Mahabharata and the Notion of Dharma

Prof.Indranath Choudhuri
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The core context of Mahabharata is dharma. Dharma is the way of life and mode of thought. It is the nucleus which serves as a string holding together numberless legends, episodes, discussions and dialectic portions. The question of dharma is connected with all the characters of Mahabharata.

What gives depth to this epic is the poignant manner in which the reflection on dharma is woven into the very texture of the story of the epic.

As all the characters have no definite clue about dharma so in a critical situation they are highly perturbed and then they question what should they do, what is there dharma?

The journey of the self beyond self (emancipation) is possible, when man achieves equableness, harmony and balance. Balance is not to be lost but in a critical moment every character loses his/her balance and this is the main theme or text of Mahabharata.

Mahabharata says that the word dharma is made of thunderbolt and the wheel of dharma (dharmachakra) is being carried on by Vaiswanara which originally means fire but actually it is the conflict or tension of one's mind. Conflict or tension makes one's vision blurred and then one does not see the true nature of dharma or the highest truth which is the ever flowing stream of life. Vedavyasa, the writer, painstakingly describes the debate on dharma under six different schemes of thought and to explain and analyze those six schemes will be the main objective of the lecture.

Prof. Indra Nath Choudhuri is a distinguished Cultural Administrator of India who was Minister (Culture), Indian High Commission, London and Director, The Nehru Centre, he was also Secretary to Sahitya Akademi and was also a Member Secretary and Academic Director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. He is a Professor of Indian Studies and Comparative Literature and has taught in various universities including Delhi University, University of Bucharest and also as Professor at Uccha Siksha and Sodh Sansthan, DBHPS, Hyderabad, Jadavpur University and JNU, Delhi. He was ICCR’s First Tagore Chair at the Edinburgh Napier University for two years. He has written books on Comparative Literature, Poetics and Aesthetics in Hindi, English and Bengali.

Prof. Indra Nath Choudhuri will explain and analyze the six schemes of thought, under which Vedavyas, the writer of Mahabharata painstakingly describes the debate on dharma.