Agonistic Scenes of the mahāvrata Rite

The Praiser-abhigara and the Reviler-apagara

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.26.2024.01.02

Keywords:

Mahābhārata, sattra, vrātya, poetry of praise, poetry of blame

Abstract

The present paper focuses on one of the competitive scenes staged during the Vedic classical mahāvrata rite: a sort of “agonistic” play performed between someone defined as abhigara, basically translated as “praiser,” and someone who is called apagara, interpreted as “reviler.” They appear to take part only in a verbal and not a physical duel. In fact, scholars consider the scene an example of a verbal contest. However, given that abhigara and apagara are never mentioned in the Rigvedic and Atharvavedic collections and rarely occur in the Vedic corpus, appearing mostly in sections concerning the peculiar mahāvrata ceremony, this dichotomous pair certainly sparks interest since they are associable with the Mahābhārata context. The analysis of the Vedic textual sources concerning the abhigara / apagara contest on the mahāvrata day, a survey of the terminology correlated to these two terms and their etymological reconstruction may offer a peculiar perspective on the relationship between violence, ritualism and narration in the Mahābhārata.

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2024-06-07

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Rossi, Paola M. 2024. “Agonistic Scenes of the mahāvrata Rite: The Praiser-Abhigara and the Reviler-Apagara”. Cracow Indological Studies 26 (1):13-60. https://doi.org/10.12797/CIS.26.2024.01.02.