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Course | Masterclass

Master class on the Epic Mahābhārata

Thursday 21 November 2019
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Verbarium (1.04)

Inventions of the God Dharma in the Mahābhārata

Among the more complicated divine roles of the Sanskrit Mahābhārata (MBh) are those played by the God Dharma. There are more than three dozen significant appearances of (or mentions of) an anthropomorphic form of a God called Dharma in the epic. In many of these it is clear that Dharma is simply a by-name of 'Yama Dharmarāja'—his two major incarnations in the narrative, Vidura and Yudhiṣṭhira (the son of Dharma), both perform functions characteristic of the Lord of the Dead. But there are other instances in the epic where Dharma seems clearly to be distinct from Yama and to signify a different persona, or where Dharma and Yama appear side by side at the same time. And lastly, there are some appearances of Dharma in which he displays traits of Yama but, at the same time, seems to be moving toward a distinct identity. This presentation will survey and discuss some of the more interesting appearances of the God Dharma in the epic text and see what meanings and patterns may exist among them.

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