goddess of Hiñjras in Ahmedabad  182 Baka  38–​39, 58, 76 banyan leaf, baby Kṛṣṇa on  197–​99 Barande, Ilse  112, 201 bardos  14–​15 Basham, A. L.  218–​19ee also Battle of Ten Kings  216–​17 battlefield sacrifice, see kaḷappali beheading  149–​53, 152–​53, 163–​64, 169–70, 178, 192 Bettelheim, Bruno 133 n. 2 Bhagavad Gītā 167 n. 128, 223–​24, 237, 250 n. 180 Bharati, Subramanya, twentieth-​century Tamil author of the play “The Vow of Pāñcālī” [Draupadī])  256 Bhattacharya, Pradip  xxi, 148 n. 77 Bhāviveka’s Madhyamakahṛdayakārikā, Buddhist-​Mīmāṃsaka polemics  221–​22 Bhīma  37–​40, 42 n. 35, 44–​47, 49, 59–​60, 65, 76, 95–​96, 99, 102, 119, 136, 147 n. 70, 175, 200, 208,  245–​46 Bhīṣma  7, 39, 41–​42, 45 n. 41, 71, 97, 104–​7, 109, 113–​14, 118, 134, 206, 224 n. 78, 228 n. 91, 234–​36, 253,  257–​61 Bhṛṅgin 181 n. 170 Bhūmi, Bhūmidevī, Pṛthivī, goddess Earth  xix–​xx, 9, 27, 29, 74 n. 79, 95–​96, 99, 103, 105, 127–​28, 130–​31, 145, 182, 205, 217, 220, 237, 240, 246–​54, 256, 258–​63,  266–​67

9 82

Index Biardeau, Madeleine 61 n. 22, 64 n. 41, 67 n. 54, 68, 70 n. 71, 71 n. 72, 80, 98, 102 n. 99, 105 n. 109, 117–​19, 138 n. 17, 162 n. 116, 163, 212–​13, 233 n. 112, 247, 250–​52 Bose, Girindrasekhar  ix, xvii, xix, xxi–xxii, 19, 27, 30, 32, 66, 79, 85, 88 n. 35, 133–​35, 138, 168–​69, 182,  184–​85 and Sigmund Freud  xix, 1, 13, 27, 30, 32, 66, 79, 133–​35, 160, 192, 195, 201 Brahmins  152, 175, 207–​8, 211, 214–​15, 218, 221–​23, 246, 248 Arjuna’s entourage of  142, 147 Bhārgavas 83 n. 19 “Out-​of-​sorts” Brahmins  xii, 205, 209, 228 Pūrvaśikhās and Aparaśikhās  86, 209 Brodbeck, Simon 6 n. 19, 70 n. 71, 97 n. 73, 114 n. 141, 139 n. 22, 146 n. 65, 148, 167 nn. 129, in Harivaṃśa 100 in Iliad 100 in Mahābhārata  208, 248–​49,  251–​52 cucumber fields  176, 201 Cūtu-​Tukil Urital, “Dice Match and Disrobing”  44, 256 Cypria in Greek epic cycle  95, 99 nn. 87 and 88, 104, 247, 249, 251 Damayantī 60 n. 20, 102 n. 99 Dandapani, N. (sculptor and raconteur)  181–​82,  195 Dasarā  63–​63, 66–​67,  158 Dasaratha  115, 233 n. 110, 243 dāsī’s story  223–​27, 232, 235, 243–​44 Arti Dhand on  xxi, 243–​37, 244 Aśvaghoṣa calls her Kāśi-​Sundarī, a beautiful prostitute who kicked Vyāsa in the head  233

289

as exemplar of karmayoga xxi, 223–24, 226, 243 freed from slavery by Vyāsa  224, 227 mother of Vidura  224 Da Vinci, Leonardo 21 n. 73, 24–​25, 56, 112, 201 dead mother theme  xviii, 31, 36, 41–​42, 47–​48, 54, 74–​78, 180 dead mother complex  xviii, 3, 36–​37, 39 n. 22, 193 n. 184, 268 syndrome 37 n. 15, 42, 48 dead mother joke  64–​65, 70, 223, 244 dead mother texts, Freudian  3–​35, 43, 55, 57–​58, 93 dead mother texts, in Mbh  33,  58–​61 depressed position  xviii, 42, 268 derealization 24 devaguhya, “secret of the gods”  95, 102, 247, 261 devakārya, surakārya, “work of the gods”  95, 106–​7, 237 Devāpi 114 devatā 219 Devī-​Māhātmyam 62 n. 32, 130 n. 202 dharma  39, 45, 52, 60, 64–​65 n. 43, 72, 75–​76, 89–​91, 95, 103 n. 99, 122, 130, 135, 140, 143, 146, 164, 207–8, 212–​13, 224–​25, 241, 258 Dharma, as Yama  47, 54, 59–​60, 62, 122 Dhṛtarāṣṭra  36–​38, 42, 47, 50, 54, 137, 144 n. 50, 208, 225, 227, 234, 245, 248, 252, 258, 261 Disrobing of Draupadī  xvii, 3 n. 5, 127 imagined through the eyes of Yudhiṣṭhira and Kuntī  44, 47,  51–​54 a redemptive scene, “the greatest wonder in the world”  254–​58 seen via Freud’s analysis of hostile sexual jokes about a woman’s “exposure”  244–​48,  253

0 9 2

290

Index

Draupadī  x, xi, xv–​xvi, 2–​3, 28 nn. 17 and 19, 44, 61–​62, 64–​65, 74–76, 78, 92–​93, 97, 101–​2, 119–​20, 126–​27, 138–​43, 146, 162, 167, 208, 217, 221 n. 66, 233–​35, 244–​46, 248–​49, 252–​58, 260–61, 265, 268 and Aravāṉ  x–​xi, 131, 133, 137–​38, 150–​ 55, 158, 160–​62, 164–​65, 170–​71, 181 n. 169, 182, 185–​86, 189, 195–​97,  201 Draupadī cult dramas and rituals  xviii–​xix, 44, 65 n. 46, 66–​68, 119, 140, 152–​53, 158, 160, 164, 177, 181 n. 169, 227 n. 89, 256–​58 Draupadī’s garments, saris  254 Draupadī’s hair  162, 164, 248 Draupadī’s polyandry  39, 43, 64–​65, 120, 126–​27, 139–​42, 162, 176, 208, 252, 260 Draupadī’s trauma and the Earth’s  xx, 71, 243, 255 Draupadī’s vindication  248–​49, 253, 256 and Kālī  163, 177 and Kuntī  44–​47, 51–​54, 78, 167 as mahiṣī (chief wife) at Yudhiṣṭhira’s aśvamedha 64 n. 41, 133, 235 and Ṥrī  120–​21, 131, 253 dreamwork  16, 88, 215 Droṇa  41, 207–​8, 212, 259 Duḥśāsana  50–​51, 244–​46,  255–​56 Dumézil, Georges 59 n. 14, 98–​99, 121, 142 n. 37 Durgā  20, 61–​63, 65 n. 46, 66 n. 47, 80, 102–​4, 118–​19, 128 n. 195, 158, 160, 166, 169 Durgāpūjā 158 Duryodhana  xv, 37–​38, 50, 52, 58, 119, 136–​37, 147 n. 70, 149–​50, 152–​53, 159–​60, 162, 164, 167, 176, 208,

217, 244–​46, 250 n. 180, 253, 258–​59, 261, 265, 268 Dvārakā  101, 143, 152, 163, 212, 247–​48 earth, Earth as goddess, see Bhūmi, etc. Edgerton, Franklin  81–​85 Ekacakrā 208 Ekalāvya  207–​8 endogamy and exogamy rules for Brahmins 246 epic cycle, Greek  95, 99 nn. 87 and 88, 104, 247, 249, 251 ētirrōmaṉ, hair that stands on end  158, 173, 180 first textualization 87 n. 23, 216, 218 Fitzgerald, James L.  xi, 3, 42 n. 35, 45 n. 41, 51 n. 58, 58 n. 11, 122 n. 167, 210 n. 24, 212–​13, 250–​52,  262 five former Indras, myth of  xix, 93, 116, 120–​29, 252, 258, 260 as Vyāsa’s first iteration of the Unburdening of the Earth myth  128, 260 five iterations of Unburdening of the Earth myth  258 Fliess, Wilhelm  xiv, 23, 26, 34 forgetting the Veda  220 Freud, Anna 34 n. 2, 35 n. 9, 133 n. 3 Freud, Julius  26, 34, 48 n. 47, 56–​57  n. 8 Freud, Sigmund and H. D.  9, 11–​12, 20 n. 67, 22–​24, 28–​29 on Egypt  21–​28 and humor  xix, 75, 222–​23, 229–​32, 234 n 118, 240, 243–​44 on India ix,  13, 22, 25, 27–​28, 32–​33, 96, 112, 125–​25, 151, 263 and Judaism  21, 24–​25, 27–​28, 204, 229, 263, 266 and literature  6–​7, 30–​31, 256

291

Index and the Mbh  31–​32 and myth,  xvi–​xviii, 12, 20, 28–​29, 31, 80,  93–​94 on the oedipal and preoedipal  13, 19, 56 and Romain Rolland  1, 27–​28, 30, 32 oceanic feeling  1, 145, 194 n. 187 referenced:writings by Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) 7 n. 32, 57, 58 n. 9 “A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis” (1936)  1, 24, 28 The Ego and the Id (1923) 193 n. 184 “Femininity” (1933) 48 n. 47, 88 “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” [Dora] (1907) 133 n. 3 “Hysterical Phantasies and their Relation to Bisexuality” (1908)  25, 51 Interpretation of Dreams, The (1900)  8, 10 n. 30, 19, 33–​34, 57, 231 n. 103 Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905)  204, 229–​3, 234, 240, 243 Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood (1910) 21 n. 73, 24–​25, 56, 112, 201 “Medusa’s Head” (1922)  103, 192 “A Metapsychological Supplement to the Theory of Dreams’ (1917)  8 Moses and Monotheism (1939)  ix, xx, 11, 20–​21, 23, 25–​28, 203–​4, 262,  265–​66 “The Moses of Michelangelo” (1914) 25 n. 90 “Mourning and Melancholia” (1917) 33 Outline of Psychoanalysis (1940)  19 “A Phylogenetic Fantasy” (1987)  29–​30 “A Religious Experience” (1930)  57

291 “Screen Memories” (1899) 35 n. 5 “The Theme of the Three Caskets” (1913)  9, 55 n. 2 Totem and Taboo (1913)  11–​12, 20, 28 n. 104 “The ‘Uncanny’ ” (1919)  ix, xvii–xix, 3–​7, 10–​11, 30–​31, 55, 75, 86, 143 n. 44, 255–​56

Gaia  95, 102 Gāndhara  149, 207 n. 15, 213, 247 n. 170 Gāndharī  37, 42, 54, 71, 74 n. 79, 253 Gāṇḍīva  69, 78 Gaṅgā, river and Goddess  38, 54, 71–72, 75, 77–​78, 88–​90, 92–​93, 97–98, 102, 104–​5, 117, 120–​22, 126–​31, 134,  142–​43 linked with shifts from solar to lunar dynasty  113–​15 Gaṅgā-​Yamunā doab  85,  209–​11 Garuḑa  37, 148–​50, 181–​82, 195 gleaning  204–​7, 210, 236 n. 122, 259 types of gleaners  206 Goldman, Robert P. 58 n. 11, 207 n. 15, 233 n. 110, 243 n. 156, 267 n. 9 Green, André  xviii, 33–​38, 42–​43, 47–48, 72, 75, 107 n. 119, 193 n. 184 Greek epic cycle  95, 99 nn. 87 and 88, 104, 247, 249, 251 Greek mythology as a total mythological language state  94, 98, 247 Grinstein, Alexander 34 n. 2, 48 n. 47 Grubich-​Simitis, Ilse  20, 29, 31–​32 Gupta dynasty  24, 251 guru  45, 47, 141, 145–​46, 208, 236, 258 elder brother as 45 n. 41, 141 mother as 45 n. 41 Harivaṃśa 87 n. 31, 100, 213 n. 36, 248 Hāstinapura  44–​45, 65 n. 45, 114, 175 n. 149, 207–​8, 244, 248–​49

9 2

292

Index

Hayaśiras, Horse’s Head incarnation (prādurbhāva) of Nārāyāṇa  237–​43 Also called Harimedhas  238, 242, 244 connection with oral Veda possibly also with written Veda  241–​42 epiphany from the neck up  239–​40 H. D., Hilda Doolittle  9, 11–​12, 20 n. 67, 22–​24,  28–​29 Hera  100, 102–​4, 117, 119, 248 as Juno  102 Heracles  73–​75,  100–​01 hermaphrodites  15–​16,  183 Hindu Goddess  57, 80, 166 n. 126, 167, 263 Hindu joint family  37, 152, 166,  168–​69 hubris  xix, 96, 108, 111, 113, 116, 127, 129 Hudson, Emily 6 n. 19, 42 n. 35, 261 iconography 128 n. 196, 133, 150, 153, 184 n. 174, 195, 200 n. 201 identification  35, 51, 64, 69, 185, 192 Iliad  xix, 94–​98, 100–​1, 103, 106, 116–​17, 128, 247–​49, 251–​52, 259, 267 Iliou Persis, “The Fall of Troy,” in Greek epic cycle 247 n. 170 Indian aesthetics and the Mbh  xviii, 3 intermediate-​state being  16–​17 “Irma’s Injection,” dream of Freud’s “specimen dream”  xiii, 19 It-​thinking xvi n. 5 Jains, Jainism 85 n. 25, 86 n. 27, 207 n. 15, 211–​13, 221 Jamison, Stephanie 42 n. 35, 232 n. 109, 234 n. 115 Janamejaya 109 n. 122, 136–​37, 143–​44, 148, 188, 205, 215–​16, 238 janapadas 207

Jarāsaṃdha, king of Magadha  212, 249–​50,  259 incarnation of the Asura-​demon Vipracitti 250 n. 177 Jewish jokes  229–​30 about Schnorrers (beggars) and barons 230 Jewish (Mosaic) monotheism  29, 204, 263 joke-​work  222,  229–​30 Jones, Ernest  21 Judgment of Paris  96, 102, 104–​6, 108, 115–​17, 127, 247 n. 170 Jung, Carl  xvi, 12–​15, 20, 25 n. 90, 30 Kadrū 37 kaḷappali, battlefield sacrifice  66, 150, 152, 158, 160, 162, 173, 179, 183, 193 Kālī  xiii, xix, 65 n. 46, 66–​70, 77–​80, 102–​03, 130, 133–​34, 137–​38, 152–​54, 158–​60, 162–​67, 175–​81, 189–​91, 195,  200–​1 Kali-​yuga  40, 72, 114, 197, 214, 221, 232 Kalivārjyas 232 karma  xvii, xx, 1, 111, 111 n. 136, 116, 121–​22, 127, 143 n. 44 karmayoga  xxi, 223–​24, 226, 243 Karṇa  38, 42–​43, 50, 54, 101, 103 n. 104, 142, 148 n. 77, 245–​46, 261 Karttunen, Klaus 213 n. 39, 247 n. 170 Kauravas  26, 37, 39, 41, 44, 54 n. 73, 62, 67, 74 n. 79, 92 n. 47, 117, 134, 137, 142, 144, 148, 160, 167, 182 n. 171, 208, 217, 234, 246, 249, 252–​53, 258, 263 Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark  210–​11 Kripal, Jeffrey 19 n. 60 Kṛṣṇa  x–​xi, xviii–​xix, 2, 29, 40–​45, 47, 51–​52, 59 n. 14, 64 n. 41, 65 n. 46, 67 n. 49, 72, 101, 118, 120, 136, 142–​43, 146 n. 66, 150,

9 23

Index 152–​54, 157–​60, 162–​64, 167, 169–​71, 173, 175–​78, 180, 182–​86, 190–​93, 195, 201, 206, 212, 233, 237, 251–​54, 256–​55, 266 Kaṇṇaṉ-​Pēṭi, “Kṛṣṇa the Eunuch”  157, 184, 201 mastermind of Mbh’s divine plan, the Unburdening of the Earth  95, 98, 100 n. 93, 122, 130–​31, 237, 247–​48, 250, 252, 264–​65 Kuntī  xiii–​xix, 37–​47, 49–​52, 54, 58–​60, 65, 68, 72–​74, 76, 78, 126, 140, 144, 147 n. 70, 167, 176, 180, 253, 268 Kuricci Pākavatam (Bhāgavatam) 173, 176,  178–​79 Kurtz, Stanley, All the Mothers are One  166–​70,  180 Kuru  37, 93, 115 Kuru state  217 Kurukṣetra 65 n. 46, 68, 85 n. 25, 205, 206–​7, 209–​11, 248, 252, 254, 259 262 Kūttācuraṉ 196 Kūttāṇṭavar  134, 138, 145, 151, 154, 157, 170–​74, 177, 179–​81, 184–​205 the dancing god, as a mini-​Śiva  170, 178–​80, 186, 191, 193–​95, 200 n. 201 as distinct from Aravāṉ  150, 186, 196 his brides for a day: Mohinī  152, 154, 158–​59, 170–​71, 183–​86, 191–​92,  200 Pommiyammaṉ  173–​77, 180,  184–​85 various names elsewhere 164 n. 123, 170–​71 Kūttāṇṭavar cult  x, xiii–​xiv, xvi, 66, 137–​38, 150, 152, 158, 164, 170, 173, 181, 185, 188, 192, 194–​95,  197–​98 Kūvākkam  xiii, 173, 181, 183–​96, 201

293

Laughter  xiv, 38 n. 17, 124, 138, 154, 200, 221, 230–​31, 240–​42, 243, 244, 245 Legman, G. 222 n. 73, 228 n. 93, 243 n. 160 Lévi-​Strauss, Claude 154 n. 96 Lewin, Bertram 7–​8 n. 23, 193 n. 184, 194 n. 187 life-​stage 91 n. 45 Little Iliad in Greek epic cycle 247 n. 170 live burial  xix, 7–​10, 124–​26 Madhu and Kaiṭabha  235, 239 steal Vedas from Brahmā  239 Mādrī  37, 42–​43, 60, 65 n. 45, 68, 126, 141 Magadha 85 n. 25, 207 n. 15, 211, 250 n. 178, 259 Mahābhārata, text and tradition  79 Northern/​Southern Recensions of  ix, xi, 61, 67 n. 53, 79–​83, 87 n. 29, 133, 147, 158, 210 n. 24, 215–​16, 253 n. 187 Poona Critical Edition (PCE)  32, 50, 57, 61–​63, 67, 69, 79, 81, 83–​85, 101, 111, 119 n. 157, 121, 130 n. 201, 139 n 22, 147–​48, 236 n. 121, 258 Vulgate 61 n. 22, 62–​63, 64 n 43, 67 n. 53, 69 n. 63, 118 n. 156, 119 n. 157 Mahābhiṣa  72, 102, 104–​12, 114–​15, 117, 123, 126–​27, 130 n. 201 Mahadevan, Thennilapuram  38, 80, 81 n. 7, 83 n. 17, 85–​87, 102, 209, 215–​19,  246 mahiṣī as chief queen 64 n. 41, 232–​35,  242–​43 Draupadī as Pāṇḍavas’ mahiṣī 233 mahiṣī’s role in aśvamedha  233–​34 as she-​buffalo  234 two mahiṣīs  24–​35,  242–​43

9 42

294

Index

Mānava Dharmaśāstra, Manasmṛti, Laws of Manu 77 n. 87, 220, 224 n. 77, 232 Mantra  18, 37–​38, 52, 54, 218–​20, 233 Mārkandeya  2, 4, 200, 221, 228 Masson, Geoffrey Moussaieff 137 n. 13 Materialists  221, 224 maternel singuliere, le 112 matriarchy 28 matriline  71–​72 matrilocality 187 Mauryan empire,  211–​13, 220 heterodox views of first three Mauryans 211 māyā  xviii, 2–​3, 51, 92, 149, 182 medhas  242–​43 Mīmāṃsa  219,  221–​22 Minoan civilization  32 Mohinī  152, 154, 158, 170–​71, 183–​86, 191–​92,  200 Mohinī avatāra and Mohinī peṇ  183–​85 (see also Ali avatāra) Mohinī as succubus  192 Moses,  26–​27, 29, 204, 213 Freud’s great man theory  205 murder of  20, 205, 214 Muṭieṭṭu xvii n. 9 Nagy, Gregory 99 n. 87 Naimiṣa Forest  206–​8, 244 Nakula, youngest Pāṇḍava  xviii, 60–​61, 63 Nanda dynasty Nārada 4 n. 11, 74 n. 79, 139, 237–​38, 242, 249–​50, 258, 260 Nārāyanīya 228 n. 91, 235–​40 Narulla, Ar., author Long Live Alis (Alikaḷ Vāḻkkai) 193 nāstika, naysayer heterodoxies as nāstika 221 nirvāṇa 193 nirvāṇam, connoting “nakedness,” as term for Alis’ castration ritual  193

Niṣāda  59–​60, 76, 207 niyoga, “the appointment”  115, 225, 228, 232–​35, 242–​43,  246 non-​Sanskritic words in ṚgVeda 246 nonsense, absurdity, and overstatement in jokes, Freud on  240 Obeyesekere, Gananath  xiv, 13, 192 n. 181 oceanic feeling  1, 145, 184, 195 Oedipus  12, 101, 133 Oedipus complex  12, 20, 35, 134 Oedipus mother  1, 134, 168, 185, 201 Olivelle, Patrick 91 n. 45, 128, 129 n. 198, 218 n. 57, 220 n. 63 omentum  242–​43 ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,  xvii, 11–​13, 20 nn. 113 and 114, 29–​30 Pañcāla  45, 85, 207 n. 15, 208–​11,  241–​42 Pañcarātra 238 n. 131, 240 n. 144 Pāṇḍavas  xviii, 22, 36–​39, 42–​44, 47–​48, 50–​51, 54 n. 73, 58–​78, 102–​3, 119–23, 126–​27, 134–​35, 139–​41, 143, 148–​49, 152–​53, 155, 159–​60, 162, 167, 169, 171, 176, 180, 182 n. 171, 183, 186=5–​86, 205, 206, 208, 217, 221 n. 66, 222, 234, 243–​46, 249, 252, 259, 261–​62 Pāṇḑu  36–​37, 39, 41, 43–​44, 52 n. 67, 59, 71, 118 n. 156, 141, 225, 227 n. 89, 234 Parkikṣit  137, 205, 215, 217 Parsons, William 36 n. 12, 56–​57 n. 8 Pārvatī, Umā  70, 88–​92, 102–​4, 117–​20, 122, 124, 126–​31 patriliny 28 n. 104 paṭukaḷam, Draupadī cult’s ritual battlefield 160 n. 111, 162–​64, 180–​81, 186, 188 Peleus and Thetis, marriage of  96, 104–​5, 113, 247 n. 170

9 25

Index Peruntēvaṇār’s Pārata-​veṇpā 67 n. 52, 147, 150, 153, 158 plan of Zeus  xix, 95–​96, 259 polyandry  46, 64 n. 43, 65, 120, 122, 260 Pommiyammaṉ  173–​77,  180 prādurbhāva, manifestation early term for avatar  237 prakṛti 102 n. 99, 254 n. 189 pralaya  2, 197 n. 194, 247, 251, 254 pravṛtti/​nivṛtti, pravṛtti-​and nivṛtti-​ dharmas  224, 236–​37, 241 preconscious 214 pre-​O edipal  xvii, xx, 7–​8 , 10–​1 1, 13–14, 55–​5 7, 75, 77–​7 8, 88, 112, 126, 145, 166, 168–​6 9, 185, 199–​2 01 prehistoric period  28 primal scene  16, 34–​35, 43–​44, 141 primary process  xx, 88, 215 processions of deities  62, 66, 140, 151, 154, 156, 177, 186–​88, 193, 257 Punjab  85, 115, 210–​11 cities and deforestation in  211 purāṇa, Purāṇic  x, 62, 65, 77–​78, 80, 85, 89–​90, 93–​94, 98, 110, 117, 129–​30, 173 n. 146 a total mythological language state,  27, 251 puruṣa 102 n. 99 vāstupuruṣamaṇḑala 181 Puruṣapura/​Peshawar  213 rājasūya sacrifice of Yudhiṣṭhira  208,  249–​50 rākṣasī/​rākṣasa/​rakshasic  38, 76, 149, 170, 200 rasa theory/​rasas  xviii, 3–​4, 10, 28, 40, 143 n. 44, 266 reincarnation  xvii, 7 n. 23, 13–​16, 103, 112,  116–​17

295

revenants  21, 29, 99, 206 n. 11, 214–​20, 222, 223, 232, 246 Ten Maṇḑala Saṃhitā (TMS)  215, 218, 246 Rolland, Romain  1, 27–​28, 30, 32, 145, 194 n. 187 Ṛṣis  116, 118, 127, 135, 144, 200, 206–​ 7, 218, 226, 227 n. 89, 236, 238, 249 Rājarṣis  105, 110, 112 Śāktism  17–​18, 130 n. 202, 178, 253 saṃhitā, collection three saṃhitā-​izations of Veda Bhārata-​Saṃhitā (Mbh) as fourth  217–​19 saṃsāra 58 n. 10, 77, 226 Śaṃtanu  72, 74, 77, 93, 104–​15, 127 n. 193 Śāntarasa  xiii, 3, 10, 28, 40, 217, 263 Sarasvatī, River and Goddess 94 n. 56, 130 n. 202, 206–​7, 220 n. 62, 240 Satyavatī  70–​72, 77–​78, 103 n. 100, 127, 134, 225, 234–​35, 238 born from a fish  71–​72 named Kālī  70, 77 Śaunaka 221 n. 66, 236–​38, 244 Schorske, Carl  22–​28, 203 n. 1 Schur, Max 9 n. 27 secondary process  88 serpent-​w oman, Nākakkaṉṉi 138, 164, 180, 206 n. 12, 233, see Ulūpī sexuality 6 n. 21, 12 n. 39, 46, 169 shaggy dog and talking horse jokes 228–​29, 232, 243 n. 160, 244 Śiva  4, 47 n. 43, 75, 77, 88–​92, 95, 102, 116–​31, 142, 145 n. 56, 157–​58, 183, 191, 195–​96, 200 n. 201, 229, 252, 263 bhakti to  18, 117, 250

6 9 2

296

Index

Śiva (cont.) Kūttāṇṭavar as a mini-​Śiva  170, 178–80, 186, 191, 193–​95, dancing to tune of Kṛṣṇa and Kālī 200 n. 201 as the lord who is half-​female, Ardhanarīśvara 75 playing dice with Pārvatī  123–​28 two wives of, Gaṅgā and Parvatī  102 unites with Viṣṇu as Mohinī to sire Hariharaputra  158, 191 Sprengnether, Madalon  9–​10, 12 n. 38, 21 n. 71, 56–​57 śravas-​kleos opposition  218 Śrī, Śrī-​Lakṣmī  102–​4, 117, 120–​22, 130–31, 139, 162, 253 Srinivasan, Doris  128–​29 Srinivasan, Perundevi 175 n. 152, 253–​56,  265–​66 śruti and smṛti texts  214, 218–​19 Staal, Frits  219 sthāyibhāva  8–​9 Sukthankar, Vishnu S.  31, 46, 81–​88, 147, 215 Śuṅga dynasty  212–​13 Sūrya  38, 52–​54, 240, 253 Sutton, Nicholas  212–​13 svādhyāya, personal recitation of Veda  206, 220 Tantra/​Tantric  13, 16–​19, 111 n. 136 Tapatī-​Upākhyāna  14–​15 mother of King Kuru  115 Tapatī, the Sun god’s daughter  93, 114–​15,  129 Taxila/​Takṣaśīlā 207 n. 15, 211, 213 tendentious jokes Freud on  204, 227, 229–​31, 243 n. 158, 244 Tevijja-​Sutta (Dīgha Nikāya  13) 93 theoretical ego  1, 169

Thetis, mother of Achilles  96–​97, 102, 104–​5, 108, 115, 117, 247 n. 170 This, Bernard  xvi–​xvii three boons of Aravāṉ  150–​53,  159 three deaths of Aravāṉ 150, 152–​54,  164 three dips to outer frame  236–​38 three guṇas 240 three successive Saṃhitā-​izations of Veda  217–​19 three Vedas  215, 220–​21 topography, Freud’s first  1 transgender  15, 183 tree burial  xix, 64, 64–​65 n. 43, 76, 243 Trojan Horse 247 n. 170 two total mythological language states  247–​51 Ugraśravas, Sauti  136, 230 n. 99, 236 Ulūpī 67 n. 49, 134, 138, 143–​49, 159, 164–​65, 175, 180–​81, 206 n. 12, 233 uncanny, three classes of  xvi, 6, 11 unplumbable navel  19 Upaniṣads 99 n. 86, 128–​29, 205, 215 in Greece  95, 99–​100, 248 in India  95, 100, 128–​31, 205, 220, 237,  248–​58 India’s second urbanization as trauma for Mbh poets  205, 207, 213, 220, 252–​54, 259,  262–​63 Mbh’s apocalyptic explanation for Kurukṣetra war  220, 251–​52, 258, 261 Mbh’s five iterations of  128, 131, 249, 253 n. 187, 258–​59 shortsighted interpretations of  131,  259–​62

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Index Unburdening of the Earth myth  xix–​xx, 27, 29 Vaiśaṃpāyana  69, 136–​37, 143, 146, 228 n. 91, 236–​38, 253 n. 187, 258, 260 Van Buitenen, J. A. B. 38 n. 19, 58 n. 11, 60 n. 19, 62–​64, 69 n. 62, 78 n. 90, 110 n. 128, 119 n. 159, 120, 123–​27, 127 n. 192, 135 n. 6, 136 n. 8, 139 n. 22, 225, 230 n. 97, 245 n. 165, 259 n. 206, 260–​61 vaṉṉi, vahni, banni (śamī) tree  66–​68 Varaṇāvata, lacquer house episode  59–​60,  200 Vasiṣṭha  105, 107, 110–​11, 113–​15, 242 Vāstupuruṣa as a snake, vāstunāga  181–​82 Vasubandhu  13–​16 Veda  39, 85 n. 25, 206 n. 11, 213–​15, 218–​23, 226, 228–​30, 232–​33, 235–​37, 239–​42,  2461 Mbh set near end of a mainly ṚgVedic pre-​Kali-​yuga world  214, 246, 259 Vedic allusion in Mbh  223, 232–​36,  259 Vedic oral tradition  214–​15, 220 Vedic ritual humor, Vedic jokes  xix–​ xx, 64, 68–​70, 73, 75 n. 82, 204, 222–​23, 235 n. 120, 243 Vedānta, Vedāntic  1, 135 Vermorel, Henri and Madeleine 5 n. 17, 8, 13, 30 n. 114, 56–​57 n. 8, 201 Vidulā/​Vidurā39–​41 Vidura 65 n. 45, 225, 248 Vienna 23 n. 78, 26 Villipāratam of Villiputtūr Āḻvār 66–​67 n. 48, 66, 68 n. 55, 150, 152, 159 n 105, 255, 256 n. 198 Vinatā 37

297

vīrarasa  xviii, 4 n. 10, 28, 40, 217 Viṣṇu  1, 22, 29, 45 n. 41, 95, 100 n. 93, 116–​17, 120, 122, 127 n. 193, 130–​31, 137, 148, 157–​58, 165, 171–​73, 185, 191, 200, 221, 236–​37, 239, 242, 248 n. 173, 260, 263 as Madhusūdana  135, 239–​41 as Nārāyaṇa  2, 236–​42,  249–​52 as Perumāḷ  271–​73,  200 Vorticist rural artwork  257 Vrātyas 120 Vyāsa  4, 37, 39, 54, 58 n. 10, 68 n. 59, 71, 74, 77–​7 8, 91, 95, 110 n. 127, 120, 122, 128, 134, 148 n. 77, 204, 209–​ 10, 218, 222–​2 5, 227–​3 0, 232–​3 9, 241–​4 4, 252, 258, 260–​6 1,  265 divides Veda into four  218, 222, 228, 236, 242 does arduous tapas 228 is Nārāyāṇa  238, 242 his smell and unkempt appearance  223, 227, 235, 243 teaches four of his disciples the four Vedas 218 Vedic horseplay of  222 233–​34, 242–​43 White, David Gordon  17–​18 Winternitz, Moriz 64 n. 43, 97 n. 72, 120, 260 wish to be struck  134, 182 wish to be castrated  195 wish to be female  183, 192, 195 Witzel, Michael 100 n. 94, 209, 214 n. 42, 216–​17, 220 n. 64 Yakṣī/​Yakṣa  92,  128–​29 Yama  47, 60, 92, 120 yoganidrā 239

9 82

298

Index

Yudhiṣṭhira  xxii–​xxiii, 39–​47, 49–​52, 54, 59–​62, 64–​66, 69, 73, 75, 103 n. 103, 118–​20, 122, 129, 139–​41, 146, 148 n. 77, 152, 158–​60, 167, 175, 180, 204 n. 7, 206, 208, 212, 218, 221, 224 n. 78, 233, 235–​36,

244–​45, 249, 250–​52, 258, 260, 266 yuga  x, 72, 95, 99 n. 88, 114, 197, 206–​7, 214, 217, 221, 232, 237, 247, 251, 262 yūpa  162–​63

92

03

301

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