MAIN   THEMES   OF  THE   BHAGAVAD  GITA                 

 

I   INTRODUCTION

 

Bhagavad Gita or  in  other words song of Bhagavan  is  an  episode  in India’s  Great Epic, the Mahabharata.  The main story of  Mahabharata is the war between two branches of the Kaurava  family led by  Duryodhana on  one  side and Yudhishthira on the other  side  Krishna who was God  incarnated volunteered to act as Arjuna’s  charioteer.  But Arjuna refuses to fight.  This is the starting-point of the Bhagavad Gita is to persuade Arjuna to fight. True, throughout the poem this has never been lost sight  of; but the bulk of the poem is not concerned with  the  respective merits of war and peace, but with  deepest thing of man and  God.

 

II  THE MAIN TEACHING OF BHAGAVAD GITA

 

1.  A T H M A

 

The individual self : The first topic that Krishna broaches in his dialogue with Arjuna is the nature of the embodied self.  The self is eternal, indestructible, cannot kill or be killed, is not born and does not die, roves every where, yet  is  always firm and unmoved; it is un-manifest, unthinkable, immutable. This is Krishna’s argument as to why  Arjuna should not be depressed about  killing his cousins. It is not his real self that kills nor does he kill their real selves (2:18-25; 3:27-29,  etc.)

 

2.  Y O G A 

 

The word yoga is used in a vast number of  senses  in  the Bhagavad  Gita. The root meaning is the same as for the English word ‘yoke’ which refers to  ‘contain’ or ‘control.’  After in Gita  ‘yoga’ merely means ‘method’ necessary for control of mind and senses. So that soul or self, can be kept steadily concentrated on the ultimate object, and realises its true nature. Thus the soul is set free from its entanglement with nature. When properly concentrated in this way, the person is without desire for attachment, which is the cause of sins. The person who is unaffected by the opposites of pleasure and difficulty, by cold or heat etc. is regarded as sinless.

 

3. K A R M A (works, Action)

 

Even though it is karma (action) that binds soul to cosmic existence and  re-birth, work is essential in the world.  God himself engages in work, otherwise the worlds would cease to exist.

 

i) Sva-Dharma: Bhagavad Gita says it is better to perform  one’s  duty (Sva-Dharma) than to do another’s  duty well. You do that to which you are born. This is a very conservative teaching of Bhagavad Gita.

 

ii) Sacrifice: The Vedic sacrifices to the gods were designed to bring their own reward. Man sustains the Gods so that they may sustain him in return. In a very special sense the sacrifice is Brahman. The whole of life is to be a kind of sacrifice to the Lord, for he is both the cause of the sacrifice and the essential power within the sacrifice.

 

 

What is required is performance of duty with desire for benefits  thereby (nis-kama-karma) yoga helps to achieve this disinterest and dis-attachment. But more important is focusing the mind on the supreme Lord.

 

4. T R I G U N A S 

 

Every man is powerless and made to  work by  the constituents born of nature.  These are the three constituents of Nature namely Sattva, Rajas, and Tames: goodness or purity; passion or energy; darkness or dullness.  The different types of people and the action done by them in society are divided by these qualities. Krishna says: ‘Know too that all these states of being proceed from me but I am not in them, they are in me.’

 

 

5. B R A H M A N      

 

There are a few passages in Bhagavad Gita  where  the soul is ultimate  and  would appear to be the realisation of oneness with an impersonal Brahman. But the context usually indicates that this is to lead on from the state of isolation, or withdrawal (Kaivalya) from the sense of attachment, through the sense of oneness with the impersonal, to eventual relationship with the supreme person.  It is said that the self must know Brahman, stand stilled in Brahman, even become Brahman.  Brahman Jnana is the ultimate goal.

 

6.  C R E A T I O N: God is said to be creator of all, being both material and efficient cause.  He contains prakrti, with its changing states, within himself. But the Lord’s nature does not change along with the changes of nature. Creation is said to occur again and again. But the supreme person transcends all this, while containing it within his being.

 

7.  A V A T A R A: The Lord’s Avataras are also recurring, whenever there is loss of Dharma the Lord takes up the from of  some  created  being, and discards to earth to restore righteousness, destroy evil-does, and save  his devotees (the good). When Arjuna asks to see Krishna’ true, glorious from, he is granted the splendid vision described in all ch.11 Arjuna sees the whole of creation, even all Gods within this glorious  form  (Visva-rupa- darsana).

 

8.  B H A K T I: (Divine love or prasada-grace) following this vision, it is clear that dependence upon the Lord’s grace is offered as most important means of release. Thus in the final word Krishna tells Arjuna to give up all his dharmas to take him as his sole refuge (sarama) and then he will be set free from all papa(sin). This Bhakti is the ultimate path to mukti according to the Gita.