David Magier magier at
Tue Jul 6 00:50:06 UTC 1993

I am writing for a research client, who poses the following query:

In the Mahabharata, as in other Sanskrit literature, there are (at
least) five different words that seem to be used nearly
interchangeably to mean "story".  These are: a:khya:na, upakhya:na,
itiha:sa, katha:, and caritam.  Although they are lexically and
etymologically distinct, they seem to have become nearly synonymous in
the semantic domain of stories and tales, and the Mahabharata, in
various places, uses each of these to refer to itself. Did these
words, at some point in their history, refer to different GENRES of
stories? That is, is there any body of text in which these are used in
a consistent and semantically distinct manner? Any answers, citations,
or suggestions for further research would be greatly appreciated.

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