The presentation begins with the moving scene of Va¯lmi¯ki's grief over the bereavement of the survivor of the two birds in amorous union as one of them is pierced by a hunter's arrow. After considering Abhinavagupta's doubt about the genuineness of Va¯lmi¯ki's grief, the paper moves to Maha¯bha¯rata as the women from the warring clans bear witness to the horrendous carnage ensuing from the battle, and the constant rebuke that Yudhisthira, head of the Pa¯ndava clan, faces from Draupadi¯ for wandering the earth without finding a stable foundation for Dharma or grounding it in firm absolutes. We liken Yudhisthira to Mahatma Gandhi facing the near-collapse of the Indian subcontinent as it was being rent apart with communal violence on the eve of its Independence. But we also compare Yudhisthira with Hamlet, the tragic grief-ridden character, who is equally bewildered and confused by the array of emotions and sensations that overwhelm his lingering body upon news of the death of and ghostly encounter with his murdered father. With this as the context, we take the occasion to explore recent thinking on the 'hard emotions', in particular, grief, sorrow and mourning, and link the challenging inner and social condition to the calling of Dharma (righteous law, normatively worthy action). Drawing from some comparative work (academic and personal) in the study of grief, mourning and empathy, we shall discuss the treatment of this tragic pathos in classical Indic literature and modern-day psychotherapy. We shall demonstrate, despite being secularised, these emotions continue to serve as the sites of imagination at a much more personal and inter-personal level that are not antithetical to a Dharmic (sacred) quest despite their haunting presence even when 'the four walls collapse around one in the intensity of duhkha (suffering, sorrow)' (Tagore).
Field of Research
220315 Philosophy of Religion 1699 Other Studies In Human Society 2204 Religion And Religious Studies
Socio Economic Objective
970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
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