Summarize the Poem, “the Bhagavad Gita”

To start this, soon to be an amazing, research paper, I would like to summarize the poem, “The Bhagavad Gita”. The Bhagavad Gita is a form of a dialogue between Arjuna, a heroic warrior, and Krishna, a God who pretends to be Arjuna’s charioteer. Their discourse takes place on the day of the battle, on a field between two armies of warring cousins. Arjuna had a moral dilemma, he is being forced to kill his relatives and friends which was the last thing he yearned for. The Mahabharata started by Arjuna’s father, Pandu, becoming the king of the northern Indian kingdom of Bharata. When Pandu died from a curse, Dhritarashtra, Pandu’s older brother, took over the throne, which created opposition between Pandu and Dhritarashtra children.

Which led to Dhritarashtra dividing the kingdom to avoid any future disputes. Half of the kingdom was ruled by Duryodhana, Dhritarashtra oldest son, and the other half of the kingdom was ruled by Yudhishthira, Pandu’s oldest son. Eventually, Yudhishthira lost the kingdom against Dhritarashtra. Yudhishthira and his brothers had to go into exile for thirteen years. After completing their time, they could come back and reclaim their kingdom. While the Pandavas were in exile, the Mahabharata recounts the various adventures and religious teachings they encountered. After spending thirteen years in exile, the Pandavas return to reclaim their kingdom, but Duryodhana refused and war was declared. Then in the Bhagavad Gita, it starts by Krishna trying to persuade Arjuna to go to war against his cousins to reclaim their kingdom. Arjuna definitely did not want to cause a catastrophic war against his family and harm them in any way. Finally, after Krishna reveals his secret to Arjuna, he changes his mind and decides to proceed with his duty. But then, before the war had begun, everything changed.

Many scholars have debated on the topic of whether if Bhagavad Gita was an integral part of the epic as originally composed, or later inserted into the larger work. Eknath Easwaran believes that the Bhagavad Gita “was incorporated into the warrior epic of a later age.” (Essence of the Bhagavad Gita ch.1) The reason why he believes it was later inserted into the poem was that it was passed down through various oral traditions before a number standardized written version emerged many hundreds of years later. According to Easwaran, the Gita was originally a separate text from the Mahabharata and inserted into the longer epic later on. Easwaran did not give any factual evidence to why he believed the Bhagavad Gita was not created with the poem at the same time. On the other hand, In Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Bimanbehari Majumdar states that “the Bhagavad Gita was composed at the time of the Bharata war, …. which took place at the same time as the Mahabharata…” (67) From what I can tell Bimanbehari Majumdar looked for evidence from the Mahabharata to support his claim that the Bhagavad Gita was inserted with the long poem altogether.

I strongly believe that it was published after the Mahabharata because in Norton Anthology, Volume A it says, “The Mahabharata attributes its own authorship to a sage called Vyasa who is also a participant in the action. But the epic as it now exists, in the most accurate scholarly edition, may well have been composed over several generations.” (pp. 1187) When a story has been changed and looked over by many people for generations, then there is a chance that poems, sentences, words, and titles have been changed or added onto the piece. Every person has a different perspective for every poem and there is no possible chance that the original piece is exactly the same as how it is currently. The original religious context for the word Yoga means “magical and miraculous power, its utilization and its systematic cultivation. God, too, is Yoga-Isvara, or in other words Lord of the marvelous Yoga powers with which He creates and rules.” (Otto 157)

Yoga would pertain to Krishna because he is the god and he was able to articulate his arguments to make Arjuna do what he wanted him to do. The original religious context for the word Maya means “a name for exalted and divine miraculous activity.” (Otto 158) Maya is essentially the supernatural power wielded by gods to produce illusions. Krishna is trying to break this misconception of Maya so that people may live through enlightenment and not by preconceived notions The original religious context for the word Dharma means “law, morality, duty, obligation.” (Norton Anthology, Volume A, pp. 1277) In Bhagavad Gita, when the war was about to begin Arjuna perceives his cousins, friends he grew up with, teachers and members from his clan standing on the other side and Arjuna puts down his weapon. “But, in doing so, he immediately puts himself in moral jeopardy as a warrior, because dharma requires that ksatriya be prepared to wage war whenever necessary, and in this case his cause is just.” (Norton Anthology, Volume A, pp.1277)

The original religious context for the word Bhakti means devotion. “Performing unattached action and handing over the fruits of those acts to God is an act of devotion.” (Flood xii) Such as when Arjuna decided to act to show his God that he has devotion for him. The original religious context for the word Avatar means the descent of god into the mortal world and a physical body. For example, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is a “gentle, human form.” (Flood vii) The original religious context for the word Karma means “action”. That a person has to perform his or her duty. The karma principle affirms that the universe will respond to you, in this life and or the next. For example, when Krishna mentions to Arjuna that “thus while the bodies of warriors die, the soul goes on unchanging, reincarnated into body after body, but the self cannot be killed.” (Flood xi) Central to the Gita, of course, are its two main characters, Krishna and Arjuna. The role of Krishna is a god who pretends to be Arjuna’s charioteer in a human form. Krishna becomes good friends with Arjuna and he helps Arjuna with his moral dilemma involving a war between his cousins and the rest of the people who are supporting his cousins.

Krishna is invested in Arjuna’s dilemma because Arjuna and his brothers lost their part of the kingdom to their malicious cousins and Krishna wants for Arjuna to fight for what is theirs and to help him be a better warrior all in one. Krishna helps Arjuna with dealing with attachment and being worried about the outcome of the war. The role of Arjuna is that he is a warrior who is trying to avoid going to war with the people that he loves, even if they are against him because he does not believe in torturing people. Krishna, Arjuna’s charioteer, tries to persuade Arjuna to go to war and to be more than okay to do what he has to do to make his brothers happy and help them win the war. Krishna also explains to Arjuna that everyone dies, but the soul does not die. Arjuna was also worried about dying and killing people in general. The reason why Krishna is trying to encourage Arjuna against his cousins is that Krishna is trying to make Arjuna face reality and to obtain their rightfully owned kingdom. What happened to Arjuna and his brothers was unjust, and Krishna is trying to help the family.

The dilemma that Arjuna faces in the narrative is that he finds himself being forced by his brothers to fight against the Kauravas, his cousins. If he went to war, he would have to fight his family and friends. It has affected his ability to fulfill his role in society because “his intuitive reaction is that killing his kinsfolk is wrong.” (Flood x). Arjuna was not able to fulfill his task. The teaching that Krishna imparts to assist him in his dilemma, allowing Arjuna to overcome his misgivings and inhibitions was by presenting with a number of arguments for persuasion. Krishna talked to Arjuna about the outcomes of not fighting in the battle. One of his arguments was that his own people would scorn him and call him a coward for rejecting his station. Krishna says, “It is virtue for the warrior to fight and to place responsibility toward the broader body politic and social values over responsibility to the family alone.” (Flood xi) Arjuna did not change his mind about not fighting in the battle, so Krishna tried to persuade him with a philosophical argument about the self and the world.

Arjuna’s problem was that he was attached to his family and his own soul. Krishna mentioned to Arjuna that it is possible to kill only the body, but the self cannot be killed and that “acting in a way such that one is detached from the consequences of action is superior to the attempted detachment from action itself.” (Flood xii) Arjuna can become detached from the consequences of his acts, and so long as he acts from dharma, he will not suffer bad consequences. In the end, Krishna reveals his secret to Arjuna that he is a god and Arjuna is stunned by what he was told, and he ensures Krishna that he has indeed been persuaded away from his initial doubts about the war and that he will act his warrior’s duty. The Gita had a profound influence, not only within its native India but in other cultures around the world. The Gita has assisted citizens in the US army understand the purpose of the Bhagavad Gita and how it can be applied in their everyday personal lives and careers and it teaches how to be free of thoughts that can cloud their judgment and prevent one from performing any task.

The Bhagavad Gita can be helpful to the men and women who are fighting for the United States of America because they’re a great deal of diversity in the army and many people have family from different countries in the world and there will be times when the people will have to fight their homeland to perform their duty as an individual in the army serving the United States of America. The men and women who are fighting for our country can relate to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita because Arjuna has a conflict regarding going to war and eradicating his own family and friends because his brothers are trying to reclaim their rightfully owned part of the kingdom. The last thing that Arjuna want to do is to hurt anyone and the men and women who fight for our country could be going through the same dilemma and the poem the Bhagavad Gita could be a poem that could change their perspectives about when it is okay to go to war against their own people because all they are doing is completing their duty. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most dissected, discussed and debated scriptures of Hinduism. and I would highly recommend this Poem to anyone because it definitely makes the reader comprehend a different perspective in life and about family and even about yourself.