In this lecture, I explore the form and function of the Sanskrit Mahabharata. I take up features of its design, its explicit statements about itself and its most prominent themes in order to make some suggestions as to what the Mahabharata sought to do, culturally and intellectually,in early South Asian society. I combine this with an analysis of the presence of the Mahabharata in select literary and epigraphical sources of the first millennium in order to explore the impact of the text from Guptan north India to Kerala and Kashmir.
The correlation between yajña and puja may well be one of the most complicated problems in Indology. Yajña and puja are known to have been mutually counterposed in the Indian tradition. At any rate, they were topical in different periods of its evolution. Yajña held pride of place as a solemn rite in the Vedic time, while puja became widespread in the post-Vedic era to become the central ritual of Hinduism.