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Bhagavad Gita - भगवद् गीत
B
hagavad Gita is revered as a sacred scripture of Hinduism and is considered as one of the most important religious classics of the world. The Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Mahabharata, comprising 700 verses. It is spoken by Krishna, who is regarded by the Hindus as the supreme manifestation of the God Himself. Bhagavad Gita (sanskrit - भगवद् गीत; Transliteration - bhagavad ġīta) literally translates to "God's Song", said to have been composed over 3000 years ago (citation needed), and is incorporated into the Hindu Epic Maha Bharata, the Great (Maha) India (Bharat). It is also known as Shrimad Bhagavad Gita or simply Gita. It is said to be a conversation or discussion between the Supreme God (Naaraayana) manifested in the form of Krishna, and the supreme man (Nara) in the form of Arjuna, the great warrior prince of Kuru Dynasty in the Epic Maha Bharata.
Bhagavad Gita is said to be the summary of Maha Bharata in its entirety, and is the essence of Krishna's advice to Arjuna. Towards the end of the epic Maha Bharata, when Dharma has weakened and Adharma is rampant, Krishna tries his best to restore Dharma by peaceful means, realizes that Adharma and evil forces do not listen to the words of peace and Dharma. Krishna, manifestation of the Supreme God, decides that the people siding Adharma had to be punished in order to save those siding the Dharma, and in turn save Dharma itself. This is when Krishna authors the Great Epic War of Maha Bharata, becomes the charioteer of the great warrior Arjuna, and leads Pandavas and those who sided with Dharma into the Great War waged to protect Dharma. Hence the war is called "Dharma Yudhdha" or War for Dharma.

It is argued by some that the so called "Dharma Yudhdha" is filled with 'Adharma' and hence it is a farce to call it a "Dharma Yudhdha". It is true that there are many incidents outlined in Maha Bharata (the Epic Story or the Epic War within the Epic Story) that are far from being righteous. However, the war itself is called "Dharma Yudhdha", not because of how righteously the war was fought, but for the reason for the war. It was not a war fought by means of Dharma, but a war fought on behalf of Dharma, by Dharma, and for the sake of protecting Dharma. As an old saying goes, you would need a diamond to cut a diamond, another thorn pluck a thorn lodged in your foot. Further more, the Politics of ruling an empire, the Rules of Engagement in a War, and the Dharma of a warrior sworn to protect human life and uphold common Dharma are significantly different during the times of war, from those either applied to common men or applied during the times of peace.
Do Ends justify means? Is ‘For the Greater Good’ a valid justification for crimes against few? My thoughts on these and other questions is, perhaps a candidate for General Topics section but, definitely beyond the scope of this section. Moving on...
At the onset of the war, right before the swords were drawn to clash and arrows were shot to kill the enemy, as the mighty armies of both sides were standing in the great battlefield of Kurukshetra facing each other waiting for the signal from their commanders to begin the first battle, Arjuna asks Krishna to drive his chariot to the center of the battlefield so he can have a complete frontline view of both the armies.
Arjuna sees the armies, the commanders, and warriors on both the sides, and in a fit of complete distress puts his weapons (the mighty bow Gaandiiva and the invincible arrows) down on the ground, unmounts his chariot, walks around to the front, kneels in front of Krishna and prays -
न कांक्षे विजयं क्रिष्णा न च राज्यं सुखानिच
किं नो राज्येन गोविन्दा किं भोगैर्जिवितेनवा॥
na kāṁkṣe vijayaṁ kriṣṇā na ca rājyaṁ sukhānica
kiṁ no rājyena govindā kiṁ bhogairjivitenavā||
आचार्यः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितानहाह
मातुलाः श्वशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथः
ācāryaḥ pitaraḥ putrāstathaiva ca pitānahāha
mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ pautrāḥ śyālāḥ sambandhinastathaḥ
Krishna! I don't desire the victory, nor the empire, nor even the comforts and pleasures of being a king. What good will any of these do to me, when all my people are dead?
Looking on the other side, I see my teachers, fathers, sons, grandsons, in-laws, friends, all relatives and people I grew up with. These are the people I share my pleasures and victories with. If I have to kill them to attain the victory, throne and enjoy the pleasures therein, who will I have left to share and enjoy them with?
I cannot kill them, Krishna. Let's withdraw from this war and go back.
Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and a prince, and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. The discourse given by Krishna, in response to Arjuna's renounciating mood, explaining the theory of Karma, renounciation, duties, responsibilities, and how the human outlook ought to be to attain eternal happiness and salvation, forms the essense of Bhagavad Gita. Because of these philosophies, examples, and analogies, Gita is often described as a concise guide to Hindu Dharma, philosophy and a practical, self-contained guide to the way of life itself.
Gita helps one understand the essence of life, in simple and easily understandable terms. However, Gita also articulates several aspects (especially areas such as the Karma Theory) that are self-contradictory. As easy as it is to understand Gita, the self-contradictory nature is built-in for a very specific purpose. In my opinion, the Gita is not meant for those who read and understand the literal meaning of the words spoken in the Gita, and later recite them like a parrot. The self-contradiction is built to trigger thought, and encourage students to dig deeper through self-thinking as well as discussion with other students, share ideas, and get to the real deeper meaning.
In the spiritual journey, an indepth study and understanding of Gita helps one travel half the distance towards spiritual salvation. The other half is in the implementation of it in life. And THAT, is the real difficult part!
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