musings on the Mahābhārata series: introduction

The Mahābhārata is a love of my life, and one of my main research interests – as well as the subject matter of my upcoming PhD thesis! for awhile now, i have been reflecting on how to meaningfully share about the Mbh on my social media platforms. generally, i would say that there are two main approaches to the Mbh in contemporary discourse: one is the academic and scholarly approach, which, although i both adore and adhere to, i find to be largely inaccessible and limited to the academic niche. the second, which seeps more into contemporary discourse, i find to be a moralistic, religious outlook. although i consider both approaches to be valid and needed in society, i believe that what is missing is more intimate, personal sharing about the Mbh. i, for one, am not in love with the Mbh purely out of intellectual curiosity. for me, The Mahābhārata is alive; it exists within me and within the collective consciousness as a mirror to our own thought processes and individual universes. i would therefore like to challenge myself past my usual scholarly approach and share earnestly about what it means for me to immerse myself in this marvellous epic. for instance, what does it mean for me as a modern woman to read about Draupadī’s disrobing; how can i understand myself better through her character?

to ground these discussions more, i will create infographics about the plot, the historical context & main characters (created more out of love for the Mbh than for these discussions, to be honest!).

very excited for this and am looking forward to establishing myself further in the epic’s framework through this interactive approach! 🖤

to begin with,


a question any scholar should ask themselves, i would argue, is why? why is my research relevant, why should i conduct this research in the first place, and how can it answer to questions of the present?

today, i am going to answer to this question with regards to the Mahābhārata. why should we care about an ancient epic poem? first of all, because the Mbh is not a dead, lifeless piece of literature. i would argue, and this is one of the main claims i will construct in my phd thesis, that the Mbh is ever-fluid and ever-changing. throughout centuries, there have been countless of retellings of the epic, each bearing differences, interpolations. does this mean that they are invalid? i would maintain that they are very much valid, and the continuous changes shaping and re-shaping the epic come as a result of its aliveness: it is alive, pulsing in the collective consciousness. in this full aliveness, the Mbh is moulded by society and culture as they evolve, acting as a mirror.

on the other hand, the Mahābhārata in itself proudly states that what you can find in it, you can find anywhere else, but you cannot find anywhere what does not exist in the Mbh; there is nothing that it does not address. in this, it tells us that it contains all answers and questions we can have – albeit in a very abstract and cryptic manner. for instance, it contains futuristic themes (for its time of creation), such as IVF and AI, and it addresses themes which are very relevant to the present day: religious violence, women’s rights, ethics. it answers to all questions we can have about the human condition; as although times are ever-changing, the human experience always remains the same, or so i would maintain: the questions we ask ourselves at their core remain the same, although the experience will be manifested or expressed differently at surface level. the Mbh thus contains inexhaustive areas of self-exploration and opportunities to understand ourselves and the world. 🌌

101 on the Mbh – infographics below! (parts 1, 2, 3… of many!)

watch my videos here in which i speak in length about the topics mentioned above:

Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

my Lord,

melt me on the betelnut leaf

show me that i am rough on the surface

but soft all the way through

my rugged edges,

my delusions of mass

my convictions of being,

my frights of flow

in the melding of haldi

and sanctified water,

apaḥ sips my contractions

pours of holy water,

my fissures dissolve into You

fingertips adorned in yellow hue

and moist eyes of velvet,

i throw my head back and gasp

𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓂𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒷𝑒 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒

🌼 photos: the ecstatic Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam, completed in forty-one days with my saṅgha of Śabda Yoginīs.

“Tarpaṇam is ritual libation in which the gross flows into the subtle, the lower into the higher, the rigid into the flexible, the known into knowing and the knowing into the knower.

Gaṇapati rules over the gaṇas in the Mūlādhāra cakra. It is here at the Mūlādhāra that solidity becomes our way of life. As soon as I think or say, “this is how I am,” my being has solidified exactly into that way of being. All other possibilities are eliminated. What was previously flowing (from the Sva-adhiṣṭhāna) has now become fixed, definitive, and stubborn.

When we invoke Mahāgaṇapati, he dissolves these self-imposed chains, allowing them to flow out of restrictions toward expansiveness. Unless this solidity melts, there is no growth or expansion.

In November 2022, Śabda Yoginīs across the world took the saṅkalpa of completing the Caturāvṛtti Tarpaṇam for forty-one days. Every day, we prepared a turmeric pyramid representing Mahāgaṇapati that dissolved with 444 offerings of mantra-infused water. The collective experience of this ritual resulted in exponential expansion, groundedness and miraculous transformation and transmutation of the gross to the subtle…

Deep gratitude to our Guru Maṇḍala for guiding us, leading us, and dissolving us.” 💛

🌼 read the rest on Śabda Institute, where you can also find many gorgeous photos from the collective Tarpaṇam experience. 🙏

ecstatic sculptures of the Devīs & the Devas at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

ecstatic sculptures of the Devīs & the Devas at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, one of the oldest museums in the world! 🤍 awe!


• Śiva & Pārvatī tenderly embracing each other (alternatively titled ‘Umā-Maheśvara).

• Pārvatī as the enthralling Gaurī. Mahārājñī!

• the beautiful Pārvatī making the kaṭakahasta gesture

• Viṣṇu ruling with his śakti, Lakṣmī, seated on his lap as her throne (alternatively titled Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa)

• the radiant Goddess Siddhā holding lotuses

• victorious Durgā slaying Mahiṣāsura

• dancing Ganeśa

• yet another depiction of Durgā slaying Mahiṣāsura

• two sculptures of the enrapturing Viṣṇu

• Viṣṇu birthed as Rāma