Parallels and Comparisons: Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas September 2005

Article excerpt

Parallels and Comparisons: Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas September 2005. Edited by PETTERI KOSKIKALLIO. Zagreb: CROATIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND ARTS, 2009. Pp. xxiii + 550.

Even as the proceedings of the preceding Dubrovnik conferences (cf. JAOS 126 [20061: 131, and 127 [20071: 91-93), those of the fourth DICSEP have been painstakingly edited, by the general editor Mislay Jezic and volume editor Petteri Koskikallio, and superbly published in Zagreb, with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports. After "composing a tradition" (1997), "stages and transitions" (1999), and "continuities and ruptures" (2002), the theme of the 2005 conference was "parallels and comparisons."

The volume contains twenty essays, representing the outcome of too much detailed research to be summarized in a review. The essays can be subdivided into three groups. The first nine concentrate on "parallels and comparisons" in connection with topics related to the epics: the meaning of the term itihasa in the Mahabharata and the phrase ity udaharanti (Muneo Tokunaga); the origin of the tristubh verses in the Bhagavadgita in an independent religious hymn (Mislay Jezic); the epic hero Balarama (Georg von Simson); the parable of the man hanging from a tree over a pit, compared with an episode in the Odyssey (Nick Allen); the epithet mahabhaga in the Mahabharata (Yaroslav Vassilkov); Bhima's royal instructions to Yudhisthira in the Santiparvan (Adam Bowles); the careers of Bharadvitja and some members of his lineage (Simon Brodbeck); factors determining the use of terms for mental phenomena such as hrd, hrdaya, manas, buddhi, and dhi in the Mahabharata (Sven Sellmer); and, in the single essay on the Ramayana, the four jumps of Hanumant (Danielle Feller).

The next five articles shift to "parallels and comparisons" connected with puranic texts: the various reasons for the descent of Krsna in the Harivamsa (Andreas Viethsen); the concept of tejas as an attribute of the paramesvara in the Puranas (Paolo Magnone); the several "replays" of the Mahabharata in the Bhagavatapururana (Kenneth R. Valpey); two stories about the Saivite sage Upamanyu in a wide variety of texts (Chistele Barois); and three Hindu and one Buddhist Mahatmyas from Nepal (Horst Brinkhaus).

The final six essays reach out into "parallels and comparisons" in a variety of texts: Tantric texts (Olga Serbaeva Saraogi); corresponding stories in the Jatakas and the Mahabharata (Renate Sohnen-Thieme); parallels between the Vidhurapattditajataka and the game of dice in the gantiparvan (Klara Gonc Moganin); Jaina Krsnacaritas (Eva De Clercq); Jaina stories about Krsna's childhood (Andre Couture); and the modern Hindi poem Jay ParaurCun, which presents itself as a kind of Parasuramapurana (Nicolas Dejenne). …