Home » identities » Mahabharata Knowledge Seeking Adventures: Disdain, not appreciated

Mahabharata Knowledge Seeking Adventures: Disdain, not appreciated


August 2014
« Jul   Sep »



The problem is that in Indian culture someone is judged by what they wear, and that someone is usually female. Knowledge and attire should not be a cause/ effect experience. Learning, probing, exploring new avenues clothe the mind, not the body. these days, Americans are getting funded to study in India because of their willingness and interest in exploring something new or differently and they’ll return with new, exciting ways of seeing something that others – dressed for the part- haven’t seen.


South Bangalore is known for its traditional set up and that was where I found myself on Wednesday, attending a talk about the characters of the Mahabharata.

It was conducted by a highly religious and learned man, who also happened to be so old that he had no teeth, the character he decided to speak about was Ghandhari.

I got a glimpse of the story from merely the point of view of Dharma, with lengthy explanations about the difference between Krishna and Shakuni. Which as was their intentions, Shakuni’s selfish intentions and Krishna’s intentions of societal good. Which I’ve always understood and never had trouble wrapping my head around.

I had a bunch of questions at the end of the session about Ghandari’s decisions, so I walked into the side room where the old man was sitting and I even got my answer.

What stayed with me was the way…

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  1. A question, do explain your last point about Americans getting grants. I’m not sure I understand it in the context I wrote my rant in?

    • Here in the US, we get grants to pursue studies in India. You don’t have to be Indian but just have an interest in exploring areas of say Mahabharata. In universities for ex, PhDs are funded to complete their thesis on Indian studies without being ‘disdained’ or without feeling any lack as in not knowing the culture sufficiently. They simply have a curiosity or wish to go on an intellectual adventure and get paid for that. And they certainly won’t do it wearing Indian attire unless of course they want to, but not required for curiosity or adventures.

      • I see. Though much of this one old man’s disdain I faced was because of the fact I am a part of the culture. Its not the case with everyone, a lot of people who give these discourses don’t really care what one wears.
        Also most young people here aren’t very interested in our own history because of various reasons. So I guess, its seems a little one dimensional to think of this only from the perspective of clothing, which was a small part of the entire experience.

  2. Ananya Gopal says:

    I agree with you but I don’t think the author is referring to attire. I think he/she means that the older generation isn’t used to the younger one being actively involved in the pursuit of Dharmic literature…and because of this, stereotype those who are involved. Attire can definitely be one reason for the stereotype but quite frankly it doesn’t fit here.

  3. Anushree says:

    Dear crossingfrontieres,

    The problem is that all over the world, in almost every culture, someone is judged by what they wear, and that someone is usually female. It’s called bias, stereotyping, and sexism, and sadly, is not just confined to the Indian culture.
    These days people from everywhere are getting funded to come study in and about India because they’re realizing that we’ve already made the discoveries they’re rediscovering. They want to catch up. We welcome them, but not in the same way we did not so long ago.

    The stereotype that the new generation is unlikely to be interested in the history and historical culture of their homelands is also a widespread occurrence. Please do not try to slew all mud on India.

    Oh, also, as a fellow Indian currently residing in India, I heartily second what itwasjustanotherdaydream said.

    – Anushree.

  4. […] Mahabharata Knowledge Seeking Adventures: Disdain, not appreciated. […]

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