The Great Mahābhārata After-Dinner Talk Making the Bhārata Great (Presidential Address

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James L. Fitzgerald



The “greatness” of the Mahābhārata, its mahat/mahā quality, refers primarily to its intended dynamism as a powerful engine generating the spread of Brahminic teaching throughout the world, casting “heathen” (nāstika) teachings and their patrons into shadow for all time. The Brahmin authors worked to accomplish this end in two main ways. First, they devised a tremendously engaging tale that depicted the decisive victory of a king (Yudhiṣṭhira Pāṇḍava) who accepted Brahmin claims to deserve monopoly-control over teaching the norms of society. Second, they made this tale an extensive magisterium of Brahmin ideology and philosophy, affording to all in society, women and śūdras as well as Aryan men, encouragement to seek the forgiveness of past wrongs at tīrthas and access to the teachings of mokṣa without Vedic initiation.

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