Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita

 

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.     The Problem: Arjuna’s dilemma

·        How is Arjuna’s problem everyone’s problem?

·        Must we abandon our worldly work to attain liberation?

3.     Krishna’s response:

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

·        Why should Arjuna focus on the self when he goes into battle?

·        What’s wrong with sacrifice? So why act at all?

1.     How shall I act?

2.     How to avoid karma? Niskamakarma

·        How is devotion important to attaining liberation?

4.     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.