W e are gearing up for Mahabharat. In less than two weeks time, we will be putting up a major production of this epic story, and it will be held in the new Adiyogi Alayam. These programs are run in an exuberant manner; Mahabharat will be an eight-day party. Earlier, we did Vaibhav Shiva, about how Shiva taught yoga. Then we did Leela, about how Krishna taught yoga. This time we thought we would do Mahabharat. It is different from anything we normally do.

The beauty of a story is this -- if you involve yourself with a story without going through the pains of life, you can go through life.

What is the significance of Mahabharat? One thing is -- as a story, it is the story. It is a story inside a story, inside a story, inside a story… it is the longest known epic on the planet, nearly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined. No other story has as many characters as Mahabharat, and it is not like they appear and disappear. Each one has a full life, from birth to death, so it is extremely complex. If there is any one story which gives a picture of what this human creature is, this is it. Mahabharat is not about good and bad, love and hatred, it is about all the complexities of life, every kind of emotion, every kind of human being, from the lowest to the highest. Every kind of human consciousness is represented; every level and degree of development and evolution. We will be exploring this for eight exuberant days, in a way that is relevant to one’s life. It is not just storytelling; it is an exposition of a variety of arts, dance, music and drama -- everything woven into it.

The beauty of a story is this -- if you involve yourself with a story without going through the pains of life, you can go through life. Why you sit in a theatre is, you can go through so many experiences safely. If you try to do the same things in your life, you may get battered to death. So if you go through Mahabharat, you can go through violence without being cut into pieces, which is very important. Whether you like it or not, violence is there in human societies. We better understand why it happens. If you don’t understand why it happens, it will happen because of you. Please understand this. You cannot wish away violence.

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Earlier, I participated in many world peace conferences thinking they would be doing something worthwhile. I happened to be at one very significant conference where about 42 Nobel laureates were participating. I looked at these people, they were all fidgety and nervous, and I said, ‘These people are going to bring world peace?’ So when my chance to speak came, I went up and asked, ‘All of you want world peace. I appreciate the intention, but how many of you can put your hand on your heart and say that you are peaceful? Please tell me. Are you really peaceful?’ They said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Then how are you going to make world peace happen? If you don’t know how to keep this mind peaceful, if you don’t know how to keep this one piece of life peaceful, how are you going to make the world peaceful? Is this some kind of entertainment for you or are you all just working towards a Nobel Prize?’

Peace will not happen because you wish it. Peace will happen when you understand the mechanics of violence within your mind. If you try to explore these things in your life, you would get entangled. But a story is a tremendous possibility, a space for you to explore -- you can go in and out of various things in life without getting entangled in the process. If you go to the theater or the cinema and just watch, somebody fights a war for you, somebody loves for you, somebody goes through everything for you, and you can go through everything untouched.

I have the pleasure of staying in the ashram for over a month and a half in preparation. Been a fruitful time. Writing a bunch of poems and painting a bit too. It has been a long time since a programme like this. Leela was six years ago – I am excited.

Love & Grace