Destiny and human initiative in the Mahābhārata

Abstract
This dissertation explores ideas about human agency and conduct as these are expressed in the Indian epic known as the Mahabharata. Two concepts in particular retain our attention: daiva, the power that comes from the gods, and purusakara, the power that comes from human beings. One current of thought holds that human life and the course of history are governed exclusively by external agencies. On the other hand, the epic also carries the commanding message that the lives of individuals and societies may be changed for the better through human initiative in accordance with the dharma, the moral order sanctioned by religious tradition. The issue is finally reduced to the question: who is the real agent of action?
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