Krishna's Lineage: The Harivamsha of Vyasa's Mahabharata

Krishna's Lineage: The Harivamsha of Vyasa's Mahabharata

by Oxford University Press


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Forming the final part of the Sanskrit Mahabharata, the Harivamsha's main business is to supply narrative details about the great god Vishnu's avatar Krishna Vasudeva, who has been a comparatively minor character in the previous parts of the Mahabharata, despite having taken centre stage in the Bhagavad Gita.
Krishna is born in Mathura (some 85 miles south of present-day Delhi). As an infant he is smuggled out of Mathura for his own safety. He and his brother Baladeva grow up among cowherds in the forest, where between them they perform many miraculous deeds and kill many dangerous demons, before returning to Mathura where they kill the evil King Kamsa and his cronies. Thereafter, Krishna is the hero and unofficial leader of his people the Yadava-Vrishnis. When Mathura is besieged by enemies, Krishna leads his people to abandon the town and migrate west, founding the dazzling new city of Dvaraka by the sea. Krishna then repeatedly travels away from that base repeatedly to perform heroic deeds benefitting those in need - including his own people, his more immediate family, and the gods. After narrating the stories of Krishna, the Harivamsha ends by finishing the story of Janamejaya with which the Mahabharata began.
The Harivamsha is a powerhouse of Hindu mythology and a classic of world literature. It begins by contextualising Vishnu's appearance as Krishna in several ways, in the process presenting a variety of cosmogonical, cosmological, genealogical, mythological, theological, and karmalogical materials. It then narrates Krishna's birth and adventures in detail. Presenting a wide variety of exciting stories in a poetic register that makes extensive use of natural imagery, the Harivamsha is a neglected literary gem and an ideal starting-point for readers new to Indian literature.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190279189
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/01/2019
Pages: 456
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Simon Brodbeck was born in the north-west of England and educated at the universities of Cambridge and London. He has worked at the universities of Edinburgh, London, and Cardiff (the latter since 2008), and also for the Clay Sanskrit Library. His research career has focused on the Sanskrit Mahabharata and its component parts, using philological, philosophical, and gender-studies approaches.

Table of Contents

The Ancient Indian Scene
The Framework of Characters
Krishna in the Pandava Story
Overview of the Harivamsha
The Text and the Translation
Further Reading

Creation and Cosmology
The Solar Lineage
The Duties to the Ancestors
The Lunar Lineage
The Gods and the Demons
The Divine Plan

The Killing of Kamsa
The Move to Dvaraka
Adventures in the South
The Naraka Episode
The Greatness of Krishna
The Battle against Bana


Genealogical Appendix
Index of Names

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