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The pandavas are fighting to uphold dharma, so their kingdom may survive, while their cousins, the Duryodhana, are using deceit to keep the power.When war was inevitable, Arjuna was upset by the fact that he must kill cousins and friends. Summoning Krishna to the battleground, he laments to the god that he cannot go through with this.Even princes, the well-educated, and those with wealth can experience despair and sorrow.Chapter 2: Krishna is aware of Arjuna’s pain, but feels that he could have been stronger. Taken aback, Arjuna decides to become his student. Krishna commences his teachings and the Gita begins.Beginning with the longevity of atman, which is beyond birth and death, Krishna describes wisdom, and a wise one who knows the ‘Truth’ of wholeness. Understanding the nature of desire is the key.Chapter 3: Arjuna recognizes that he wants total freedom and enlightenment, but faces a harsh problem when Krishna tell him to go out and fight, because he absolutely does not want to be involved in the war.Krishna then explains to him what yoga karma is, the belief that this separate entity is the source of suffering, and leads to endless harmful actions in the world. Such is the nature of likes and dislikes. However, we must see them for what they are and not be held prisoner by them. Chapter 4: Krishna discusses how this teaching has been handed down from generation to generation, how it originated with Isvara (Krishna). Krishna appears on the planet when dharma has been broken to reawaken timeless knowledge. He has a human form and is also considered timeless wisdom. The truth of all things is that one’s nature is free of action. Empirical reality is the physical things in nature around us, like the sun moon, stars, and birds. Subjective reality is the reality we create from our experiences. Both are expressions of one reality, which is called Brahman. When you act and speak with wisdom, you are free.Chapter 5:Arjuna questions if Sannyasa or Karma yoga is a better path. Krishna explains that sannyasa is actually much more difficult as there is a certain depth of understanding needed before one can truly master it.Karma yoga is not a particular practice like pranayama. Karma Yoga is meant to be practiced moment by moment, throughout life.Krishna introduces dhyana, meditation, as a way to cultivate stability and peace in the mind.Chapter 6: Kristna teaches about two different types of meditation. The first is with a seed or form to fill the mind and lessen the tendencies of the mind to wander into dangerous waters. The second is letting the mind rest in the infinite, which is nirbija or seedless samadhi. This is the meditation Krishna presents to Arjuna. Krishna describes sitting meditation, in a quiet, clean and organized place, to purify the mind. He has a sense of calm. He becomes free from sorrow.Chapter 7:Jñaana signifies indirect knowledge and direct knowledge, vijnana, implies that Krishna is revealing only the truth of himself.Knowledge that is immediate, absolute, and leaves no doubts is very rare. Very few reach this level and even fewer reach the realization of it. This intrigues Arjuna.Krishna calls the entire universe apara prakriti, the world of form, the elements etc. Para prakriti is the permanent source or cause of the apara prakriti.Krishna is the cause of creation and will also be its downfall. He speaks  of devotion as a way to find enlightenment and God in the ordinary.Chapter 8:Arjuna is introduced to Brahman and told about how an intelligent man recognizes the truth at the point of death. Krishna begins to chant Om to realize Brahman. The cycles of life and death helped Arjuna see a difference between the changing world and the permanent Brahman.Only knowledge can grant moksha. Prayers and rituals, even though people desire them, and even death do not grant moksha. Only the direct knowledge of Brahman will bring freedom.Chapter 9:Krishna mentions the brahma loka, and attempts to clarify that getting to heaven is not moksha.There are many ways to become confused or lost in the world of time and space, of body, mind, ritual and desire. The knowledge is said to be secret because if it is heard it is rarely understood. With total commitment, compassion, faith, grace and devotion, success is near. A mature mind is needed for spiritual knowledge and these virtues, when brought up correctly, lead to maturity.Chapter 10: Everything is Bhagavan. Bhagavan means one who has bhaga, the six absolute virtues. They are riches, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation. All goals are ultimately the goal of Bhagavan, aatma, Brahman. Bhagavan can not only manifest as any form, but he is also the source, the creator, who doesn’t change, amidst the impermanence and turbulence.Chapter 11:Krishna gives Arjuna a ‘special eye’ so that he may see the wonders and fullness of the Bhagavan. He sees endless forms, blazing suns, devas, devils, saints, and heaven and hell. He also sees his enemies and allies being destroyed in the war.Arjuna is in both fear and awe. When Krishna returns to his ‘human’ form, Arjuna relaxes. Krishna again goes into detail about the path of karma yoga to Arjuna.Chapter 12: Bhakti is dedicated work to Ishvara in the form of dharma. However, the main question Arjuna has is still between the difference between sannyasa and karma.He wants knowledge, but is called to duty, to go to war to defend the dharma of the citizens. He still thinks sannyasa is superior as a means of self knowledge.Krishna explains that the attitude that one has leads to self knowledge. This attitude is devotion or bhakti.Chapter 13:We often ponder the relationship between purusha and prakriti, which is the knower and the known, in that order. Arjuna is no different.Krishna begins by discussing kshetra and kshetrajña, Krishna also discusses jñaana, especially in relationship to the values and attitudes of a mind that is ready for knowledge.Chapter 14:Understanding the nature of the gunas is fundamental in becoming free.Vedanta does not consider prakrti, the material cause, to be separate or independent from Purusha, the unchanging source. Brahman is the only guru to constantly remain, unlike other gurus. This is Brahma vidya, seeing the Truth of Self.Chapter 15:The tree of samsara, the nature of the jiva, the subtle body, and reincarnation, the need for maturity, the all illuminating light, perishable and the imperishable.Detachment is listed as the key to seeing through the delusion of samsara, that the “I” is limited and inadequate.Chapter 16:Indian literature is full of stories of battles between the angels and devils that represent good and evil respectively.Krishna uses the devils and and the angels to show what qualities to strive for and what to avoid. These need to be understood, not just mindlessly followed.Krishna lists the qualities to avoid. These include hypocrisy as it relates to dharma, pride, harshness, the tendency to demand respect, and pretentiousnessHe lists desire, anger and greed as the three to abandon. He then explains how these qualities can cause certain behaviors to grow. In order to cultivate the positive ones we must follow the teachings of the Vedas.Chapter 17:Arjuna desires to know why people are drawn to behave a certain way, so Krishna explains Shraddha. More than just faith, it includes an element of prayer. The three-fold element, referring to the mind, are tamas, rajas, and sattva. This causes Arjuna to question Vedic rituals.Krishna continues to explain the moral and ethical law of devotion. An example is nonviolence, cleanliness.Krishna explains ‘om tat sat’, the three fold expression of Brahman.Chapter 18:The crucial teachings of the Gita involve karma, sannyasa and moksha.Karma yoga is accomplishing what needs to be accomplished, keeping with dharma, and performing with bhakti.Sannyasa is not focused on normal worldly demands or in pursuit of knowledge to attain freedom. But both are fine pursuits to achieve liberation and enlightenment. Another way of describing the teaching is through the brahma-vidyaa and yoga-shastra. Brahma-vidya is direct knowledge of the Self, where Brahman is the ‘ruler.’Yoga-shastra refers to the before practices and actions that prepare the pursuers for Brahma-vidya.

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