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Making it Relevant: Indian epics in a fast-paced world

June 5, 2009

This Friday series (by Joshua Eskew, a senior at Marian College studying English and communication, and an intern with the Indiana Humanities Council), will help expose the relevance of studying the classics.

In today’s fast-paced society, ancient Indian epics aren’t very high on the priority list. But even when you’re standing in line waiting for your umpteenth carmel-double-espresso-grande-venti-hipcoolurbanstyle latte at Starbucks, The Bhagavad Gita has relevance.

The Bhagavad Gita (“The Song of God”–great for iPods) asks a question we’ll all probably face: What do you do when you’re compelled to do something you feel is immoral?

The hero of the epic, Arjuna, asks this question of himself as he is forced into a war against members of his family. Luckily, his charioteer is actually the god Krishna in disguise (kind of like if Jesus drove an IndyGo bus) and he talks through his conflict with him, prompting an entire discussion of how we define ourselves and our relationships to others.

Fortunately, most of us will never confront this question in the same way as Arjuna. When we ask these questions of ourselves, we understand our own principles even better or perhaps discover principles we didn’t know about. I won’t spoil the story for you (Arjuna becomes a Broadway star), but situations confront us all the time in which it’s helpful to have these answers. Anyone can appreciate the value of The Bhagavad Gita because the questions it asks are those which makes us most human in any time. It’s simple: When we know what we’d do in a bad situation, we learn even more about the good we’re all doing right now.

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