Dr. Kavita A. Sharma - Ethical Dilemmas in the Mahābhārata

Having several great books to her credit like “Queens of Mahābhaārata”, “Birds, Beasts and Nature in Mahaābhaārata”, Dr. Kavita Sharma is an eminent scholar known for her contribution in the realm of Indic studies.

She began her lecture by talking about Dharma. She asserted that the Mahābhārata does not as such mention the concept of ethical dilemmas, but it is Dharma that is explicitly dealt in it. As a concept, it has been malleable due to numerous translations and interpretations. Usually understood to be a religion or a ritual, "Dharma is rather a way of life" said Dr. Sharma. And it's subtelty and evolution is beautifully mapped in the Mahābhārata.

She discussed the dilemmas faced by Arjun and Yudhishtira, to move on to speaking about the concept of Niśkāma karma or desireless action in the Gītā. Tracing the roots of this desire to the ego, Dr. Sharma pragmatically advised us to work for the sake of it and not for the end result.

Dr. Sharma concluded on the note that the Mahābhārata is not a simple story illustrating the victory of dharma over adharma. It is actually a message which tells us the futility of war. It whispers that any truth which leads to carnage in establishing is not worth establishing. It helps us in understanding that relationships must be maintained with an individual as well as with the collective.

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