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Arjuna and the Second Function: A Dumézilian Crux

  • N.J. Allen

Extract

Arjuna is in many ways the central character of the Mahābhārata, the great Sanskrit epic. By order of birth he is the third among the Pāṇḍavas, the five sons of Pānḍu, who represent the forces of cosmic order. When, after humiliation and exile, the Pānḍ;avas finally triumph, primogeniture prevails, and it is the eldest brother, Yudhisfhira, who takes the throne; but in other respects, Arjuna is usually a more salient figure than his dutiful eldest brother. Thus it is to Arjuna that Krishna addresses his teaching in the Bhagavad Gitā (part of Book 6 of the Epic). Moreover although Pānḍu is pater to the five brothers, each has his own divine genitor, and the genitor of Arjuna is Indra, king of the gods in the classical pantheon. A paper about Arjuna is a paper about a major figure in Hindu tradition.

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