The Bhagavad GitaThe Song of GodA Conversation Between Krishna and Arjuna
• The Bhagavad Gita is technically part of Book 6 of the Mahabharata; it is known to be a later accretion to the saga,Origins of the Gita: which stands on its own merits. It is a dialog between the God Krishna and the hero Arjuna, taking place in a timeless moment on the battlefield before the climactic struggle between good and evil. • The Gita (which can be found in hotel bed stands throughout India) is a summary of the core beliefs of Hinduism. It has a significant influence far beyond Hinduism. Robert Oppenheimer apocryphically recited the verse (from Chapter 11)”I have become]The Om Symbol: The Death, Destroyer of Worlds", justHindu Symbol for before the first test of the atom bomb,Primordial Reality which ironically has a much different meaning in context.
More on Arjuna’s Motives• The teaching of The Bhagavad Gita is summed up in the maxim "your business is with the deed and not with the result." Arjuna, the third son of king Pandu (dynasty name: Pandavas) is about to begin a war over his one hundred cousins from the Kaurava dynasty who refused to return even a few villages to the five Pandava brothers after their return from enforced exile.• He looks at his cousins, uncles and friends standing on the other side of the battlefield and wonders whether he is morally prepared and justified in killing his blood relations even though it was he, along with his brother Bhima, who had prepared for this war. Arjuna is certain that he would be victorious since he has Lord Krishna (one of the ten incarnations of Vishnu) on his side. He is able to visualize the scene at the end of the battle; the dead bodies of his cousins lying on the battlefield, motionless and incapable of vengeance. It is then that he loses his nerve to fight.
Significance of the Gita• Even though The Bhagavad Gita is one of the three principal texts that define the essence of Hinduism, strictly speaking the Gita is not one of the Hindu scriptures. In light of its inseparable links to one of the two great Hindu epics (Mahabharata and Ramayana) which most Indians hold very dear to their hearts. Because Krishna, the most venerated and popular of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, figures so prominently in it, the Gait has not only become very popular but has ascended to spiritual heights that are afforded only to the Vedas (and the subsequent reinterpretive philosophies that followed them) and the Upanishads in ancient Indian literature.• The concept and symbol of God were complicated issues in the ancient Hindu religious literature prior to the writing of the Gita. The notion of God and the paths to salvation are integral parts of all religions. The manner in which Hinduism originally dealt with these two fundamental issues was complex and appeared to be too speculative at times. This was one of the reasons for which Buddhism branched out as a separate religion.• When Buddhism began to grow in popularity, Hinduism met with its first challenge: provide a clear-cut, easy-to-worship symbol of God to its followers. Lord Krishna became the obvious choice. Many have even suggested that it was one of the most pivotal choices ever made by ancient scholars to `humanize the concept of God in the Hindu religion. Molded in the original image of Lord Vishnu, Krishna is an affable Avatar (reincarnation of God) which for the first time provided concrete guidelines for living to all mortals. The average Hindu might not know much about Brahma, but every one knows who Lord Krishna is. Mahatma Gandhi read the Gita often when he was in seclusion and in prison.
Your Five Bodies: Who are We?• Anna maya kosha: the body made of physical matter• Prana maya kosha: the body made of vital energy• Mano maya kosha:the body of thought energy• Vijnana maya kosha: the body of higher intelligence• Ananda maya kosha: the body of mystical awareness
The Role of These Bodies• Many of us are stuck in the patterns of pleasing our physical needs: food, sex, sleep, comfort. We don’t consider other realms of existence.• Some of us seek knowledge through books and experience, but we intellectualize what we learn.• A few of us transcend these realms and contemplate mystical awareness through approaching the Divine.
Life in These Three Worlds• Sthula sharira: the physical body. This includes both the material and the body of vital energy. At death, when the physical body disintegrates, so does the body of vital energy. Their lives no longer have purpose. One theory of ghosts is that they are decaying energy who no longer are housed in a body, so their energies gradually dissipate.
More on the Body• Sukhma sharira: the astral body. This is the mental body. It continues to exist after death. Each of us still experiences ourselves as the same entity who once lived in a physical body.
Reincarnation• Karana sharira: the causal body. At the time of rebirth (reincarnation) the mental body from the last life has passed away. Only the caual body reincarnates. It contains all of the higher intellectual and spiritual functions (vijnana and ananda maya koha). Your karma (actions, habits and attitudes) developed in your previous lives is carried with the casual body.
Useful Terms• Ananda—divine bliss• Kosha—a sheath or a covering for the bodies• Prana—energy• Atman—the Inner Self, the immortal spirit• Self-realization is ultimately God-realization because God is the Self of all.• Karma: The law of universal causality, which connects man with the cosmos and condemns him to transmigrate -- to move from one body to another after death
More Useful Terms• Nirvana: The state of absolute blessedness, characterized by release from the cycle of reincarnations; freedom from the pain and care of the external world; bliss. Union with God or Atman. Hindus call such mystical union with ultimate reality as Samandhi or Moksha.• Yoga: the path that brings all the faculties of the psyche under self discipline. The object of yoga is mind control, and the system lays down the effectual techniques of gaining liberation and achieving divine union. The word yoga is applied to any program which leads toward the union with God or Atman. There are five principal kinds of yoga: Hatha(physical), jnana (the way of knowledge), bhakti (the way of love), karma (the way of work), and rajah (mystical experience).
Still More Useful Terms• Dharma is the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides ones life. Hindus consider dharma the very foundation of life: "this world is upheld by dharma". (from the Vedas) Krishna encourages Arjuna to maintain his dharma.
More on Reincarnation• We are in a cycle of birth, death and rebirth.• The soul is eternal; it lives on as you reincarnate into different bodies and lifetimes.• We are bound by this cycle through our karma— each lifetime is dedicated to working through our bad karma and bringing in good karma.• The spiritual master is no longer tied to the body; he/she has completed the karmic debt. However, this soul has the freedom to reincarnate or live in God-consciousness in the spiritual realm.
4 Kinds of Karma• Sanchita karma: All the Karma we’ve accrued from all our previous lives.• Prarabdha karma: That portion of our karmic backlog destined to play into our present lifetime.• Kriyaman karma: The fresh karma we produce in this lifetime.• Agama karma: Our future plans that we haven’t done—the karma produced by our thought patterns.
• Fate is free will; the paradox is that we create our destinyWorking out Karma through free will. A list of karmic power: • Flexible: We can easily deflect this karma. • Medium: We can change this karmic pattern through substantial effort. • Fixed: Humanly we cannot prevent this karma from happening. Only God can alter fixed karma.
Redirecting The Flow of Destiny: Hindu Methods for Clearing Out Negative Karma• Pilgrimage: A journey to sacred sites.• Charitable Donations: Since much bad karma is the result of debts from previous lives, making generous donations helps us balance our karmic accounts.• Rituals: By serving God through formal practices, they hope to make peace with the forces of nature.• Selfless Service: Offering one’s time and energy for the benefit of others without any expectation of reward.• Self-Discipline: By undertaking vows to perform a certain austerity( fasting, constant meditation)for a certain length of time, Hindus hope to overcome karmic complexes.
The Three Gunas• Universal Energy (prakriti- prana is individual energy) operates in the three gunas—Khrishna mentions them often.• Rajas: Motion. Active, energetic, hot, Kinetic energy.• Tamas: Inertia. Heaviness, dullness. Potential energy.• Sattva: Harmony. Lightness, clarity. Balanced energy. We strive for this.• (Look for these words (the English ones) in the Gita so that you know what Krishna is saying.
ConclusionHinduism isn’t basedon the revelation of afounding prophet, noron an incarnatedbeing. It deals withtimeless truthsinherent in nature andin higher states ofconsciousness.