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Srimad Bhagavad Gita-Gist

Srimad Bhagavad Gita-Gist

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Published by: raj on Jan 30, 2008
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Srimad Bhagavad Gita
Background
Srimad Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important treasures of India. It isfound in Sri Mahabharata, one of the two great epics of India.
 
We all know that the eternal Vedas are the source of true knowledge. The Vedascan be broadly classified in to two parts called
 Purva Kaanda
and
Uttara Kaanda
, or the earlier section and the later section. The Purva Kaanda dealswith rituals (karma) and the Uttara Kaanda deals with the knowledge of 
 Brahman
. Brahman is a descriptive term meaning Absolute God, known properly as
 Sriman Narayana
.
The Uttara Kaanda is also collectively known asthe Upanishads and the Vedanta.
 
Because of the great difficulty in understanding the purport of the Vedas, themaharishis authored various texts known as
Smriti
,
 Itihaasa
and
 Purana
ashelpful aids in understanding the purport of the Vedas. Smritis augment and addvalue to Purva Kaanda portion of the Vedas, and the Itihasas and Puranassupplement the Upanishads. There are 18 Puranas and two Itihasas. The greatItihasas are
Srimad Ramayana
and
Sri Mahabharata
. Sri Valmiki is the author of Srimad Ramayana and Sri Veda Vyasa is the author of Sri Mahabharata.Srimad Bhagavad Gita is part of the Mahabharata. Since the Bhagavad Gitahelps us to understand the nature of Brahaman and the ways to attain Him,Srimad Bhagavad Gita is also called
Gitopanishad 
.
 
Birth of the Gita
On a battlefield known as Kurukshetra, two sets of cousins, the Kauravas(Duryodhana and brothers) and Pandavas (Yudhisthira and brothers) stoodarrayed against each other, ready to wage war. Among the many warriors wasthe mighty archer Arjuna, the third of the Pandava brothers. He had as hischarioteer Sri Krishna, the cowherd incarnation of Sriman Narayana. Krishna preached the Gita to Arjuna to clear his doubts just before the war. This eventtook place in Dvapara Yuga, the third of the four great epochs of time. We arenow in Kali Yuga, the fourth epoch. By traditional reckoning it is almost 5,150years since the Gita was born.
 
 
Need for Gita
As Arjuna surveyed his opponent just before the war, he noticed countlessrelatives, gurus and friends on the opposite side. He realized that only bykilling them would he regain his lost kingdom. Being a sAtvika with piousqualities, Arjuna felt repulsed by the thought of killing his loved ones. He feltthat to kill them would be a sin, and in his anguish, he laid down his bow andarrow and refused to fight. He asked Sri Krishna to advise him of what coursewould be good for him. Krishna, the well wisher of the whole universe, took  pity on the confused and grief-stricken Arjuna, and unveiled the Gita to himand directed Arjuna to go ahead with the war which was his duty as a kshatriya.So the Gita is a
 shastra
, given to clear our confusion about various aspects of life and to direct us to perform our duties. It is absolutely relevant to each oneof us in this modern world. It does not talk about something abstract.
It is forus, about us, and about Brahman.
 
Gist of the Gita
The famous
Gitartha Sangraha
of the saint Yamunacharya (also known asAlavandaar) gives the gist of Gita in one verse.
 
svadharma jnAna vairAgya sAdhya bhakti ekagocaraH |narayanaH param brahma gIta sAstre samIritaH ||
One who performs his prescribed duty, with full knowledge of himself and hismaster, devoid of desire, reaches the stage of practice of bhakti-yoga. By bhakti-yoga one can please Narayana and reach HIM. So our objective should be to reach and serve our master, and the means to achieve this goal is bhakti-yoga. Narayana, the Supreme Lord, is the One whom we have to reach. Allthese -- the nature of the objective, the nature of the means, and the the goal,i.e., Narayana, His nature and His qualities are explained in the Bhagavad Gita.
 
The Gita is divided in three sections of six chapters each
(shatkam)
. The firstsix chapters deal with karma-yoga and jnAna-yoga, which are required for realising the jivatma, the individual self. After realising the jivatma, one goes torealise his master, the Paramatma or Supreme Self. Once he knows thegreatness of the Paramatma, he naturally wishes to reach Him. The second sixchapters deals with the unparalleled mastery of Krishna, who is the Paramatma,and bhakti-yoga, which is to be practiced to reach Lord Krishna. The last sixrecapitulate and again explain the atma, Paramatma and the three yogas, addingwhatever was left unsaid in the first 12 chapters. So the three
 shatkas
lead us tosuccessive steps in liberation,
moksha
. All together, there are 18 chapters which
 
are akin to 18 rungs in the ladder to moksha. Unless one goes through each of this rungs, it is difficult to reach moksha. Let us go one by one.
 
Chapter 1: The mental agony of Arjuna revealed
Arjuna reveals his anguish at the prospect of battle. The chapter starts withDhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravas, asking his messenger Sanjaya aboutthe happenings in Kurushetra. Sanjaya begins his narration with the words of the eldest Kaurava Duryodhana as he prepared for the battle, and thenintroduces Arjuna and his lamentation of his plight. Arjuna fears that papakarma caused by his misdeeds will engulf him. He explains that acharyas whoare fit to be honored every day should not be killed. One cannot build histhrone on the altar of his relatives. The chapter then ends with Arjunaabandoning his bow and arrow and sitting silently in his chariot.
 
Important verses: 1, 19, 21, 26-32, 34-36, 47.
 
Chapter 2: karma-yoga unveiled
Krishna uses Arjuna's moral dilemma as a pretext for getting at the rootconfusion which Arjuna faces. Arjuna erroneously thinks that he will really killBhishma and others, only because he is confused that the body and the self 
(atma)
are one and the same. He has not understood that even by shootingcountless arrows at Bhishma, Bhishma's atma cannot be destroyed. Even if Arjuna stays away from fighting for thousands of years, Bhishma’s body cannot be saved. The idea is that the body is subject to destruction, but the atma iseternal.
 
This is the tattva-jnana (true knowledge of the nature of atma and the body)which one has to get first. These are explained up to verse 39. Once one knowsthe greatness of jivatma, one would certainly long to realise it and see it as it is. Next, Krishna goes on to explain karma-yoga which is the means to realise thisatma. By practicing karma-yoga, one will be led to jnana-yoga which is penultimate to atma realisation.
 
It would be apt here to define karma-yoga and jnana-yoga. Yoga here means"way" or "path". Karma-yoga is the path of action and jnana-yoga is the path of knowledge. These paths lead to the goal, which is atma-realisation.
 
The order given in the second chapter is:
 

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