IJLLL 2019 Vol.5(2): 71-75 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2019.5.2.206

Gendered Construction of War in Sanskrit Epic, the Mahabharata

Smita Sahgal
Abstract—Sanskrit is often considered to be the language of gods and, therefore, what Sanskrit texts state is taken to be sacrosanct. How was war envisaged in the lengthiest Sanskrit epic of the world? Was it in tune with dharma (moral duty) or not? Did all hold an identical and unchanging view of war? That does not seem to be the case. War and violence were understood differently by men and women. This variance is reflected in their language repertoire too. While many men viewed it as a matter of moral duty, self- aggrandizement and resource harnessing, women differed in their perceptions. For some, located in a particular class, it was a prestige booster, while for many others it spelt out doom. The Mahabharata is a text that reflects on complex location of upper caste men and women and their dynamic view of war; at the beginning of the epic they support war but end up berating it as loss of life, resources and prestige became evident. But did the text also reflect a change of gender relations in the context of shifting war scenario? It is worth exploring.

Index Terms—Sanskrit, Mahabharata, violence, family feud, diverse perspectives, gender relations.

Smita Sahgal is with the Department of History, Lady Shri Ram College, and University of Delhi, India (e-mail: smitasahgal16@yahoo.com).

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Cite:Smita Sahgal, "Gendered Construction of War in Sanskrit Epic, the Mahabharata," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 71-75, 2019.

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