GUEST POST — Getting Into the Spirit of the Story with the Mahabharata

Dear friends,

mahabarataThe Mahabharata comes in many sizes and languages. The author of the version we will use at Toronto Pursuits, William Buck, worked from a 5,800-page Sanskrit version. His goal was not to translate it, but rather to retell it: “I thought how nice to tell the story so it wouldn’t be so hard to read.” With the motive of a storyteller, he said his approach was “to begin with a literal translation from which to extract the story, and then tell that story in an interesting way that would preserve the spirit and flavor of the original.”

We don’t know Sanskrit, so we can’t confirm any comparison to the original, but we can confidently say that this retelling of the Mahabharata does indeed deliver a great story.

From Denise Ahlquist:

Stories are like air to me. I find it hard to go a day without reading them, hearing them, telling them, and discussing them. I’ve been fortunate through my work at the Great Books Foundation to get the chance to share and discuss stories with readers of all ages and backgrounds, from all over the world. And my passion for great stories is closely followed by my interest in how ideas matter and are realized in the world. Alice and I have been practicing yoga together for over ten years, and I love how the ideas and philosophies of ancient India are made manifest in physical postures, breathing, and everyday life. I can’t wait to dive into the stories of ancient India this summer at Toronto Pursuits.

From Alice Dunlap-Kraft:

mahabarata_coachI first discovered the Mahabharata when Peter Brook’s version appeared on public television many years ago. With the first episode my husband and I were hooked and rearranged our schedules to make sure we missed none of it. When the Art Institute of Chicago offered a multi-week discussion of William Buck’s version coupled with visits to their South Asian art collection, I jumped at the chance to read it. (The discussion was led by fellow Chicagoan Mark Cwik, whom some of you might know from past Toronto Pursuits seminars.) Ever since then I have wanted to explore it more deeply. The characters and plot are so rich and complex. Toronto Pursuits will be a perfect setting for a shared inquiry discussion, and I am so looking forward to it.

Our appetites are certainly whetted for this taste of an Indian classic! The full program in Toronto will offer other Indian-flavored bonuses as well–we’ve found a fabulous Indian restaurant nearby and we’ll be showing the Peter Brook film in the afternoons.

For more information on our Toronto Pursuits seminar, Taste of an Indian Classic, click here.

Denise and Alice

Denise Ahlquist Picture

Denise Ahlquist, Vice President for Training at the Great Books Foundation, has led many thousands of Shared Inquiry discussions and is fascinated by the influence of ancient India on today’s world.

Alice Dunlap-Kraft  photoAlice Dunlap-Kraft will be newly retired in 2014 from nearly 30 years as a management consultant at IBM, relishing her freedom to read, and banishing the corporate cobwebs by thinking about the deeper matters of life.

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