Returning to The Plague and The Bhagwad Gita : New Meaning and “Existentialist Absurdity” amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:Existentialism, Absurdity, Philosophy, Health, Chaos, Epidemics etc.
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Your right is to perform your work but never be oriented to the results. Never be motivated by the results of your actions, nor should you be attached to not performing your prescribed duties.
The above mentioned philosophy however, can be best understood in the present scenario of the pandemic of COVID 19. The pandemic which has kept everybody unsettled, restless from within, Shrimad Bhagwad Gita serves a torchbearer to the humanity. It holds our faith in karma, the true meaning of life.
As WHO reported, 2020 gripped the whole world into the saga of darkness which is started with a disease from animal. Not only that in fact it has engulfed the whole world into it. The entire world it seems has locked and blocked not only its movements but life. The numbers of death and patients increasing every day and with this increase in number is increasing the social stigma towards people. Health workers, women, children, sex workers, all are victim of it. This saga of disease has restricted not only our breathing but livelihood, happiness. We all succumb now to our own shell. Aristotle said once, “man is a social animal” and look at the world around today, a small little animal has brought that man to just a tiny individual who is always at the hands and prey to the nature. Be it Ebola Virus (EVD) of 1976 that was considered one of the deadliest viruses until then of its own kind, severely fatal to human illness or the Spanish Flu or the Bubonic Plague, Black Death epidemic. All these have always been fatal and deadliest in their own specific ways. Still, we human always feel surprised whenever we face such sudden outbreak of any disaster, what so ever. The catastrophic, xenophobic behaviour, subjects to be analysed from anthropological point of view try to justify one of the foremost evolution myths by Herbert Specncer, “Survival of the Fittest”. However, in literature, it is said that everything has a purpose in a narrative or a situation, it has a meaning to interpret. Things and situations are always interpretational. So is the case in this pandemic. This COVID-19 is much more than just a “disease”. It’s a social-cultural construct that shapes, reshapes or de-shapes humanities responses and behaviour.
The objective of this paper is to look these constructs from a different lens and analyse the underlying existential philosophy, an existential absurdity drawing adjacent connections between the age old two classics piece of literature, The Bhagwad Gita (a long conversation between Arjuna and Lord Krishna before the battle of Mahabharata in the battle field Kurukshetra and The Plague by Albert Camus.
Camus, Albert. The Plague. Vintage: New York. 1947.
-------- The Myth of Sisyphus, and Other Essays. London: H. Hamilton, 1965.
Kor, Eva M, and Lisa Rojany- Buccieri. Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Terre Haute, IN: Tanglewood Press, 2011. Internet resource.
N.V.R. Krishnamacharya. The Mahabharata. Tirupati : Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, 1983.
The Bhagavad Gita. Translated by Laurie Patton. London ; New York: Penguin, 2008
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