READING AND COMPOSITION - Great Books of India
Dharma in literature and performance
Dharma is a key theme in Indian literature and performance, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In this course, we will explore three moments of dharma in action or crisis. We will begin with the moment in “Aranyakanda” (“Forest episode”) in the Ramayana, when Ravana abducts Sita to Lanka. The next instance is the Bhagwadgita, in which Krishna delivers an eloquent commentary on dharma. In a more modern context, in Satyajit Ray’s much celebrated film Devi (Goddess, 1960), a feudal patriarch fantasizes dharma, when his daughter-in-law appears to him in a feverish dream as the goddess Kali. Dharma, in these three instances, profoundly affects the texts of gender, kinship, power, and desire.
We will read translations, commentaries, and critical writings on the Ramayana, the Bhagwadgita, and other texts by Robert P. Goldman, Wendy Doniger, Bimalkrishna Matilal, Mandakranta Bose, Krishnachandra Bhattacharya, Ashish Avikunthak, Satyajit Ray, and others.