The account of the conversation between King Janaka and the Ṛṣi Pañcaśikha on the fate of the individual after death is one of the philosophical texts that are included in the Mokṣadharmaparvan of the Mahābhārata. There are different scholarly views on the history and composition of the text as well as the philosophical teachings propagated by Pañcaśikha. In contrast to earlier studies this paper not only analyzes the whole text, but also pays attention to the narrative framework in which the philosophical discourse is embedded. In the text Bhīṣma functions as an external narrator, who relates and interprets the conversation as well as characterizes the protagonists and thereby influences the ways in which text is received by the audience. It is argued that it is important to deal with the interplay between the narrative and the philosophical discourse that is narrated, when analysing the philosophical positions that are either refuted or accepted in the text. 12.211–12 is not only a philosophical text, but also a tale about philosophical discourse in general and about how Sāṃkhya philosophy is taught to a non-expert audience. Seen from this perspective the text is significant for the way in which philosophical terms and issues are dealt with in the epic and adjacent non-expert texts, such as the Purāṇas.
Journal of Indian Philosophy – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 28, 2017
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