• Slides: Crisis in the Mahābhārata – Concepts on its causes, strategies against it

    Vitus Angermeier (see profile)
    Cultural Studies, Hinduisms, Indology
    Crisis management, Dharma, Conflict management, Mahābhārata
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    DICSEP – Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas
    Conf. Org.:
    Department of Indology and Far Eastern Studies (Zagreb University) & Croatian Philosophical Society
    Conf. Loc.:
    Conf. Date:
    August, 14–19, 2023
    Kingship, Divine kingship, karma, Indra
    Permanent URL:
    In modern understanding, a crisis can be an event or a period of (or leading to) an unstable or dangerous situation. It can affect an individual, a group or the whole society. However, a crisis is not only a threat, it also implies the need for (and the chance for) change and improvement. Historically, the term was borrowed from Greek (κρίσις) via Latin in early modern times to initially describe the critical phase of a disease, in which the patient could either take the path towards recovery or towards death. Given this complex history and meaning of the term, it comes as no surprise that, while the Mahābhārata deals with an entire range of situations that would be considered crises by modern standards, the early Sanskrit vocabulary lacks a single equivalent of the term and its Greek and Latin predecessors. Nevertheless, the descriptions of personal and collective distress and conflict situations in the epic and in relevant related literature allow for a comprehensive examination of how crises were understood and dealt with. Besides the well-researched topic of āpad and āpaddharma, several other terms like īti, upanipāta or upadrava deserve an accurate investigation and will provide new insights into the intellectual history of the ever relevant topics of crisis and conflict management. To this end, I will present several exemplary narratives from the Mahā­bhārata and show how – depending on the context and the agenda of the authors – different concepts are developed, on the one hand to explain the causation of the crisis and, on the other, to provide strategies to overcome it.
    Last Updated:
    6 months ago


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