Mahabharata Themes

William Buck
This Study Guide consists of approximately 59 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Mahabharata.
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Dharma: Responsibility and Sacred Duty

Despite its size and complexity, the Mahabharata explores one over-arching theme predominantly, the observance of one's sacred duty, called dharma. All other thematic issues in the work relate to the question of dharma obeyed or ignored. The characters who satisfy the dictates of dharma are eventually rewarded, while those who consciously refuse to obey their dharma are inevitably punished. According to Hindu law, each individual has a special place in society and must behave in strict accordance to the requirements of that position, called caste. In the Mahabharata, all the important characters belong to the Kshatnya or warrior caste. Individuals such as Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Bhima, and Duryodhana must obey the dharma of warriors. They must be courageous, honorable, and respectful of their opponents. They must never take unfair advantage; for example, attacking an unarmed or unprepared enemy. Duryodhana, for example, fights fairly against Bhima...

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This section contains 1,041 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Mahabharata Study Guide
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Epics for Students
Mahabharata from Epics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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