Talk:Vyadha Gita

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Comments and suggestions[edit]

Nice start! The current version does a good job of describing the plot, and here are some suggestions for further improving the article


Some questions that an encyclopedic article should also aim to address:

  • Where ("version(s)-chapter-verse") in the Mahabharata does it occur ?
  • When was it written ? Is it part of the core/early layer, or a later accretion ?
  • When in the epic narrative do the events occur, i.e., at what stage of Yudhisthira life is he told this tale ? Is the story or it s lessons directly referenced anywhere else in Mahabharata ?
  • Who named these verses Vyadha Gita and when ? Is the name simply descriptive (literal), or is it meant to evoke the Bhagavad Gita ?
  • How do the Vyadha's teachings compare and contrast with the philosophy of other parts of Mahabharata (particularly the Bhagavad Gita), and other Hindu texts ? There is already a sentence on this (w.r.t, swadharma), but is there more to be said ?
  • Has this tale and its lessens been referenced in later religious or secular writings? It will also be interesting to find out if and how this story was used historically to perhaps push back against claims of "Brahminical superiority" (I would guess that that is one reason this narrative is so popular).

I realize that not all these questions will be answerable based on available sources, but the effort to search for such answer may be worthwhile to get the article to GA standard eventually.

Background information
  • A lay reader will also need some background information about the hereditary caste system, to appreciate the significance of the Vyadha Gita lessons.
  • We need to talk about the traditional emphasis on vegetarianism, and non-violence in Hindu society. Only then will it be clear why the profession of butcher is being used in the story to contrast with the ascetic, and why the Vyadha says that he is a vegetarian, nor does he kill the animals by himself"; keep in mind that to some members of the worldwide audience, these statements will be non sequiturs ! :)
    • Commented this confusing statement, when a context is provided, we can uncomment it. --Nvineeth (talk) 11:07, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Finally a few points about the writing:

  • Ahimsa, satya etc don't need to be capitalized when used mid-sentence.
  • Define dharma, karma, swadharma etc on first use. Also "one's swadhrama" is redundant. :)
  • "The Vyadha Gita is one of the popular narrations in the Mahabharata." I realize this is supported by the cited source, but IMO it is arguable given the many popular stories from the epic, and needs a specific attribution. Done
  • "a Vyadha, low by birth,", "a Brahmin, higher by birth": Surely these are not statements of facts to be stated in the encyclopedia's voice! Rephrase to, "a Vyadha, considered low by birth" etc and add a few sentences to explain who holds such opinions. Done (BTW, this was a POV I had missed!)
  • "Philosopher Swami Vivekananda, describes this ... and says that it contains ... : Unclear what "this" and "it" refer to (swadharma, Vyadha Gita, or Bhagavad Gita) ?  Done

Hope this review is helpful! Happy editing. Abecedare (talk) 09:49, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Many thanks for the suggestions, we will start looking into it. Few things to share, sanskrit verses, English translation (note: the translation for vyadha is "fowler" here) --Nvineeth (talk) 11:02, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I read through (parts) of the Ganguly translation and there are interesting differences between that and the one by Agarwal, and especially the retelling by Vivekanand. For example:
  • As you note, Ganguly uses Fowler instead of Butcher and identifies the bird to be a (female) crane.
  • Rather than being arrogant, the ascetic is repentant on killing the bird.
  • The wife is not nursing a sick husband; just feeding him.
  • The fowler doesn't claim to be vegetarian, but rather makes a robust defense of non-vegetarianism! (See III.207)
  • Even the location of the story differs: Agarwal's version start from III.206, while Ganguli's begins at III.205.
This is not really surprising given that undoubtedly there are many recensions of these verse; furthermore Vivekanand's version seems to be a retelling rather than a strict translation/para-phrasing, and I suspect reflects the moral and social mores of the age he was writing in. Just a reminder that Mahabharata continues to be a living document! May be best to stick with Ganguli, or Agarwal in telling a straight version of the story and then mentioning the significant variations. Abecedare (talk) 11:23, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
We will better stick with Agarwal's version. Most of the other translations are nearer to Agarwal's. Thanks. --Nvineeth (talk) 05:42, 28 March 2009 (UTC)