Arjuna's Tapas

Program Type



A Hero is one who has answered the questions Who Am I? Where Am I? and Why Am I here? for oneself. In our times of mass socialisation and conformity, this is not as easy as it might sound. A vast majority of us are conditioned to live ‘outside-in’, and the contexts we are embedded in like our families and the larger society often dictate our meaning making processes and life choices. True freedom remains a chimera and most do not live up to our full potentials. It’s a rare few who discover the freedom to truly live ‘inside-out’, and are able to embrace the immense joy and responsibility that comes with it.

This process of psychological maturation involves a long and arduous journey that is filled with perils, gifts, challenges and grace. Joseph Campbell who dedicated his life to studying mythologies from across the world, posits that this journey of self-discovery and actualisation has certain well-defined archetypal stages that an individual must pass through before arriving at an authentic empowerment. He called this adventure “The Hero’s Journey”1

The archetypal substructure of this unfoldment can be found in many of the major myths and epics of the world. The Ramayana, Mahabharata, Iliad & Odyssey, Arthurian Legends etc are some examples.

Exploration through films

At the workshop we will be exploring the major stages of this journey using films. And for the purposes of our reflection would be working with a variation of the Hero’s Journey called Arjuna’s Tapas developed by Raghu Ananthanarayanan. Apart from being a key component of Raghu’s larger work on the Mahabharata archetypes, the Arjuna’s Tapas framework is simple yet robust and lends itself to easy application in both individual and organisational contexts.

The films, many of them masterpieces of world cinema, have been carefully chosen for their evocative potential and efficacy in illuminating various stages of the journey. Apart from the films we will also be using self-reflective exercises like drawing, small group sharing etc.

Our aim through all this, is for the participant to get a sense of where along the way one is and what steps might need to be taken going forward. This exploration could be of particular value to those who are feeling a deep-rooted sense of discontent in their life and work contexts, and have persistent questions around their life purpose in a society seemingly headed towards doom. Only participants who are really interested in the enquiry and are keen on group learning and sharing are encouraged to register.

Past Workshops

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