1.     The Hindu epics and Dharma

      Vishnu the preserver, protector of dharma: Rama, Krishna

      Warrior Kings and sacred dharma: sacrifice, heroism, penance, devotion.

      Their foes and adharma, chaos – spiritual victory over evil

2.     Mahabharata: 100k stanzas -- slokas (couplets)

      Bharata > Dhritarashtra (blind)  and Pandu (cursed to die from intercourse)

      > 100 sons            > 5 sons

      Pandu renounces throne after his reign, retires to forest where sons are born.

      Dhrit assumes throne as regent.  Two teachers: Bishma and Drona

      Pandavas excel, Duryodhana jealous

      Yudhisthira loses in dice – 13 years in exile.

      Return to claim kingdom, Duryodhana refuses – battle.  Kurukshetra

      Arjuna rides out onto battlefield, surveys the armeys, is unable to act

3.     Bhagavadgita: The single most important text in Hinduism

      Most Hindus regard it as containing the essence of the teachng of the Vedas – from Samhita to Upanishads (smts considered an Upanishad)

      Commentaries – Aurobindo, Gandhi, Radhakrishnan

      Author unknown, probably composed in second century BC

      Universal issue: conflict of fundamental duties (tell the truth or protect my friend)

      Indian questions:

1.     What is the self?

2.     Is human liberation found following the way of action?

3.     Is it found following the way of knowledge?

4.     The way of devotion to God?

      Yoga, ritual, work, knowledge, asceticism, devotion to God

1.     People may choose individual paths

4.     The Problem: Arjunas dilemma

      The wrongness of hurting and suffering caused in war / the duty to fight a just war.  [1.26-30]

      Conflicts of dharma, karmic effects of life in the world

      Must we abandon our worldly work to attain liberation?

      Arjunas mind is confused

5.     Krishna reveals himself as the supreme God incarnate in human form [4.06-08]

      Brahman manifest in many forms

1.     First clearly stated concept of the avatar.

a.     Manifest (with form) / unamifest (without form)

                                                                                            i.     Saguna / Nirguna

2.     Lord Visnu as Brahman – csomic body of Visnu

6.     Krishnas response:

      Allows Arjuna to distinguish between his limited realm of personal and social concerns/larger, universal order of things

      Gits does not reject action or non-action [4.16, 20, 21, 23]

      One must act – in the world, there is no non-action

      Arjuna should do his dharma as a warrior, to give up dharma is to incur sin.

      Arjuna should focus on the self when he goes into battle? [2.11-37]

       Why act at all? [action is necessary, sacrifice is important]

1.     Krishna Himself creates and maintains the world in that desireless spirit: to secure the welfare of the world, save the world from evil, chaos.

      How then shall I act?

1.     How to avoid karma? [4.17-23] Niskamakarma ]


7.     Summary:

      Arjuna should purge his mind of attachments and dedicate the fruits of his actions to Krishna.  This way he can continue to act in a world of pain without suffering despair.  The core of devotion to Krishna is discipline (yoga), which enables the warrior to control his passions and become a man of discipline (yogi).

      The duties of life can be performed in a new spirit that prevents the acquisition of karma and makes them a means of liberation rather than bondage. 

      Selfish desire, not the action itself, binds us to acts and their impurity. Perform your duties as required and as a service to God, with no desire for personal gain: no karma, no ties deepened, no rebirth.

      Metaphysics and philosophy of the Upanishads adapted to the religious needs of a civil society.