Eastern Classics Preceptorials

Preceptorial 2, Oct. 29 - Dec. 19, 2013

Title:  The Mahabharata

Tutors: Patricia Greer  or  Jonathan Hand

Description:  “Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But whatever is not here is no where else.” Thus the Mahābhārata describes itself.  This monumental Sanskrit composition (ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined) indeed does seem to contain “everything.” It’s compelling characters, both mortal and immortal, and its exquisite interwoven tales are fundamental to how the culture, philosophy and religion of India understand themselves, and indispensable for our understanding of them.  

First Assignment The Book of the Beginning, pp.19-63 (Lists – Puloman)

Texts:  You will need four books: the van Buitenen (University of Chicago) translation, volumes 1, 2, and 3; and *The Sauptikaparvan of the Mahabharata (tr. W.J.Johnson, Oxford World’s Classic).

1. The Book of the Beginning, pp. 19-63 (Lists – Puloman).
2. pp.63-123 (Astika)
3. pp.123-210 (The Descent – Latter Days of Yayati)
4. pp.210-73 (Latter Days of Yayati – The Origins )
5. pp.274-344 (The Fire in the Lacquer House – Citraratha concluded)
6. pp.344-405 (Draupadi’s Bridegroom Choice – Arjuna’s Sojourn in the Forest)
7. pp.405-31 (the Abduction of Subhadra – Burning of the Khandava Forest): discussion of whole of Book 1.
8. The Book of the Assembly Hall: Read italicized summaries pp. 33-106, then read whole pp.106-69 (The Dicing – The Sequel to the Dicing). At this point note that the Sauptikaparvan volume has narrative summaries in the back; read summary for Book 4, The Book of Virata.
9. The Book of the Effort, pp. 187-254 (Book of the Effort – Embassy of Samjaya)
10. pp. 254-94 (Dhrtarastra’s Vigil – Sanatsujata)
11. pp.294-339 (The Suing for Peace)
12. pp.339-84 (The Coming of the Lord – Dambhodbhava)
13. pp.384-461 (Matali -- The Temptation of Karna)
14. pp.461-532 (The Marching Out – Amba)
15. The Sauptikaparvan: read Summaries in Appendix, then main text pp.5-86)

*The Sauptikaparvan is out of print, but photocopies are available in our Bookstore.

"Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice."
- Virginia Woolf