Written and Adapted by Ravi Jain and Miriam Fernandes, A Why Not Theatre Production Originally commissioned and presented by the Shaw Festival in association with Barbican, London


Why Not Theatre

The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic — the story of a divided family whose conflict results in a catastrophic war that
nearly ends the world. It is over 4,000 years old with more than 100,000 verses that shape many of the myths and
philosophies of Indian culture. To this day, the stories are told in the kitchens and temples of more than 1 billion
people of India, as well as the diaspora around the world.

Incorporating two large-scale theatre works:

(Mahabharata: Karma [Part 1]

The Life We Inherit

King Janamejaya is holding a ritual sacrifice in which he will kill all the snakes in the world to avenge his father’s death.
In hopes of ending this cycle of revenge, a storyteller is summoned to tell the tale of the Mahabharata; beginning with the rival Pandava and Kaurava clans, and the choices that lead to their infamous Game of Dice. Through playful narration, with live music, the Ensemble tells the stories of humans struggling to build a just world in the face of competition, jealousy,
and rage.

Mahabharata: Dharma [Part 2]

The Life We Choose King Janamejaya is told of the war fought by his ancestors — its devastating destruction of the planet, the mass extinction that followed, and of the survivors left behind to rebuild. Using captivating projections, dynamic soundscapes, and poetic stage design, Part 2 includes a 15-minute Sanskrit opera adaptation of the Bhagavad Gita. King Janamejaya is confronted with the battle of Kurukshetra, and the battle inside his own heart.

Are we destined to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors?

Why Not Theatre's Mahabharata is a visually-stunning spectacle that brings audiences on a journey through the past in order to write a thrilling new future.”

Get all production details…



Mahabharata - Music

Mahabharata - Khana

Mahabharata - Movement

Bhagavad Gita Opera

Mahabharata's Music, Khana, and Movement Learn more about three essential components of Why Not Theatre's retelling of the Mahabharata through three short documentaries: Music, Khana Community Meal, and Movement.

“When we breathe, we move. Everything we do with movement has a motive. There’s a reason for everything. And within that you can tell a whole story without saying a word.”


Mahabharata... stunning world premiere

"The first part, subtitled Karma, is simply first-rate storytelling theatre."

-The Globe and Mail

Mahabharata, Parts 1 & 2

"...a production as visually and aurally engaging as their story. It is only March but I can’ t imagine I will see a greater work on stage in Canada this year.”

-Stage Door Review

An epic ‘Mahabharata’ ...strikingly timeless

"The work is accessible yet never compromises in depth; it moves at a clipped pace but also doesn’t shy away from the text’s knotty contradictions. "

-Toronto Star

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