The Mahabharata: a Brahminical Struggle for Power

2629 Words Nov 13th, 2012 11 Pages
The Mahabharata: A Brahminical Struggle for Power The desire for power has always been an issue throughout the ages. As foreign ideas and invaders became a threatening situation, the Brahmin caste during time of the Mahabharata responded by stressing the importance of dharma in society. The writers of the Mahabharata's twelfth book, The Book of Peace, place extra emphasis on dharma to not only maintain order within the kingdom, but also to preserve the social status of Brahmins and dissuade other castes from converting to new and foreign influences in the Mahabharata. To better understand why such an act was needed, this paper will discuss the Brahminical social status relative to other castes, the importance of dharma in society to …show more content…
Excess power corrupts, and the Brahmins were clearly overstepping their bounds. Kings began to see their relationship with Brahmins as parasitic rather than symbiotic. One of the most famous Kshatriya, Siddhartha Gautama, was raised with this mentality, and would use this as a base for Buddhism. However, Brahmins were still kept in high regard. In the Mahabharata, The Book of Peace is essentially a long argument in favor of Brahmins. “It looked upon them as walking gods on earth who should be obeyed and honored.” Though this is the case, scholars such as V.S Sukthankar believe that “the tradition which revised and recast the epic according to the Vaishnava and brahmana need was the Brighu tradition.”
One of these instances can be seen in
“Top of the list of Bhargavas second only to Bhrgu himself, is Rama Jamadagnya, the militant brahmin hero responsible for the destruction of the ksatriyas, whether this story is intended to as a military or a literary victory.”

If Sukthankar’s theory is correct, the Brahminization of the Mahabharata exemplifies the power the Brahmins had in their era. They not only had the ability to influence public policy in the Vedic era, but also how they are portrayed in religious texts that transcend both borders and time. Braminization was not only a way to maintain power at the time, but ensure that their power be maintained for future Brahmins as well.
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