chapter  2
46 Pages

Ritual and textual structure in the Mahābhārata

Introductory remarks We are now in a position to appreciate quite how popular and widespread the Mahābhārata is. It is found in manuscript form all over South Asia and it is recited and adapted to this day. The Hindi television version of the tale, which was broadcast in the early 1990s, attracted more than one hundred million viewers (I take up this version in the Epilogue to this book). There seems to have hardly been a time in South Asia where people did not speak ‘Mahābhārata’ to one another. Yet the Sanskrit Mahābhārata is formidably complicated. I have already said a few words about this in my introduction, and we have considered the example of the plucky mongoose, but we now need to take up the structure of the text in a little more detail.