Professorial Lecture Series

This public lecture is the first in a series of seven lectures that aim to celebrate our esteemed academics and showcase their areas of expertise in research and teaching.

About the event

The Mahābhārata, the 2000-year-old Sanskrit epic, naturally attracts superlatives:  the world’s longest poem, the richest storehouse of Indian tradition, the deepest Hindu philosophy. As its own title proclaims, the epic is the great (mahā-) story of India (-bhārata), but it has shaped cultures and societies as far as Bali in the east to Pakistan in the west. For two millennia, characters and narratives from the Mahābhārata have attracted painters, poets and politicians, sculptors, dramatists and dancers. It is a major stream of inspiration that enriches and informs every branch of Indian culture. Embedded at the heart of the epic is the Bhagavadgītā, ‘The Song of the Lord’, the best-known and most revered exposition of Hindu theology. From palm-leaf manuscripts to print, film, television and of course digital media, the Mahābhārata has colonised each new medium as soon as it evolved. How did this arcane text disrupt my otherwise orderly existence, and catapult me into an endless journey towards an unattainable destination?  Let me share with you my up-and-down romance with this wonderous, unwieldy and ultimately insoluble puzzle of a text.



  • 6-7.30pm - Academic Lecture
  • 7.30-8pm - Networking drinks and canapés 


About the speaker 

McComas Taylor is Professor at the School of Culture, History & Language in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. 

He has led the South Asia Program in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University in Canberra. His research lies at the intersection of contemporary critical theory and classical Sanskrit narrative literature. His primary focus is on the construction of ‘true’ discourse in the Foucauldian sense in the Sanskritic, Hindu episteme. His initial work in this area was on the narrative fables in the Pañcatantra cycle. The primary output of this was a book, The fall of the Indigo Jackal, published by SUNY Press in 2007. Following that, he turned his attention to textual studies of the mahapuranas in which he explored various authorial strategies aimed at empowering puranic discourse. More recently, he has studied contemporary oral rendition of puranic texts, specifically the Bhagavatapurana, to explore ways in which performative and ritual practices empower discourse.

Read more about the speaker here



Event details

Event date

Wed, 20 Mar 2024, 6 - 8pm