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Bhagavad Gita – An Introduction to the text

Discussion in 'Chitvish on Hindu Culture & Vedanta' started by Chitvish, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    The title Bhagavad Gita means the song(gita) of the Lord (Bhagavan). The Gita is considered to be song-like because it is verse in form and therefore pleasing. It is easy to recite and to remember. The Gita is also pleasing because it has a subject matter that is highly desirable to all.

    Another interpretation of the title of Gita is, this is a song with Bhagavan as its subject matter. This is similar to saying “electronic knowledge:”, which is knowledge whose subject matter is electronics.
    Thus we can take the title either way – Bhagavan’s Gita or Gita having Bhagavan as the subject matter.

    Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharatha which is composed by the great Vyasacharya who is supposed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.


    “Vyaasaaya vishNu roopaaya vyaasaroopaaya vishNavae –

    so says the VishNu Sahasranamam.

    Gita is in the form of a dialogue that took place between Lord Krishna , who is an avathara and Arjuna. In fact, all the teaching is in the form of a dialogue between teacher and student. The guru is Sri Bhagavan Krishna and the student is Arjuna called Partha here. Between both of them there is discussion known as samvada. The subject matter is Brahma-vidya and Yoga-shastra, in one word, Vedanta. So Gita is the body of knowledge, being taught.

    In any dialogue, questioning is imperative. Beliefs have to be understood first to believe them ! Questions are very important and are allowed. The Gita was presented as a dialogue between a teacher and a student to emphasize that the subject matter is one for understanding, not for believing. So Gita is called Krishnarjuna Samvada. It consists of 18 chapters, running to 700 shlokas.This is the condensed version of the entire vedic teaching (Upanishads) which is very vast and everybody cannot study.

    The philosophical concepts in Gita may seem to the beginners in Vedanta as rather difficult to grasp. But this difficulty is a hurdle only to those who are unprepared to face the challenge and subject themselves to the necessary discipline of this great science of personality-reconstruction.

    In fact every science has its own discipline of thought. Those who want to get the blessings offered by the science have to obey the disciplines !
    Only a thirsty man enjoys water most.
    A hungry man alone can really relish food.
    Only a tired person understands the joys of rest.

    Now, let us look at the staggering difference in the environments of the Upanishads and the Gita.

    The Upanishads are the declarations of great seers upon the Eternal Truth. They were given out in the atmosphere of quietitude and in an inner mood of total dispassion. The students were also calm and cool, self-controlled and unagitated. So they could hear the words of wisdom with a quiet mind and a serene intellect.

    This quiet environment is completely replaced in the Gita by the down-to-earth atmosphere of strife and stress, dust and fury, stress and strain, pulls and pressures.

    Unlike the Upanishads, in the Gita, the Lord himself addresses the Pandava prince who is mentally agitated and intellectually confused. But the message in the Upanishads and the Gita are one and the same. The glory of Gita consists not in what it states, but how it states it.

    Vyasa purposely employed this striking envieronmental set-up. The Upanishadic literature was intermingled with the flavour of the forest and the fragrance of the jungle. So people dynamically engaged in life, neglected religion. Vyasa saw the the danger and deftly chose Lord Krishna as his mouth-piece to give out the immortal message of the Gita amidst the din and roar of a national war to a confused and confounded hero of the day. Thus Vyasa by his masterly and dramatic setting of the Gita has brought down religion from forests, mountains and rivers to the work-a-day world to bless man in his day-to-day existence

    The background of the Gita has a symbolic meaning.

    The noisy war atmosphere represents the empirical world marked by perpetual clash of ideas, interests, emotions, attitudes and violent conflicts between individuals and groups.

    The teacher is Bhagavan wearing the mask of a charioteer in action. The suggestion here is that He, like being a charioteer, will navigate and guide the life of the individual who entrusts himself to His care.

    The student is an individual with mental problems such as nameless restlessness, impossible aspirations, unending desires, utter disillusionments, suffocating despairs and shattering confusions.

    In the very midst of confusing situations and threatening challenges, how to train the mind to arrive at potentially creative judgements and constructive conclusions?

    This know-how is explained exhaustively in the Bhagavad Gita.

    Love,
    Chithra.
     
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  2. srinivasan_vanaja

    srinivasan_vanaja Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Chithra Madam,

    Thank you very much for a clear introduction to Gita. As I have discussed with you personally, I was little bit confused why Lord Krishna chose the battle field as His place of teaching. You have given a clear answer to that.

    The teachings can be read as it is or can be narrated with interconnecting stories or can be applied to our own problems or can be recited giving us pleasure and goes on.

    The two great epics (Ramayana & Mahabharata) - even if you have sieved through every nook and corner of these epics and have a good knowledge about them - they still remain a wonder and evergreen.

    regards,

    Vanaja
     
  3. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Vanaja,
    It is very nice to receive a quick F B from you.
    Infact most of the stories we read, are all in some way connected to Mahabharatham or Bhagavatham, though nobody admits it openly.
    After this, I have necessarily to dwell with
    Avastha thrayam
    Sareera thrayam
    Pancha koshas
    & finally Atma !
    Only then Gita in Ch 2 can be explained at all.
    I do hope & pray, you will all contnue with me !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
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  4. vidhi

    vidhi Senior IL'ite

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    Dear Chithra

    Great Chithra you have explained the introduction part very well. I liked the explanation regarding the difference of teaching between the Upanishads and gita. It clearly states that for common man Gita is more suitable when compared to learning of Upanishads.

    Eagerly looking for the next episodes of teaching. Thanks a lot.

    Love
    vidhi
     
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  5. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Vidhi,
    You are promptness personified with your F B, my young friend ! I cannot thank you enough.
    You will have to wait for some time for the next Gita article. I have to necessarily explain a few fundamentals.
    Now I see that writing about the text Gita is very challenging. I will be able to do even a wee bit of justice only if I have God's & my Guru's blessings abundantly. I always believe
    Thy will be done !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Malathijagan

    Malathijagan Silver IL'ite

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    Dear Chithra,
    This post is going to be very useful for all people who would love to get to know Gita in the most simplest form. You have explained the purpose of the Gita. Now would you start explaining the 18 chapters verse by verse? I am in the process of getting into the meanings to make life more meaningful and fuller.I am listening to the discourse of Velkudi Krishnan telecast in Podhigai (6.30 am to 6.50 am) , mon-friday.He is going to start the 3rd chapter tomorrow and he goes 1 verse a day which is very beneficial.I would love it if you could also do that in this thread so that it will be useful and enriching to all of us.
    Regards,
    Malathi
     
  7. Nischel

    Nischel Senior IL'ite

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    Chitvish Madam,
    I am happy to see your post after a long time. It is not an exaggeration but to say it is True that your style of Presentation ,I mean the way of dealing is
    unique. The same topic when it is presented by another one it will be different.
    your usage of those Quote like " only Thirsty people.........." etc are apt to the cotext. Any how you are veteren in ur Writeups
    Thank u very much.
    ur wellwisher
    Nischel
     
  8. Nischel

    Nischel Senior IL'ite

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    Sister chitvish madam,
    I am happy to see your post after a long time.
    Your quotes like " only a thirsty man ........,only a hungry person......"
    are quite apt and interesting.
    You have also presented some posts about geetha discussing in different
    angles.This post also clears some of the doubts of our IL Readers such as
    Why it has been started in the Middle of the war?
    Why a Charioteer explined the Dharma to arjuna?
    what is the Relation between Vyasa and Vishnu
    Why Gita was presented as Dialouge ? etc
    Any how you are an Experienced writer.
    Thank U very much.
    Sd/NISCHEL
     
  9. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Malathy,
    I feel very happy to receive your F b.
    I may not be explaining Gita verse by verse - I will never undertake what is beyond me, Malathy !
    Yes, I too listen yo Velukudi Krishnan everyday. He is such a great scholar that it is a pleasure to listen to him.
    I have not decided exactly how to go about. Initially I want to go topic by topic, like, next may be
    What afflicted Arjuna
    which comes in the first chapter.
    Please do not think high of my calibre in explaining Gita - I am a very elementary, rather L K G student. I am just going ahead in this task as per my teacher's instructions !
    Love,
    Chithra.





     
  10. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Namaskaram Nischelgaru,
    I feel honoured to receive a F B from an elderly person like you.
    I am not here after a long time, I am here every thursday, Sir !
    Last week, I posted on Jnana Yoga - part 2.
    I am very happy that you like my style of writing.
    I seek your blessings, Sir.
    Namaskarams,
    Chithra.
     

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