1. The Hindu epics and Dharma
á Vishnu the preserver, protector of dharma: Rama, Krishna
á Warrior Kings and sacred dharma: sacrifice, heroism, penance, devotion.
Their foes and adharma, chaos – spiritual
victory over evil
2. Mahabharata: 100k stanzas -- slokas (couplets)
á Bharata > Dhritarashtra (blind) and Pandu (cursed to die from intercourse)
á > 100 sons > 5 sons
á Pandu renounces throne after his reign, retires to forest where sons are born.
á Dhrit assumes throne as regent. Two teachers: Bishma and Drona
á Pandavas excel, Duryodhana jealous
á Yudhisthira loses in dice – 13 years in exile.
á 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
á Most Hindus regard it as containing the essence of the teachng of the Vedas – from Samhita to Upanishads (smts considered an Upanishad)
á Commentaries – Aurobindo, Gandhi, Radhakrishnan
á Author unknown, probably composed in second century BC
á Universal issue: conflict of fundamental duties (tell the truth or protect my friend)
á 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?
á Yoga, ritual, work, knowledge, asceticism, devotion to God
may choose individual paths
4. The Problem: ArjunaÕs dilemma
á The wrongness of hurting and suffering caused in war / the duty to fight a just war. [1.26-30]
á Conflicts of dharma, karmic effects of life in the world
á Must we abandon our worldly work to attain liberation?
ArjunaÕs mind is confused
5. Krishna reveals himself as the supreme God incarnate in human form [4.06-08]
á Brahman manifest in many forms
1. First clearly stated concept of the avatar.
a. Manifest (with form) / unamifest (without form)
i. Saguna / Nirguna
Visnu as Brahman – csomic body of Visnu
6. KrishnaÕs response:
á Allows Arjuna to distinguish between his limited realm of personal and social concerns/larger, universal order of things
á Gits does not reject action or non-action [4.16, 20, 21, 23]
á One must act – in the world, there is no non-action
á Arjuna should do his dharma as a warrior, to give up dharma is to incur sin.
á Arjuna should focus on the self when he goes into battle? [2.11-37]
á 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.
á How then shall I act?
1. How to avoid karma? [4.17-23] Niskamakarma ]
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.
á Metaphysics and philosophy of the Upanishads adapted to the religious needs of a civil society.