Narrative and the Puranas: A Conversation with Prof. Raj Balkaran


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Meru Media

Religion & Spirituality

Join Mukunda as he speaks to Professor Raj Balkaran, Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies. He is a scholar of the Puranas and Narratives and the author of The Goddess and the King in Indian Myth. He is also the host of an amazing podcast called New Books in Indian Religions. In this episode, we discuss a host of topics including: 00:01:10 Introduction to Professor Balkaran and his background, unique journey into Hinduism and academia 00:20:00 The experience of being Hindu and Brown in the West 00:23:30 The difficultly of defining and teaching Hinduism, A profound diversity and ecosystem 00:34:30 The tapestry of the Shastras, in particular the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, and the nature of violence 00:45:50 The paradox of Dharma, the Dharmic double helix 00:55:40 Narrative and Framing of Shastras, particularly the Puranas 01:00:30 Prof. Balkaran’s spiritual journey 01:12:30 Academia and the Shastras 01:19:00 Discussion on the Devi Mahatmya and the ring narrative 01:30:10 What is Markendaya’s role in the Puranas and Privritti and Nivritti Dharma 01:31:35 The importance of the Azhwars and how the pasurams become the Divya Prabandam 01:41:40 What role do the King and Merchant have in the Devi Mahatmya 01:48:50 Karma, Vasanas, Moksha and living in the world 01:54:40 Back and forth discussion on Free Will vs Karma 02:10:40 The Narrative power of the Shastras 02:16:10 Prof. Balkaran’s upcoming works and courses along with online education 02:21:00 Prof. Balkaran’s closing thoughts 02:23:10 Why the podcast is called Meru Media