Colloquim - Dr. Dalmiya

April 27, 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Sakamaki Hall C-308 Add to Calendar

Weeping Wisdom: Grief and Morality in the Mahābhārata’s ‘Book of the Women’

The “Book of the Women” in the Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata, contains a graphic description of the devastation of war and of women wailing over dismembered corpses of dead warriors. My paper tries to make sense of this interlude of grief in a traditional and timeless narrative of valor doubling as a text of ethical instruction. Reading the laments of the women against the grain, I suggest that we find here a “different moral voice.” I argue that, in this episode, the epic self-reflexively stages the ‘conundrum’ or the absurdity of good people suffering undeserved, inexplicable plight. While conservative interpretations try to ‘accommodate’ this disruption of conventional intuitions about morality, the disorientation depicted in this scene holds clues for feminist moral theory in terms of intimacy and uncertainty. Overall, what I attempt here is an offbeat exploration of the philosophical import of grief in a cross-cultural context.

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