Mahabharata Upanayanam | AHEAD - Online Degree Programs
Mahabharata Upanayanam

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Mahabharata Upanayanam

Mahabharata is the greatest chronicle ever narrated, and most people would have heard something or other about this grand itihasa. Through movies, tele-series, novels, short stories, poems, dramas, folk tales, traditions and a thousand other ways, opinions are made and people assume that they know for sure what's actually inside this book. But are all these hearsays, facts from the real textual Mahabharata? Like a jumbled Rubik’s cube in their hand that they are unable to solve, are people left with a mixed up version of Mahabharata? Do they know how and where to look for the answers?


Working knowledge in English

Program Duration

30 Hours in 6 Weeks, 5 Hours / Week

Fee Structure

INR 8,500 / $120 for the entire program

About this course

Composed by Mahaṛṣi Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa, Mahābhārata is the chronicle of the Kuru dynasty of India. Due to its historical nature, it is classified as an itihāsa. At the same time it is considered as the fifth veda owing to its profound philosophical and spiritual lessons, which helps us navigate this world happily.

Through movies, tele-series, novels, short stories, poems, dramas, folk tales, traditions and a thousand other ways, opinions are made and we assume that we know for sure whats actually inside this book. But are all these hearsays, facts from the real textual Mahābhārata? Are we left with a mixed up version of Mahābhārata? Do we know how and where to look for the answers?

This Program will help solve this conundrum. This Program is an introduction to the multidimensionality of this itihāsa, with its textual traditions, complex characters, profound stories, insightful conversations etc. Each module in this program is intended to grant a deeper vision and understanding of the Mahābhārata, and convey how and where to find answers.

By the end of this course, you will,

  1. Befriend Mahābhārata and understand the nature and purpose of this itihāsa.
  2. Mitigate and courageously face life, at home and at work.
  3. Manage internal and external world by practising Dharma in Karma - Taking responsibility for our words and deeds.
  4. Understand the textual tradition of Mahābhārata and differentiate between misconceived notions, regional tales and stories within the text.
  5. To live happily, by practising Mahābhārata wisdom in daily life.
  1. Mahābhārata: The Panchama Veda - Mahābhārata is intrinsically classified as an itihasa. Bhagavan Veda Vyasa has said within the itihasa that it is the Panchama Veda or the Fifth Veda. Understanding Mahābhārata as the Panchama Veda, improves our approach to this grand itihasa, and reveals the Moksha Shastra that is Mahābhārata .
  2. A Timeless Itihasa for our Timely Needs - Though Mahabharata is timeless, this grand itihasa also contains solutions to address the need of the hour. This lecture reveals the timeless nature of Mahabharata, alongside the timely solutions it can offer.
  3. A Preamble to the Grand Itihāsa - What exactly is an Itihāsa? It’s purpose, an account of the author’s life, and a synopsis of Mahābhārata.
  4. Textual Traditions - ‘How many Mahābhārata’s are there?’. Introducing critical edition and regional versions, choosing the right text for study, acknowledging pluralism of texts in Indian culture.

  1. Pŗatijnā - Vows taken by certain characters of Mahābhārata, specific circumstances under which such vows were taken, what followed and if / how the characters were able to uphold dharma given the vow; Should vows be eternal?
  2. Guru - śiṣya relationship - Through stories of Āruni, Uddālaka and similar the Guru - śiṣya relationship from Mahābhārata will be explored, reflection of vedic view of Guru in Mahābhārata, the surrendering attitude of a disciple, the uninterrupted continuity of Guru - śiṣya relationship from Mahābhārata till present day.
  3. Bhagavad Gīta - Starting with the context in the itihāsa, and praise for the philosophical treasure chest which Bhagavad Gīta is, the module would go on to discuss the transformation of Arjuna from a soldier to sādhaka.
  4. Digvijaya Yatra: Expeditions to Establish Dharma – The Digvijaya Yatra undertaken by Pandavas, has a subtle purpose to establish dharma in the kingdom. Trailing the routes taken by four younger Pandavas during the Rajasuya Yajna, this module explores the geographical aspects as well as the purposes of this expedition.

  1. Yajñasenī: A Woman from Fire - This module discusses the life and times of Draupadī, and draws a comparison with the contemporary need for women empowerment. Recognizing the qualities of this female protagonist of Mahabharata, an attempt is made to inspire the men and women of today to imbibe them and make genuine progress in their life and hence society.
  2. The Unbroken Legacy - An exploration of the magnanimity of Mahābhārata by analysing its influence on our nation at large. Through art, architecture and other forms of expression, this itihāsa remains an uninterrupted legacy for millennia.
  3. The Lazy Camel and Other Stories for wise living- Mahābhārata has many lessons, advice, and tattvam that can help us with our daily lives. The itihasa conveys a lot of these lessons through gripping stories that have animals or birds as primary characters. some of them will be discussed in this module.
  4. Mahābhārata in Adages - Mahabharata, apart from its existence in textual and ritualistic traditions across the Indian subcontinent, thrives exuberantly through expressions in language like ‘Adages’ and ‘Maxims’. In this module, we rediscover Mahabharata through such expressions.
  1. Kingship and Polity Acumen – Discussions on dharma of a king as envisioned by Mahābhārata, the discretion he should practice and the shrewdness expected of him. Through excerpts about kingship and polity, the qualities of a magnificent leader will be focussed upon.
  2. Yakṣa Praśna – Dramatic interrogation by Yakṣa and Yudhiṣṭhira’s (Āranya Paŗva) wise and quick responses on various aspects of life, society and dharma, demonstration of unparalleled patience by Yudhiṣṭhira encourages one to imbibe this supreme quality in life.
  3. Lessons for daily living from the Mahabharata - Mahābhārata is a repository of management lessons. Learning them enables one to manage the system, resources and oneself effectively and efficiently. This module reminds us of the necessary skills in management, and discusses how Mahabharata reveals them to us.
  4. Cycle of Life and Death – Discussion on the continuity of Ātma through cycles of life and death and the role played by karma and or karma phala in governing that journey. The previous and present birth interconnecting stories of Ambā, Draupadī and few others are cited as examples.
  1. Regional Oral Traditions - The module introduces the various regional tales which branched out from the original text of Mahābhārata. The module narrates five such stories or legends popular in different places across India. The context of origin of these stories and their motivation will also be studied.
  2. Dāna as Dharma – How dāna is considered as an essential part of one’s dharma, and how it is different from the notion of present day charity? The qualities and the attitudes of the giver and the needful etc. will be examined as per the view of Mahābhārata.
  3. Rāmāyaṇa in Mahābhārata - This module displays the remarkable interconnection between the two great itihāsas Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. It also suggests to the student that, when in sorrow or when troubled, one should readily contemplate that there is always someone else who is in more pain or trouble.
  4. Bhakthi in Mahabharata - The importance of Bhakti, various Bhakti sadhanas, hymns, and bhaktas (devotees).
  1. Dharmic Insights from a Butcher - A peek into Mahābhārata, to understand the vedic exposition of this itihāsa and its reach in all walks of life. The fabulous story of a butcher advising about the supreme knowledge of Ātman to an ascetic and the sublime message that irrespective of the professions one can achieve knowledge through actions of dharma.
  2. Nishkāma Karma - its definition and practice in the context of Mahābhārata will be presented here.
  3. Relevant Takeaways From The Mahabharata & Its Main Characters - The practical wisdom that Mahabharata offers enables us to steer our thoughts and actions in the right direction without getting shattered by the drastic challenges of life. Understanding and then imbibing this wisdom into our lives is the objective of this module.
  4. The Historicity of Mahabharata - Determining the historicity of Mahābhārata and its likely age on the basis of Archaeological, Archaeo-Astronimical, Climatological, Geographical, Geological, and Scriptural evidence.

Apart from these 24 splendid course modules, there would even be additional talks and reading materials which provide invaluable insights into this grand itihāsa Mahābhārata.


  1. Anyone who wants to start reading Mahabharata.
  2. Teachers and students of Indian culture and civilization..
  3. Any Sanatana Dharma enthusiast who wants to imbibe the wisdom from Mahabharata.

  1. Familiarize Vyasa Mahabharata as a literary text and as a philosophical work.
  2. Learn to tap the wisdom from Mahabharata in to your life.

a) All course materials, including video, reading materials and recording of live sessions will be available until successful completion of course or stipulated time limits, whichever comes first.

a) Yes

a) Recordings will be provided.

a) No. Course contents will be available in the enrolled term

a) Yes. A formal certificate from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham will be awarded upon successful completion.


It is a simple and easy process. You need to fill out our application form to apply.

You can contact us via Email, Call or WhatsApp. You can also chat with us through the chat window present on our website.


No, there is no admission fee when you apply. It is free.

Yes, International Students are welcome. Students with Foreign Education can also apply. Certificate is offered upon successful completion of the course.

Yes, the course will be offered again in April 2022 and September 2022

We follow UGC Regulations for a Refund :

  • 15 days or more prior to admissions closing date - 100% refund*
  • Within 15 days prior to the admission closing date - 90% refund
  • Within 15 days after the admission closing date - 80% refund
  • 15 days after the admission closing date - 50% Refund
  • 30 days after the admission closing date - No Refund

* A processing fee of 2000 will be deducted

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri

Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri is the Vice-Chairman of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math and President of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University). He is the head disciple of renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma, Satguru Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. He has been living in Amritapuri Ashram since its inception in the late 1970s. He holds a Master's in Philosophy and is a renowned author. A magnificent singer he is, has composed innumerable bhajans and has travelled around the world more than 30 times with Amma. The profundity of his knowledge in scriptures could only be transcended by the experiential sagacity he has gained by living alongside a ‘Mahatma’. When powerful words flow from such depths of wisdom, it inspires and transforms a listener. Swamiji has thus addressed and inspired youth, professionals, students and devotees, worldwide.

Swami Dhyanamritananda Puri

Swami Dhyanamritananda Puri is a disciple of Amma, Satguru Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi. He has been with Amma for the past three decades. He has addressed students on various aspects of life-management for many years. His simple approach is thought-provoking and conveys the great wisdom of the scriptures in joyful and engaging ways. He also takes care of the Ashram’s IT department, Photography and plays Kaimani for Amma’s Bhajans. Swami has been focusing on Bhagavad Gita for several years now. He has designed an exclusive Bhagavad Gita camp, ‘Gitamritam’, which has been running successfully for over nine years now.

Swami Shubamritananda Puri

Swami Shubamritananda Puri has been a permanent resident of Mata Amritanandamayi Math since 1989. He did his graduation in Science from the Mumbai University. He takes care of the Ashram activities in Europe, Africa, Russia and Israel. He is one of Amma’s translators, a gifted speaker, singer and a songwriter as well. He also served as the Editor of the Ashram spiritual magazine, Matruvani, in the English language, till 1998. He mentors AYUDH, Europe (the youth wing of Mata Amritanandamayi Math), which has blossomed into a very active youth movement in Europe, and has won accolades and recognitions for its work. His insight into Amma's teachings, wisdom from his scriptural studies and travels, and his sense of humour has made his talks and retreats very popular and appreciated by one and all.

Sri Aravindan Neelakandan

Renowned writer, Co-Author of 'Breaking India'- bestseller book Aravindan Neelakandan is a researcher and author, with deep focus on Indian Culture & History, Science and Philosophy of Science. His is the co-author of the best-selling work, ‘Breaking India - Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines’. He has also authored other books in Tamil that explore culture, history, science and technology. Currently he is the contributing editor of Swarajya Magazine.

Prof. K S Radhakrishnan, Ph.D

K S Radhakrishnan is a noted writer, orator, academician and thinker. He has served as Kerala PSC chairman, Vice Chancellor of Kalady Sree Sankaracharya University and Reader at Ernakulam Maharajas College. He has more than 30 years of teaching experience at postgraduate level. His specialization is in Advaita Philosophy and the Philosophy of Science. He has authored several books on Mahabharata.


Brahmachari Achyutāmṛta Chaitanya, PhD.

Associate Professor, Amrita Darshanam

Brahmachari Achyutāmṛta Chaitanya, PhD serves as Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Education, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri Campus. He has more than 30 years of experience in teaching, with 20 years at the M A College, Kothamangalam affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala. He obtained his masters in Hindi Language and Literature in 1987 and M.Phil. in 1989. He completed his Ph.D in 1997 from Cochin University with his work on ‘Analysis of Ramacharitamanas on the Basis of Bhakti Sastra’. He has been part of Amrita viswavidyapeetham from 2011, and has continued his extensive study of Indian Culture under our Chancellor, Mata Amritananandamayi Devi. He also serves as the Associate Editor of Matruvani, the spiritual monthly magazine of M A Math. He has given spiritual talks in many temples across Kerala and in many centres of M.A. Math. His satsangs are regularly aired on Amrita TV as well.


Rupesh Kalesan

Asst. Professor, Amrita Darshanam

Rupesh Kalesan currently serves as Asst. Professor at Amrita Darshanam (International Centre for Spiritual Studies), Amritapuri campus. He holds a post graduation in "Thermal and Fluid Engineering". Passionate about India and Her culture, he has been teaching various subjects related to Indian Culture and History for the last 12 years. He has presented research papers in various academic conferences and has also contributed articles for newspapers, online media and magazines. Heading the youth wing of Amrita, AYUDH Amritapuri (Awaken Youth Unite for Dharma), he has mentored and directed many youngsters towards social, national and cultural commitment during the last couple of years. Has been a trainer in the Youth Empowerment program ‘Sadgamaya’ for 7 years and also has conducted sessions on ‘Vedic Mathematics’ at Amritapuri and Mysore. Principal areas of interest are Itihasas, Indian contribution in Mathematics, Vedic Mathematics, Soundarya Lahiri, Cultural traditions etc.


Sooraj Rajendran

Faculty Associate, Amrita Darshanam


Aiswarya Mohan

Research scholar & Faculty Associate, Amrita Darshanam

Aiswarya Mohan currently serves as a Faculty Associate at Amrita Darshanam (International Centre for Spiritual Studies) at Amritapuri campus. She holds a master's degree in Computer Applications. Previously she served in the IT sector as a Software Engineer for four years. She has presented research papers in various academic conferences. She has also participated in academic workshops. Her areas of interest are Social hermeneutics, Comparative religion and Ithihasas.


Harikrishnan Venugopal

Faculty Associate, Philosophy Arts and Culture, Spiritual Studies, Amritapuri

Harikrishnan Venugopal is a Faculty Associate at Amrita Darshanam (International Centre for Spiritual Studies), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri Campus. He is a graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering with over nine years of experience in the industry and research. With relentless interest in the historical and cultural aspects of the Indian Civilization, he has been researching, writing and presenting papers for the past five years. His academic horizon also extends to study in Comparative Religion and the Cultural History of the World. He has coordinated several workshops in these areas for students and faculty members of the campus. He is highly proficient in English, and has served as Editor for publication of various articles and research papers. He currently focuses on learning Sanskrit, and research on the itihāsas and purānas.


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Yoga and Ayurveda Teacher

I think that Mahabharata provides very deep knowledge which is applicable to daily life. Going inside Mahabharata is in reality going inside within yourself. The Course has been quite short for me but it is very deep, although sometimes in daily routine you cannot spend much time with the modules. For many years I had this in mind, to know more about Mahabharata, as I knew very little about it. I thank you all for making this course possible, and of course to Mata Amritanandamayi Devi because without her Grace I am sure it would have never been possible.


Dr Manoranjini V

Principal, Amrita Vidyalayam, Edappally, Ernakulam

The Mahabharata Upanayanam Course helped me to understand it’s importance in our daily life. Again I understood that it has importance in different spheres of life like personal, social, cultural, financial, geographical, political and environmental spheres. This course helped me to understand the core of Indian Philosophy by having better clarity on puruṣārthas and concentrate on our dharma(duty) by living a life of Nishkama karma. All stories in Mahabharata are real incidents which happens in our life one way or other. It has importance in all ages since the core of humanity is same, as it is, in it’s physical, mental and spiritual forms. All values and advices are eternal for all yugas. Amma within us as the embodiment of love help us to understand life and move forward in life and live life as a complete human being by understanding that it’s [it is] the world which reflects from within. It is Amma, who guided me to learn this course to understand and love life by understanding it’s importance to attain realization.


Sri Pati

Substitute Teacher, California, USA

Amrita University's virtual course on the Mahabharata was an inspiring and enlightening journey into the deep cultural and spiritual ideals that this grand Itihasa has to offer the world. The in-depth and thought-provoking course material, which included written analyses and online discussions, deepened my love for, and understanding of, the Mahabharata by bringing to life the multifaceted lessons and values that are depicted through the various characters' journeys and struggles. I eagerly look forward to the next class.


Dr Prasanth Venugopal

Assist Professor, Power Electronics and EMC Group, University of Twente

The Mahabharata Upanayanam is a great course that brings out the breathtaking beauty, pearls of wisdom, values, and principles from the greatest epic mankind has ever seen. The academic setting means that the course lays down facts, opens itself up for questions, and separates itself from perspectives and folklore, very much to the delight of a theology student as to a layperson. It looks at the various characters, their situations and tries to highlight the complexities of the decision-making process, the consensus and compromises they make, and the resulting fortunes and misfortunes. No matter your level of knowledge of the epic, this course will definitely teach you the most important values including the Purusharthas with special emphasis on action based on Dharma. Several renowned experts as teachers and a very mature and well-researched presentation of the lectures meant that it was a real bliss to attend. I attended all the lectures and have benefitted thoroughly from the same. I highly recommend this course and it will definitely empower you with the right wisdom and attitude to move ahead courageously through various situations in life.



Grade 7 Student, Chicago

The Mahabharata is a very fascinating and versatile scripture whose relevance is growing over time. The Mahabharata Upanayanam course does a great job of gathering up the lesser known but also the interesting and influential aspects of Mahabharata. I joined the course given my initial interest of the great Ithihasa. What the program has helped me achieve is understand the scriptures in greater detail and it has widened my view of the world itself. One aspect that I liked was that the course is self-paced and the continuous dialogue that the group had during the course of the program. Even while being the youngest student in the course, I felt completely at ease and thoroughly enjoyed it.