Reading the Mahabharata

Syllabus and Reading Schedule

The Mahabharata, an epic of ancient India, depicts a moment of profound cultural crisis, as longstanding norms and ideals are called into question. Now more than ever the old Indian epic feels timely, since it seems that we too may stand on an epochal threshold. Approaching the epic from a literary and philosophical point of view, we will read carefully some of its most famous episodes, seeking to appreciate its intense poetic beauty, and to discuss the wisdom offered there.  Questions to be considered include: What is a god? What is a human? What is a man? What is a woman? How ought humans relate to the gods?  What is owed to one’s family? To one’s teacher?  To one’s principles? What is human nobility?  How can one discern and enact one’s own proper role in life? What is wisdom itself? How can these matters be expressed in poetry?

Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Second Tuesday of the month, September 14, 2021 – December 14, 2021

Dates:  September 14; October 12; November 9; December 14

Place: Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture (Covid-willing or online as necessary)

Text: Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling; Satyamurti, translator; Norton, publisher; ISBN: 0393352498

This title is available at our sterling local booksellers, Interabang and Deep Vellum. They can mail copies directly to patrons. Deep Vellum is offering a 15% discount on these titles; please contact Riley Rennhack for more information.

Professors: Drs. Ali and McShane

Reading Schedule (subject to revision)

Date  FOCUS on these passages Optional Reading:
for broader context
September 14 Prologue; Section 4; Section 5; Section 8; Sections 10-11; Sections 15-18   Prologue – Section 18
(pp. 1-210)
October 12 Section 20; Section 23; Section 25-26;  Sections 28-30; Section 32 Sections 19-33 
(pp. 211 – 430)
November 9 Section 36; Section 43 – 44; Section 46 Sections 34 – 40
(pp. 431 – 641)
December 14 Section 47; Sections 50-55; Section 57; Section 60 & Epilogue Sections 47- 53
(pp 642 -843)