• Ch. 1: Arjuna feels despondent on seeing his family and friends ranged in battle against each other
  • Ch. 2: When he seeks Krishna's advice, Arjuna is told that only the physical self perishes, whereas the Spirit is immortal. Krishna exhorts Arjuna to do his duty as a warrior.
  • Ch. 3: Karmayoga. Arjuna asks, if knowledge is suprior to action, why he should engage in battle. Krishna stresses to Arjuna that performing his duties for the greater good, but without attachment to results is the appropriate course of action.
  • Ch. 4: Krishna reveals that He has lived through many births, always teaching Yoga for the protection of the pious and the destruction of the impious and stresses the importance of accepting a teacher.
  • Ch. 5: Arjuna asks Krishna if it is better to forgo action or to act. Krishna answers that both ways may be beneficent, but that acting in dispassionate and detached manner is superior.
  • Ch. 6: Krishna describes the correct method of meditation and self-control for achieving that special state of consciousness which allows self-control and helps to reach the Supreme Being.
  • Ch. 7: Krishna speaks to Arjuna about the path of knowledge.
  • Ch. 8: Krishna defines the terms Supreme Spirit, the philosophy of duty, the spirit of the Imperishable and the Unmanifest and explains how one can remember him at the time of death and attain His supreme abode.
  • Ch. 9: Krishna explains panentheism, "all beings are in Me" as a way of remembering Him in all circumstances. He posits that He exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well.
  • Ch. 10: Krishna describes his various manifestations and how He is the ultimate source of all material and spiritual worlds.
  • Ch. 11: On Arjuna's request, Krishna displays his "universal form", a theophany of a being emitting the radiance of a thousand suns, containing all other beings and material in existence.
  • Ch. 12: Krishna describes the process of devotional service .
  • Ch. 13: Krishna describes nature (prakrti), the enjoyer (purusha) and consciousness.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I: The Despondency of Arjuna

King Dhritarashtra asked: Sanjay, What is happening on the sacred battlefield of Kurukshetra, where my people are gathered against the Pandavas?

Sanjay replied: Prince Duryodhan, when he saw the army of the Pandavas on parade, approached his preceptor Guru Dronacharya and spoke as follows:
"Revered Father, behold this mighty host of Pandavas, being paraded by the son of Kinf Drupad, your wise disciple.

"In it are heroes and great marksmen; the equals of Arjun and Bheem, Yuyudhan, Viraat, and Drupad in battle, great soldiers all;

"Drishtaketu, Chekitaan, the valiant king of Banaras, Purukit, Kuntibhoj, Shaibya - a master over many;

"Yudhamanyu, Uttamouja, Soubhadra, and the sons of Draupadi, all famous men;

"Further, note all the captains who have ranged themselves on our side, o best of spiritual guides! the leaders of my army. I will name them for you.

"You come first; then Bheeshma, Karna, Kripa, greta soldiers; Ashwatthama, Vikarna, and the son of Somadatt;

"And many others, all ready to die for my sake, all armed, all skilled in war.

"Yet our army seems weaker, though commanded by Bheeshma, while their army sems the stronger, though commanded by Bheema.

"Therefore, in the rank and file, let all stand firm in their positions, according to battalions; and all you Generals about Bheeshma"

Then to raise his spirits,, the brave Grandfather Bheeshma, eldest of the clan of Kurus, blew his conch, until it sounded like a lion's roar.

And immediately all the conches and drums, trumpets and horns, blared forth in a tumultous clangour.

Then seated in their spacious chariot of war, which was yoked with white horses, Lord Sri Krishna and Arjuna sounded their divine shells.

Lord Sri Krishna blew his Paanchjanya and Arjuna his Devdatta, brave Bheem his renowned conch, Poundra.

King Dharmaraja, the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya, Nakul and Sahdev, the Sughosh and Manipushpaka, respectively.

And the Maharaja of Banaras, the great archer Shikhandi, the great soldiers, Dhrishtadyumna and Viraat and Saatyaki the invincible,

And O' King, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi and Saubhadra the great soldier all blew their conches.

The tumult rent the hearts of Dhritarashtra's sons, and shook the heaven and earth violently with its echo.

Then beholding Dhritarashtra's sons, drawn up on arena of war, ready to begin the fight, Arjuna, whose flag bore the image of Hanuman,

Reiasing his bow, said to Lord Sri Krishna: 'O Infallible! Lord of the earth! Please draw up my chariot between the two armies,

'So that I may observe those who must fight on my side and those who fight against me;

'And gaze at this array of soldiers, so eager to please the sinful son of Dhritarashtra.'

Sanjay said: Having heard Arjuna's request, Lord Krishna drew up his bright chariot exactly in the midst of the two armies,

Where Bheeshma and Drona had led all the rulers of the earth, and spoke thus: 'O Arjuna! Look at these members of the clan of Kuru assembled.'

There Arjuna noticed fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, sons, grandsons, teachers, friends;

Fathers-in-law and benefactors, arrayed on both sides. Arjuna gazed at all the kinsmen lined before him.

And his heart melted with compassion and, in desolation, he spoke" O my lord! When I see all these, my own people, thirsting for battle,

'My limbs fail me and my throat is parched, my body trembles and my hair stands on end.

'The Gandeeva (Arjuna's bow) slips from my hand and my skin burns. I cannot keep quiet, for my mind is in tumult.

'The omens are evil; what good can come from the slaughter of my people on this battlefield?

'Ah, my Lord! I do not crave for victory, or for kingdom, nor for any pleasure. What were a kingdom or happiness or life to me,

'When those for whose sake I desire these things stand here, about to sacrifice their possessions and their lives:

'Teachers, fathers, and grandfathers, sons and grandsons, uncles, fathers-in-law, brothers-in-law, and other relatives.

'I would not kill them, no, not even for the three worlds; why then for this poor earth? It does not matter if I myself am I killed.

'My Lord! What happiness can come from the death of these sons of Dhritarashtra; We shall sin if we kill these desperate men.

'We are worthy of a nobler feat than to slaughter our relatives - the sons of Dhritarashtra; for, my Lord, how can we be happy if we kill our kinsmen?

'Although these men, blinded as they are by greed, see no guilt in destroying their kin, or fighting against their friends,

'Should not we, whose eyes are open, who consider it wrong to annihilate our own home, turn away from so great a crime?

'The destruction of our kindred means the destruction of the traditions of our ancient lineage, and when these are lost irreligion will overrun our homes.

'When irreligion spreads, the women of the house begin to stray; when they lose their purity, degeneration of the stock follows.

'Promiscuity ruins both the family an those who defile it; while the souls of our ancestors droop, through lack of oblations.

'By the destruction of our lineage and the defilement of blood, ancient traditions and family purity alike perish.

'The wise say, my Lord! that they are forever lost, whose ancient traditions are lost.

'Alas, it is strange that we should be willing to kill our own countrymen and commit a great sin in order to enjoy the pleasures of a kingdom.

'If, on the contrary, the sons of Dhritarashtra, with weapons in their hands, should slay me, unarmed and unresisting, surely that would be better for my welfare?'

Sanjay said: Having spoken thus, in the midst of the two armies, Arjuna sank on the seat of his chariot, casting away his bow and arrow, heart-broken with grief.

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Why The Geeta? Why now?

I took to reading the Geeta seriously in 2007. The idea of putting it on the WWW is not original. But I am doing it anyway as a labour of love. Just another excuse to read over and over again the wonderful words of this song divine which are a source of inspiration and of solace.
The context is a scene of battle, but that is only a metaphor for the greater battle that goes on within each one of us: the battle between our higher and lower selves, between desires and detachment, between our material and spiritual selves, between our physical senses and cosmic intuition.
There are five basic concepts: the Supreme Being, the Soul, Matter, Action and Time. In a sense, the entire divine symphony contains variations on these five basic themes.
The Geeta's greatest quality is its non-sectarian and non-dogmatic world-view. Exhorting action above mindless worship, it offers to its reader a whole new way of life; one that is free of fatuous rituals. What needs to be remembered while reading the Geeta is its emphasis on action and self-discipline.

Caveat emptor

This blog contains only a simple translation of the Geeta. I do not offer any commentary on the text (as yet). However, you are more than welcome to leave a comment on your understanding of a particular verse or chapter.

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