Q: Black Draupadi?

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at internet.no
Thu Aug 21 18:20:00 UTC 1997

>According to tradition, both RAmAyaNa and MahAbhArata are called "itihAsAs";
>and 'the popular memory' or 'smr^ti' would refer to the purANAs. This would
>imply that MBh would be more historical and the purANAs would be more
>mythological.i.e., if tradition has any significance for Indologists
>-Narahari Achar

I would suppose that tradition means different things to different
Indologists! My own personal opinion is this: Traditions have to be checked
and double-checked. If independent traditions say approximately the same
thing, that would strengthen their case for being historically valid. But
even written documents should be treated with care! We all know how history
is falsified every day for various reasons - often political. True
historical writing involves a cumbersome sifting of material, methodical
care and access to the necessary sources. As a general rule, scepticism is
called for. No matter what the claims of the epics are, they hardly qualify
as historical writings in the same sense as e.g. Thucydides' history of the
Peloponnesian War - where he participated as a commander himself (although
with far less success than he had as a writer. He is, as far as I know, the
first true historian in the modern sense of the word.)

But again: There is no iron rule. Historical interpretations of certain
features or parts of the epics may be valid, although the interpreter does
have a lot to prove.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: L.M.Fosse at internet.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

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