Dr. Sangeetha Menon -How Bhagavadgītā and Mahābhārata Contextualises Layered Psychological States

Dr. Menon began her lecture by quoting and discussing from the works of Irawati Karve. Deriving from the references from her texts, Dr. Menon, explains that Mahābhārata is not a romantic text explaining the ‘happily ever after’ rather it’s a text which tells us that we all are contributors of certain intrusions of different kind. So, the idea of Mahābhārata is to show us what goes through each mind. After telling the audience in brief about the teachings of Mahābhārata from the perspective of Irawati Karve, Dr. Menon, began to talk about three characters: Arjuna, Duryodhana and Krishna. The reason for focusing on these three characters, she said, is that these three characters are epitome of certain values and dispositions which are interesting and significant to be talked about.

Dr. Menon began with the character of Duryodhana. To explain further, Dr. Menon, took some references from the text. Here, the references were made and drawn not only about Duryodhana but also about Dhṛtarāṣṭra. Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s explanations of his life from Adi Parva were asserted. Further many references were drawn to discuss Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s confusions, lack of decision, lament because of the dearth of verdict giving.

Dr. Menon then mentioned some stories from Sabha-Parvan (Maya’s Palace) and explained the wrath of Jealousy in Duryodhana and his burning pain. Joining the strings of the character of Duryodhana from the character of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Dr. Menon, explained further on the Wrath, Jealousy and Burning pain. Further through a few references, Dr. Menon, explains how Duryodhana was so detached with life that he often spoke about giving it up just because he was in pain of jealousy and burning inside from the Pandavas.

After commenting a bit more on the character and thoughts of Duryodhana, Dr. Menon, moved further to talk about Arjuna. Arjuna, she said, was a very interesting character as he was not an ordinary human rather he was a genius who was strong both physically and mentally, he was fluent in many languages, if put in difficult situation he would come out of it by making the best of it and so on. Deriving some references from the Bhagavadgītā, Dr. Menon explained the difference of perspective in Arjuna and Duryodhana when they were standing on the battle ground. Where on one hand Duryodhana perceives his army full of great warriors, Arjuna saw his army full of, fathers and sons. His conflict was thus portrayed in his decision to fight or not fight for the war.

Moving on further, Dr. Menon, talked about Krishna and said as magnificent as his personality, Krishna was virtuous because of his indifference in actions and thoughts for all. It is her, Dr. Menon, explains that though one can always see a smile on Krishna’s face, there is an underlying indifference that he have for all. Here, Dr. Menon, also mentions some references to explain fate and destiny. Dr. Menon, concluded her lecture by explaining the sense of objectivity in Krishna’s teachings (often misinterpreted either as indifference or hopelessness) which is the key to live a cheerful life.

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