Dharma in a Crumbling Democracy: Ancient Wisdom for Troubling Times

Presented with Strand Bookstore


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, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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Other upcoming Olios


Jun 23

Man's Separation from Nature and Where to Go from Here

Taught by Manuel Rodeiro
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jun 26

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Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $12

Jun 27

Jun 30

The Woman Question

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jul 6

Lassos of Truth: A Celebration of Three Wonder Women

Taught by Three Olio Professors
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Sign Up - $12

Jul 7

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

Sign Up - $20

Jul 8

*Olio House Party* ​In Search of Greatness in the 1950s: Greatness For All?

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7:30 p.m. at Bed Stuy Brownstone

Sign Up - $12

Jul 9

**Olio Seminar** // Woman as Other, Woman as Lover

Taught by Jamie Warren
3 p.m. at Nowhere Studios

Sign Up - $100

Jul 11

The Art of Noise: Percussion Music and the Urban Jungle

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

Sign Up - $12

Jul 14

A History of Analog in Revolt: Sparking Poetic Revolutions

Taught by Jessica Rogers
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jul 16

*Read-In* Meditations

Taught by Michael Prettyman
4 p.m. at Dean Machine

Sign Up - $10

Jul 18

Jul 28

Women, Design, and Empowerment: I Will What I Want

Taught by Michelle Millar Fisher
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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