On the Southern Recension of the Mahābhārata, Brahman Migrations, and Brāhmī Paleography

  • Thennilapuram P. Mahadevan (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


It is well-known that the Mahābhārata has come down to us in two recensions, the Northern and the Southern. The editors of the Poona Critical Edition (1933-70) of the epic determined, in the process of collating and isolating the archetype of the epic, that its Northern Recension (NR) constitutes in general what is called in textual scholarship the editio simplicior, the naive or the original text, and they created the Critical Edition (CE) from the irreducible archetype of the NR texts, the Śārada codex of the Kashmir region in the northwest of South Asia. They found likewise that the Southern Recension (SR) was generically an editio ornatio, an ornate text, a version made consciously and systematically: all hundred Kaurava brothers get named, all but a few with the pejorative du prefix; the 18 parvans of NR rise to 24 in the SR, with many insertions and transpositions of crucial episodes within parvans (those of Śakuntalā and Yayāti, for example, in the Ādiparvan); further, the SR is overlaid with a Brahmanical ideology, already incipient in the NR.