The Sanskrit Hero

Karna in Epic Mahābhārata


The Mahāhabhārata, a vital Indic epic and a flourishing influence on Indian culture past and present, has surprisingly enough hardly got much attention from scholars in the West. This latest volume in Brill’s Indological Library convincingly fills this hiatus.
At that, at the hand of the hero Karna, Kevin McGrath develops a view on the nature and function of the hero in epic Indic poetry. Making use of models taken from Indo-European and preliterate studies, a model emerges for ‘heroic religion’, having to a large extent shaped not only the Indic epics, but also cognate Indo-European epics, such as Homer’s Iliad.
As a result this work goes beyond Indology, but is of importance to classicists and comparative religionists as well.

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Kevin McGrath, Ph.D. (2001) in Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University, is an associate of the Sanskrit Department, Harvard University.
' That the characters of the Mahābhārata are receiving the same literary scrutiny that the characters of the Homeric epics have enjoyed is surely a moment for Indologists to celebrate…McGrath is a careful reader as well as a wonderful translator, and he has a great deal to teach his readers…recommended to epic specialists as well as those who are interested in the modes which comparatives Asian studies are taking place.' Aditya Adarkar, The Journal of Asian Studies, 2005.
All those who are engaged in the reading and study of not only Indian epic, but also any Indo-European epic poem. This includes Indologists, Classicists, and students of religion and preliterate poetry.