Māgha, Mahābhārata, and Bhāgavata The Source and Legacy of the Śiśupālavadha

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Richard Salomon



In a recent article in JAOS, Y. Bronner and L. McCrea presented cogent argu ments for the authenticity of the “nonbitextual” version of Śiśupāla’s speech in the fifteenth canto of Māgha’s Śiśupālavadha and concluded that the “bitextual” version of the passage, in which each verse could be read with a double meaning, was a later alteration. Whereas they discussed the issue on the basis of internal criteria, the present article approaches it by means of external comparison with its presumptive source text in the Sabhā-parvan of the Mahābhārata. This analysis confirms Bronner and McCrea’s conclusion, while also raising some new issues and problems. Also discussed is the legacy of the popular, if unauthentic bitextual version in the Bhāgavata-purāṇa and its commentarial tradition.

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