By Bibek Debroy

The Mahabharata is among the maximum tales ever instructed. even though the elemental plot is celebrated, there's even more to the epic than the dispute among Kouravas and Pandavas that resulted in the conflict in Kurukshetra. It has innumerable sub-plots that accommodate attention-grabbing meanderings and digressions, and it has not often been translated in complete, given its ambitious size of 80,000 shlokas or couplets. This marvelous 10-volume unabridged translation of the epic relies at the serious version compiled on the Bhandarkar Oriental study Institute.

Volume three completes the Vana Parva, the account of the Pandavas’ sojourn within the woodland. It info the dharma received from, and outlines of, locations of pilgrimage. It recounts the tales of Agastya, Rishyashringa, Kartavirya, Sukanya and Chyavana, Mandhata, Jantu, Shibi, Ashtavakra, Yavakrita, Jatasura, and Markandeya. The narrative covers Arjuna’s slaying of the Nivatakavacha demons; the Kouravas’ defeat by the hands of the gandharvas and their next unencumber via the Pandavas; Droupadi’s abduction via Jayadratha and rescue by way of the Pandavas; and Indra’s stopover at to Karna to rob him of his jewelry and armour.

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The relation between the normative theory of jihad and its actual historical practice followed a somewhat different trajectory in the South Asian subcontinent than it did in West Asia. In the Arab lands tensions between Islamic law (fiqh) and religion in the broadest sense (din) that were caused by the imperatives of the wars of conquest had made the extrinsic features of being a Muslim more important than the spiritual and ethical struggle to be human. Some of the debates between legists (fuquha) and philosophers (falsuf ) in West and Central Asia were replicated in South Asia.

As a human being, a slave is a legal person. 6 Without erasing all differences between Muslims and non-Muslims, discrimination in matters to do with religion did not extend to the secular sphere of socioeconomic interactions. Such liberality of vision made Hanafi classics like Al-Hedaya essential reading for the more erudite among India’s Muslim rulers. In addition to authors of works on jurisprudence, court chroniclers employed the trope of jihad, along with its concomitants ghazi (warrior of the faith) and shaheed (martyr), to shower praise on royal patrons.

Akbar’s attempts to build bridges with non-Muslims in his empire did, however, provoke a withering critique from the Muslim theologian Sheikh Ahmad Sirhandi (1564–1624). War and peace, faith and ethics were matters of constant debate in precolonial India. Many of the key innovations in modern Islamic thought were fashioned in South Asia rather than West Asia. Muslim rulers in the subcontinent were not indifferent to the sharia, as is best illustrated by the Fatawa-i-Alamgiri, a late seventeenth-century compendium of Hanafi law, commissioned by Akbar’s greatgrandson Aurangzeb.

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