The Mahabharata has been held in high esteem not only as a literary work but also for its philosophical content. Also, several art forms have drawn inspiration from the Mahabharata. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the Mahabharata is an encyclopedia of Indian culture. This course offers an opportunity to explore the various facets of the Mahabharata in general. However, we will focus on the ethical dimension of the text by exploring its relevance to the study of puruṣārtha-s (the ends of human life). The Mahabharata recognises itself as the ultimate guide to purusharthas - धर्मे च अर्थे च कामे च मोक्षे च भरतर्षभ । यदिहास्ति तदन्यत्र यन्नेहास्ति न तत्क्वचित् ।।
Every human being has several needs and desires and adopts suitable means to attain them. The set of all such needs and desires may be called the ppurusharthas. These have been classified into four sub-groups: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. These include both the ends and the means to achieve the ends. In this course we shall try to understand the ethical framework of purushartha and see how it offers us a way to ‘Live and let live’. Moreover, it is often observed that these needs and desires conflict with each other. We shall use the guiding light of the Mahabharata to see how such conflicts can be resolved.