2. • 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
• 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", just
Hindu Symbol for before the first test of the atom bomb,
Primordial Reality which ironically has a much different
meaning in context.
3. 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
• 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.
4. 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.
6. Your Five Bodies: Who are We?
• Anna maya kosha: the body made of physical
• Prana maya kosha: the body made of vital
• Mano maya kosha:the body of thought energy
• Vijnana maya kosha: the body of higher
• Ananda maya kosha: the body of mystical
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
• 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
11. Useful Terms
• Ananda—divine bliss
• Kosha—a sheath or a covering for the bodies
• 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
12. 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
13. 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 one's 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.
14. 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.
15. 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
• Kriyaman karma: The fresh karma we produce in
• Agama karma: Our future plans that we haven’t
done—the karma produced by our thought
16. • Fate is free will; the paradox
is that we create our destiny
Working out Karma through free will. A list of
• Flexible: We can easily
deflect this karma.
• Medium: We can change this
karmic pattern through
• Fixed: Humanly we cannot
prevent this karma from
happening. Only God can
alter fixed karma.
17. 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
18. 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
• Tamas: Inertia. Heaviness, dullness. Potential
• 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.
Hinduism isn’t based
on the revelation of a
founding prophet, nor
on an incarnated
being. It deals with
inherent in nature and
in higher states of