Open House | Charioteers, with Kevin McGrath

We were pleased to welcome Kevin McGrath, Associate in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University, to discuss how charioteering and charioteers are emblematic—if not signal—of warrior song and culture in the Mahābhārata. Our discussion included reference to focus passages from the Iliad and Mahābhārata noted below, as well as McGrath’s article on Kṛṣṇa in Mahābhārata.

Focus Passages & Scholarship

  • Iliad 2. 545ff
  • Iliad 4. 297ff
  • Iliad 5. 239ff
  • Iliad 5. 838ff
  • Iliad 23. 272ff
  • Mahābhārata Book 7, chapter 84
  • McGrath, Kevin, Heroic Kṛṣṇa: Portrait of a Charioteer (in Donum natalicium digitaliter confectum Gregorio Nagy)

You can watch the video on our YouTube channel or in the frame below below.

Note: There is mention in the video of the websites referenced during the conversation, which were available to view through Showcase; this feature is no longer available.

Mentioned in the discussion:

If you have comments, questions, or observations about the passages and themes discussed, members can continue the discussion in the Forum here.

For further videos please visit the Watch page.

Kevin McGrath

Kevin McGrath is an Associate of the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. His research centers on the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata, and he has published four works on this topic: The Sanskrit HeroStriJaya, and Heroic Krsna, and is presently concluding a study of epic kingship and preliteracy. McGrath is Poet in Residence at Lowell House and his most recent publications are Eroica and Supernaturewhich are both I-books. He does fieldwork in the Kacch of Western Gujarat, studying kinship, landscape, and migration. The hero as a figure for humanistic analysis is the focus of much of McGrath’s scholarly work, particularly as expressed in the poetry of Bronze Age preliterate and premonetary culture.

Picture credit:

Arjuna and His Charioteer Krishna Confront Karna, Wikimedia Commons