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Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi

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Indira Viswanathan Peterson provides an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic (mahakavya), an important genre in classical Indian poetry, and the first study of a celebrated sixth-century poem, the Kiratarjuniya (Arjuna and the Hunter) of Bharavi. Sanskrit court epics are shown to be characterized both by formalism and a deep engagement with enduring Indian values. The Ki Indira Viswanathan Peterson provides an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic (mahakavya), an important genre in classical Indian poetry, and the first study of a celebrated sixth-century poem, the Kiratarjuniya (Arjuna and the Hunter) of Bharavi. Sanskrit court epics are shown to be characterized both by formalism and a deep engagement with enduring Indian values. The Kiratarjuniya is the earliest literary treatment of the narrative of the Pandava hero Arjuna's combat with the great god Śiva, a seminal episode in the war epic Mahabharata. Through a close analysis of the structural strategies of Bharavi's poem, the author illuminates the aesthetic of the mahakavya genre. Peterson demonstrates that the classical poet uses figurative language, rhetorical devices, and structural design as the primary instruments for advancing his argument, the reconciliation of heroic action, ascetic self-control, social duty, and devotion to God. Her discussion of the Kiratarjuniya in relation to its historical setting and to renderings of this epic episode in literary texts and temple sculpture of later periods reveals the existence of complex transactions in Indian civilization between the discourses of heroic epic and court poetry, political ideologies and devotional religion, Sanskrit and the regional languages, and classical and folk traditions. Selections from the Kiratarjuniya are presented in poetic translation.


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Indira Viswanathan Peterson provides an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic (mahakavya), an important genre in classical Indian poetry, and the first study of a celebrated sixth-century poem, the Kiratarjuniya (Arjuna and the Hunter) of Bharavi. Sanskrit court epics are shown to be characterized both by formalism and a deep engagement with enduring Indian values. The Ki Indira Viswanathan Peterson provides an introduction to the Sanskrit court epic (mahakavya), an important genre in classical Indian poetry, and the first study of a celebrated sixth-century poem, the Kiratarjuniya (Arjuna and the Hunter) of Bharavi. Sanskrit court epics are shown to be characterized both by formalism and a deep engagement with enduring Indian values. The Kiratarjuniya is the earliest literary treatment of the narrative of the Pandava hero Arjuna's combat with the great god Śiva, a seminal episode in the war epic Mahabharata. Through a close analysis of the structural strategies of Bharavi's poem, the author illuminates the aesthetic of the mahakavya genre. Peterson demonstrates that the classical poet uses figurative language, rhetorical devices, and structural design as the primary instruments for advancing his argument, the reconciliation of heroic action, ascetic self-control, social duty, and devotion to God. Her discussion of the Kiratarjuniya in relation to its historical setting and to renderings of this epic episode in literary texts and temple sculpture of later periods reveals the existence of complex transactions in Indian civilization between the discourses of heroic epic and court poetry, political ideologies and devotional religion, Sanskrit and the regional languages, and classical and folk traditions. Selections from the Kiratarjuniya are presented in poetic translation.

20 review for Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kiratarjuniya of Bharavi

  1. 4 out of 5

    Silvio Curtis

    The correct full title is Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic. Since I liked reading Peterson's translation of the Kirātārjunīya so much, I went back and read this book she'd written about it too. The idea is that Europeanized criticism of mahākāvyas is unnecessarily negative because they don't fit into preconceived European genre conventions, but traditional Indian criticism has failed to appreciate the full range of technique in them by dealing only with the scale of individual couple The correct full title is Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic. Since I liked reading Peterson's translation of the Kirātārjunīya so much, I went back and read this book she'd written about it too. The idea is that Europeanized criticism of mahākāvyas is unnecessarily negative because they don't fit into preconceived European genre conventions, but traditional Indian criticism has failed to appreciate the full range of technique in them by dealing only with the scale of individual couplets. This book gives close readings of various parts of the Kirātārjunīya in order to show that there is a larger architecture that ties the couplets into one poem, just not a European-style one. It includes an illuminating contextualization of Arjuna's idealized aggressive heroism as a defense of traditional Hinduism, which condoned violence as part of kṣatriyas' duty, against more pacifist traditions like Buddhism and Jainism, which had a lot of political approval in South India when the poem was written.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jahnabi

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jay Raghavan

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hans

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Pierdominici

  7. 5 out of 5

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  8. 4 out of 5

    Natalia

  9. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shanthanu

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dr Prasanta

  12. 4 out of 5

    ChloeM

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shreyas M Sadalagi

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ishwor Shrestha

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christian Anthony

  16. 4 out of 5

    libraryfacts

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eric Babcock

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kamala Lakshmi

  19. 4 out of 5

    M.Triveni

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adarsh K Chandrasekharan

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