Author Topic: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.  (Read 1821 times)

Subramanian.R

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The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« on: April 27, 2016, 10:42:20 AM »
(This is in April - June 2016 of Mountain Path.)

*

Introduction:

This article aims to discuss a few principal teachings of the Bhagavad Gita in so far as they are applicable
to our lives today, since a scripture, by definition, is timeless and self renewing.

The Bhagavad Gita comprises Chapters 23-40 of Bhismaparva of the great epic poem, the Mahabharata.
Its universal acceptance and veneration by the population gave rise to at least three dozens Gitas
running the entire gamut of Indian philosophy from Brahman with attributes (saguna) to Brahman
the attribute-less (nirguna), from devotionalism (bhakti) to pure monism (brahmadvaita), and from
attachment (samsara) to renunciation (sannyasa).  The more famous among them praising the attribute-less
Brahman include Avadhuta Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, and Sri Ramana Maharshi's special favorite Ribhu Gita.

Bhagavad Gita however remains the Gita with a capital G, and forms the third leg of the Hindu triple
canon, (Prasthana Traya), along with the principal Upanishads and Brahma Sutra.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 12:04:46 PM »
General:

Philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom and it includes the metaphysical inquiry into the nature of reality as
a whole and man's moral and spiritual endeavor to realize it.  It satisfies the highest needs of life.
This truth is enshrined in the Upanishads, the Gita and Brahma Sutra and, though their teachings are
similar, their beginnings and methods are different. While the Upanishads stress the mystic and intuitive
aspects of Vedanta, the Sutra emphasizes the metaphysical aspects, and the Gita emphasizes moral and
spiritual purification. The Sruti and Sutra contain the eternal foundations of Vedanta, and the Gita as the
Song Divine is the note of harmony that it strikes among the fundamental problems concerning the
approaches to nature, spirit, and God.

Since the three are interrelated and not mutually exclusive, the Gita is free from the defects of naturalism
and absolutism.  The philosophy of nature recognizes in a realistic way the unity of Prakrti and its value
as the environment for evolving self. Gita also implies that the panorama of nature is an interminable
battlefield.  Life permeates plants, animals, and micro organisms in soil, air and water.  All are equally
important for the harmonious functioning of nature.  The Gita's spiritual philosophy is an inquiry into the
nature of Purusha or Atman and the means to realize it.  The moral theory is delineated from the fundamental
quest.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     
         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2016, 11:18:36 AM »
Bhagavad Gita:

Bhagavad Gita distills the essence of the teachings of all the Upanishads. It is widely read by spiritual aspirants
all over the world.  There is no gainsaying the fact that it has chartered new avenues in Indian philosophical
literature.  The word Gita is derived from the root 'gai' or 'ga' meaning to 'to sing', that passive form being
Gita, 'that which is sung' or a 'song'.  There are many Gitas in the epics and puranas, as detailed by Tanga
Swami, (Advaita Vedanta Literature, University of Madras),  but none approaches the beauty and sublimity
of Bhagavad Gita.  The author of the Gita is said to be Veda Vyasa or Badarayna.  It is hailed as Moksha Grantha, a treatise on liberation.  It comprises 700 verses which are spread over 18 chapters, each chapter being a separate yoga.  It adopts an integrated approach to the liberation of the soul through the disciplines of
Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Vairagya.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna plays the role of a friend, philosopher, guide, and conscience keeper to Arjuna.
He is an ideal friend, a great statesman, a strategist, a mentor, and a yogi.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               
« Last Edit: April 29, 2016, 12:54:51 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2016, 11:38:04 AM »
The battlefield symbolically represents the moral conflict between good and evil.  Kurukshetra represents
Atman.  The work is poetical and deals with the universal dialectic of the self, cast in the form of an ontological
and metaphysical dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna.  It teaches how to follow the path of dharma
while leading a normal life. It is addressed not just to Arjuna but to all humanity.  'The Yoga theory regards
Kurukshetra as the body, the hundred cousins of the Pandavas as the hundred nadis, Arjuna as the soul
and Krishna as Yogeswara who controls the mind.'

The Gita is the quintessence of all Vedantic knowledge, samastavedanta sara sangraha.  The invocatory
verses describe the Upanishads as cows, Krishna as the milker, Arjuna as the calf, and the Gita as the
nectarine milk.

sarvopanishado gavo, dogdha gopalanandanah
partho vatsah sudhir bhogta dugdham gitamrtam mahat.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2016, 11:22:34 AM »
In a very clear and concise way, the supreme Lord Krishna describes the science of self realization
and exact process by which human beings can establish their eternal relationship with God. Krishna
offers to Arjuna several divergent approaches to life and suggests that his immediate job is the one
for which he has been trained, namely fighting.  It is also his Swadharma, duty ordained for a Kshatriya.
It is precisely this kind of eclectic approach to mentoring a student that makes him the fittest person to
preach such a religio-spiritual classic.  Arjuna is a typical example of a confused and indecisive human
being in the face of a crisis.

The Teachings:

The highlights of Krishna's teachings to Arjuna include, but are not limited to the following:

*  In Sankhya Yoga, the emphasis is on direct perception of the universal self through constant meditation.

* The significance of karma and jnana yogas is explained, with reference to the concept of avatara.

* Abhyasa Yoga teaches the practice of dhyana culminating in the realization of God as one's own self.

* Bhakti may normally mean devotion, but in the Gita it really signifies an amalgam of karma and jnana
or action and knowledge.

* Mokshasannyasa Yoga enjoins the performance of actions as service to the Lord, surrendering the
results to Him.

The  Gita presents us with the three original doctrines: first, the doctrine of nishkamakarma or desire-less
action, with the allied concepts of svadharma and lokasangraha;  second, the doctrine of avatara or incarnation, the descent of God in human form; and third, the doctrine of integral yoga as a comprehensive
mode of sadhana, spiritual discipline.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

   
           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2016, 11:30:34 AM »
a. Nishkamakarma:

Karma has a prominent place in Hindu mythology.  There are two types of karma, sakama and niskama,
the former being performed with a desire for something in return and the latter without any expectation
of reward.  The first type encompasses the notion of abhudaya of universal well being with its inordinate
emphasis on Yajnas and Yagas, sacrificial rituals and rituals, by which one could get everything here and
hereafter.  The fruits of such rituals however are temporary and inconsequential, so the other kind, the
one performed selflessly, has been recommended by the Upanishads.  This kind of karma leads to nihsreyasa
or the highest good and entails renunciation of the fruit of all action.  Arjuna is a sincere seeker after enlightenment, but he is still not qualified to follow path of knowledge.  Hence Krishna's admonition that he
has to work and that his salvation lies through the performance of the duties appropriate to his station
in life. He should observe Svadharma first. Abandonment of one's own duty is sinful.  It is better to perish
in the performance of Svadharma than flourish engaging in an action that is alien to one's nature and
nurture, and therefore dangerous.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2016, 12:31:49 PM »
Furthermore,

karmanye vadhikaraste
maphalesu kadachana
ma karma phalahetur bhur
ma te sango'stvakarmani.  II.47

One has the right to do one's own work but never has a claim to the fruits of one's labors.
And neither should one relinquish one's work.  Karma here refers to selfless work, work
done for the good of the mankind.  The results of actions are beyond human control.
They are determined by the Lord.  (See the first verse of Upadesa Saram)

In this verse, therefore, Krishna's message is:

*  You only have the right to perform your duty.

*  Do not lay claim to the fruits of your actions.

* Do not be the cause of the fruit of the action, that is, do not claim agency for your actions.

* Neither should you renounce rightful action.

The lesson here is that, since we are always liberated, we should not let desires  stand in the way
of our emancipation from the cycle of birth and death.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2016, 10:26:50 AM »
b. Avatara:

The doctrine of avatara or incarnation of God is another, original contribution of the Gita to Indian
philosophical and religious literature.  This concept is seen in Rgveda and the puranas, as in the
ten incarnations of Vishnu.  However, it is only in the Gita, that it is given special prominence. 
The Lord takes on a human form in order to restore dharma by eradicating evil, which raises its ugly
head from time to time in the world of creatures. Homeostasis needs to be established among the three
gunas that underlie the creation.

The descent of the divine into the human frame can take place anywhere and at anytime,  the sole
prerequisite being the decline of  dharma.  Sri Krishna categorically declares that one who is able to
understand the significance of his birth and work as an avatara will attain liberation.  This declaration
implies that if one understands the Lord's love for humanity and one surrenders to His will, one guaranteed
to be liberated.

paritranaya sadhunaam
vinasaya cha duskrtam
dharma samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge         IV. 8.

The primary purpose of the avatara is dharma samsthapana or the establishment of dharma
on a firm foundation.  In the process, if need be, he will punish or destroy the wicked and protect
the virtuous.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2016, 12:20:50 PM »
c. Integral Yoga:

The colophon of the Gita says it as an Upanishad and a Yoga Sastra.  Yoga is a technical term which
means union wit God via a set of physical and mental disciplines.  Though yoga is unitary, based on
the different types of  human minds -- the active, the philosophical, the emotional and the psychic --
has been formulated in a four fold manner, karma yoga, jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, and raja yoga.
Each of these yoga opens up the infinite horizon of truth  and effects union  with God. The Gita
describes them all.  Considering that Sri Krishna has taught all the four yogas to one and the same
person, Arjuna, urging him to use his discrimination, it can be safely concluded that the yoga of the
Gita is a comprehensive spiritual discipline integrating within itself all the four aspects.  However, because
of Arjuna's lineage and proclivities, karma yoga is better suited to him, and of course, Krishna wanted
him to fight.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2016, 11:21:56 AM »
Relevance today:

The Bhagavad Gita occupies a unique place in the prasthanatrya. Its balanced doctrines and human
centric messages have secured a special status for it in religious literature.  The mind of an individual
is conditioned by the environmental, social, and cultural influences at a given time.  In recent times,
there have been a number of psychological interpretations of the Gita, emphasizing the fact that Krishna
must have some kind of therapist to tell Arjuna just as what he needed to hear before he would fight.
He goads him into action with this partially taunting motivational verse:

klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
naitat tvayyupapadayate
ksudram hrdayadaurballaym
tyakv'ottisha paramtapa        II.3.

Dr. Radhakrishnan translates this thus:

Yield not to this unmanliness. O Partha (Arjuna), for it does not become thee. Cast off this petty faintheartedness and arise.  O Oppressor of the foes (Arjuna).

And it did the trick -- eventually. A man of character is never weak.  He acts from a position of tremendous
inner strength. He performs his duties to the best of his ability, no matter the consequences.  We know
that just about every foot ball coach gives this kind of pep talk to his players before the big game.  It is
just psychology.  Sometimes people have to be reminded about their inner strength when they are momentarily overcome by self doubt. We are all subject to periodic despondency and loss of direction
in life, and a Krishna would be most welcome in those situations.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2016, 12:08:20 PM »
Educative Value:

Education is a 'conversation transmission' and renewal of culture. It should help a person to earn his
vocational aims, as also in the harmonious development of his mental faculties.  The Gita helps to attain
these aims.  In the classroom of the battlefield, Krishna is the teacher and Arjuna the pupil.  The educational
concepts sought to be emphasized here include dharma, swadharma, karma etc., Like an expert teacher,
Krishna reminds Arjuna about his first and foremost duty as a warrior, namely military combat. Sraddha
is the term used to inspire Arjuna, a term replete with references to faith, trust, dedication, and so forth.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 11:15:16 AM »
The Bhagavadgita, to put it simply, is a multifaceted poem, applicable to everyone all the time.
It exhorts us:

* to be courageous.

** to work with a clear plan and purpose.

*** To use our powers of intellect to make better persons of ourselves through Jnana and Karma yogas.

**** to achieve excellence in any sphere of work that we undertake.

***** to live and let live and, above all.

****** to reach our highest potential by realizing our identity with the divine.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Bhagavad Gita: Its Relevance Today - N.K. Divya.
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2016, 11:20:24 AM »
Conclusion:

The Bhagavad Gita is more relevant today than it has ever been. We know that our national leaders like
Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru regarded it as their constant source of inspiration.  Sri Aurobindo
lived by it and further developed the concepts of Integral Yoga and the Supermind.  Just as about
every Hindu and many others outside the technical precincts of Hinduism read it for clues to their
daily living and to derive strength from it in times of despair.  If anything, the current age of scientific
advancement and information explosion needs its truths that unfailingly comfort the harassed citizenry
of the globe.  The Gita is at once philosophical and pragmatic,  spiritual and religious, this-worldly and
other-worldly.  Krishna remains the eternal teacher, friend, and mentor for us all.

Let me conclude this essay with a quote from the introduction to The Bhagavad Gita by Dr. S.Radhakrishnan
that attests to the poem's universal and continuing appeal:

'It is not an esoteric work designed for and understood by the specially initiated but a popular poem
which helps even those 'who wander in the region of the many and the variable'.  It gives utterance
to the aspirations of the pilgrims of all sects who seek to tread the inner way of the city of God...
It serves even today as a light to all who will receive illumination from the profundity of its wisdom
which insists on a world wider and deeper than wars and revolutions can touch.  It is a powerful shaping
factor in the renewal of spiritual life and has secured an assured place among the world's great scriptures.'

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.