On Sukthankar’s “S” and Some Shortsighted Assessments and Uses of the Pune Critical Edition

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Alf Hiltebeitel. (2022). On Sukthankar’s “S” and Some Shortsighted Assessments and Uses of the Pune Critical Edition: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 19(2), 91–130. Retrieved from https://ivsjournal.com/index.php/jvs/article/view/219


This article will attempt to work out implications of an approach to the Mahābhārata that I have been developing since about 1992, which I have called my literary turn (Hiltebeitel 2005b, 81-83). I begin with a statement that I believe should meet with at least wide agreement: Where the Pune CE keeps faithfully to its criteria for inclusion and exclusion, it is a largely successful reconstitution of the Mahābhārata as a work of written literature. Those whom I would expect to agree, with various caveats, would include James Fitzgerald with his view that a more abbreviated but still massive “main Mahābhārata” would have first been written around the same
time that I posit for the CE archetype in toto, after which the archetype itself would also have been redacted in writing again during the Gupta period. And it would also include most others who view the Pune text as reflecting a later written redaction than I do. Presuming broad reasonability on that much, this article will take up perceived pros and cons of the Critical Edition in its first two sections, and engage other contributions to this volume, notably Simon Brodbeck’s, T. P. Mahadevan’s, Vishwa Adluri’s, and especially Christopher
Austin’s, in its last two sections.

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