Blog Archives

Back to Mahabharata

I remember reading the epic as a kid, as part of the curriculum in school, wondering what I was supposed to learn from it. I couldn’t quite figure out what it had to say in the end, if there was a moral of the story I was missing. All I took away from it at that point was that there were a few good guys and a bunch of bad guys, who happened to be brothers. They ended up on opposite sides in a war for the throne. Eventually, the good guys won, albeit by cheating.

Now, that is no summary of the magnificent story, but an idea of how it was imprinted in my mind. The way it was taught in schools, there was a clear division between the good and the bad and yet if you read closely, you could see that the good people weren’t so good after all. Every character in the story had shades of grey and yet the Pandavas earned respect while the Kauravas were vilified.

Today, after all this time, reading ‘The Difficulty of Being Good’ by Gurcharan Das, I could see what I was missing. The book explores what ‘Dharma’ means in today’s world and what the Mahabharata had to say about it. It brilliantly revisits the epic and delving into individual traits of the primary characters, explores what it takes to be good in a world that is inherently bad.

The Mahabharata profoundly proclaims– “What is here, is everywhere. What is not here, is nowhere”, and does full justice to the statement. At no point does it try to explain away any of the character’s actions to blind faith, making it anything but a religious document. At every stage of the story, the author (a secular, himself) observes, the epic takes time to dwell upon the implications of the characters’ actions and resists the urge to pass moral judgements. It neither glorifies its heroes, nor does it put down the losers. The most important lesson it has for us is to follow one’s ‘dharma’ (loosely translated, it means an “ideal version of ones’ own character”) and to be compassionate, which is what ultimately leads the central character to heaven.

Definitely worth a read, with or without judgements!

Why religion isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon

I think we all have, at some point or the other, wondered aloud about the need for religion in our lives. Rising intolerance towards minorities and the incessant clashes between various communities make us question if religion is indeed doing any good for us after all. Can we live without it? Can we imagine a world where there is no God, no conception of a universal being and all the rituals associated with it? Can we live only on the basis of a notion of brotherhood and the essential tenets of humanity? Would it suffice to say that we are all just a species called Sapiens who happen to be rulers of our planet today?

Looks like we aren’t wired to think that way.

In his book, ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, Yuval Harari masterfully tackles the fundamental question – ‘What makes us superior to other mammals?’, dwelling deep into the many mysteries that surround our evolution from our closest ancestors. The ability to form large and stable communities within our species, he says, is the single most important trait that distinguishes us from others. This was made possible, not by brute force, but by developing common myths, legends and beliefs that were accepted as true by people of a particular community. Thus, the ability to generate and believe in fiction is what makes us truly ‘human’.

Elaborating further, he explains how it was important to form strong bonds between Sapiens in order for them to work together and contribute towards expanding their knowledge. As it is not possible to intimately know more than 150 people so as to trust them, he argues that the Sapiens had to rely on developing common myths that they all believed in. These beliefs, then formed the basis of religion as also money, corporations and other fictional entities.

Now, that doesn’t quite explain why religion is indispensable for some people and not so much for others, but it certainly helps one understand why it came up in the first place and why people continue to feel strongly about it. The idea of a collective consciousness and the need to form bonds with people beyond boundaries of space and time exists even today. Just ask any Harry Potter fan why they are passionate about him and you would know.

 

 

 

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Life Alight

Unfolding life's mysteries with poetry, photography & ramblings

Reading Pleasure

A blog of books and literature

Ankit Mishra

Smile! Because You're Beautiful.. :)

insight07's blog

life is a lovely chaos

Animate your Life

Dont think , Just draw !

Poesy plus Polemics

Words of Wonder, Worry and Whimsy

chester maynes

Poetry and Poems

Outlines

"bare glimpses of what I see…

Confessions Of A Poet

All that is me!

Eye Will Not Cry

"Eye Fly High"

SUBDUED FLAMBOYANCE

A blog by Dr. Abhinav Majumder

Scattered Thoughts

Welcome to my world, a tapestry of thoughts and forms conceived in my mind

TheOpenWindow

Take a walk inside my mind.

verseherder

Birding in south India and life on planet earth

we bleed words

until we are read all over

victoriaflair

It's just this.

Haiku Horizons

A Haiku prompt/meme site

ONE OF A CLASS

POETRY AND HUMOR

Karen Gadient

Paint Slinger in Inner Space

Blase'

My heart, mind and soul...transcribed!

Ailbu

Short Fiction

Nature Photo Poems

Creation's beauty draws words from a poet's heart.

photopluspoem

Creation is poetry for the eyes of the soul.

The Product Poet

Your Home For Prose and Poems

An Ever Changing Writer I AM

I am a rain drop that has merged back within the ocean and in doing that I share the oceans powerful qualities.

Booknvolume

For the Love of Words, Laughter, Inspiration (and the odd sexy split infinitive.)

Black and White Heart

a tinge of every other color

पानीय

Riya Hamid. 19. New York City © meditationatlagunitas@gmail.com

The Starting End

A New Beginning .... Poetry of Love & Life

Dan Frugalberg

Life lived simply

Third eye view

People, places and photography

sterling roskom

paintings and artistic creations

RJR Design

Artistic Concepts Brought To Life

inky waves

A message in a bottle bundled and tumbled on inky waves

unaware but underlined

a corner of this mind, come celebrate with me

Views From A Small Island

A photographic record of the everyday and the not so everyday life around the UK.

Toby Gant's Photography Blog

tobygant.com: Just living the dream.

Of Love and Longing

...inspired poetry from rambling thoughts...

Ginz&Tonic

Life is good! Life is inspirational!

A Topsy Turvy World

Disorder shall prevail thanks to Sister Entropy

mishunderstood

photography, poetry and ponderings of life

%d bloggers like this: