After the War: The Last Books of the Mahabharata (Hardcover)
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After the War is a new translation of the final part of the Mahabharata, the great Sanskrit Epic poem about a devastating fraternal war. In this aftermath of the great war, the surviving heroes find various deaths, ranging from a drunken debacle in which they kill many of their own comrades to suicide through meditation and, finally, magical transportation to both heaven and hell. Bereaved mothers and widows on earth are comforted when their dead sons and husbands are magically conjured up from heaven and emerge from a river to spend one glorious night on earth with their loved ones. Ultimately, the bitterly opposed heroes of both sides are reconciled in heaven, but only when they finally let go of the vindictive masculine pride that has made each episode of violence give rise to another. Throughout the text, issues of truth and reconciliation, of the competing beliefs in various afterlives, and of the ultimate purpose of human life are debated. This last part of the Mahabharata has much to tell us both about the deep wisdom of Indian poets during the centuries from 300 BCE to 300 CE (the dates of the recension of this enormous text) and about the problems that we ourselves confront in the aftermath of our own genocidal and internecine wars. The author, a distinguished translator of Sanskrit texts (including the Rig Veda, the Laws of Manu, and the Kamasutra), puts the text into clear, flowing, contemporary prose, with a comprehensive but unintrusive critical apparatus. This book will delight general readers and enlighten students of Indian civilization and of great world literature.
About the Author
Wendy Doniger has taught at Harvard, Oxford, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and the University of California at Berkeley, and, from 1978, at the University of Chicago, where she was the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions, in the Divinity School, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Social Thought, now Emerita. She is the author of over forty books, including translations of Sanskrit texts as well as books about Hindu mythology and cross-cultural mythology, particularly about illusion, animals, gender, and sex. In 1984 she was elected President of the American Academy of Religion, in 1989 a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1996 a Member of the American Philosophical Society, and in 1997 President of the Association for Asian Studies.