1. The Epic and Classical Periods (400 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.)
a. Indo-Aryan settlement into towns and cities on Gangetic plains
i. Absorbing indigenous religions
b. Mahabharata (and Bhagavad-Gita) (between 400 B.C.E. and 400 C.E.)
c. Ramayana (Between 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E.)
d. Dharmashastras (treatises on dharma) – order, stability, refinement of society
i. Laws of Manu (manavadharmashastra)
1. Ashramadharma – ashrama (life stages) + dharma (duties, appropriate behavaiors)
2. The Hindu epics and Dharma
Vishnu the preserver, protector of dharma: Rama,
· Warrior Kings and sacred dharma: sacrifice, heroism, penance, devotion.
Their foes and adharma, chaos – spiritual
victory over evil
· Yudhisthira loses in dice – 13 years in exile.
· Return to claim kingdom, Duryodhana refuses – battle. Kurukshetra
· Sanjaya (divine eye from Vyasa) and Dhritarashtra
Arjuna rides out onto battlefield, unable to act
4. The Problem: Arjuna’s dilemma
· Conflicts of dharma, karmic effects of life in the world
· Must we abandon our worldly work to attain liberation?
Arjuna’s mind is confused
· Allows Arjuna to distinguish between his limited realm of personal and social concerns/larger, universal order of things
· 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?
· Why act at all? [action is necessary, sacrifice is important]
· How then shall I act? How to avoid karma? Niskamakarma, or Karmamarga
How is devotion
important to attaining liberation?
Arjuna should purge his mind of attachments and
dedicate the fruits of his actions to
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.
1. Bhagavad Gita