Destiny and Human Initiative in the Mahabharata

Destiny and Human Initiative in the Mahabharata

Number of page: 237
Author: Julian F. Woods
Publisher: SUNY Press
Rating:
Category: Literary Criticism

Destiny and Human Initiative in the Mahaμbhaμrata explores this epic’s ongoing polemic regarding free will in the face of destiny. While the belief that human history is governed exclusively by external forces is evident in the Mahaμbhaμrata, the epic also contains the commanding message of Kr|s|n|a that the lives of individuals and societies may, and should indeed, be changed for the better through human initiative. Woods maintains that the resolution of this conundrum emerges from the epic’s view of what it is to be a human being. We may harbor ideas about our self-determination and freedom, but the epic reveals that we are not at all free but trapped in a vicious cycle of birth and death that can be broken only when we realize that our precious ego-self with its sense of agency is a mental fiction. The Mahaμbhaμrata admits to a modicum of freedom in everyday life which, from a higher perspective, is nothing but destiny in disguise.

About The Author

Julian F. Woods is an independent scholar living in Montreal.