Primary-Source Text Explication & Analysis
The Bhagavada Gita, one of Brahminical Hinduism’s most beloved sacred texts, is known for being the last and greatest Upsanishadic text of its time. Bhagavada Gita translated means, “the song of the Lord” and originally was created as a poem. This writing is only a small episode from the Mahabharata, the world’s longest poem, which like Homer’s epics deals with war and heroes but at the same time deals with many philosophical and theological issues. The spiritual question from The Gita is: How a person can become one with Brahman while still functioning in this world (Andrea, Overfield 72). Although the Mahabharata is ascribed to one single poet (Vyasa), it is also noted that many other authors worked on The Bhagavad Gita over a long period of time ranging from 500-200 b.c.e. Many scholars give credit to The Vedas and The Upanishadsas being the fundamental texts of Hinduism but they also give credit to The Gita for its emphasis in self-devotion and also its philosophical outline toward life. Just as the Koran and the Bible, the intentions of The Gita were to appear timeless and applicable to all. Therefore, this writing has a limited amount of historical context when relating to what was going on in India at the time of writing. We do know that during the Classical Age in India, Hinduism was not the only religion, and that it was a great time of change for the entire continent.
The passage includes the conversations between the warrior-prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna as Arjuna prepares to go into battle against the Kauravas for battle of the kingdom of Hastinapura. Arjuna becomes overcome with compassion and cannot put himself up to continue the suffering. Lord Krishna, the most important of the ten incarnated Hindu gods Vishnu, tries to explain to Arjuna God’s plan and what he can do in his life. By the end of their conversation, he shows Arjuna that he is just a pawn in this world and that he should not question God’s will. He explained that it was Arjuna’s job to fight and by doing this he restored Arjuna’s philosophy in war, his doctrine of selfless action and also his path to devotion. Chriatian Violetti can explain the plot of The Gita very well; he explicates how it is based on two families fighting over the throne. Arjuna while looking at his opponents recognizes friends, family, and many other familiar faces across the way from him. He becomes overcome with confusion and decides the throne is not worth the bloodshed.
The god Vishnu in the shape of his chariot driver, Lord Krishna, explains to Arjuna that he should stick to his duty and fight. Krishna gives Arjuna five reasons as to why he should fight and why he will not have bad karma from taking part in the war. He explains that the self is eternal, and therefore you cannot actually kill someone. Also, that he should fight because it is his duty, or dharma. The third is that withdrawing from battle is a decision in itself and being inactive is impossible. Another reason given is that it is passions and desires bring about evil, not actions. Which leads to the fifth reason that is that there are ways to act that will not bring you bad karma.
The three yogas (pathways to life) he justifies are; the way of knowledge, the way of devotion, and the way of action (n.p.). As a whole, this writing is quite vast. It encompasses 18 chapters, divided into three six-chapter sections with each section dedicated to a different yoga. Originally written is Sanskrit, it has now been translated and distributed worldwide. It was used to explain to Hinduisms followers many Hindu principles and also how they can work toward a more peaceful life. This philosophical text explains the five basic truths while also discussing the soul and dharma as being eternal and necessary to keep life itself in balance. The Gita’s beginnings date back to when Hinduism became prevalent in India around 1700-700b.c.e.
Adler, Philip J., and Randall L. Pouwels. World Civilizations. Sixth ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Wadsworth, 2012. Print. Andrea, Alfred A., and James H. Overfield. The Human Record – Sources of Global History. Seventh ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Wadsworth, 2009. Print. Soumen De. “EAWC Essay: The Historical Context of the “Bhagavad Gita”” EAWC Essay: The Historical Context of the “Bhagavad Gita” Soumen De, 1996. Web. 14 Nov. 2013. Violatti, Chriatian. “Bhagavad Gita.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, 05 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
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