Mahabharata and morality

Mahabharata and morality


The Mahabharata has been inspiring readings anew from time immemorial. Gurcharan Das' newest offering, The Difficulty of being Good, on the subtle art of dharma, too delves into the epic to explore morality in a modern context. 

The Difficulty of being Good, on the subtle art of dharma, too delves into the epic to explore morality in a modern context. 

In the City to launch his book, Gurcharan said, “I wanted to interrogate the Mahabharata in the modern context. I went to the University of Chicago to study the case. You may ask why I didn’t go to Banaras instead. I always thought the pundits would never be able to offer me a modern view and would find me a wee bit too sceptical.”

The books dwells on the goal of dharma, moral well-being and contextualises morality in various situations. “The book is like a mirror. It helps you look and see who you really are. The false image you project, the oppression you put others through,” reasons Gurcharan.

 India is the second fastest growing economy today. He says that he always knew that India would remain so no matter what happens. That prosperity would spread but happiness will not unless the government is fixed.

“You have to grease the hands of babus if you have to get some paper work done, one out of every five members of Parliament has a criminal record and one fifth of the earnings of a rickshawallahs in Kanpur go as bribes to the cops. Where is morality and where do ethics come in?” he questions.

Talking more about the subject, Gurcharan says, “The moral failure hung over me like the Delhi smog. That’s when I decided to explore morality through history and view it as a person living in the 21 st century.”

Speaking at the launch playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad said that no Indian ever reads the Mahabharata for the very first time. He observes that Gurcharan has done well in drawing a parallel between morality and Dharma. He admired the breadth of references, discussion and issues that Gurcharan has touched upon.

He says the author’s observation of squabbles within the Ambani family, questioning the existence of God, references to the Satyam scandal and Arun Shourie — all of which have been viewed in modern context with the Mahabharata as the backdrop. 

Gurcharan examines the moral dilemma using the template of Mahabharata. As the story unfolds in the book, the focus shifts from character to character like Bhishma, Yuclhisthir, Arjun, Draupadi — their ethical problems and the significance of these issues in our lives. The exposition of dilemmas and ambiguities inherent in the Mahabharata shows one how one can come to terms with the uncertain ethics of the world today.

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