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Indian ancient literature
The Bhagavad-Gita is one of the Indian ancient literature’s world-famous masterpieces, which is assumed to have been written by an anonymous author through the 7th-5th centuries B.C. There are 700 verses in the Bhagavad-Gita, which reflect the philosophical aspects of the dialogue between Prince Arjuna and God Krishna (embodied as the Prince’s charioteer) before the battle Kurukshetra. Among the central ideas promoted throughout the book’s entirety, we can well mention the following:
- One’s foremost virtue is wisdom – only wise people can adopt a proper stance while facing life’s challenges.
- When addressing life-challenges, an individual should solely focus on acting in a thoroughly dutiful/responsible manner as its main priority.
- While interacting with its friends and enemies, an individual must remain emotionally calm – regardless of what happened to be the affiliated circumstances.
- One’s soul never dies but continues to be embodied over and over again, within the cycle of the concerned person’s consequential rebirths (Samsara).
- The surrounding physical reality consists of the elementary particles and merely reflects some higher (metaphysical) workings.
- Those who understand the counterproductive essence of their egocentric (animalistic) instincts can attain happiness in their service to Krishna.
Thus, the Bhagavad-Gita can be well discussed, which represents a high philosophical value – while exposed to it; readers can gain several in-depth insights into what accounts for the reality’s actual essence and purpose one’s life. What is more, this book also helps people adopt a proper stance when dealing with the most pressing existential anxieties on their part.
Regards to the book in question
I cannot help experiencing the strongly defined sense of awe in regards to the book in question. Partially, this can be explained by the fact that many ideas contained in it correlate perfectly well with what happened to be the subtleties of my unconscious strive towards self-actualization. For example, I always believed that it is the measure of one’s predisposition to prioritize its professional duties above everything else, which reflects the concerned person’s worth in life. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the Bhagavad-Gita confirms the validity of my belief, in this respect, in the most direct manner: “Do thy duty as prescribed, for action for duty’s sake is superior to inaction” (The Bhagavad-Gita 3).
Apparently, there is indeed a rationale for considering the earlier mentioned idea fully legitimate, in the discursive sense of this word. After all, it is specifically on account of many people being able to act, as they should (as opposed to acting as it feels like), that the ongoing socio-technological progress continues to gain momentum. I also fully subscribe to the idea (contained in the Bhagavad-Gita) that a person should not allow its irrational anxieties to be put in control of defining what he or she really is. The reason for this is apparent – it is named the individuals that succeeded in learning how to remain thoroughly unemotional, despite being provoked to act otherwise, who are able to define the true nature of the reality’s phenomenological emanations. The Bhagavad-Gita leaves only a few doubts that this is indeed being the case: “When a man attains to Pure Reason, he renounces in this world the results of good and evil alike” (6). There is also a utilitarian aspect to it – the more a particular individual happened to be intellectually flexible, the more likely it would be for him or her to succeed in attaining a social prominence.
Nevertheless, it is specifically the fact that the Bhagavad-Gita promotes the idea that both: death and birth organically derive out of each other which appeals to me the most about this book: “…death is as sure for that which is born, as birth is for that which is dead” (5). One of the reasons for this is that the above-mentioned idea appears thoroughly consistent with the evolutionary view on the phenomenon of organic life as the universe’s instrument for combating its own entropy. Allegorically speaking, death indeed gives birth to life because it is only through death that the ‘survival of the fittest’ principle is able to ensure the ever-increased complexity of living organisms.
Thus, it will not be much of an exaggeration to suggest that, in many respects, the book’s ideas can be well-referred to as being scientifically legitimate – even in the present-day sense of this word. Consequently, this prompts me to consider the possibility for the notion of incarnation (promoted in the Bhagavad-Gita) to be more or less legitimate, as well – quite despite the fact that I happened to be an atheist. It is needless to mention, of course, that as a human being who instinctively fears death, I find the earlier mentioned idea emotionally soothing. In my opinion, this can be seen as yet another proof of the fact that there is indeed nothing incidental about the book’s continual popularity with contemporary readers.
Summaries of the Bhagavad-Gita
The following are the extremely condensed summaries of the Bhagavad-Gita’s eighteen chapters:
- Arjuna expresses his unwillingness to take part in the battle of Kurukshetra due to having realized that many of his close relatives will be fighting on the enemy’s side.
- Krishna expounds on the immortality of one’s soul while pointing out that Arjuna should not even consider the possibility of forsaking his duty as a warrior.
- Krishna promotes the idea that the main indication of a particular person being utterly virtuous is his willingness to act, without giving much thought to whether it is rationally justified or not.
- According to Krishna, his role on Earth is concerned with enlightening people on the principles of Dharma and that his present embodiment, as a charioteer, is the one among many to come.
- Krishna insists that it is up to a particular individual to choose in favor of either action or inaction. However, one’s active stance in life makes it more likely for the concerned individual to qualify for Nirvana.
- Krishna describes the set of motivations for the practice of yoga-medication and expounds on how one may go about attaining the yoga-induced state of Samadhi.
- Krishna suggests that by striving to grow more knowledgeable about the surrounding reality, people simultaneously become more knowledgeable about the ways of God.
- Krishna provides definitions for a number of Hinduist concepts, such as Brahman and Karma, and explains that the qualitative aspects of one’s next rebirth depend on how he or she acts in this life.
- Krishna states that regardless of what happened to be a particular individual’s social status, he or she is nevertheless fully capable of attaining the state of ‘oneness’ with God as the ‘measure of all things.’
- Krishna reveals himself as a deity. Arjuna accepts this revelation, on Krishna’s part, as being thoroughly plausible, and proclaims its willingness to become a loyal disciple of his newly found God
- While addressing Ajuna’s plea, Krishna exposes the true form of its being (Visvarupa), which can be best described as the state of an overwhelming awareness about the fundamental essence of the surrounding reality’s emanations.
- Krishna praises one’s willingness to serve idealistic causes, as such that brings the concerned individual’s soul closer to being qualified for leaving the vicious cycle of rebirths (Samsara).
- Krishna advances the idea that the reality that surrounds us came into being as a result of the non-organic matter (Prakriti) having been animated by the metaphysical spirit of Purusha.
- Krishna explains the nature of the universe’s three building blocks – Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas while suggesting that one’s awareness of how they interrelate is the key to unlocking the metaphysical realm’s gates.
- Krishna compares the material reality to a giant tree while pointing out the fact that those who seek to attain enlightenment will need to cut it down with the ‘ax of (emotional) detachment.’
- Krishna states that there are two sides to just about everyone – good and evil. In order to for an individual to lead a virtuous life (for which there will be a reward), he or she must remain committed to doing good deeds.
- Krishna talks about the different types of cognition, which appear consistent with how the earlier mentioned universe’s elements manifest themselves in reality.
- In the end, Krishna tells Arjuna to give up on what connects him to the world and to reunite with God once and for all.
The Bhagavad-Gita. Trans. Shri Purohit Swami. PDF file. 2014. Web.