Among the most striking episodes of India’s great epic are incidents in which visual arts are used for no good. This talk treats three such occurrences – in the buildup to, at the brink of, and during the bereavement after the poem’s central war. Seen in light of preceding events, these harmful artistic instances are the means that the Mahabharata employs to explore, both cognitively and emotionally, exceptions to classical Indian normative expectations for sovereignty, divinity, and family.