This volume contains 20 papers emerging from the Epics and Puranas section at the 15th World Sanskrit Conference (New Delhi, January 2012). A body of scholars of international standing pursue a diverse range of inquiries into the Mahabharata, Harivamsa, Ramayana and the Puranas. Offering new and often provocative insights into their narratives, textual histories, ideological concerns, theological agendas and reception histories, these papers provide an excellent overview of the current state of epic and Puranic research. Twelve of the articles primarily concern aspects of the Mahabharata and its khila, the Harivamsa. Two of these explore the relationship of the Mahabharata to Buddhism. Two papers offer stimulating discussions of matters arising from the preparation of the concluding volume to the 30-year Princeton Ramayana translation project, a landmark in Indological research. The remaining six papers analyse aspects of the Puranas, three within the broader mythological and ideological contexts shared by the epics and Puranas, and three in regard to the regional traditions represented by Sthalapuranas and Mahatmyas. The sum of this volume’s parts demonstrates the vibrancy of the fields to which it contributes, a vibrancy underscored by the diversity of their methodological approaches and insights. Many of these insights will endure; some chart new and promising directions in Indological research. Above all, this volume further reinforces the foundational and enduring importance of these immense texts to the literatures, histories and cultures of South Asia and beyond.
Simon Brodbeck, Reader in Religious Studies at Cardiff University, Wales, UK.
Adam Bowles, Senior Lecturer in Asian Religions at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Alf Hiltebeitel, Colmubian Professor of Religion, History, and Human Sciences at George Washington University, USA.