by Dr. T.S. Rukmani, Chair
in Hindu Studies
The Chair in Hindu Studies, in association with the Department of Religion
at Concordia University, has organized an international conference to
recognize a century of solid scholarship (both Indian and Western) that
made the epic Mahabharata accessible to a wider audience beyond
Leading scholars from around the worldthe U.S., U.K., Japan, Israel,
Mexico, Australia, India, Norway, and otherswill present papers
in the field of Mahabharata studies.
A treasure of Indian lore
The Mahabharata is a veritable encyclopedia dealing with issues
of enduring human interests. It would not be an exaggeration to say that
it reflects the inmost depths of the soul of humanity. It has been justly
recognized as a priceless treasure house of Indian lore, both secular/humanist
The perennial, worldwide appeal of this epic was the rationale behind
Peter Brooks nine-hour-long recreation of The Mahabharata
as a play, which premiered at the French Festival of India in Paris in
In 1901, M. N. Dutt single-handedly completed in 12 volumes a verse-by-verse
English translation of this authoritative Sanskrit epic in 100,000 stanzas
of law, morality, social and political philosophy. Subsequently, the critical
edition of the Mahabharata, partly sponsored by the International
Council for the Philosophy and Humanistic Studies, UNESCO, was brought
out by an international team of scholars at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research
Institute, Pune, India, in 28 volumes between 1923-1972.
The University of Chicago, well known for its enduring commitment to Indological
research, saw fit to commission an annotated and critical English translation
based on the Pune edition. Between 1973 and 1978, three volumes appeared,
edited by A. van Buitenen, the renowned Dutch Indologist.
Teaching the Mahabharata
Over three days, from May 18 to 20, more than 30 scholars of international
repute will present their papers on the methodological problems of teaching
the Mahabharata, character analysis based on ethical issues, and challenge
and response, in the context of philosophical, social and other issues.
The chief speaker will be Professor Gerald Larson, who holds the Rabindranath
Tagore Chair at the University of Indiana, U.S.A. and is a highly respected
scholar of India-related studies.
Professor Larson will be introduced by Rector Frederick Lowy at the conferences
inaugural session on May 18, which starts at 9:30 a.m. in Room 110 of
the Henry F. Hall Building.