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Dharma in a Crumbling Democracy: Ancient Wisdom for Troubling Times


The epic, Mahabharata, was composed around ~600 BC. The ancient text addresses a time when the existing world order appears to be crumbling. Not only has the traditional political order been swept away; meritocracy, values and ethics no longer hold sway. Society is in a process of dissolution; and a powerful king asserts his absolute power, exceeding even the eternal law (dharma). 

And yet the epic undertakes to restate the concept of ethics in a time of upheaval. Containing a critique of technology, rampant materialism and self-serving individualism, the epic appears surprisingly contemporary. It offers philosophical insight into how humans can flourish in a troubled time.

In this Olio we will attempt to understand and analyze our situation as Americans and humans in light of the Mahabharata. We will analyze contemporary democratic society which is based on the virtues of freedom and prestige rather than obligation, tradition and merit and see if we can find contemporary relevance in this ancient text.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.


Other upcoming Olios


Sep 25

Immersive Listening - Radiohead's "OK Computer"

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Sep 26

Olio Seminar | Words Shape Worlds: The Discourse of Courtrooms

Taught by Maureen Matarese
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $40

Sep 28

True Colors?: A Type of Bliss

Taught by Charles Riley
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Sep 29

OlioHouse Weekend | Afrofuturism & Herbalism

Taught by Makeba Lavan
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $75

Sep 29

The Coded, the Woven, and the Spoken

Taught by Sofi Thanhauser
4 p.m. at Mana Contemporary

Sign Up - $0

Oct 9

Olio Seminar | The New Deadly Sins

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $40

Oct 12

Communities and Their Pitfalls

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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