Mittwoch, 24. Mai 2017, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Epic and Chronicle, ?diparvan & Mah?vam?sa 1-7

Selected Comparisons and their Implications


Ein Vortrag von N.J. Allen | Emeritus, Wolfson College, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford

Seminarraum 1, Bereich Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien


Though it is usually assumed to be impossible, or wildly speculative, the application of the Indo-European comparative linguistic framework to IE oral narratives is not an unreasonable undertaking ? perhaps we can one day look forward to proto-IE starred narratives. The present paper, though very compressed, belongs to a body of research that pursues this idea, and hopes to show that the undertaking is susceptible to a degree of scholarly rigour. It looks for similarities of any kind between the texts from the Mah?vam?sa and the Mah?bh?rata. The texts resemble each other in distinguishing a substantial introduction from the main story, and in taking an abrupt step backwards in time at the transition. Within the main story, detailed rapprochements link the Sus?ma-Lion union, first with the Ga?g?-?am?tanu union, then with the Kunt?-P?n??u union. The Buddha instructing gods to protect La?k? and Vijaya (the first human to inhabit the demon-infested island) parallels Brahm? instructing the gods to protect the demon-infested earth. As for the two introductions, despite their complexities, both deal with the consolidation of their respective traditions. Following the death of the Buddha, the First Buddhist Council sees his disciples reciting the Vinaya and the Dhamma. Following the death of Pariks?it, the Snake Sacrifice of his son Janamejaya occasions the first public telling of the Mah?bh?rata by Vy?sa's disciple. Tempting though it may be to imagine the composers of the Mah?vam?sa drawing on India’s Great Epic, this explanation of the similarities cannot be taken for granted: similarities with Greek epic and Latin pseudohistory will need to be brought into the comparison.

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Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde


Judith Starecek
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
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