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


Apr 28

Human Rights at the Edge of Darkness: We are the Resistance

Taught by Phelim Kine
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Apr 30

*Read-in* Undoing the Demos: The Future of Education

Taught by Hallie Scott
4 p.m. at Dean Machine

Sign Up - $10

May 5

Buddhist Realism and Dark Comedy: It's Funny Because It's True

Taught by Christopher Kelley
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 7

*Read-in* The True Believer and the Nature of Mass Movements

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
4 p.m. at IDIO Gallery

Sign Up - $10

May 19

The Feminist Storytelling Movement in True Crime

Taught by Tracy Bealer
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 27

Great Books Written in Prison: From Plato to MLK

Taught by Ward Regan
7 p.m. at Molasses Books

Sign Up - $0

Jun 2

How Vulnerable are Reproductive Rights in the US?

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Jun 30

The Woman Question

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

Sign Up - $20


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