Reading Mahabharata with Arshia Sattar
July 5, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - July 7, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
“What is found here may be found elsewhere, but what is not found here cannot be found elsewhere.” This is what the Mahabharata says about itself.
Our immersion in the Mahabharata with Arshia Sattar will consist of a close reading of the text and interactive discussion sessions . We will meet for 12 hours (incl breaks) over 3 days. You will be required to read a translation of the Sanskrit text* and to bring your beautiful thoughts and concerns to the discussions.
Friday 5 July: 19h-21h
Saturday 6 July: 13h30-18h30
Sunday 7 July: 13h30-18h30
To prepare for the immersion you please read one of the following translations in English from Sanskrit of Mahabharata:
Attributed to the sage Vyasa, Mahabharata is 100,o00 verses in length and belongs, in its earliest layer, to the bardic tradition of oral composition. One of the two great epics of Hinduism, the Mahabharata was recited and re-recited over centuries, each bard adding and expanding the parts he loved best, minimising or excising the parts he did not like as much, modifying episodes and characters to reflect the times in which he made his poetry.
Composed over centuries by many differing minds and many competing voices, the Mahabharata tells the story of a family bitterly divided over a kingdom. Rivalries and jealousy, ambition, greed, inertia and detachment over generations become a deadly combination that leads to a fratricidal war fought at Kurukshetra, where cousin stands against cousin, student stands against teacher, brother raises arms against brother. This is the metaphorical battle field of dharma, the arena of public ethics and personal morality, the symbolic field of righteousness.
But this is not only a story of warriors and kings. Women are the throbbing, pulsing centre of this narrative – proud, stubborn, vulnerable, manipulated and manipulative. Ganga demands that her husband never question her actions, Satyavati marries on condition that only her sons will be king, Amba literally burns in the fires of her hatred through several lifetimes to destroy the man who would not take responsibility for what he had done to her, Gandhari covers her eyes with a bandage because she is married to a man that she did not know was blind, Kunti shares her boon of divine sons with her rival wife, Draupadi exacts a ghastly revenge against the men who humiliated her in public.
The Mahabharata also holds within itself Hinduism’s best-known text, the Bhagavad Gita, “God-Song,” wherein Krishna-Vishnu expounds a radical philosophy of action and being. Here, and in the larger text, the Mahabharata relentlessly investigates the questions that lie deepest in the human heart – on what do we base our actions, do we act for ourselves or for others, what is the individual’s place in family and society, which is our most authentic self? Men and women, men and men, warriors and priests, humans and gods, all come together in a story that challenges the way we think about ourselves and our relationship to those around us.