You are on page 1of 42

The "Mahābhārata" and Hindu Eschatology Author(s): Alf Hiltebeitel Reviewed work(s): Source: History of Religions, Vol. 12, No.

2 (Nov., 1972), pp. 95-135 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 31/10/2012 02:19
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact


The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to History of Religions.

Alf Hiltebeitel


A curious fact about the Hindu tradition is that from Vedic through Puranic times, there is no myth of a once-and-for-all end of the world. The "optimism" of the Vedas and the cyclical time of later Hinduism seem to make such a notion impossible. Yet within the cyclical world view, the world does end over and over again. So it is with the great myth of the pralaya and, on a lesser scale, with the general myth of the "end of the yuga." Other myths, however, also offer descriptions of world-ending destructions, cataclysmic reversals of the world order (e.g., numerous avatdra myths, the Banasura myth, the tripuraddhana, and the destruction of Daksa's sacrifice). Though we will discuss only one of these, it is our conviction that they bear close thematic relations to each other such as would richly reward a structural analysis. Our present interests lie elsewhere. Recently a new perspective has been opened by the discoveries of Stig Wikanderl and Georges Dumezil2 that Vedic, para-Vedic, and pre-Vedic mythology has been conserved in the Mahdbhdrata, where archaic themes and relationships are transI would like to thank Mrs. Helen Nance for her generous help in typing this manuscript. Parts I and II of this paper were presented in outline at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, in Atlanta, Oct. 30, 1971. 1 S. Wikander, "Pandavasagen och Mahabharatas mytiska forutsattningar," Religion och Bibel 6 (1947): 27-29; trans. G. Dum6zil in Jupiter Mars Quirinus (Paris, 1948), 4: 37-53, discussed and amplified pp. 55-85. 2 Most basic, with references to other works, is Georges Dum6zil, Mythe et epopee, I (hereafter ME I), Paris, 1968, pt. 1, pp. 33-257, on the Mahdbharata. 95

Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology
posed from the level of myth to that of legend. The early discussion based itself on good solid ground: the continuation of the traits of the gods Dharma (*Mitra), Vayu, Indra, and the Asvins (the Vedic trifunctional "equipe," if we add Varuna) in the roles of their sons, the Pandavas. But recently the discussion has opened onto a vaster issue: the possibility that the great battle of the Mahabharata, taking place at the end of one yuga and the beginning of another, itself preserves an ancient eschatological myth transposed into epic. To date two views have been expressed on this question.

Notwithstanding the contribution of Wikander to the discussion of the eschatological character of the battle of Kuruksetra,3 it is Dumezil who has gone farthest in examining other Indo-European traditions for parallels. His work has proceeded in essentially two steps: first, in the chapter, "Le drame du monde," of his Les dieux des Germains,4 he has made the initial direct confrontation of the Indian drama with the Scandinavian myth of the Ragnarok, the "Doom of the Gods" (more commonly, but corruptly, Ragnarokr, "Twilight of the Gods"), and second, still loyal to his initial conclusions and supposedly reinforcing them, he has, in Mythe et epopee, I, examined one additional episode from each tradition-the Scandinavian and the epic-and proposed parallels for these.5 Though we shall discuss the recent comparisons, the important point for the present is that Dumezil allows them in no way to challenge his earlier conclusions. What Dumezil has in mind is something quite specific: an ancient eschatological intrigue developing in three phases and found in both the Mahdbharata and the myth of the Ragnarok. "C'est donc, en filigrane, un conflit cosmique qui se livre, avec trois '6poques': le jeu truque, par lequel le Mal triomphe pour un long temps, ecartant de la scene les representants du Bien; la grand bataille oh le Bien prend sa
3 See his important "Germanische und Indo-Iranische Eschatologie," Kairos 2 (1960): 83-87. He seems at the end to accept Dum6zil's analysis, as Dumezil does his (ME I: 255-57). They do not contradict each other, but important details of Wikander's treatment open up different paths. 4 G. Dumezil, Les dieux des Germains (Paris, 1959), pp. 78-105. 5 Thus, from the Ragnarok, parallels between the roles of Vidar and Visnu in his dwarf avatdra (ME I: 230-37); and from the epic, allusions to the intra-Indian parallels with the scenes involving Krsna and ~iva in the Sauptikaparvan (ibid., 213-18).

History of Religions revanche, eliminant definitivement le Mal; le gouvernement des bons." 6 Let us follow Dumezil's discussion of these three "epoques" in the Scandinavian traditions,7 and then see whether he can justly point to a similar scansion in the epic. 1. "Jeu truque."-The drama of the world's end begins in the past, a precarious balance as the axis of their society having been established by the gods at the end of the war between the Aesir and Vanir.8 The functional posts are manned by several gods: Odinn the magical sovereign and patron of war, Thor the sole bearer of the thunderbolt, and Njordr and Freyr the givers of riches, pleasure, and peace. But no god, not even Odinn, serves to offer any kind of high moral example: the world is without a Mitra. The gods "gouvernent le monde comme on voit qu'il l'est, a un niveau moral assez bas et sans beaucoup d'ideal."9 There are, however, two sons of Odinn-Baldr and Hodr-who seem to make up for this lack. In Hodr and his role as the blind instrument of fate, Dumezil sees a continuation of certain aspects of "Bhaga the blind," the Vedic "dieu souverain mineur" subordinate to Mitra and Varuna, who is responsible for the apportionment of goods. And in Baldr, he sees a continuation of another important "souverain mineur," Aryaman, patron of the aryan society.10 It is in Baldr especially that the ideal is to be found, and to show this Dumezil cites a passage, one which we shall have occasion to reexamine, from the Gylfaginning [The beguiling of Gylfi] of Snorri Sturluson.11 "He is the best of them and everyone sings his praises. He is so fair of face and bright that a splendor radiates from him, and there is one flower so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; it is the whitest of all flowers [Turville-Petre: the Ox-eye daisy, or matricary]. From that you can tell how beautiful his body is, and how bright his hair. He is the wisest of the gods, and the sweetest-spoken, and the most merciful, but it is a characteristic of his that (none of his judgments may be realized").12
6 Les dieux des Germains, p. 89, quoted in ME I: 227. 7 In opposition, see Edgar Polome, "The Indo-European Component in Germanic Religion," in Myth and Law among the Indo-Europeans, ed. Jean Puhvel (Berkeley, Calif., 1970), p. 64. 8 Les dieux des Germains, pp. 3-39; we follow Dum6zil's interpretation here. 9 ME I: 223; see also the discussion of Tyr's "debasement," Les dieux des Germains, pp. 66-76. 10 On Hodr and Baldr, see Les dieux des Germains, pp. 98-99; ME I: 227-28; on Hodr-Bhaga, I share the skepticism of Polom6. p. 76. n. 56. 11 Les dieux des Germains, pp. 93-94; ME I: 224; for Snorri, I quote from Jean I. Young, trans., The Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson (Cambridge, 1954), p. 51. 12 Here I follow the reading of Dum6zil and E. O. G. Turville-Petre, Myth and Religion of the North (New York, 1964), p. 106; Young translates: "Once he has pronounced a judgment it can never be altered." 97

and serpents-that it will do Baldr no harm. 81. see. Hermod. Baldr has dreams which indicate to him that his life is menaced.. 98 . 701-10. birds. Loki's own daughter. does the honors. Then tragedy strikes. p. p. The gods then take up the pastime of hurling objects at Baldr and delighting in his invulnerability. the highest of all. "to see whether Baldr was loved as much as people said. 13 This youthfulness is interesting in itself. another thing.' Hodr took the mistletoe and aimed it at Baldr as directed by Loki. 75: "It appears as the plant of life that belongs to death. which she regarded as too young. whether Baldr can somehow be ransomed. beasts. or better. represent a high ideal. however. Frigg promises that her affection and favor can be won by the god who will ride to Hel to ask the demoness of that name. But they have failed to reckon on the maliciousness of Loki who. 1941). "'If everything in the world. G. in addition to J. metals. obtains from Frigg the information that she has omitted to extract an oath from one plant. The Golden Bough. Odinn's wife and Baldr's mother. A son of Odinn.. Hel. of a life that is not granted to man. they seek to protect him.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology He does. obtains an oath from every object-fire and water. .'.. but he shall remain with Hel if anyone objects or will not weep. then he shall go back to the Aesir. and. the forerunner of the "doom of the gods. [Upon this good news] the Aesir sent messengers throughout the whole world to ask for Baldr to be wept out of When the messengers were Hel. abridged ed. but a thwarted one-not to be realized with the world as it is. Loki asked him: 'Why aren't you throwing darts at Baldr?' He replied: 'Because I can't see where Baldr is. certain sequels that are of special interest. as Dumezil says.." devised a test." rigged game."14 This is the disastrous "jeu truque. sicknesses. On the mistletoe. Polome." There are. (New York. The dart went right through him and he fell dead to the ground. the mistletoe. This was the greatest misfortune ever to befall gods and men. When the gods recover from their shock. I will show you where he is standing. then.. but when he inquires if Baldr may ride back with him. of the Scandinavian eschatological drama.13 Loki secures the plant and comes back with it to the assembly. and everything did that. stones. pp." 14 Young.' Then Loki said: 'You go and do as the others are doing. I have no weapon. riding on Odinn's horse. under disguise. Frigg. and when he tells the other gods. . "Now Hodr was standing on the outer edge of the circle of men because he was blind. both dead or alive. throw this twig at him. no doubt. weeps for him. trees. Frazer..

for we have dwelt on them only because we shall return to them. he is finally caught and chained to a cave by the gods.History of Religions coming home. they met with a giantess sitting in a cave. and they will inhabit Idavoll where Asgard used to be. After that Baldr and Hodr will come from Hel.17 each god. see Turville-Petre. They will sit down together and converse. having made a good job of their errand. n. 62). Voluspa. faces off against a single formidable adversary. Dumezil sees his collaboration with Hodr as a continuation of their identities as "souverains mineurs"-a pattern for which Dumezil then finds parallels in the Mahdbhdrata.16 though he could not be slain at the site of Baldr's death since it was a sanctuary." and individual: "At that time the earth will rise out of the sea and be green and fair .. 146 (ancient) and Polome. 1. who will head up the government of the renewed world in Odinn's hall (cf. by the Fenrir Wolf.. that is. As to Loki. It is this step which Dumezil compares with Visnu's three. Disagreeing on the "originality" of Loki's role.. . 19 Young. totally annihilated. 17 Les dieux des Germains. but in a fashion dissimilar to the Zoroastrian battle.. But the chains will someday break. Modi and Magni. and he will return at the head of his demonic offspring and various other minions of evil at the time of the Ragnarok. 5. calling to mind their hidden lore and talking about things that happened in the past.18 3. p.. 91-92. let Hel hold what she has. Ibid.-As to the war. "Renaissance. And the sons of Thor."19 It is these two. 64 (Snorri's fabrication along the lines of ethical dualism). she gave her name as Thokk."15 These scenes form the subject of vast comment. both personally revived in some inexplicit manner."-The "rebirth" thus made possible is multidimensional-cosmic. including those connected with the functions. p. 18 See above. In a fashion similar to the climactic battle of the Zoroastrian tradition. . The great battle of the Ragnarok. 83-84. They asked her to weep Baldr out of Hel. most of the their doom. 99 15 16 . . "political. pp. She answered: 'Thokk will weep dry tears . And in this return of the "ideal" ruler. some of which we shall take up later. the gods-even taking their foes with them-meet chief exception being Vidar. . Vidar and Vali [Baldr's avenger against Hodr] will be living.. who steps forth to avenge Odinn and to save the world from being swallowed. pp. we need not actually go into detail. 2. pp. will come there and possess Mjollnir [Thor's hammer]. 83-84.' It is thought that the giantess there was Loki. ME I: 221. n.

by the supernatural fixing of the dice..20 1. Yudhisthira [-*Mitra] would be invincible but in which. In each case a blind personage (both. more particularly. let us take the "trois epoques" in order. despite the warnings of Vidura [-*Aryaman]. Duryodhana rules after the dice match. my translation. one cannot say that Yudhisthira "ne devrait rien craindre du jeu de des. as a result. kula. 2. seem rather marked. Duryodhana [-Demon] induces the blind Dhrtarastra [-*Destiny]. and Vidura as a transposition of Aryaman. ME I: 228. All citations. His arrangement of the epic drama seems designed mainly to bring into relief the two figures whom he identifies as further continuations of the "souverains mineurs": the blind king Dhrtarastra as a continuation of Bhaga and. knowing full well what he is doing. Destiny. are from the Poona Critical Edition of the Mahabhdrata. continuations of *Bhaga) serves as an instrument of fate.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology It is when we follow Dumezil's efforts to disclose a similar threephase pattern in the Mahabhdrata that we meet the greatest difficulties. 100 . And both games end with the disappearance of an "ideal" figure who will return to rule only after a long time. Dumezil gives a convenient summary in Les dieux des Germains. Dumezil is able to point to certain parallels with the missile-throwing game of the Scandinavian gods. whereas Loki is chained. obliged to disappear for a long time. impelled by a character of demonic stature. The character of the two games varies widely: Dhrtarastra is a blind accomplice. to organize the game of dice in which. Each is a game in which tragedy occurs through some sort of treachery. but he does not know how to cast" (dyutapriyas . according to Dumezil.44. Here. Yudhisthira is "fond of dicing.. Ibid."22 He cannot be the best. Some of these. But none of these "divergences" is more important than a fact which escapes mention in Dumezil's treatment. Dumezil then discusses certain divergences which he attributes to changing conditions over long stretches of time and space. of Fate."-"In the first decisive 'temps' of the action. as the deceitful gamester Sakuni says to Duryodhana. Once again. however. puisqu'il est le meilleur des joueurs. he will be defeated and. unless specified (*). 91-92. the overseer of the integrity of the Bharata race.23 Nor does he have nothing to 20 21 22 23 Pp. na ca jdndti devitum.18). normally. Whereas one can truly say of Baldr that he plays "complaisement au jeu des projectiles"21 because everyone thinks him invulnerable. "Jeu truque." First. whereas Hodr is innocent. for each one. for.

is where we again have difficulties with his interpretation. the blind Dhrtarastra [-*Destiny] and the just Vidura [-*Aryaman]." All these points (except for a Scandinavian *Mitra) have clear parallels not only in the Scandinavian drama but in the Iranian." Yudhisthira and Baldr. Essentially. "Renaissance. one can truly speak of divergences. Yudhisthira has already been a king whereas Baldr has not. Both represent an "ideal. and one begins to suspect that it is not a matter of divergences in these games so much as real differences. of different orientations. Baldr dies. I cannot get out of it. the Pandavas [-trifunctional gods incarnate] each kill an adversary of their own rank. On this point his most forceful statement concerns the invitation to a second match after the near disaster of the first (2. Here. and once again we need not go into detail. fully reconciled. allows for direct parallels with the return of Baldr (-*Aryaman and -*Mitra)24 and Hodr (-*Bhaga. the crisis. it would seem. Thus in Scandinavia the "good" gods die. then.' Duryodhana [-Demon] mounts a formidable coalition against Yudhisthira [-*Mitra] and his brothers and allies. in Iran the "good" Amesha Spentas triumph. who have so little in common other than their "ideal" character and "ideal" rule. n."-"Finally. back up the work which is most fully exemplified in the person of Yudhisthira [-*Mitra]. Before the battle. and in India. are different sorts of "losers". Yudhisthira goes into exile." which. These and the variances cited by Dumezil put considerable strain on the comparison. And finally one wonders whether Baldr and Yudhisthira. We will return to some of these problems. Even knowing that it will cause destruction. there are also "good" heroes who fight for the "bad" side. can really be compared. 67. at least as Dumezil sets things up. in the renovation which follows 3. "Blind Destiny"). and in the battle which follows. and Dumezil is very attentive to these. and in our view it is a mistake to view Yudhisthira's postwar rule as idyllic. though the "good" heroes triumph in the name of the gods. 11. it is a matter of determining what constitutes the "reborn" world of the epic. including Duryodhana. The great battle of the Mahabharata." but are there no other archaic ideals than those associated with Mitra and the "dieux souverains mineurs" ? 2.History of Religions fear." This definition of the "renaissance. 101 .-"In the second decisive 'temps.4): "This challenge to a game of dice comes from the command of the old [king]. the epic can refer to 24 See above.

x. It is central to Biardeau's treatment of the epic crisis. but it seems extravagant to assign eschatologically significant roles to these two old counselors whose most important moments.25 Our view. but after the war. will bear further scrutiny. and it is of considerable importance in ours.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology him gracefully as the dharmaraja. 102 26 25 See ME I: 174-75. he has reached others on the question of Pariksit's birth which allow him. 219-22. but. a travers eux de Visnu et de Siva. p.26 links the beginning of the new age not to the rule of Yudhisthira. l'episode de l'embryon avec ses antecedents et consequences [the birth of Pariksit]. however. 4. which has only begun to take shape See F. are their deaths. however. like the traditional Hindu view. the ideal ruler (see esp.12-24. only the battle. l'opposition de Krsna et d'Asvatthaman et. For he. worthy of reverence yet "sans beaucoup d'ideal.27. which Dumezil has so brilliantly brought into the open in Mythe et epopee. the most general of all. to explain it away. takes a back seat to the "trois epoques" he had previously outlined in Les dieux des Germains. likely prolongations of Bhaga and Aryaman. he sees "le reste de l'epopee. To be sure. even while calling attention to it as a key eschatological theme. see also pp. as we shall see. cited in ME I: 152-54). B. retaining the ideal and the hope of a fresh beginning but without his glorious yet imperfect grandfathers (the trifunctionally arrayed Pandavas)-just as Baldr must rule without the former gods (likewise trifunctionally arrayed). Pariksit. I. like Baldr. E. etant peut-etre une adjonction post6rieure ou du moins le considerable remaniement d'une affabulation non sivaite qu'il serait vain de pretendre reconstituer. 1913). his postwar assistants include Dhrtarastra and Vidura. in which it is his sins that are most instrumental in attaining victory."27 Thus this crucial scene. Beyond the eschatological intrigue in three phases. but rather to the rule which he and his counselors and brothers set up for Arjuna's grandson. . he is the reluctant king of a decimated earth whose chief act is the performance of a sin-cleansing Asvamedha. after the battle. 27 ME I: 230. The embryo episode. MADELEINE BIARDEAU The alignment of the eschatological crisis of the epic with the Hindu myth of the pralaya. seems certain to pass as a common theme. The Purana Text of the Dynasties of the Kali Age (Oxford. will be an ideal ruler. the ruler of an attenuated age. the Kali yuga begins with the accession of Pariksit." If Dumezil has not come to these conclusions. Pargiter. And of the three.

To begin with. and "Brahmanes et potiers. 78 (1970-71): 151-61." It is here that Krsna tells Arjuna his deepest purpose (Gitd 11. First.56-78).34 Moreover. "Etudes de mythologie hindoue. it is the naimittika-pralaya. yet to appear (hereafter EPHE 77-79). there is a general distrust of the Indo-European comparison: "La crise cosmique qui fait la trame de l'epopee n'a pas de correspondant exact dans la litterature la plus ancienne. Biardeau has been very kind in available copies of the as yet unpublished articles. 97-105. 33). Contribution i l'etude du mythe-cadre du Mahabharata. 79 (1971-72)." pp. tardif. Here.. 58 (1971): 17-89 (hereafter EMH 1-3). by introducing the pralaya as a possible structuring myth. Annuaire de l'Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes 77 (1969-70): 16873."31 Although Puranic tradition commonly distinguishes three types of pralaya." Bulletin del'EcoleFranFaise d'Extreme Orient 54 (1968): 19-45. I-III."33 But if the kalpa system is in the background. over the fate of the embryo.. "the occasional reabsorption. 31 EPHE 77: 169. epic gives 28 M. and even though the three form "un tout" 32 and are often narrated in sequence. alors que l'on peut trouver son modele dans les recits puraniques de resorption et de recreation du monde." which claims her and our attention. 220. ingly Bhagavad Gitd (see 11. however. 32 EMH 3: 33.29 But Dumezil loses interest here." also in EPHE 79. and less with the kalpa cycle. 33 EMH 3: 31. although she has yet to address herself directly to the episodes which make up the first and third "epoques" of Dumezil's schema. which it leaves "dans la vague.History of Religions in the ongoing studies of Madeleine Biardeau. Biardeau. with "Appendice.15theophany the an account of its own (3. suggesting that this opposition "corresponde a un etat de mythologie post-vedique. as she convincin the of the shows. 30 Ibid. p. making 29 ME I: 219. Visnu and Siva. our focus on the Mahdbhdrata requires that it be made clear that there is no convincing reason to reject the pralaya as a "model" for the epic on the grounds that the myth is Puranic and "late. Dr. 55 (1969): 5996..28 was anticipated by Dumezil with regard to the opposition of Krsna and Asvatthaman. allusions to the naimittika-pralaya abound throughout-in particular.186. cosmogonies puraniques. cause of the destruction of 103 ."30 He points to no way in which these themes might be combined in an overarching model with the three-phase drama he considers so much older. the comptes rendus of three of her recent courses. deja presque hindouiste.. Biardeau opens up a number of new perspectives.32): "I am Time [Death]. 34 EMH 3: 54: "La vision que d6crit Arjuna est proche de celle qu'aurait un observateur du pralaya place' l'exterieur." Biardeau speaks of the epic as being concerned more with the cycle of the yugas and the appearances of avataras.

Krsna thus acts within the kalpa structure here. and second. the burning of Khandava forest as "une nouvelle figure de la guerre de destruction a venir" (EPHE 79). As Biardeau notes herself in her letter (see n.]. pdvakam (Mahabharata 3.36 Thus (1) the dessication of the earth corresponds with the symbols and intrigues that set up the oppositions between the Pandavas and Kauravas. 36 Unfortunately. in Vaisnava terms. 37 She regards the role of Bhima in the house-of-lac episode as modeled on the Vayu of the pralaya (EPHE 78: 157-58).72).). and (3) the deluge and the recreation of the worlds correspond to the womb in which the embryo lies and Krsna's revival of the stillborn baby. presided over by Rudra-8iva.. Jarasandha's imprisoning of the 100 kings as a "nouvelle image de la fin du monde" (ibid. between dharma and adharma.186. Kalarudra. as Biardeau is still investigating the parallels. 38) as a refusal of the solar hero "qui symbolise l'embrasement du monde" (ibid. I base the following summary on a letter of June 4. the burning of the three worlds presents no "dualistic" battle like that in the epic war or. more fragmentary. through Siva's involvement. these correspondences are not yet set forth in any published work. Then in the second and third phases occurs what she calls the "double pralaya": first a "reabsorption" by Kalagnirudra35 (-*8iva) of the three dead and dessicated worlds through yogic fire. It is this three-act drama which she detects beneath the surface of the Mahdbharata. One must not hasten too quickly to form a judgment on the confrontation of these two dramas. 1971. and her rejection of Karna-Sfurya (see n. But some impressions are worth expressing. sughoramasivarh raudram . Negatively.). where he makes "a firm footing for the right. that is. thence to recreate the three worlds through Brahma. or. there are difficulties in accepting any close ties in the first two phases of the schema. in the early books.30). Draupadi's polyandrous marriage. And in phase two. First comes a terrible drought and the dessication of the entire earth. 104 . for that matter.3. as an eschatological destruction of rules "necessaire au renouvellement du monde" ("Brahmanes et potiers").Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology Biardeau shows that there are essentially three phases to the pralaya. Rudrarfpijanardanah (Visnu Puraina 6.37 (2) the burning of the three worlds. matured and set out to gather in the worlds here" [Edgerton trans. at a more "ultimate" level than in the famous 4. there is little symbolic correspondence between the dessication of the earth and the signs and situations preceding the battle. wife of Arjuna's slain son Abhimanyu." 35 Var. in yuga after yuga. in the Scandinavian and Iranian myths of the end of the the worlds. 36). corresponds to the epic war which culminates in the extinction of the Kuru-Pandava line when Asvatthaman (possessed by Siva) destroys the last hope of its continuity-the embryo in the womb of Uttara. a "reabsorption" of the remains (ashes) and of all beings in the flood waters upon which Narayana (-*Visnu) reposes in his yogic sleep.. Kalagni.7-8..

38 Nor is it possible to put the whole battle under 8ivaAsvatthaman's sign. such pralaya imagery occurs in similes and metaphors. is presided over by Krsna. A striking instance occurs in the third phase of her schema. no doubt older.17): "Surely just by wishing it you could revive the three worlds if they were dead. term here. It is true. like the destructive phase of the pralaya."39 Keeping the divine and heroic planes of action distinct. But this does not explain why incarnations of the Rudras and Maruts (Krpa and Krtavarman). but this." 40 but from other. it would be more correct to say that the battle itself. which she uses (EMH 3: esp. THE "SAUPTIKAPARVAN" S SACRIFICE AND THE DESTRUCTION OF DAKSA We have. 84) to describe the cosmology of pralaya and pratisarga. does not serve to structure the epic drama. As Dumezil says. Karna is the son of Sfirya. also EMH 3: 82 and n. 105 39 ME I: 214. "l'activite d'Asvatthaman est tres secondaire. Biardeau helps us to see that pralaya imagery is frequently employed in descriptions of the epic action. and. 34).54). found it worthwhile to follow a principle suggested by the text itself: to examine whether there is some relation between the many myths narrated in the course of the text (usually regarded as interpolations or interruptions) and the juncture in the narrative at which 38 Based on this comparison. when Subhadra pleads with her brother Krsna to revive the stillborn child (14. delivered only to his dearest bhakta and friend (see Gitd 4. or of Brhaspati (Drona) should side with the Kurus (see EPHE 77: 172 and EMH 2: 103-5 for an unrelated and more convincing explanation of Drona's allegiance). however. Biardeau also proposes an answer to why there are "good" heroes on the "bad" side. one might say ultimate secret. in our view. that in the Gitt Krsna refers to the pralaya as the backdrop against which Arjuna is to understand the cataclysmic battle to come. as Biardeau points out (see n.66. what then of this cherished one born dead of your sister's son ?" For the most part. The coincidence of Sfrya and Karna in destructive roles thus seems fortuitous. however. For our part. 1). II.History of Religions world. On the positive side. we shall attempt to show that these sequences in the Mahdbhdrata draw their basic structure not from this "universe of bhakti. mythic and ritual scenarios-joined together and integrated not under the sign of the pralaya but under that of the Brahmanic sacrifice. "a la fin d'un cycle cosmique est 6troitement associe a ~iva dans l'oeuvre de destruction" (EPHE 78: 152. up to the Sauptikaparvan. 40 I use Biardeau's . until the Sauptikaparvan. is a divine. from time to time in our work on the epic. of one of the Vasus (Bhlsma). as Krsna says.3 and 11. the Sun which.

"I know Mahadeva truly [tattvena]. 106 . 12. Wilson. 5). 69 (Bareli: Sarskrti-Sarsthana. [Varanasi: All India Kashiraj Trust. kindly made available by the author. 12. pp. Purdnic Index (Madras. the one he concludes with and links directly to the preceding events (10. It seems likely that the texture of the epic has included a balance of didactic (including mythic) and narrative portions for as long as it has existed. see the "inversionist" views of Adolf Holzmann. Das Mahabharata als Epos und Rechtsbuch (Berlin. 1893). 10. See V. the parvan itself 41 This procedural principle was first articulated by Joseph Dahlmann. "Siva's Heroic Feats-Destruction of Daksa's Sacrifice.43 Having decided that it will be worth following Krsna's cue. D. 2-5 (S. esp. It would seem then that while the myth told at the end originally served to complement the events of the parvan. 133-35. Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology. trans. Velankar refers to the first "former deed"-a myth about the lihga (10. Mukhopadhyaya et al. 1969). Shastri. Kuirma P.173. H. see also Mbh. ed. pp. many of the interpretative myths seem to have conserved their place in the narrative for a long time." Sitzungsberichte des Konigl.18. H. brought on by the "Winter God" Siva. Vdmana P. 1952). 15 (R.. The Visnu" 43 I will use the term Daksayajna. Das Mahabharata und seine Theile (Kiel. R. it would seem. Asked there how Asvatthaman could have carried out his night raid. p. n. The second deed he recites. 1967-68). Dikshitar. a board of scholars.17. 1970]. has four more versions: 7. trans. Harivarhia 3. by which we refer to those in the Brahmanas (see Sukumari Bhattacharji. xxix.145. "and also his various former deeds" (10.283*-284* (*=Vulgate). 13.17)-as "rather extraneous". Siva P. 121-24. however. 1964-65). Yet the events in the parvan often seem to reflect the myth in just such a fully developed state. Bohmischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (1895). symbolizes the "last night-frost in spring. Critical studies of the Sauptikaparvan are few: in addition to Dum6zil (see above. 7. The texts we cite are the following: along with 10. 2: 201-3.41 Several fruitful paths have been opened up by comparing such myths with immediately foregoing or forthcoming incidents in the epic plot. the Mbh. [Benares. p. pp.22 (Ghorakpur: Gitapress.8). L. The Indian Theogony [Cambridge.2-7 (Ghorakpur: Gitapress.41 where Daksa gets only an interpolated line. Bhattacharya. 1970). trans. University of Chicago. Vayu P. 1968]). although Daksa does not appear in the "early" versions of the myth.173. Bhdgavata P. Krsna tells Yudhisthira that it was through the grace of Siva.330.18. Linga P." thesis chapter.2 (Satikhanda). we are. "Uber die mythische Grundlage des Mahabhdrata.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology they are told. 1 [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass." History of Religions 10 (1971): 315-23. Visnuism and Sivaism. M. confronted by new hurdles. S. and the "solar myth" views of Alfred Ludwig. P. (H.. 4. Krsna's account does not present the myth in its full scope. A Comparison (London. Jan Gonda." he adds.41-51. A. Nowhere does this seem more likely than at the end of the Sauptikaparvan. 119-22. 42 In a just verdict. as the one at the end of the Sauptikaparvan. 2. ed. "Introduction" to the Sauptikaparvan (Critical Edition).10-23 (close to 7. Gupta. and more than this. "The Origin of Heresy in Hindu Mythology. and Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty.274. 1968]). pp. Joe Bruce Long. 1895).173). 2: 58 ff. in which the night raid. 12. S. 53-60). 1970]).24-26). There have been several helpful recent studies of the Daksayajna myth: Bhattacharji. R. 121-22) as well. pp.. vol. 12-43 (ed.42 is 8iva's destruction of the sacrifice of the gods (elsewhere of Daksa).

. arranged at the beginning of battle" (Critical Edition 9. line 11) but as Bhadrakall and Mahakali (line 9). servants. as gently as possible. do not go about there for long. we should stay outside the camp. Thus it would seem that Krsna does not have any foreknowledge of what will happen. Can the sloka be trusted here? The only other passage which bears on these events would seem at first to make it doubtful.-In a matter about which the epic tells us surprisingly little. the Pandavas send him off to Hastinapura to tell Dhrtarastra and Gandhari." While Krsna's words are mysterious. 1).3536): "'For the sake of acting auspiciously [mangaldrthdya].68). in which Krsna seems to refer to the role of the goddess as Kalaratri: "Where the goddess Victory is [jayantz yatra devi]. and other royal items (9. 1. episode by episode (we can unfortunately reduce it to no less than fourteen). By following the course of the Sauptika itself. But when he rejoins the Pandavas that very night. following 9. as also Satyaki.61. we will try to demonstrate how the myth (or the developing tradition of myths) of the destruction of Daksa's sacrifice can be read beneath its surface at nearly every point. This is my request. Absence of Krsna. the lack of explanation has been sensed in two Devanagari texts. This would seem appropriate.' all the Pandavas. he has indicated the thought of slaying the Pandavas in the night" (9. presumably not only to rescue them 107 . of their sons' deaths. for the sake of acting auspiciously [mahgaldrtha]. since Krsna did have Arjuna (likewise only in the Northern recension) honor Durga on the eve of battle (Bhismaparvan. however.380*. together with Vasudeva. But what is more interesting than the reference to Devi is the implication that Krsna has arranged this exodus beforehand.33). Krsna gets up suddenly and begs their leave.61. explaining: "Evil has entered the mind of Drona's son. went outside. and the five Pandavas have all conveniently absented themselves from the victory camp on the very evening of Asvatthaman's night raid. the victors rest until Krsna interrupts (61. After plundering the Kuru camp for goods. his kinsman Satyaki.35).' Having said. Appendix I. 'So be it.History of Religions has been elaborated in the light of later versions of the myth.61. no. .. it is more Siva than the Goddess whom Krsna makes way for. Krsna. Just after Krsna has urged that the night be spent outside the camp. There. having comforted them. But judging from the sequence of events in the Sauptikaparvan. and refer only to some unexplained "welfare" (mahgala). praising her not only as Victory (vijaye jaye.

But all agree on one point: Visnu was not present when the sacrifice was destroyed. where we know that he knows. did not go to the sacrifice" (4. although just as mysterious as the Mahabhdrata is on the absence of Krsna.21*.33. the Bhdgavata says: "Having formerly perceived exactly this [destruction].5. but they did not see the god Isana or Narayana Hari" (15. where he says the antagonism between Siva and Visnu is a late concern.3).24.37-38). Kurma P. he forms the plan which Krsna became aware of at Hastinapura: he will kill the Pandavas45 and Paficalas while they are sleeping.44 and some say that Daksa's rite was dedicated to Visnu (Mbh. on the levels of both myth and epic. the lotus-born god [Brahma] and Narayana. But we must postpone discussion of this until we see what is made of it by the epic itself.65. Indra and so forth.1). And some texts are quite explicit. "all the gods came for the sake of shares.2. when we turn to the Daksayajia myth. Some do not mention Visnu at all. According to the Kurma.-Asvatthaman and his two allies.23. 135. confronted by a statement about the theological complementarity of Visnu and Siva. Bhdg. as night sets in. Most pointedly. Asvatthaman alone remains awake. 4. 2. Here. and there. some not until the end. We are thus left with the impression that the added 4loka is right. Now. 108 . 9. p. But in a 44 See Gonda.34). have entered a forest near the camp just absented by Krsna. Krpa and Krtavarman are filled with shame.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology but to foil Asvatthaman's plan. Siva P. P.21). 12. Visnu is warned by a celestial voice to leave the sacrifice (2. that Krsna has absented himself and the Pandavas by design. Below we discuss a Brahmanic precursor.41-44) just before the destruction begins. and in the Siva.2.27. the soul of all. Thus the Vdmana tells us: "Seeing Sanikara with eyes reddened with anger. Taking his cue from a bird of prey whom he sees massacre a flock of sleeping crows. Awakened and hearing of this scheme. Krpa and Krtavarman. It is apparent that in these absences of Krsna and Visnu we are. which he does-after a standoff fight with Siva's agent Virabhadra-both he and Brahma going to their respective lokas (37. he merely sits down and tells them what happened at the Kuru court.2.283. Celebrants and outsiders. cf. 45 He does not know the Pandavas are absent. 15. 2.31. we find a variety of attitudes expressed in different versions about the roles of Visnu and Siva. he is troublingly silent. Hari retired from that place and stood concealed in Kubjamra [a tirtha]" (5. Or Visnu may be present until the destruction takes place.34.

35. For Asvatthaman the matter is less obvious but no less important. it fills up. pp.283. like Siva. the very core of the Daksayajna myth: he has been allotted no share (bhdga) in the sacrifice. in sharp contrast. and the Vdmana extends this to the fourteen worlds (4. Yet to clarify the sense in which Asvatthaman's share is still unclaimed. "the sacrifice of battle. Siva is excluded from a celebration whose universal proportions only grow with the enlargement of the universe from text to text.18). has up to now been deprived of a "share. the Vulgate version in the Mahdbhdrata has the sacrifice shared in by the inhabitants of each of the three worlds (12. and beating their drums. only we three remain [vayameva trayah sistastasminmahati vaisase]. V. Held. This argument for the night raid thus centers on a pattern of reversals. and laughing. 10. If it is the gods alone who take part in some apparently early versions (Brahmanas. Very great is the sound heard from the neighing horses and the grunting elephants. and. The tumultuous sound of their musical instruments. J.12. The Mahabhdrata. of course.9). p. we must address ourselves for a moment to what is probably the fundamental symbolism shaping the Mahdbhdrata war: that of the ranayajna (5. 1957)." In Siva's case this is. to the plight of himself and his fellows: "In this vast carnage. 1935). sastrayajna. juxtapositions: on one side is festivity. Sukthankar. borne by the wind. S." Although a general analogy between war and sacrifice in the epic has long been recognized. the essential pattern holds. I regard this as a reversal of Time [manye kdlasya paryayam]" (63-64). 270-71.4. shouting.57. filled with joy.46 few of its implications have been worked out. 154. 139.29. on the other embittered isolation. But this is not the important point. 109.173. is frightful. mingled with the blare of their conches. Though the divine emotions may differ from the human anguish and pathos of the three Kuru survivors. 7.5-8*).. all the points of the compass [disah purayativa]. on the other exclusion.59-61). Having depicted this festive gathering with what we may call its worldwide repercussions.50-"the thirty". on one side inclusion. and the lion-roar of the heroes" (10. Of special interest is Asvatthaman's first response: "The Paicalas are roaring out. 109 . An Ethnological Study (London.1. as it were.History of Religions series of exchanges they are persuaded. and description thereof). Asvatthaman turns. cf. Mbh. What is most crucial is that Asvatthaman. One of these concerns 46 See G. they are blowing their conches in a hundred ways. On the Meaning of the Mahabhdrata (Bombay..

47 Agni's own "auspicious portion. in fact.14)." Dumezil has pointed to the importance of these terms in connection with the incarnations of the "portions" of various gods on earth. that mighty bowman of the hue of fire fixed Drona as his own portion (amhsa)"( 10). generalissimo of the army.7.5-10). "share. born.161. who performs this task. These episodes are theological doublets. mythical reinforcements for what occurs elsewhere on the plane of the epic narrative itself. see 5.48 Siva's possession of Asvatthaman doubles the latter's identification with the former.87). that we are to understand Asvatthaman's various vows to avenge his father's death by slaying Dhrstadyumna: the latter will be his share. This fatality.65).17. of "victim. var. as Dumezil has pointed out." who assigns each of his major warriors an appropriate "victim.166." And then. But they are also used with the combined meaning. But more generally it is the senapati. it is this indispensable ally. having apportioned [vibhajya] those warriors individually and collectively. EPHE 79." In one crucial instance it is Krsna who delegates Salya. even as the Paicala prince . Barring of the gate and possession. 48 ME I: 213 and 220. 15. then." It is interesting to note who it is that determines such war-"shares. see also Biardeau's remarks on Dhrstadyumna-Agni's alliance with the Pandavas. esp. which are dispelled by Asvatthaman's homage to Siva who.61. was created to be the slayer of Drona" (7.39. 3 and 4.30. possesses his protege (10. pertinent to both the sacrifice and the battlefield. 16. In a key passage (5.6. as Asvatthaman was born 47 On Dhrstadyumna as distributor of shares for the Pandavas. from the sacrificial fire and himself "a portion of Agni" (agnerbhdgam. as the Pandava army approaches the battlefield.36-37). Thus the dispelling of Krsna's images duplicates the absence of Krsna. in turn. a king. It is in this context. as Yudhisthira's share (see 9. 15. And the sacrifice of battle will not be complete until Asvatthaman has claimed it.. and for the Pandavas this position was filled by just one figure throughout the entire war: the Paficala prince Dhrstadyumna.12-25.. agneramgsam. will then lead Dhrtarastra to remark: "It is Asvatthaman who was created the slayer of Dhrstadyumna by the high-souled [Drona].56. 110 .Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology the epic's use of the terms bhdga and ahmsa. "an auspicious portion of Agni" (agnerbhdgarh subham.14). portion. 1. like his sister Draupadi.-Asvatthaman's entry into the camp is at first barred by images of Krsna-Janardana. when it is accomplished. And. and for the most complete list of the shares appointed to them and their allies.

g. except where figures appear who similarly duplicate the roles of Visnu (e.2. 10. the two episodes cannot be expected to have exact counterparts in the Daksayajna myth. As we shall see. 111 . 5. respectively. it is worth noting that Dumezil shows this conception of Asvatthaman to have its closest analogue in a Brahmanic conception of Rudra.41-51).5. P.61. he kills his foes "brutally". Dharma. Asvatthaman is aided not only by Siva's gana.33.-"As with Isvara entering the camp of his foe.History of Religions a mixture "of Mahadeva [ = Siva] and Antaka [Finisher]. but by Krpa and Krtavarmanincarnations of the Rudras and Maruts. the Rudras and Maruts.66)." in Bhdg.66]. Vam. This first phase. fighting to a standoff with Virabhadra before leaving so that the latter can destroy it.23)50 or of Siva (e.35.18. P. In accord with our emphasis on Brahmanic themes. would have aided Asvatthaman in his act of destruction. although there is only the dimmest trace of any indication that Siva might receive help from the Rudras or Maruts in his destruction of the sacrifice (see Harivahmsa3.-What follows in these next two episodes forms the most crucial sequence of the night raid. 1-2). 6.. P. This could be an allusion to Siva's entry of Daksa's sacrifice itself. This may reflect an "early" form of the narrative in which. Virabhadra himself. 1. Whether or not. . moving about among animals" (svayarh rudrah pasusviva) (3. Entry. The gana plays no role in what appear to be the earlier versions of the "Daksayajia" myth (Brahmanas. 4. 7.49 In view of these duplications.19). the gods "put their most fearful bodies in one" (ghoratamdstanva . then. who is the dvdrapdla who seeks and fails to prevent Virabhadra from entering the sacrifice in Vdm.g. ignoring the sword that Siva has given him. And. using the sword. Aitareya Brdhmana 3.1). like Asvatthaman a "portion of Rudra. to create Rudra-Bhitavan in order to avenge Prajapati's incest against their sister Usas. 5. . Pinaka [bow] in hand. has Visnu himself in this role of protector of the sacrifice (2. representatives of Rudra's Vedic hosts. Mbh.42. to whom he predicted: "Among the Paicalas I shall move about. ekadhd.173. around Asvatthaman on all sides rushed unsightly beings and Raksas" (10. takes us back to the announcement of his plan to Krpa and Krtavarman.3).7. "Brutal" deaths. of Krodha [Wrath] and Kama combined into a unity" [ekatvamupapanndndm. slaying them now in battle like the enraged Rudra himself.22. he kills by performing symbolic mutilations. 50 The oivaP. without the gana. 4. that is. Siva's gana. and in the second.41. Asvatthaman's activities occur in two neatly demarcated phases: in the first. as to his 49 ME I: 213.4).

These blows bring on Dhrstadymna's death cries which awaken certain guards. Prajapati is "the sacrifice" whom (which) Siva attacks. Drona). do not delay.'. whom Asvatthaman slays with a Rudra weapon. . at least beyond the particular case of Dhrstadyumna (see also 5.33-34). Cf. shuddering men to fall. he made him die the death of an animal [pasumdramamdrayat]. Tearing at him with his nails. 'Slay me with a weapon [sastrena]. Drona's son said: 'There are no worlds for slayers of their preceptors. And the wrathful one struck him in the vital parts [marmasu] with violent kicks of his heels" (8. are not simply devices to keep the victims from reaching the heaven of heroes: "Having slain them.18-21). . And at this point the text gives an indication that these "brutal" slaughters. 6atapatha Brahmana 1.31-35)." (8."52 the myth of Rudra's vengeance against Prajapati for the latter's incest with Usas.51 The epic itself makes it clear that these slaughters portray Asvatthaman in Siva's ancient role of Pasupati: "The wrathful one caused thousands of shrinking. who also die crying out (vinardantam) and writhing like animals (visphurantarh ca pasuvat. . and presses him down to the ground.. not very clearly. he goes first to Dhrstadyumna's tent and there finds him sleeping in a luxurious bed. He kicks him to wake him. kanthe corasi cobhayoh] while he was roaring and writhing [nadantam visphurantam]. In 51 It is true that animals should be silent in a sacrifice. seizes him by the hair (as Dhrstadyumna had done to his father. if you do this. trembling and quivering.7. 112 .Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology chief antagonist: "I will grind off (pramathisydmi) Dhrstadyumna's head like an animal's (pasoriva)" (3. Asvatthaman rushed here and there against the maharathas . p. Dhrstadyumna. said. But why are these animalian deaths singled out as so especially significant for Dhrstadyumna and the Piaicalas ? It will be noticed in the Brahmanas that the name Pasupati occurs frequently in connection with the "Daksayajfia" myth and its "multiform.3 and 4.' Having heard these indistinct sounds of his. strangled without a sound. Then: "Striking him with his foot on both his throat and chest [tamdkramya padd. they were slain [samita. like Pasupati among pasus. Having entered the camp. 52 The term is used in a related form by O'Flaherty.33). I may go to the blessed regions. this seems to be one of several indications that this is a sacrifice gone out of control. therefore you do not deserve to be slain with a weapon.36). And then this first phase of butchery concludes with the deaths of two more Paficalas.. 'prepared as an oblation'] like animals in a sacrifice [iva pasunmakhe]" (8. 8. 319. the shadowy but strangely inseparable Uttamaujas and Yudhamanyu.122).

" But more interesting is SB 1. pdvakah.7. 8. "desirurges upon Yudisthira (9. Biardeau's comments are helpful: "On retient l'identification d'Agni avec Rudra Pasupati: le sacrifice. but cf. he takes his "remainder" share and permits the sacrifice to be completed. 1. where it seems that Dhrstadyumna assigns this share too)." Under the "auspicious" name of Agni Svistakrt.. and Agni. "Agni the Maker of Good Offering. Satapatha Brahmana 1. is the most auspicious [Santa] (Eggeling trans. as the Bahikas [call him]. in particular that of Yudhisthira and Salya.8. Bhava. sovereignty. But as Pasupati. doubtless." some quality which both opponents possess is enhanced in the victor at the expense of the vanquished.16-17. eux qu'il faut abolir par une oblation a Rudra. eliminates the "auspicious Agni" and takes on the character of "the fire at the end of the yuga" (yugante.History of Religions this second myth. Asvatthaman. one of the earliest versions of the "Daksayajna" itself. Such seems to be the significance here. 54 !alya.54 there is a clear sense that when a combatant slays his "share.8).13. The name Agni. Pafsinam Pati. 56. In slaying the incarnation of Agni.1 tells us that the gods called on Rudra as Pasupati to avenge their sister." symbolizes kingship.' His are these names: Sarva as the eastern people call him. Rudra.. and Rudra. Sarva. Bhava.' et c'est aussi cela qui le met en relation avec la mort et l'impurete. and Aitareya Brahmana 3. "sovereignty over animals. none other than the incarnation of "the auspicious portion of Agni" himself. Here. In this connection.15.1-3).33 (in which the gods make Rudra of their terrible forms." Accordingly: "That (offering) then is certainly made to 'Agni.3.6. we recall that Asvatthaman-Pasupati has claimed his "share" of the "sacrifice of battle" by slaying Dhrstadyumna. it is worth noting that. Now in some cases..4. he holds the threat of destruction. the gods set up the practice of giving him the last oblation under the euphemistic name of Agni Svistakrt. the share which Krsna . 5. 49) says that it was as a reward for his service that Rudra claimed pasuindmddhipatyam. qui comporte la mise a mort de a pour cette raison un aspect impur et dangervictimes-pasu-. as a "share. when Rudra has interrupted the gods' sacrifice to demand his share.7.7. When we turn back to the Sauptikaparvan."53 One can thus detect in these early versions of the "Daksayajia" myth a clear notion that Rudra's character as "Lord of Animals" involves his identification with Agni as "slayer of animals. see n. On this passage.137).3 (see also Taittirlya Sarhhitd 2. 113 53 EMH 3: 80. C'est en cela que Rudra est 'maitre des pasu. as his very first act of destruction.

8. in all the versions of the Daksayajia that we have examined. In the former. 114 . Actually. it is used with precision. According to the Liiga. And in the instances where this instrument is turned against particular foes. only in one case is there a parallel episode at this point. First. the high-powered Virabhadra kicked him in the head with his foot [jaghdna mfrdhni pddena]" (69. it must be admitted that we are still confronted by a problem.19).Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology ing to please the son of Drona.55 and 55 See ME I: 246-49. In the myth. Arjuna's son Srutakirti is decapitated. Bhima's son Sutasoma first has his arm cut off (bdhurh chittvd. Rather. son of Sahadeva. is struck by the sword on his mouth (dsye) and falls. Symbolic mutilations." But there is no sense in the Linga that in maiming Vahni. "his mouth disfigured" (vikrtdnanah. has his head cut off (apdharacchirah. Satanika. Asvatthaman takes up his sword. the following is included among the mutilations inflicted by Virabhadra: "having cut off the two hands of Vahni [?Agni] and having torn out his tongue in sport. more optimistic. Srutakarman. Yudhisthira's son Prativindhya falls when struck "in the region of the abdomen"(kuksidese: 8.103)-a transparent allusion to the three sacrificial fires put to inauspicious use.-Having completed the first phase of the night raid. 8. adorned with earrings. Rudra becomes the auspicious fire (Svistakrt) rather than the inauspicious (Pasupati).56). and we may have allusions in both cases to a crude symbolism of "putting out a fire. 7. If this interpretation is correct so far.50). fell from his body" (8.58). This is what we may call the first "inversion" concerning the matter of "shares" (see item 13 below). he attacks the Draupadeyas. 8.52) and then is slain when pierced through the heart presumably from his unprotected side. where Siva obtains his share at the end of his destructive raid rather than at the beginning.54). epic and myth seem to diverge here. subsumes the "auspicious Agni" as his own share and takes on the aspect of the inauspicious fire at the end of the yuga. The Draupadeyas present no clear structure of their own. This episode does not follow the usual schema of the Daksayajfia myths. Nakula's son. by slaying foes like pasu. they incarnate the Visvedevas. Asvatthaman. Dhrstadyumna was kicked in the chest and throat. having let loose a brief volley of arrows to remind us of his father. whereupon "his radiant head. and last. Virabhadra has obtained his or Siva's share. Krpa and Krtavarman set fire to the camp in three places" (8. the five sons of Draupadi by the Pandavas.

mouth. 81.6. which represent the effective continuity of the Kuru line. the mightiest and most "long-armed" Piandava.56 Arjuna's handsomeness is also a subject of frequent praise.59-60). Nakula "whose beauty [ripam] is the utmost on earth" (14). one will. 57 But see Gopatha Brdhmana 1. fittingly 59 Les dieux des Germains. noted for his eloquence and "sweet words.58 The question. protecteur de la 'viande sur pied' que sont les troupeaux. arms. the deaths of the Draupadeyas symbolize not only the apparent extinction of the dynasty butwith the mutilations-the fact that the ideal image of sovereignty which the Pandavas represent (here in face.History of Religions while symbolic meaning is certainly present in their disfigurations. This leaves us in the dark only about Yudhisthira's belly. S. voisine avec Savitr.7 where the sacrifice is placed on the belly (jathara) of Indra (GB) or Brahman (TS). the most beautiful Pandava.57 But the real problem concerns the question of why the poets have taken this occasion to pause and work out a tableau of mutilations for these pale and poorly defined victims. et 56 See.254. of course. and belly) cannot be revived. 115 . realize that it is the same principle involved in different contexts. it is a symbolism that is borrowed from their fathers.2 and Taitt. the half male. the son of Nakula." has his mouth disfigured. destroyed by 8iva.g. the other concerns the mutilation of those limbs and organs. p. shot between the eyes and cut in two with the sword (8. which represent the effective continuity of the sacrifice. No one has appreciated the paradoxical character of the latter symbolism so well as Dumezil:59 "Bhaga. qui met toutes choses en mouvement et qui a perdu ses deux mains. With Abhimanyu slain and with it still unknown that he has left his wife pregnant (Krsna has not divulged this information yet). 3. qui distribue les 'parts' et qui est aveugle. although one may at first be skeptical that there is any parallel between the two sets of mutilations which concern different limbs and apparently unrelated victims.5-21. destroyed by Asvatthaman. l'Impulseur.. and Sahadeva. so it is fitting that his son should be decapitated. 2. half female ~ikhandin. e. and the son of Sahadeva. Draupadi boasting about her husbands: Bhima with "long arms as developed as sdla trees" (9). "unequalled in wisdom and eloquence" (17). one does well to look to the Daksayajfia. avec Pusan aussi. For. If one symbolism concerns the mutilation of those limbs. 58 Only one other named figure is mutilated. loses his head. comes back to the Pandavas and the continuity of the Kuru line. upon looking closer. In three instances the correlations are striking: the son of Bhima. as these two are never harmed. As to why the poets have found this a suitable occasion to display their ingenuity at the game of symbolism. loses his arm.8.

Here we have the free use of samrdhyd("twilight") and pralaya imagery. the goddess comes in her terrible Mahakall or Bhadrakali form to do her part in the destruction (Mbh. ne peu manger que de la bouillie.4. through Siva's grace. Kalaratri. Draupadi then demands revenge against Asvatthaman. on Bhima and Vayu. Vdm. and Bhima sets out after him. cf.3). 2.11-12). He is then followed by his brothers and Krsna when the latter says that Bhima will be unable to handle Asvatthaman's weapons. Just as the myth can do without the goddess in this role.28). under the guidance of Brhaspati (Gopatha Br.-Taking off after Bhima and Nakula. pp. Samh. P. 4.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology qui." 62 The undertow of feeling between Draupadi and Bhima is nicely appreciated by Irawati Karve. Possible connections with the pralaya come to mindBhima-Vayu as first to act in the "recreation".60 8.136).43. Yuganta. Siva P. and the mouth of Agni (SB) or the sacrificer's teeth (Bhdg. the black (kdli) Goddess Night of All-Destroying Time (8. see EMH 2: 60. p. the hands of Pusan." It is especially the significance of these limbs and organs for the continuity of the sacrifice that interests us. P. From the Brahmanas on to the Siva and Bhdgavata Purdnas. when these latter stipulate that the rite be handled or continued with the eyes of Surya (GB) or Mitra (Bhdg.): "By impulse of the god Savitr I take thee [the sacrifice] with the arms of the Asvins. 4. for Daksa's sacrifice to continue it has been necessary that these limbs and organs be restored-either directly. ayant perdu ses dents. P. Draupadi's wrath (she has just lost her sons and brothers) and her reliance on the strong-armed Bhima (cf. 4. The End of an Epoch (Baroda. Dawn and vengeance.13-23) are easily explained as logical outcomes of the development of the plot.13-15) or Siva (Bhdg.7. to those who have lost them (Mbh. but the basic gods are the ones cited. with the hands of Pisan. 1969).31*.2. who is acting as Bhima's charioteer.-The dying warriors now envision Kalaratri.7. Asvatthaman shone forth in this human habitation like the fire at the end of the yuga.53-57. Contest of the weapons. the arms of the Asvins. 116 .). 10. 9 and 10. Draupadi-KrsnaSri as the Earth despoiled of "prosperity"61-but I doubt that these correlations are any more than coincidental.2. 37 above.64-67).33.22.-As dawn approaches (pratyiisakdle).9 (Griffith trans. 61 On Vayu. SB 1. the Kicaka story. 1.283. In some Daksayajfia myths. 12. or indirectly." There are many variations on this mutilation theme. on Draupadi and the Earth. having turned all beings into ash" (8. "having left his foes without a trace. 2. see "Brahmanes et potiers. see n.). so it is easy to imagine the Sauptikaparvan without this brief intrusion of Kalaratri.2. 128-32.62 11. Krsna and the rest of the 60 See Vaj. Siva P.18. 11.

Krsna urges Arjuna. and: "Filled with wrath [rusa]. sometimes. He then released that weapon for the sake of the bewilderment of all worlds. His rage unspent. a fire was produced which seemed about to consume the three worlds" (13. Rudra attacked the rsis Nara and Narayana (=Arjuna and Krsna) in their hermitage at Badari. the Vedas are concealed from the rsis.330. Here we find the closest parallel in an unusual version of the Daksayajfia. fought in the battle it was Rudra. tells the two rsis that he is unable to withdraw it (11).69). the whole universe darkens. telling him that when he. As they fight. Seeing them. truthfulness. 15).History of Religions Pandavas catch up with them just as Bhima is aiming his weapon. 14. rajas and tamas 63 Brahma intercedes often and so. proceeding in front of him. sometimes Visnu prevailing (HV). who alone can match Asvatthaman. who actually slew his foes (12. The curse has been made. 7. "desiring the welfare of all creatures" (sarvabhutahitaisinau. Once released. Meanwhile. although it must be insisted that similar episodes are found in other versions of the myth. he uttered the terrible word 'apdndavdya' ['for the annihilation of the Pandavas']. At this impasse. to counteract this weapon. after further efforts have failed.173. having released his weapon out of wrath and fear of Bhima. Immediately. converts it into a Brahmasiras ("Head of Brahma") weapon capable of world destruction. Then in that blade of grass. Asvatthaman is sitting among a group of rsis surrounding Vyasa beside the Ganges.18-20). From this station they rebuke the heroes for their rash act of releasing the deadly arms. the two munis Narada and Vyasa stand (sthitau) between the two weapons to neutralize their energy. To Arjuna is dedicated a long passage (15. Vyasa can only convince him to relinquish his gem so as to satisfy Draupadi.63 Once again it is Krsna speaking. wishing only to "neutralize" or "appease" (sdmyatdm. many versions also speak of a conflict between !iva and Visnu after the sacrifice is destroyed. But what concerns us is a description of what occurred after this same Rudra had finished his destruction of Daksa's sacrifice.1-10) praising the extraordinary ability-possible only through brahmacarya. 117 . Asvatthaman. And. do the rsis (Mbh. thus setting up an interesting contrast between the two combatants. it too "blazed up like the fire at the end of the yuga" (7).6) that of his opponent. however. this time to Arjuna. Arjuna. 13) as well as the worlds (lokdndm.47). and the observance of vows-which allows him to withdraw the weapon. sometimes ~iva (Lihga). Asvatthaman picks a blade of grass. and Arjuna releases his Brahmasiras from his bow.

whose wrath is conquered and whose senses are conquered [jitakrodho jitendriyah]. It is for the sake of the "welfare of the worlds" that Brahma on the one hand. In the one case. "and indeed Brahma was shaken from his seat" (brahmd caivdsandccyutah. 12. Rudra must "cast-off" the fire of his wrath."-Unable to withdraw his weapon. the oceans dry up. the fever (jvara) from Siva's wrath will be dissipated among various minerals.123.65 As to the crucial theme of the unleashing of Siva's wrath. The connection between the myths is noted by Walter Ruben.45-46) makes it clear that Brahma's bargain was no less costly to the world than the one struck by Vyasa and Narada. the Banasura myth (HV 2. to the contrast between Asvatthaman and Arjuna. became pleased there and was reconciled with Rudra" (61-62). are roused from their "seats" to plead for a cessation of hostilities. Krishna (Istanbul. pp. the mountains crack. and the latter for pointing out how this mediation is achieved by Brahma the Creator (in the formulation of the trimfirti). 1944). it is agreed that Krsna will dissolve his into himself (18) while Siva's will be distributed among diseases and deserted things. throw down your weapons for the sake of the welfare of the universe'" (55-56).31). the former for focusing my attention on the manner in which Brahma (like the rsis) serves as a mediator. 196-97. especially the latter. to afflict them. 54).. In the other. Promise of the "renaissance. The contrast between the two gods is homologous. the detoured Brahmasiras will wipe out the last hope of the Kuru line. As Asvatthaman must discharge his weapon. a variant of this episode (Mbh. And then that boon-granting god. and Vyasa and Narada on the other. animals. 118 . Krsna 64 Cf. The Pandavas will thus be slain symbolically. and men.274.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology pervade the gods. "When such signs occurred. Rudra. Joe Bruce Long and Evan Zeusse. Brahma addressed Rudra: 'May it be well [Aivam] for the worlds. then caused the powerful god Narayana to be gratified. birds.. quickly came to the spot where the battle was raging. And his intercession works: "Thus addressed by Brahma.. Moreover. Asvatthaman can only alter its course through a reinterpretation of his curse's meaning: it will go instead into the wombs of the Pandava wives (15. there are parallels in the roles of the intercessors. Brahma. 65 I am grateful to my colleagues. at the times of birth and death. then.16-28) where after Siva's jvara and Krsna's jvara fight to a standstill. so Narayana (one with Nara) has his wrath and senses under control." To console them. casting off the fire of his wrath [krodhdgnimutsrjan]. with no hope of "rebirth. Joining his hands in reverence. an illustration of what Eliade refers to as the centrality of the cosmogonic act.64 and as Arjuna (one with Krsna) restrains his weapon. 12. in a L6vi-Straussian sense. surrounded by the divine host and the high-souled rsis.

. At this point Krsna must promise to intercede. errant solitaire dans la brousse. she will escape the curse. negative for the "human" Asvatthaman.7. desdn]. Stinking of pus and blood. concerns only the renewal of Daksa's rite through the restoration of the mutilated limbs of the gods. you shall have your home in inaccessible wastelands [durgakdntdrasarmsrayah]. Krsna.History of Religions then commits "une imprudence. There will be a renaissance after all. he says.. Krsna 13. True. this is the point in the Daksayajfia myths where Siva is given his share: certainly more a blessing than a curse. Tentatively we may accept Biardeau's position here.. cf. . This crucial episode has no true parallel in the "renaissance" of the Daksayajiia which. 4. 0 sinful soul. there will be no place for you in the midst of men. Alone and with no one by you. that this event is cast in the imagery of the pralaya."66 He tells them of Uttara's pregnancy: being the wife of Abhimanyu and not of the Pandavas.."67 66 ME I: 217. when one looks more closely. one sees that Siva's share expresses a similar outsiderhood: it is "the remainder [vdstu].3. who takes on the character of the auspicious fire and is blessed. item 6): where Siva is blessed. This is the second "inversion" of the share (see above. that part of the sacrifice which [is left] after the oblations have been made" (SB 1.9-12). who takes on the character of the inauspicious fire and is cursed. addition to his promise. but he. infested with all diseases" (16. 67 ME I: 218.7. But Asvatthaman overhears and extends the weapon's effect to her. although shortly we shall hold out for an optional view based on an "older" comparison. the weapon will take effect and the child will be stillborn. 0 wretch. 119 . Nonetheless. Bhdg. One will recall that. comme fait ce dieu Rudra qu'il porte et qui lui possede. as we have seen. Asvatthdman's fate.4: the ucchesanam).-In curses the "child-slaying" Asvatthaman to reap the fruit of his acts in a terrible destiny: "For three thousand years you will wander over this earth without a companion and without being able to talk to anyone. will give it life. Asvatthaman is cursed. P. One may now observe that both inversions follow an intelligible pattern: positive and optimistic for the divine Siva.You shall rove about. structurally speaking. Thus Dumezil can point to the outsiderhood of Asvatthaman as a feature shaped by the character of Siva: "Tel sera le destin d'Asvatthaman. you will wander through deserted places [nirjandn .7.

The rite concludes with an offering to Rudra Tryambaka. and concealed also is what is buried. Now in this case his journey is beyond the Mujavats!"-"with thy bow unstrung and muffled up-. Theological reflections. and he [Rudra] does not therefore injure any other animal.. therewith depart beyond the with provisions people indeed set out Mujavats (mountains) !-(supplied) on a journey: hence he thereby dismisses him supplied with provisions whithersoever he is bound. and I include the pertinent passages from Satapatha Brdhmana 2. B. with the text. p. pt. not injuring us". delivers from Rudra's power both the descendents that are born unto him and those that are unborn [reemphasized. And although sectarian interests some68 See Keith's summary. O Rudra. the north. "Clad in a skin. Circumambulations are performed. O Rudra! The mole is thy animal (victim [pasu]). the third of the three seasonal rites which marks the end of the rainy season. By this (offering) he delivers from the power of Rudra those descendents of his. but the matter of the "concealed embryos. But more. including the Pitrs and the unmarried women." This remarkable passage reads like a ritual text to the early "Daksayajia" myths. there is another occasion in the Brahmanas when Rudra receives a share that brings him even closer to Asvatthaman. st. he buries it in a mole-hill. indeed. that are not yet born. 2. he . Harvard Oriental Series. [5-9. 32 (Cambridge. and offered on a crossroad to Rudra and his sister Ambika:] 10.2: 2. saying:] 17. are thy provisions. 1925). the Daksayajfia draws to a close by offering some sort of theological key to the events that have transpired. Cakes are made and taken to Rudra's quarter. "This is thy share. Now as to that additional (cake). it seems to provide a ground plan for some of the most prominent themes in the Sauptikaparvan: not just the "skin-clad" exile beyond the mountains and the "muffling" of the weapon. [11-17. that are not yet born. "Clad in a skin. "These.68 the whole family participates symbolically in this rite." whereby he means to say. and is cursed where Siva obtains his. 3-4]. or vice versa. "Depart propitious. When he performs these offerings." He thus assigns to him the mole as the only animal.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology But if Asvatthaman receives his "share" elsewhere. 322. The sacrificial party now returns. for while sleeping he injures no one: hence he says. having propitiated Rudra. are embryos [garbhds]." 14. Keith points out. vol. 120 . This is at the end of the 8akamedhah. It is but a short step to the destiny of the Kuru line: surely Krsna "delivers from the power of Rudra those descendents of his [and the Pandavas].-In almost every case. Religion and Philosophy of the Veda. and then the sacrificer takes the remains of the cakes and fastens them to something high in the northerly direction." As A. Then as to why he buries (the cake): concealed.."whereby he lulls him to sleep.6.

representing Brhaspati. 2. But this is not the only place where there is a pause for such reflections. There is no one able to defeat the son of Kunti whose protector [goptd] is Janardana. What is more interesting is that such reflections go back to the Brahmanas. 12. Siva P. Linga P.2.89.115-17). surely through the non-presence [asdhnidhydd] of the Parthas has our slaughter been achieved. assuredly.43. Now the Brahman. suggesting that even there the "Daksayajia" myth inspired such a view. Where the Kuru king learned that Asvatthaman could 121 . he would not restore it: he must thereforemaintain silence.7. It is no different in the Sauptikaparvan where. is the best physician. Having followed the careful ritual (9-16) and kept the "power of Rudra" (rudriyam) from the sacrificer's cattle (pasu-). he eats the prasitra "with Agni's mouth" (15) and then rinses his mouth with water. .12-20).so he thereby obtains a hold on the sacrifice:and this is the punardrabhate expiation of that (breach of silence) [vai visnustadyajnam tasyo haisdprayascittih]. If he should utter any human sound before that time. Earlier. should handle the dangerous "foreportion" (prasitra) which has become Rudra's share. 12." Let us now just appreciate the symmetry in the theological reflections. We have already discussed the background for this "non-presence." (8.111-13*.2-6) as was asked of Saijaya by Dhrtarastra. 18). beneath them lies an emphasis on the complementarity of the two gods (see Mbh. as also of the insightful non-presence [asarmnidhydd] Krsna and Satyaki" (8.146-47)..but if he were to sit down there talking. SB 1. so irresistible now.History of Religions times prevail. could not have prevented the slaughter of the Kauravas. 20. Then he is brought his own portion (brahmabhdga): "henceforth he watches what remains incomplete of the sacrifice" (asarmsthitamyajiasya. Safmjaya (who has been given the "divine eye" by Vyasa) answers in much the same terms: "Surely the son of Drona was able to achieve this feat only through the of Prtha's sons. After its version.64-66. In reciting the former deeds of Mahadeva. as they are being slain. Krsna was responding to the same question from Yudhisthira (17.4 continues with directives on how the Brahman priest. as we have seen. And when the bereaved Kuru King Dhrtarastra asks why Asvatthaman. the Pandava warriors reflect: "The son of Drona in anger could never perform such acts as these in battle. 69.284. for Visnu is the sacrifice. and maintains silence: 19.330.. hence the Brahman thereby restores the sacrifice. Krsna concludes the narrative with an account to Yudhisthira of the former deeds of Siva (including the "Daksayajfia"). let him there and then mutter some Re or Yajus-text addressedto Visnu.

This could refer to the end of a Krta yuga (Roy. The wind did not blow. In this connection. and the Vedas abandoned them" (18. Dutt trans. The sun did not shine. the lunar disc lost its 8ri. We have. the deeper question.18. eschatology which has been refashioned here in the matrix of the Brahmanic sacrifice 2 III. then. 10. or the end of a mahdyuga.145. Here Krsna's version of the "Daksayajfia" meets this objection: it took place. 7. but none more forcefully than the one in the version which concludes the Sauptikaparvan: "The goddess Earth trembled and the mountains shook. remains: Is there an earlier. the Pandava king learned that he could succeed only by 8iva's presence. And even the constellations in the sky. nor did the fire.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology succeed only by Krsna's absence. To put it as cautiously as possible: A close look at a number of aspects of the myth of Baldr seems to help the Indianist understand the two figures. "RENAISSANCE" A new approach to the much worked-over problem of Baldr by a non-Germanist must be presented with fear and trembling. cf.15: tamasd].1). Moreover. "when a devayuga had passed" (devayuge 'tite. the gods did not know their domains [visaydnna prajajnire]. Yet if the themes and frame of the Daksayajfia were found to be appropriate vehicles to carry along the narrative of an eschatological crisis.46 and 13. he says. been able to show close correlations between the structure of the Daksayajfia and the intrigue of the Sauptikaparvan. but other themes connected with the sacrifice which suggest that the epic narrative has been fashioned. but what is important is that the poets have themselves perceived the eschatological potential of the "Daksayajfia" myth. overcome. at least here. by poets closely familiar with the ideology of the Brahmanas. raised by Dumezil. space became covered with darkness [timerena. Abhimanyu and Pariksit. Then. One might object. blaze forth. the yajna did not shine forth. that our alignment of the Sauptikaparvan with the "Daksayajna" has undermined the whole notion of the eschatological character of the epic crisis. All confounded. involved in the 122 . on the grounds that there is no eschatology in the Brahmanas.). agitated. one more point must be cleared up. it is not just this one myth. though kindled.9 cd-12). perhaps Indo-European. In all the post-Brahmanic texts there is a passage which expresses this potential unequivocally. a full cycle of the four ages.173. wandered about.

First. let us look to Abhimanyu to see whether he offers a more satisfactory definition of the "ideal ruler." the very pith of royalty.1-10). see most recently Jan Gonda. he presents Abhimanyu as the very epitome of the omnivirtuous but essentially trifunctional69 royal ideal. however. In firmness [dhairya] he was the equal of Yudhisthira. certain resonances of the archaic double character of Soma as both sacrificial plant and moon are detectable in Abhimanyu. and both Hopkins and Dumezil have recognized that the brief sixteen years of his life correspond to the days in the light half of the lunar 69 as early as the late Vedas.h pandavesu ca ye gundh/abhimanyau kilaikasthd drsyante gunasamcaydh]. In this lengthy but beautiful eulogy (7. Nowhere in the epic does a more ample treatment of the virtues retain an essentially trifunctional outline. 71 How early this double character is has long been debated. 123 Yayati 70 Note that Arjuna.33. This full "assemblage of virtues. . as one must hope if the comparison is to be meaningful. in beauty. Once observed. and in modesty [vinaya] of Nakula and Sahadeva" (8-10). that the most promising possibilities lie. and in deeds [karma] of Bhima of terrible deeds. it is here. must await the verdicts of others. Amrta and the Moon. although as we shall try to show. and its significance here should be apparent." is Abhimanyu? In the dictionaries of incarnations he is described variously as "the good Varcas [Splendor]. "Soma. Dumezil has called attention to the lunar phenomena that attend his birth. is characterized trifunctionally here. in conduct [carita] of Krsna.86). "in reality. who became Subhadra's son here having divided himself in two through yoga" (15. Whether the reverse is true. strength and learning [rupena vikramena srutena ca]70 he was the equal of Arjuna." Change and Continuity in Indian Religion (The Hague. 1965). Then it continues: "Those virtues flourishing in Krsna and those virtues in the Pandavas-that assemblage of virtues was indeed found unified in Abhimanyu [ye ca krsne guna. but it is at least Crucial to this discussion is Dumezil's treatment of in ME II: 272-300. the first seven slokas describe.History of Religions matter of the embryo. in roughly trifunctional form. And who." When Sarhjaya begins his account of how this heir of the Pandavas has died. the splendid son of Soma" (1. however.h sphitt. the virtues of Krsna.61.39. it is our opinion that if an IndoEuropean interpretation of the epic crisis is to be extended beyond the common but general theme of the great battle. Soma here is certainly the Moon. rather than in the dice match and the "idyllic" reign of Yudhisthira after the war. and as "Soma. has been lost to the Kuru line with Abhimanyu's death.13). and of all six together. his true father. pp.71 As to his lunar essence. of each of the Pandavas. 38-70.

W."73 No one has asked whether it might be significant that the dynasty whose virtues and continuity Abhimanyu and his son represent is the "Lunar Dynasty" (candra vamsa. 7. R V 9. like Abhimanyu. Polom6.50. p. 6. Dumezil refers to Abhimanyu's link with the moon as one of several divine-heroic associations in the epic that "paraissent artificielles et sans consequence.55. the use of his name in the formation of warrior kennings.. i." In comparing this description with that of Abhimanyu. p. 68.. Hopkins. 7." 76 "A splendor radiates" from Baldr. like the lotus (14.33) and eyes like Krsna's.16.. New York. This may suit Snorri's portrayal of Baldr as the innocent unarmed victim in the missile-throwing game. as an embodiment of the highest virtues of all the functions. But if we can show that their biographies coincide on a number of major points. But let us recall Snorri's description of his virtues: He is "the best of them . you can tell how beautiful his body is. however. 72 E.72 Disappointingly.. But it is by no means the complete picture that Scandinavian traditions give of Baldr. Baldr's brow is like the ox-eye daisy. 1969). for. 91. It does not.29) while fighting. and might not the Soma involved recall the Vedic rdjd Soma. and how bright his hair [from the comparison of his brow to a flower].. Soma is a youth (yuvan) or child (Sigu. fair of face and bright. and the sweetest spoken. Abhimanyu has "beautiful eyebrows" (subhrai. King Soma. 73 ME I: 245. ME I: 245-46. Abhimanyu "shines surpassingly" (atirocata.e. 112-17. Let us recall that Frigg did not pick the mistletoe because it was "too young.17)..74 all present him with a clear martial side. 124 . it will be recalled that Dumezil's first function portrayal of the "ideal" Baldr was not convincing. and the most merciful. He is the wisest of all the gods. then. soma vams'a).Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology month (suklapaksa). 74 See Turville-Petre.30). Epic Mythology (1915. as many have noticed.. and perhaps also the meaning of his name. we shall have reason to regard these two omnivirtuous figures as representatives of a common and ancient eschatological hope. one notices that this northern representative of the thwarted "ideal" shows the highest perfection on two levels-wisdom (first function) and beauty (third)-but no warrior traits.60.7-8.. Such similarities in the physical and moral descriptions of the two "youths"75-and others may be cited76 are not significant by themselves..69. pp. Saxo's Balderus in the Gesta Danorum. reprint ed. stretch the imagination very much to see Baldr not as a first function figure. 75 Whether plant or moon. but. as well ? Now. Baldr simply fails to remind one of Aryaman or Mitra.

and Abhimanyu sets off. and which. we return to a major focus in Dumezil's discussion: the comparison between the missile game in which Baldr dies. among them the varying fates of the two "losers.4-5). Krpa (the Rudras).). 'having made a wall around'] him with a host of chariots. But while he is careening about displaying his marvelous talents. and the Samsaptakas (those "sworn-together" never to flee from Arjuna) agree to keep him busy.33. These he cut off in mid-air by means of his own sharp shafts and then pierced his foes in return" (7.12-20) as a sort of mobile circle which can mount an attack. with Arjuna out of the way." he adds. Karna (Surya). On the one hand Jayadratha keeps back Abhimanyu's rescuers from a mobile position outside the circle. var. He stipulates that Arjuna must be detained elsewhere on the battlefield. who tells him that Arjuna has indeed taught him the technique of penetration.History of Religions A. Then. at this point. Yudhisthira calls upon Abhimanyu.36. When the Pandavas (minus Arjuna) find themselves unable to break this circle. Bhima and the rest of his allies are barred from following him by Jayadratha who makes use. though it includes thousands of warriors. let us then examine the death of Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu is encircled by six of the foremost Kuru warriors. and at one point he performs a trick of his father's that we shall recall in a moment: "Having encompassed [kosthakikrtya: lit." have led us to ask whether these two "fixed matches" really have much in common. but on the twelfth day Drona promises to take his life. closing its gaps wherever necessary. five of whom incarnate Vedic divinities: Drona (Brhaspati). Asvat125 . The pattern that develops is then made clear (46.18. has certain key figures placed on the rim and in the center.10). 7. etc. Bhima then gives assurance that he will lead others into the breach to protect him once he has broken through.32.19). "I shall not be able to come out again if any distress overtakes me" (34. Drona commands his troops to form a "circular array" (cakravyuha. and the dice match which sends Yudhisthira into exile. padmavyfha. "But. With Baldr's death in mind. Arjuna's son has fought illustriously in the first eleven days of the war. Certain differences. And on the other. of certain celestial weapons he had obtained from Siva for the express purpose of harming the Pandavas. "JEU TRUQUE" First. for some time he gets the best of it. Once he has entered the circular array. This singular configuration is then described (7. collectively [saritghasah] they released showers of different kinds of arrows at him.

.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology thaman (Mahadeva. p. 77 On Soma's head (murdhcn) in the RV. The sixth and least significant is Brhadbala. Soma. the son of Duhsasana. One will at this point recall that Baldr is also slain when encircled. Strangely. esp. but his position is filled by an apparently unnamed son of Duhsasana (oldest of Duryodhana's ninety-nine brothers).79 In one case.27. "whose opening [flaw.35) and reminds everyone of Krsna by holding up a chariot wheel (47. loophole] the furious mahdrathas do not see" (antaram . and are appropriated to" different priests. 77-78). whom Abhimanyu kills in a last blaze of glory (46. the use of the mace on the "head" all point in the direction of interpreting Abhimanyu-Soma's death within the context of the ritual pounding of the soma. the mace.). and then.78 but the parallels in detail are striking on other levels (see nn. he is reduced to his last weapon. Divine Mushroom of Immortality (The Hague. 1968).1). and against stand and Jayadratha-both whom vengeance is taken-Hodr outside the circle. Abhimanyu can be deprived.12).22). The six warriors then cut away his armor and weapons and.22). and this one rather striking inversion. the participation of all the figures on the Kuru side who incarnate Vedic divinities. With this he engages in a final duel with Duhsasana's son. after a brief flourish in which he courses through the air like Garuda (47. and reveals how he may be taken. of a more ancient scenario. 47.77 Some of the stranger details like the role of the six warriors who surround him would look better cleared up. which extend from north to south. 45-46. too. piece by piece. that increaser of the fame of the Kurus. These analogies. They knock each other to the ground..39-48.3. 126 . pp. RV 9. and Krtavarman (the Maruts). "having risen up first. of all his equipment. The role of Drona-Brhaspati in seeing to all the details of this slaying. 79 There is no encirclement in Saxo's version. see Gordon Wasson. the figures who make the two slayings possible. boy. the figure who represents the plant of immortality (Soma) is slain. Yet even this may be no more than an Indian reinterpretation. struck Subhadra's son on the head with his mace" (gadayd miurdhnyatddayat (48. seem stable enough for us to examine certain differences as divergences. 326: In the Soma sacrifice. etc. while in the other his counterpart is slain with the plant of immortality (mistletoe). probably a quite early one. na pasyanti. By well-placed shots. At this point Drona marvels at the prowess of this kumdra. Like Abhimanyu he is surrounded by gods (whom Snorri refers to euhemeristically as men). "the earth thrown up from the pit (of the four sounding holes) serves to make six fire hearths or Dhisnyas. 78 But see Keith.

"Les pleurs de toutes choses et la resurrection manquee de Baldr. 42). which. a "jeu truque. out of the scene of battle. Loki (Paris. 1964).57. that like Baldr he is to a certain extent invulnerable in his circle. 1948). Here Saxo's version is of interest. as we have seen. One might think of Baldr's death as having taken place originally within the framework of the battle of the Ragnarok. like the death of Abhimanyu in the Mahabhdrata. then.80 Here too a parallel emerges.29-33). And. far more so than Yudhisthira is when he enters the game of dice. like Baldr." at all.82 Yet there is in the encirclement of Abhimanyu a certain gamelike quality. 97. It would seem. whereas Baldr's death is an important foreshadowing of the Ragnarok. And on two additional occasions before his last fight. 70-72. is rendered inoperative. he stipulated.81 The second major difficulty with these comparisons would seem to be that unlike Baldr. 12). 239-46.1-5. so is Arjuna kept from helping Abhimanyu by his absence. 82 Dum6zil. effortlessly turn aside weapons in midair. Appendix I. The upshot of these remarks is that the tradition which Snorri represents. Melanges presentes a Georg Morgenstierne (Weisbaden. 80 major heroes. no. pt. p. His "father" Soma could only stand to allow his dear "son" Varcas to join the celestials on earth for sixteen years at which point." pp. Balderus's second function protector. may have idealized him further in this same direction by lifting his story entirely. fighting fearlessly and with ease-and aided by Arjuna-he emerges unscathed (6. for just as Thor.History of Religions Clearly the most apparent is that Abhimanyu is slain while the great battle is in progress. only Bhisma has been "slain. 127 81 He does die on the twelfth day of the eighteen-day war. for he places Balderus's (Baldr's) conflict with Hotherus (Hodr) in the context of a strange battle in which the euhemerized gods side with Balderus and lose only because Hotherus manages to cut off the head of Thor's hammer. Abhimanyu does not die in a rigged game. 3." Indo-Iranica. "pacified" its ideal figure by recording only his first and third function virtues. toward its beginning. he is encircled in arrays which clearly foreshadow Drona's cakravyuha: each time." and he is not really slain at all. Varcas would again rejoin him after being slain in a cakravyiha in the absence of Nara and Narayana (1. dreams and all. of the See Turville-Petre's summary. "Balderiana minora. We have seen him. if we can trust a passage that appears only in the Northern recension (Adiparvan. . Abhimanyu's game has been "rigged" all along. The parallels that Dumezil cites elsewhere for Baldr's death make it unlikely that Snorri's tradition has innovated here. but up to then. pp. 113.

too. Arjuna's long lament (7. how Abhimanyu was loved by others: by Subhadra. 69 above. C..59. And in the second account (14. and by Pradyumna (25-29 and notes). 128 ..Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology B. But the idea that his disappearance 83 7. good kings. (2) warriors. Krsna tells how she ran wailing like a female osprey from Kunti to Draupadi to Uttara. asking where Abhimanyu had gone and imploring Uttara to tell her when he returned.50. by Kunti."84 One cannot go all the way with Polome in his interpretation of Baldr's death. he says: "Her very words give us a better idea of the real meaning of the Baldr myth: through his death. I will go to the abode of Yama" (27 and 32). She leads the weeping. And he says: "If I do not see my son. pp. LAMENTATION If Baldr is wept for by all and everything but Thokk. as if in a refrain. Abhimanyu is also deeply mourned by Vasudeva. 73-78. in a most interesting sequence that begins with a reinforcement of Abhimanyu's trifunctional character. and then.55. and (3) rich donors of cattle. good husbands. 'NONRESURRECTION' Several have spoken of the "nonresurrection" of Baldr and the fact that the true lesson of his death is that. 73-74." Edgar Polome in particular has given an attractive reading of this episode. Hel will "hold what she has. by Krsna.19-60) mentions over and over. There is no question of resurrection.60. But there is still more to this matter of tears. good wives. no less than Frigg.85 as he simply ignores the question of Baldr's return. Ibid. good hosts. In the first (7.20-23ab. Abhimanyu is incontestably the most wept-for figure in the epic. And two descriptions are given of Subhadra's own touching lament. etc. of (1) ritualists. Arguing that Snorri merely guesses that Thokk is Loki and that she is actually Hel herself. see n. then.4-8). by Draupadi. One will recall here Baldr's brother Hermod's descent to Hel to see if Baldr can be brought back. 85 84 Polome. says she will go to Yama's abode (10). Baldr has entered the land of no return.55). generally. she. The core of the theme of Hermodr's descent to Hel is accordingly the same as that of the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh or the Greek myth of Orpheus: no one can escape death. pp.24-29). father of Krsna and Subhadra (14. she prays that her son may obtain the end of all those who have led good lives in the three functional zones83 and other widely varying capacities as well (munis. as Thokk says. 20-31).

Once again we have a situation where we may gain new insights from a close look at the epic's juxtaposition of heroic narrative and myth (and legend). as it continues.History of Religions holds a profound lesson about the finality of death is full of promise. and both are the first to die of their illusof the gods. ultimately became their diseases at Brahma's will (lines 208-25). who appears where we might expect Yama. Vyasa makes one of his sudden appearances: Before Arjuna returns to camp to learn of Abhimanyu's death. each episode provoking similar meditations on weeping and death. shed at the thought of killing creatures. First Vyasa tells Yudhisthira about a king who. the reluctant Dark Red Lady (lines 118-19) whose tears. or. learned from the rsi Narada about the origin of death (Mrtyu). wishing he could 129 . on the other hand. on questionable grounds. In each case their connections with the plant of immortality hold a lesson about death that can be read on either the human or the divine plane: both die prematurely. De: that they interrupt the flow of the narrative. also takes up the theme of nonresurrection. Just as the Scandinavian tradition seems to have lent gravity to the scene by deepening it with Thokk's riddles on the themes of immortality. even Death's tears cannot prevent death.87 Vyasa's second 86 These stories appear in all but the Sarada and Kasmiri texts. It was observed earlier that both Baldr and Abhimanyu hold a close rapport with a plant of immortality: Baldr is slain by the mistletoe. it could be no more than a fantastic coincidence. involves the likelihood of a third parallel. having lost his son. thus brings to mind Polome's remarks about Thokk and Hel: In the Hindu account. K. he seeks to console Yudhisthira. in the Scandinavian. "Thokk will weep dry tears for Baldr. Basically. S. But these are just the general lessons to be drawn from the two youthful deaths. Their deaths foreshadow the doom and destruction to come.86 relegates to an appendix. One reason to lean toward the former alternative is that the Indian meditation. 87 Dum6zil's comparison of Baldr with Sosruko. or that of the gods in human trious company-that form (see n. the Nart hero of Caucasus legends (see n. Sosruko is "slain" after a "jeu truque" and must weep for himself every spring." This could point back to a common tradition. two stories are involved. and nonresurrection. Abhimanyu is slain like the soma. so the Indian tradition has paused to reflect on the very same matters. In a lengthy passage which the Critical Edition. 82). death. This feminine personification of Death. 81). which have probably rejected them on the same grounds as the Critical Edition editor.

3. And the child appears. "Gold-spitter. phlegm. and. not reaching out to possess anything [i.e. timid. (1) not having sacrificed. See esp. and sweat shall all become gold" (lines 305-7).. and asks for a son of the following description: "Endowed with virtues [gundnvitam]. surely it is not possible to bring back the son of Arjuna. he favors the king with the resurrection of his son: "I give you back your son. (2) Heroic. having churned up foes by the thousands." and soon his father has everything around him fashioned from gold. There is good reason. and practiced at arms. When Srnijaya sees his son slain. slain in battle and gone to heaven" (lines 893902). 130 . excrement.. this one [Suvarnasthivin] has thus returned to life. When Narada has finished. and desirable sacrifices . when he learns that it has. wisdom. line 309). any new virtues]. slain while facing into battle. a tamer of foes whose urine. then hack each other to bits (lines 315-26). raising him up from a noxious hell" (lines 877-78). 72. Now comes the Indian meditation on the matter at hand: why could this fantastic lad be resurrected while Abhimanyu cannot? Vyasa shows that this has been the central question all along (functional traits numbered in parentheses): "(2) Unpracticed at arms. The boy is given the name Suvarnasthivin. wantonly slain by robbers like an unconsecrated sacrificial animal [pasumaproksitam]. his lament brings consolation from Narada in the form of the longer of the two versions of the Sodasarajakiya." pt. Therefore. "The Story of the Sixteen Kings" (lines 327-872). brave. Your son has gone to those imperishable regions that are obtained by (1) brahmacarya. p. "Balderiana minora. But one day the boy is abducted by greedy robbers who chop him up and. learning. Abhimanyu has gone to heaven. enjoy the earth again. But he will not return (at least not in the present state of his legend). slain without having donned his armor. as we shall see. Each vignette yields the moral that grief is unsuitable for such a child when greater men by far have died. biographical sketches of famous figures of legend.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology story concerns a king named Srnijaya who obtains a boon from the rsis Parvata and Narada. of tejas ['spiritual majesty']. a possessor of yasas and kirti [fame and glory: two second function virtues].. to regard this story as a parable concerning a trifunctional endowment of virtues. finding no gold. he asks Srnjaya whether his grief is gone. with the third function filled by this Midas-like capacity to produce excessive and dangerous wealth (dhana. and all the streams which run down from the mountains are in fact his tears. and (3) childless.

satya). 131 .27 (Yayati) and 9. Abhimanyu left the world armed and fulfilled at sacrifices. citing pertinent bibliography. In the passage cited earlier (see p. it seems to presage his rebirth in this "other world. perhaps rare but clear. like Yayati's (see n. 0 Kesava. unfulfilled as a sacrificer. But one important. secured by a full trifunctional complement of virtues. See also Polome.50. 128). where Dumezil says that Odinn's whispered words probably concern the impossibility of the present efforts to bring him back. What about the child? D. although "early" in the sense that its concern for heaven (svarga) contradicts the law of karma. resurrected." pt.History of Religions Abhimanyu's place in heaven is thus.5. 1. Abhimanyu has clearly fulfilled himself in the second and first function virtues which are juxtaposed so neatly in the passage just cited. n. and one from the second (vikrama). 81. 67. The explanation for the nonresurrection of Abhimanyu is thus typically Indian. The miracle is achieved by the Indian "All-God" by a method totally consonant with the prophetic hints of Vyasa."89 Only slightly less a mystery than the All-Father's words are the machinations of Krsna in reviving the stillborn child of Abhimanyu.88 which stands out in its solitude: Suvarnasthivin left the world unarmed. 69). you have a soul of dharma [dharmdtmd]. are truthful [satyavdn]. and his eventual destiny as Odinn's own successor. 72. and it is this very set which Krsna 88 There are instances where the notion of continuity of the family (kula) falls into place in lists of royal virtues as a virtue of the third function: see 8. stanzas 54-55) is a mystery. Suvarnasthivin has fulfilled none of the virtues his father bargained for and can thus return to earth. And although the secret which Odinn murmurs in his ear before he is placed on the funeral pyre (Vafthrudnismal. however. She thus calls attention to a definite set of qualities: two from the first function (dharma. in which Subhadra implores her brother to keep his word and revive the baby like the three worlds.18 (Salya). this being the third time that we have noticed this remarkable endowment.66. she prefaces her plea with a eulogy: "Surely. p. p. indeed prophetic matter stands out in Vyasa's comparison of the two youths.5. But it is a third function quality.16). one must. In contrast. THE MATTER OF THE EMBRYO: "RENAISSANCE" Baldr's reappearance as ruler of the renewed world is a miracle. and childless. It behoves you to make this word conform to truth" (14. not fail to appreciate the multivalence of this theme: "initiation" and eschatology are not mutually exclusive. 89 See "Balderiana minora. and have true valor [satyavikramah]. There is a similar usage of the "virtue" drya at 5.39.

. And: "Very handsome..45...68. beloved of Govinda. of firm fortitude [s'rman-satyavdgdrdhavikrama]. .18-23. .10-14)..rpah]" (1. graced with a line of kings descended from Pariksit-the so-called Lunar Dynasty-in which the ideal represented by Abhimanyu is still intact. or even about death and rebirth. But because of that event our age. with a child now living on earth. In 132 . . let this child live". Abhimanyu dies and Pariksit lives in the heroic time of dynastic legend: the ideal which they personify is thus restricted to human time. Finally... he was unto all creatures like a second Soma. condensed): 19 20 \21 22 \23 {18 I have never turned back in battle . 0 bull among men. or its equivalent: "accordingly. Pariksit "began to grow in the womb [of Uttara] like the moon in the light half of the month" (suklapakse yathd 4asi. it is not simply a matter of two youths whose affiliation with plants of immortality holds a lesson about death. but. thanks to Krsna.61. after all. Satya and dharma are ever established in me . The cadence is heightened by the repetition in each gloka of the following phrase. truth-speaking.. a king endowed with every virtue [yuktah sarvagunairn. ...17). softly. Prosperous. . quivered.. and (24): "When these words were uttered by Vasudeva. thanks to Krsna.. now having sentience.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology puts into effect-by attesting to it three times in succession-when he chants the dead baby to life (14. can we really compare it with the return of Baldr ? Pariksit is not. the child. Karhsa and Kesin were righteously slain by me. Here in our opinion is where myth and epic diverge in easily intelligible patterns... the ideal which he personifies can thus move from the not-so-golden age of the past to the eschatological hope of the future. born in Uttara's womb when the Kuru race was almost extinct [pariksina]. Surely it is the greatest tragedy that it should be the youngest who dies first..... . the dismal Kali yuga. I have never brought about hostility with Vijaya (Arjuna). I do not speak falsely.. if we are right." Abhimanyu has thus entered heaven not only with his first and second function achievements. 14. softly. As an embryo. it shall be true. dharma and Brahmans are dear to me . Abhimanyu. 0 great king. this youth represents a "thwarted ideal" in a most specific sense. is still. [Pariksit] was skilled in rdjadharma and artha. Baldr is a god living and dying in the divine time of myth. here of the relatively recent past. But. But if we understand something about the miracle of the Indian renaissance. to a single turning of the ages.

Dumezil's most recent work changes the picture on the roles of Krsna and Siva in such a myth. 91 Les dieux des Germains. And beneath or beyond both of these.History of Religions brief. 92 ME I: 221. is a theme that runs through several myths and symbols. a child to continue the lineage. as Dumezil has so convincingly shown. these unfulfilled youths are the male counterparts of the various virgins who. as Dumezil has pointed out. In Scandinavia. 133 . service the king in numerous Indo-European traditions (myths. His valuable study of the Mahdbhdrata legend of Sisupala throws light on an archaic. CONCLUSIONS After expressing our doubts about Dumezil's Indo-European comparisons and showing the close connections between the epic crisis and the ideology of the Brahmanas. rituals) by holding in reserve the essences of the three functions. Presumably it is more-although this is fundamental-than just a case of theology (or myth) on the one hand. Beneath the modeling of the Sauptikaparvan on the Brihmanic sacrifice lies that of the death and rebirth of the ideal ruler on the Soma sacrifice. and a "renaissance. we now find ourselves back full circle to the same Scandinavian myth but with a different view of the Mahdbhdrata. righteous and impartial." Accordingly. one can do no better than still quote Dumezil about the possibility of such a myth: "Que cette conception n'apparaisse pas dans le RgVeda ni dans tout ce qui en depend directement ne prouve pas qu'elle n'existait pas. once again. mythiques. sur les services actuels des dieux. La pensee des chantres vediques est concentr6e sur le present. a "jeu truque. 67-76. opposition of complementarity 90 In this. Baldr's unrealized judgments. ME II: 362-74. which carry this hope into the future. especially in the India of the Mahdbhdrata." a great battle. pp. and epic (with mortal heroes) on the other. perhaps para-Vedic. what theme could be more farreaching than the duty to have a son ? IV. while in India it is a third-function virtue. it constitutes an unused potential."92 Moreover. one glimpses the full structure of an IndoEuropean myth involving. the ideal of an empowered judge. legends.91 and in India. dont les exploits passes. a trifunctional potential placed on reserve in an eschatological hope for the return of the completely endowed king.90 Here there is a disjunction: in Scandinavia it is a first-function virtue. sont les garants: les lointains de l'avenir ne les interessent pas.

322. See Geldner translation and notes. Agni 94 Bhattacharji. p. then absents himself for Asvatthaman. yet he is never there when Siva gets his remainder share. on 4. No doubt there are many formulas which could express the multivalent polarity of the two gods. 96 One looks forward to Biardeau's study "Visnu et ~iva. We cannot be sure how old this relationship between Visnu and Rudra is." Siva as "dieu sombre". 98 See ME II: 91: Visnu as "dieu clair. after all. In one case.7) which may. he does point to two RV verses (7. La tendencen'est que trop forte de penser Siva et Visnu comme s'excluant mutuellement. see also Gonda. cf. some of them sectarian." while Siva remains typically remote until the moment where he must.97 Moreover. Rudra avoiding them (as from without ?).40. but the prevailing mood of the epic has nothing to do with sects. 82) on the relations of the two gods to the three functions: Visnu overflowing them (as from within?).l). speaking of "den Gegensatz von Visnu und Rudra als dem Erzeuger und dem Zerst6rer." the former apparently connected with Pisan and the seed (retas). p.20). ce qui n'est m6me pas vrai a l'interieur des sectes" (p. This should alert us to the inadequacy of interpretations which introduce the notion of sectarianism into the early relations between these gods. 124. p. 102-4.3. In the other.Mahabharata and Hindu Eschatology between Visnu and Rudra.3. or "above. point to some relation and even opposition. 28. interpolations abound. It is probably erroneous to think of the Daksayajfia as a sectarian myth. Visnu "is the sacrifice" (SB 1. or at their "center. depending on uncertain readings.7. "presque hindouiste. 87.7. Part II. it is a poem where "all the gods" are active in human form. esp. p. The relationship between Visnu and Siva is thus situated within. while saying that the two gods "maintained no direct relations with each other" in the Veda." These reflections bring us then to a major point.96 Put quite simply.4. one must discard the traditional view of the Mahabhdrata as a Vaisnavite or Krsnaite sectarian poem with Saivite sectarian interpolations." the structure(s) of polytheism. item 14). pp.94 or even (if one takes this in a historical sense) as a myth that "represents (Siva's) assimilation into the orthodox pantheon."95 Likewise. the latter with and a firm missile weapon. To be sure. n. 95 O'Flaherty. The following note from EMH 3 may be a foretaste: "On hesite a parler de purana sectaire. but we can be quite sure that it is at least Brahmanic (see above.5 and 4." which will be one of the new parts (with "Bhakti et avatara" and "La Deesse") of the EMH series. 134 .93 he thus no longer seems so ready to reduce their epic double appearances to recent adaptations. with Visnu at their head. 97 See Dumezil's remarks (ME II: 107-8.98 but the lesson here seems well expressed 93 See Gonda. Krsna presides over the battle. get his due and do his bit. their relations to the polytheistic gods are central matters in both the epic crisis and the Daksayajna.

99 Whatever one may think of these far-flung etymologies. rude. Latin. n. they present an intriguing paradox: What possible relation. "rough. 135 .History of Religions by the opposition: "Pervader" (Visnu-vis?) and "Outsider" (Rudra-rudis. can exist between the Outsider and the Pervader? George Washington University 99 ME II: 86. also discussed by Dumezil in Archaic Roman Religion. uncultivated"). unwrought. raw. 21. p. 418. what underlying unity.