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Dharma in a Crumbling Democracy: Ancient Wisdom for Troubling Times


The epic, Mahabharata, was composed around ~600 BC. The ancient text addresses a time when the existing world order appears to be crumbling. Not only has the traditional political order been swept away; meritocracy, values and ethics no longer hold sway. Society is in a process of dissolution; and a powerful king asserts his absolute power, exceeding even the eternal law (dharma). 

And yet the epic undertakes to restate the concept of ethics in a time of upheaval. Containing a critique of technology, rampant materialism and self-serving individualism, the epic appears surprisingly contemporary. It offers philosophical insight into how humans can flourish in a troubled time.

In this Olio we will attempt to understand and analyze our situation as Americans and humans in light of the Mahabharata. We will analyze contemporary democratic society which is based on the virtues of freedom and prestige rather than obligation, tradition and merit and see if we can find contemporary relevance in this ancient text.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue, the walls lined with leather-bound treasures from a book hand printed in 1480 to a limited edition Ulysses signed by Henri Matisse, the illustrator, and by James Joyce. 


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Other upcoming Olios


Feb 22

Think Olio x RSA | Mental Health and Modern Life in NYC

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Prime Produce

Sign Up - $15

Feb 23

Questioning the Origins of Sexual Desire

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 28

American Dream/American Delusion: The Case for a Universal Basic Income

Taught by Phelim Kine
7 p.m. at WeWork // 205 Hudson

Sign Up - $15

Mar 2

Shakespeare Happy Hour | Think Olio 3rd Anniversary

Taught by Geoff Klock
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 3

Food, Power, & Control: Individuality and Our Place in the Food Chain

Taught by Michael Haltenberger
7:30 p.m. at Brooklyn Art Library

Sign Up - $15

Mar 7

Scenius Party | Populism & the Voice of the People

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $0

Mar 9

Perverts, Creepers, and Freaks: A History of Sexual Perversions

Taught by Jamie Warren
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 12

The American Moment: Victory, Dominance and Decline

Taught by Ward Regan
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $15

Mar 15

A Radical Prescription for Democracy

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $25

Mar 16

The History of Tech & The Future of Sex

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Mar 23

OlioMuse | The Muse That Screams: Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8

Taught by Whitney George
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $25

Mar 30

Utopia Happy Hour | Thomas More and Afrofuturism

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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