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Epic Aśvamedhas

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Chapter Summary

This chapter tries to convince that the impregnations of the Kuru queens Ambikā and Ambālikā's by the Mahābhārata author Vyāsa allude to the Aśvamedha scene where the chief queen or mahiṣī lies with the sacrificial horse. The case calls for four quick moves. The first is to recognize that the Aśvamedha scene susceptible to veiled allusion is this very one. The second is to explore a suspicion that one way to allude knowingly to it would be to shift planes from the Aśvamedha to other rites where a woman is called upon to secure offspring outside marriage. The main move is to note a symmetry where the two epics treat four episodes: three where Aśvamedha occur in the main narratives, and the fourth, the target: ostensibly a niyoga or "levirate" story with an anti-niyoga sequel. The fourth move is to ask, who would these knowing allusions be known to?.

Keywords: Aśvamedha; Mahābhārata; mahiṣī ; Vyāsa



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