Do the virtuous cheat? An ethical problem in the Mahabharata

Heda Jason


The author summarily deals with an aspect of Mahabharata and compares it with similar aspects of south Slavic epic tradition. Suggesting that in epics the form and sequence of events are formulaic and follow preset literary models the author argues that the ethical question of virtuous cheating in epic duels and encounters is secondary to the demands of the epic model and to the demands to belong to the literary reworking of the poem. The author concludes that the problem of the virtuous champion’s cheating in epic duels should be discussed in the framework of all cultures which feature the genre of epic and not just in the framework of Indian culture.

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