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


Oct 19

Oct 20

Oct 27

Turning the Soul: Humanities and the Hero's Journey

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Oct 30

Traversing the Veil: Alchemy, Wisdom, and The Modern Witch

Taught by Jaime Weida
7:30 p.m. at Chinatown Soup

Sign Up - $15

Nov 3

Shakespeare and the Invention of the Supervillain

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Nov 7

*Olio Seminar* Know Your Rights? Know Your Rights!

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP

Sign Up - $50


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