In this course, Books 1 and 18, (Ādiparvan and Svargārohaṇaparvan), the first and last books (parvans) of the epic, will be studied to provide an overview of the epic “as a whole.” We shall read these two major books in detail. The first minor book of the Ādiparvan or the Book of the Beginning contains a clear statement of its character and purpose. The Mahābhārata is declared to be pañcamaveda, specifically, the Veda of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa; it is also an Upaniṣad connecting the human to the Divine, with its presentation of Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva as Brahman. The second minor book (upaparvan) provides a summary of the text, whereas the third minor book provides a pedagogic “initiation” into the text and the hermeneutic keys to its interpretation. The text thus itself answers the question of how we ought to read the Mahābhārata. We shall read the entire Ādiparvan, focusing carefully on the Vedāntic import of prominent episodes such as the Garuḍa narrative and the narrative of the four Śārngaka birds, with which this major book closes. In the final part of the course, we shall read the Svargārohaṇaparvan with which the epic and the snake-sacrifice of Janamejaya closeout. What issues does this brief book raise with regard to the interpretation of dharma and salvation?
Areas of Study: Text and Traditions
Required/ Elective: Required
Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri
Day:- Every Saturday
Start Date:- 9 January 2021
End Date:- 20 March 2021
Time:- 10:00 am EST – 01:00 pm EST.
Quarter: Winter 2021