choose only ONE of the following;
1. The just war
Many scholars consider the Mahabharata to be the first text which examines the concept of a “just war.” What makes it a just war? Take care to note that unlike actual historical wars, the purpose of the Kurukshetra war is neither bound to territorial expansion (such as Hitler’s invasions) nor to the enforcement of ideology (such as is the purpose of so called “holy wars” i.e. the crusades). Despite the fact that the war breaks many of its own rules (which you should mention) and this is done by both sides, one hopes to the very end that the Pandavas will emerge victorious. Why? What are they fighting for?
2. Morality is varied
One of the innumerable ideas the Mahabharata proposes is that dharma (translated as “righteousness” in your show) varies and depends on the situation one finds him/herself in, as well as the intent behind a deed. Such being the case, some deeds which appear immoral become good due to the intention of the characters, whereas other acts which follow the rules are perceived as unjust. Take as an example the Pandavas’ marriage to Draupadi vs. the game of dice. All the accepted moral and social norms were broken in the former and all were followed in the latter (that is, the game of dice was technically in accord with the rules set out for it before its start). Yet, the polyandrous marriage was a virtuous deed whereas Duryodhan’s intentions made the dice game malicious. In this view of moral variance, how can one decide when a deed is righteous and when it isn’t? If morality lies in abiding by certain rules, when do rules in turn become immoral?
3. Draupadi – feminist icon or tragic heroine?
Draupadi, the tritagonist of the Mahabharata, is one of the most revered literary icons for the contemporary woman. Unlike Sita, she is perceived to have independent thought, to be of fiery nature and not afraid to speak out against injustice. In addition, her polyandrous marriage has been the subject of much inspiration and fascination for modern women. What does Draupadi really represent? She is Yajnaseni (a fire born). Agni is both a tirtha and a dham, hence simultaneously a messenger to the gods and a contact to the divine world, a dwelling place for the divine and a purifier (note that Agni played a significant role in the Ramayana as well). At the time of her birth it is predicted Draupadi will change the future of the Aryan region and Krishna often alludes that the Kuru dynasty will be cleansed because of her. Is she an inspiration to the heroes, a catalyst for the course of events, a unifying force, a victim or a hero? Is she to be pitied or admired? Who is Draupadi? To the Pandavas? To Krishna? To the epic? In her own right as a character?
4. Karna – hero or fool?
Karna is one of the most relatable characters in the Mahabharata, perhaps because he is a person one can encounter today – someone who perceives him/herself to be on the constant receiving end of injustice and who believes they are always wronged by the privileged class. In a way Karna is also an iconic figure because he seeks to gain respect for his indisputable skills. Is Karna a victim of circumstance? Can one really justify his actions up to the very end? When does sympathy for him drain from the reader (in your case viewer) and why? Is he a hero or is he a villain? Protagonist or antagonist? Victim or oppressor? Why is his relationship with his brothers so tragic? Why is his perception of the world what ultimately leads to his downfall?
5. The allegory of life
The Bhagavad Gita takes place on a battlefield between two opposing armies. What does this represent allegorically? Use clues you find in the Gita to answer this question. In addition, how does this metaphor tie in with the Katha Upanishad (the story of Nachikketa who goes to Yama/Death and asks for three boons)?
6. Dhrithrashtra and Gandhari vs Yudhishtir and Draupadi
Both the couples mentioned are rulers, both have children. Yet, one could argue that Yudhishtir and Draupadi are considered and emperor and an empress, even when they are stripped of their kingdom, whereas Dhrithrashtra and Gandhari, despite always retaining their wealth, are simply considered parents (both by scholars and characters in the epic itself). Why? What is the meaning of this comparison?
Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell.
In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.
God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.
Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.
To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.
Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.
Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies, 4(8), 487.
Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.