This study explores the history of ideas concerning karma
, predestination, fate, and the efficacy of human action in India's great epic, the Mahabharata
. The relative importance of human action and such external causative forces as fate, time and divine interference is a problem of perennial interest to the Mahabharata innumerable composers and one which is often treated with a sense of urgency and feeling.
The core argument presented in the study is that, despite the wide variety of views to be found in the Mahabharata, it is the consistent, albeit varying, emphasis placed by Indian thinkers upon the importance and meaningfulness of human effort and freedom that most stands out. Given Hinduism's general reputation for fatalism, it is a point of some importance. The reason for this would seem to lie principally with the way in which the essential concern in Hindu culture for moksa and dharma effectively pre-disposed Hindu thinkers towards placing a high value upon power, control and freedom.
1. Karma: an ideal compromise or fate disguised?
2. Predestination: the power of the Gods
3. Impersonal fate: the power of the mysterious beyond
4. Human action: the power of man
5. The Bhagavadgita: God's might and man's freedom