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Riddles

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Early narrative literature also sometimes includes riddles. The Mahabharata also portrays riddle-contests and includes riddles accordingly. [42] For example, this portrays Yaksha Prashna, a series of riddles posed by a nature-spirit (yaksha) to Yudhishthira,[42] and, in the third book, the story of Ashtavakra. Ashtavakra is the son of one Kahoda, who loses a wisdom-contest to Bandin and is drowned in consequence. Though only a boy, Ashtavakra goes to the court of King Janaka to seek revenge on Bandin. On arrival, he is presented with a series of riddles by Janaka, starting with the widespread year-riddle: what has six naves, twelve axles, twenty-four joints, and three hundred and sixty spokes? (The year. ) Janaka then asks a mythic riddle about thunder and lightning, and then a series of simpler, paradox-based riddles like 'what does not close its eye when asleep?' Having won Janaka's approval, Ashtavakra goes on to defeat Bandin in a further wisdom-contest, and has Bandin drowned. [43] Meanwhile, Baital Pachisi (Tales of a Vetala), originating before the twelfth century CE, features twenty four tales, each culminating in a riddle or similar puzzle. Unusually, the challenge here is for the hero to not solve a riddle. [44]

Riddles have also attracted linguists, often studying riddles from the point of view of semiotics . [15]


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