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.
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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