Cursing Kṛṣṇa : gender, theodicy, and time in the Mahābhārata




Wilson, Jeff Scott

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In this paper, I will discuss the doctrines of theodicy and time in the Mahābhārata, with particular attention to the concept of gender in the epic milieu. I argue that the parallel narratives of Draupadī and Gāndhārī play a central role in establishing what Emily T. Hudson refers to as “the aesthetics of suffering.” Draupadī and Gāndhārī’s respective arguments against Kṛṣṇa, especially, raise a number of crucial theodicean questions that ultimately contribute to the overall argument of the text in regards to the necessity of detachment (vairāgya) and the ravages of Time (kāla). As such, this paper endeavors to provide a reading of the text that contextualizes Draupadī and Gāndhārī’s theodicean arguments in terms of Kṛṣṇa’s identification with the epic’s concept of Time, the interplay of gender and ethics that inform these arguments, and finally, a possible answer to these arguments that incorporates the above insights. In the end, I hope to provide a fitting testament to both the moral and theological depth of the epic as a whole.



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