Re: [INDOLOGY] Stories within stories in the Mahābhārata

Nagaraj Paturi nagarajpaturi at
Sat Nov 18 09:45:54 UTC 2017

rAkshasI is not a witch, though the feature of having magical powers and
being evil may appear common between the two. Do witches have male members
of their family who are monstrous in size, power and attitude? If hiDimbA
is a witch what is the witch-culture-equivalent of hiDimbAsura?

On Sat, Nov 18, 2017 at 11:55 AM, Alex Watson via INDOLOGY <
indology at> wrote:

> Dear All
> Any responses to the question below – about whether any parts of the
> Mahābhārata imply a rereading or reevaluation of the Hidimbi/Hidimbā story
> – would be gratefully received.  It is from a Professor in the English
> department at Ashoka: Jonathan Gil Harris.
> "I am writing a book on Indian “masala” adaptations of Shakespeare, and I
> am currently puzzling through the ways in which Shakespeare’s use of the
> device of the play-within-a-play — particularly in The Taming of the Shrew
> — resonates for many Indian readers with the Mahabharata’s nesting of
> stories-within-stories.  I am particularly interested in how this device
> allows readers to shift perspective on a tale, and reread (or doubly read)
> a tale-within-a-tale or its framing tale.  I am focusing for now on the
> episode in the Mahabharata (9th sub-parva of the Adi Parva) where Bhima
> meets and marries the rakshasa forest-dweller Hidimbi, a witch or “chudail”
> in modern Hindi; her magic passes on to their son Ghatotkacha, who fights
> for the Pandavas.  Reading the story at face-value, it might be interpreted
> simply as an illustration of how a potentially dangerous feminine threat is
> defused and how the magical powers associated with it are patriarchally
> appropriated.  But how might the Mahabharata’s readers RE-read the story in
> light of the subsequent stories-within-stories?  Is there anything else in
> the Mahabharata that allows us to retrospectively re-interpret Hidimbi, her
> dangerous magical powers, and Bhima’s/the Pandavas’ appropriation of
> these?  (I’m thinking here of parallels with the tale of Medea in Book 4 of
> Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where an interpretive metamorphosis is enabled by its
> tales-within-tales — she is first presented as a dangerous, murderous black
> witch who submits in love to Jason, but she is subsequently seen more
> sympathetically as a woman wronged by a greedy man.)"
> --
> Alex Watson
> Professor of Indian Philosophy
> Ashoka University
> *
> <>*
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Nagaraj Paturi

Hyderabad, Telangana, INDIA.

BoS, MIT School of Vedic Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra

BoS, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, Veliyanad, Kerala

Former Senior Professor of Cultural Studies

FLAME School of Communication and FLAME School of  Liberal Education,

(Pune, Maharashtra, INDIA )

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