= Paper =
This article does not at all deal with the controverted ideological theory of the ‘three functions’ such as used by Stig Wikander and Georges Dumézil in their interpretation of the Indian epics, but examines the basis of what could be called their ‘theological exegesis’ of the Mahābhārata: the fact that the main heroes of the story are symbolically presented as the ‘partial incarnations’ of the gods, born on earth with a ‘part’ of themselves. Avoiding the unsolvable problems of some (Indo-European, Indo-Iranian or even Vedic) reconstructions proposed by Dumézil, this essay underlines the importance of taking into account the aṃśāvataraṇa list at first as it is given in the text, itself enlightened by a significant passage from its ‘supplement’ (viz. the Harivaṃśa), since it provides us with a specific pantheon existing at the time of the elaboration of the epics. In that respect, the ‘theological exegesis’ of Dumézil will probably remain his most important contribution to the understanding of the religious meaning of the Sanskrit epics in its oldest state.