1. The Hindu epics
a. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata – Vaisnava texts
The Bhagavad-Gita is a
part of the Ramayana
2. Mahabharata: 100k shlokas
a. Bharata ą Dhritarashtra (blind) and Pandu (cursed to die from intercourse)
i. Dhritarashtra, Kaurava ą 100 sons
ii. Pandu, Pandava ą 5 sons
b. Dice game – results in 13 years of exile
c. Return to claim kingdom, Duryodhana refuses – battle
Arjuna rides out onto battlefield, surveys the armies, is unable
3. Bhagavad-Gita: “Song of the Lord”
a. Single most important text in Hinduism
b. Author unknown, probably composed in 2nd century BCE
c. Universal issue: conflict of fundamental duties, dharma
d. Fundamental questions:
i. What is the self?
ii. Is human liberation found following the way of action?
iii. Is it found following the way of knowledge?
iv. The way of devotion to God?
their lives as paths to salvation: karmamarga/karmayoga, jnanamarga/jnanayoga, bhaktimarga/bhaktiyoga
4. The Problem: Arjuna’s dilemma
a. Arjuna sees the wrongness of hurting and suffering cause in war but also see that it is his dharma to fight a just war; confused
b. Krishna reveals himself as the divine, eternal Self
i. Avatar (“direct form”)
ii. Manifest (with form)/ unmanifest (without form)
iii. Lord Vishnu as Brahman – cosmic body of Vishnu
5. Krishna’s response to Arjuna
a. Gita does not reject action or non-action [4.16-23]
b. Why should I act at all?
i. One must act – in the world, there is no non-action
1. Krishna Himself creates and maintains the world
ii. Arjuna should do his dharma as a warrior, to give up dharma is to incur sin [2.33]
c. How should I act?
i. How to avoid karma? Nishkamakarma [4.16-23]
ii. Krishna tells Arjuna that he should focus on the Self when he goes into battle; Self never destroyed
d. 11th chapter ą Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna in all of his forms as the cosmic body of Vishnu