[INDOLOGY] Draupadii and polyandry

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Wed Oct 24 20:58:47 UTC 2018

Dear All,
According to the Vedic Index of A.A. Macdonell and A.B. Keith, vol. I p.
479, "polyandry is not Vedic" (with obligatory references to extremely
sporadic exceptions such as in the RV "wedding hymn"). Then in the
Mahabharata there is suddenly the major character of Draupadii/Krsnaa
marrying all five Pandava brothers. I am aware of the two volumes of Alf
Hiltebeitel which are an excellent ethnographic study of the Draupadii cult
in South India. However, what are currently the most important philological
studies of the background of this character and of polyandry itself in late
Vedic, post Vedic and epic/Puranic texts? Apart from purely/mainly
structuralist approaches (Biardeau), I would be interested in explorations
of whether the problematic presence of polyandry in the Mahabharata and
elsewhere may imply a reference to contemporaneous (Mahabharata time)
practices (just as the reference to Nagas burnt in the Khandava forest was
taken as more than just an element needed in the narrative: it would also
have been a reference to forest tribes and conflicting modes of resource
use acc. to Irawati Karve and to Gadgil & Guha).
With best regards,
Jan Houben

*Jan E.M. Houben*

Directeur d'Études, Professor of South Asian History and Philology

*Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite*

École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE, PSL - Université Paris)

*Sciences historiques et philologiques *

54, rue Saint-Jacques, CS 20525 – 75005 Paris

*johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr <johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr>*

*johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu <johannes.houben at ephe.psl.eu>*


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