Bhagavad-Gita

1)    Mahabharata: 100k stanzas -- slokas (couplets)

a)     Like the Ramayana, a family drama – Pandavas and Kauravas

b)    Yudhisthira (eldest Pandava Prince) loses the kingdom to Kauravas in a game of dice – 13 years in exile.

c)     Pandavas return after 13 years to claim kingdom, Kauravas refuse – battle on the field of Kurukshetra, cousins against each other

d)    Arjuna (a Pandava) rides out onto battlefield to start the war, has a failure of nerve

e)     Lord Krishna is his charioteer, teacher, military advisor

2)    The Problem: ArjunaÕs dilemma

a)     Conflicts of dharma, karmic effects of life in the world – warriorÕs dharma vs family dharma

b)    KrishnaÕs response helps Arjuna to distinguish between his limited realm of personal and social concerns/larger, universal order of things

3)    KrishnaÕs Advice:

a)     Arjuna should do his dharma as a warrior, to give up dharma is to incur sin (bad karma)

b)    Arjuna should focus on the self when he goes into battle?

c)     Why act at all? Action is necessary, sacrifice is important.

i)      How then shall I act?

ii)    How to avoid karma? Niskamakarma

iii)   How is devotion important to attaining liberation?

(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.

4)    Summary:

a)     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).

b)    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. 

c)     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.

d)    The Gita adapts a metaphysics and philosophy of the Upanishads to the religious needs of a civil society.