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The Archetypal Design Of The Two Sanskrit Epics

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Chapter Summary

Among Mahābhārata substories, the Rāmopākhyāna has special implications for thinking through the relation between the two archetypes, since this "Rāma Story" does not have the structural design the two epics share. This chapter proposes that one of the best opportunities to assess the relations between them, and the hands of their "authors," may lie in their treatments of the chief heroines Draupadī and Sītā. The chapter presents matters from the standpoint of the likely priority of the Mahābhārata, with the corollaries that Rāmāyaṇa Books 1 and 7 are integral to its earliest design and that the Rāmāyaṇa poet is familiar with the Mahābhārata's archetypal design and intent upon refining and working from it. It concentrates on the construction of the heroines' narratives first around their births, and second around their marriages. Third, it looks at the monstrous encounters that provide Bookends to their husbands' lives in the Forests.

Keywords: archetypal design; Draupadī; Mahābhārata; Rāmāyaṇa; Sītā



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