Mahabharata Criticism

William Buck
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Synthetic versus Analytic

The two main lines of critical thought concerning the Mahabharata have focused on whether this massive poem is artistically unified and coherent or riddled with inconsistencies that invalidate any possible coherence. The first group is known as the synthetic camp. Common among Indian scholars, the synthetic stance contends that the Mahabharata is thematically unified and presents a clear statement on the effects of proper adherence to the rules of personal and sacred duty (dharma), and the negative results of abusing dharmic responsibilities. Many non-Indian critics, however, approach the poem analytically, examining its constituent parts without perceiving any such unity. This is termed the analytic approach. Moriz Winternitz, in A History of Indian Literature (1926), for example, calls the Mahabharata ' 'not one poetic production at all, but rather a whole literature." He also describes the work a "monstrosity," full of repeated and slightly changed material. Winternitz...

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This section contains 944 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Mahabharata Study Guide
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Mahabharata from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.