Bhagavad Gita

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Bhagavadgita/other religions/Hinduism

See also Bhagavad Gita .

Basic doctrines in the Bhagavadgita

The most famous and popular religious book of Hinduism is the Bhagavadgita. It forms a part of the sixth book of the Mahabharata. It contains 18 chapters comprising 720 stanzas. Often it is called simply the Gita. Its full title is 'Bhagavadgita Upanishad', meaning the mystical song of the Lord. Bhagavadgita literally means the Divine Melody or Lord's song.

1. The Bhagavadgita is in the form of a gospel of Lord Krishna to Arjuna. The scene is the battlefield where the forces of the Kauravas and the Pandavas face each other. Arjuna going round the battle-field in the chariot driven by Lord Krishna finds his own kith and kin on the enemy side and drops the bow, declaring that he would prefer to stay in the forest than to fight and kill them. At this critical moment, Lord Krishna urges Arjuna to fight and while persuading him to perform his duty, he explains highest esoteric doctrines.

2. Truly speaking, the thoughts are so deep that none can arrive at their end (the writers opinion) even after constant study throughout a life time. Here is a humble attempt to explain some of the doctrines of the Bhagavadgita. Self, In the Gita, atman and jiva are both used to refer to self or individual soul. It is described as the eternal part of God. Lord Krishna emphasizes the immortality of the soul to Arjuna:

"The soul is never born nor dies; nor does it exist on coming into being. For it is unborn, eternal, everlasting and primeval; even though the body is slain, the soul is not.”

3. "Weapons cannot cut it nor can fire burn it; water cannot drench it nor can wind make it dry."

4. "The soul is eternal, omnipresent, immovable, constant and everlasting."

5. The doctrine of transmigration of soul is also accepted. The word ‘dehi' is used for embodied atman. When the body perishes it enters a new body. Lord Krishna explains: “As a man discarding worn-out clothes, takes other new ones, likewise the embodied soul, casting off worn-out bodies, enters into others which are new."

6. God- According to the hymns of the Gita, God is the creator, sustainer and destroyer of all beings. He is called the Supreme Self (Paramatman) and Supreme Person (Uttama Purusha).

7. “The basic and essential element in every thing is the Supreme God. He is omnipresent and He is immanent in all beings and in all things. In the tenth chapter Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “I am the Self seated in the heart of all beings; so I am the beginning and middle and also the end of all beings.” "I am the ruling power in rulers; I am righteousness in those aspiring for victory of secrets; I am the custodian in the shape of silence and I am the wisdom of the wise. Arjuna, I am even that which the seed of all beings is. For there is no creature, animate or inanimate which exists without Me."

9. Many of the epithets of Brahman in the Upanishads are applied to Lord Krishna. Arjuna addresses him as "You are the Supreme Eternal, the Ultimate resort... the Prime Deity, unborn and all-pervading,"

10. Avataravada- The principle of 'avataravada' is of basic importance in the Gita. The whole material world is an expression of God's nature or mysterious power. God is not only immanent in this creation, He also appears in human and non-human forms in different ages.

11. Lord Krishna is himself such an avatar of the Supreme Self. God takes birth and becomes man himself for the benefit of humanity. He comes into being by his own maya. Lord Krishna describes "Whenever the dharma declines and irreligiousness grows, then I send myself forth. To save the righteous, to destroy the wicked, to establish the dharma I come into being in age after age."

12. Maya: The Gita gave special meaning to the term Maya. The word means illusion, deceitfulness, falsity, etc. The Gita tells of God as appearing in nature by His maya or mysterious power. Maya is the single cause of manifold creation and this is a mystery. It has always been suggested that to transcend this maya is difficult and those who are able to transcend it are described as Jivanmuktas. Lord Krishna says: "For this wonderful illusion of Mine consisting of the three gunas is extremely difficult to get over; those however, who take refuge in me alone cross it.

13. Gunas- The theory of gunas is basic to the thought of the Bhagavadgita. They are three in number: Sattva (goodness), rajas (activity) and tamas (dullness). Every thing that exists has a combination of these three in different proportions. Lord Krishna explains in the seventh chapter: "The whole of this creation is deluded by objects evolved from the three modes of nature- Sattva, rajas and tamas; hence it does not know Me, who is above these and imperishable. "

14. Ideal man- The Gita describes in detail the characteristics of an ideal man. In order to portray the personality of a perfect man, Lord Krishna has made use of different terms - the bhakta, jnani (gyani), karamyogi, jivanmukta, sanyasi, gunaattita, yogarudha, sthitiprajna etc.

Though these different terms used in the Gita emphasize different aspects of the ideal man yet it does not follow that other aspects are missing in his personality. The description of the sthitiprajna in the second chapter agrees in all essentials. He is a perfect man combining spiritual, ethical and social values in a harmonious whole.

The ideal man in the Gita is depicted as a virtuous man. He is incorporated with the virtues of truthfulness, contentment, temperance, wisdom, humility, purity, equanimity, compassion, charity, perfect tranquility of mind etc.

It is explained: "He puts away all the desires of his mind and his spirit is content in itself.

15. He covets nothing, is jealous of none.

16. His mind remains unperturbed in sorrows. His thirst for pleasures has altogether disappeared."

17. In the fifth chapter Lord Krishna says, "The man who is united with the Divine and knows the truth thinks 'I do nothing at all'

18. "And in that purity of spirit, there is produced for him an end of all sorrow; the intelligence of such a man of pure spirit is soon established in the place of the self. "

19. This is the divine state (brahmisthita).

20. Three paths- The Bhagvadgita sets down three pathways to attain this divine state. These are: The way of knowledge (jnanamarga), the way of disciplined action (karma marga) and the way of devotion to God (bhakti marga). These three ways are inter related and the suggestion is that one should harmonize all these three in one's life.

References:

  • 1. Harbans Singh & L.M. Joshi, An Introduction to Indian Religions, P. 58.
  • 2. Dr. K.R. Sundararjan, "Historical Survey," Hinduism, p. 4.
  • 3. The Bhagavadgita II.20.
  • 4. BG. II. 23
  • 5. BO. II. 24
  • 6. BG. II. 22
  • 7. BG. X. 15
  • 8. BG. X. 20
  • 9. BG. X. 38, 39
  • 10. BG. X. 12
  • 11. Op. cit., An Introduction to Indian Religions, p. 65.
  • 12, BG. IV. 7, 8
  • 13. BG. VII. 14
  • 14. BO. VII. 13
  • 15. BG. II. 55
  • 16. BG.II. 64
  • 17. BG. II. 56
  • 18. BG. II. 8
  • 19, BG .II. 65
  • 20. BG. II. 72
  • 21. Op. cit. An Introduction, p. 68.
  • Edited by Gurwinder kaur (Dr.)