Scapegoat, sacrifice, or saviour: an examination of the outsider in the Mahābhārata

Hughes, Micheline (2014) Scapegoat, sacrifice, or saviour: an examination of the outsider in the Mahābhārata. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis examines part of the cultural history of social exclusions through a study of the portrayal of the Niṣādas, a tribal group, in the Hindu epic, the Mahābhārata. Three factors contribute to the social exclusion of the Niṣādas in the epic: social construction of identity, caste and dharma, and geography and liminality. The three Mahābhārata narratives that are the focus of the thesis’s analysis (the narratives of Ekalavya, the House of Lac, and Nala and Damayantī) portray six Niṣādas, and one king, Nala, who undergoes a period of social exclusion. Outsiders are portrayed as scapegoat, sacrifice, and/or savior for the epic’s heroes. However, when Niṣādas fulfill these roles, they are either exterminated or mutliated as a result of acts of those very heroes. The thesis argues that the factors of social exclusion work together to accomplish marginalization, and that violence facilitates the process of social exclusion in the epic.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/6496
Item ID: 6496
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 122-124).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Indian
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Marginality, Social--Religious aspects--Hinduism; Religions in the Mahābhārata; Marginality, Social, in literature; Indian--Social condition; Indian--Religion

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