MahabharataReading

MahabharataReading - Appendix 1 Helm:final{from flit...

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Unformatted text preview: Appendix 1: Helm:final-{from flit: lihagavadvfliita 53 APPENDIX I: SELECTIONS FROM THE BHAGAVAD—GITA The most famous and influential text of Hindu- ism is section 6 ol‘the Mahabharata epic known as the Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord). The Giza! is especially important for an understanding of the devotional Hinduism that has flourished from about 400 (2.1-1. until today. The background of the Glm is the rivalry between the Kanrava brothers and the l’andava brothers for the rule of India. In a game of dice, the leader of the Pan- davas loses their claim to the throne. For thirteen years the Pandavas are forced into exile. This re- sults in civil war as the Pandavas return to seize rule. As preparation for war begins, Krishna be- comes a charioteer for Arjnna. But just as the battle is about to begin, Arjuna is appalled at the fratricide that will surely result. Moreover, he is afraid that this great evil will harm his own soul now and, by implication, in its later incarnations. His charioteer, the god Krishna, teaches Arjuna the divine truth that enables him to overcome his doubtings. This teaching Forms the content of the Gita. First, and most imme- diately for the plot ot‘the Mahabharata, Krishna teaches Arjuna that he must do his caste duty and fight. Arjuna knows that his warfare will not harm the souls of the slain. Second, the several ways to salvation given in the long history of Hinduism wsacrihce (the Vedic path), meditation (Upani- shadic and ascetic path), and action {the way of caste duty)—are each only ellective if done in a spirit ofcomplete detachment. The Gina teaches full involvement in life coupled with inner re— straint and indil’rerence. Third, the best way is de— votion to Krishna, whom the Gite portrays as the “base ol'Brahman,” yet filled with love for his de- votees. In this way, the Gilt: is typically Hindu—— it acknowledges and affirms all Hindu ways to the truth, but al‘hrms its own way as the best. The Glm contains 7,000 verses grouped into eighteen chapters. It has no plot, only the setting just outlined that poses the religious problem. Most chapters begin with Arjuna’s question, which typically deals with the meaning of‘previ— ous teachings in the Gita; a lengthy answer from Krishna Folloi-vs. Many chapters end with a call for devotion to Krishna. Much of the content of the Gita is repetitions; the key teachings are re- turned to again and again and examined from different perspectives. The l'bllmving excerpts at~ tempt to reduce this repetition and present the essence of the Gim’s argument. A short para~ graph introduces and sun'iinari-zes the content of each ofthe selections given here.52 [1.20w47] Clmprrrr I presides the rim-‘ratlmr setting and the religion: prolilrm rij‘rl-Jr Gita. Kit-Lg Dln'lmi‘ai‘btm’s chm-latest; Shaft-rye, tells the king what happened [refine the battle that real: place to [lee-ids tint fitter riflals klnfldum. As Prime rhythm came onto the battlefield, lye: was warren-me by the horrors (5ft?er impendingfitm'lclrlnl war. Hr ELL" {11"83'58511'lffilqulplllgs to his rim-i 'z'm‘t’eij, Krlrlm a, sir-y- lng that Will“ will lead a; the min of'rinr kingdom, min-tiller, and its err-tire metal {v.mifi'l. Hi: prays-rs rlmtlr to finishing XII-til} a. war. Then [it amps lair wmprms, li’flltlflfl fbr his death at the blinds 0fth angrily. Arjuna, his war flag a rampant monkey, saw Dhritarashtra’s sons aSsembled as weapons were ready to clash, and he lifted his bow. He told his charioteet: “Krishna, halt my chariot between the armies! Far enough for me to see these men who lust for war, ready to light with me in the strain of battle. I see men gathered here, eager to fight, 53 From Bl}!{flfll’fld*Gl£tI, by Barbara Stolcr Miller, translation copyright 1986 by Barbara Stoler Miller, Used by permission ofBautaiu Books, a division ol‘BanLam Doubleday Dell l’uh lishing Group, Inc. 55i- (iilAP'I’ER TW’O: HINITLFISM bent on serving the folly Thc)’ MC Radius) filthcrsa 3035, of {)lu-imrashtra’s son.” and grandfathers, uncles, grandsons, ' fathers and brothers ofwives, W’ "n Ar'una had 3 )oken " ‘ ‘ ht l i ’ and other men or our family. Krishna halted their splendid chariot [35} I do not want to kill them between the armies. even if} am killed, Krishna; not for kingship ol‘all three worlds, 725' Facin r Bhishina and Drona . I l ‘ 5 much less for the earth? and ail the great kings, he said, “Arjuna, see What joy is there for as, Krishna, the [(uru men assembled here!” in killing Dhritarashtra’s sons? Evil will haunt us ii" we kill them, Ar'iina saw them standinv there: . , J 5 though their bows are drawn to kili. fathers, grandfathers, teachers, uncles, brothers, sons, Honor forbids us to kill grandsons, and friends. our cousins, Dhritarashtra’s sons; how can we know happiness He surveyed his elders . , . . ‘ if we kill our own kmsmen? and companions in both armies, ali his kinsmen The greed that distorts their reason assembled together. blinds them to the sin they commit in ruining the iamiiy, blinds them De’ected liiled with stranre itv . . . .. i ’ ‘ E" p ” to the crime of betraying l‘riends. he said this: “Krishna, I see my kinsmen How can we ignore the wisdom gathered here, wanting war. of turning from this evil when we see the sin of family destruction, Krishna? My limbs sink, my mouth is parched, my body trembles, [40} When the family is ruined, the hair bristles on my flesh. the timeless laws of family duty perish; and when duty is lost, '30] The magic bow slips . . ' ‘ ‘ chaos oveiwhelins the family. from my hand, my skin burns, i cannot stand still, In overwhelming chaos, Krishna, my mind reels. women ofthe family are corrupted; and when women are corrupted, I see omens of‘ehaos, . . . _ disorder is born in society. Krishna; I see no good in kiliing my kinsmen This discord drags the violators in battle. and the family itseifto hell; For ancestors Fall when rites Krishna, I seek no victory, . . . . ' ' of oliering rice and water lapse. or kingship or pleasures. What use to {15 are kingsiiip, The sins of men who violate deiigiits, or life itself? the family create disorder in society that undermines the constant iaws We soucriit kin J'shi i deli rhts . . . b {3' L” é’ ’ of caste and family duty. and pleasures {or the sake of those assembled to abandon their lives Krishna, we have heard and fortunes in battle. that a place in heil is reserved for men who undermine family duties. [45] E lament the great sin we commit when our greed for itingship and pleasures drives us to itill our kinsmen. if Dhritarashtra’s armed sons kili me in battle when I am unarmed and otter no resistance, it wili be my rewart .” Saying this in the time ofwar, Arjuna slumped into the chariot and laid down his bow and arrows, his mind tormented by grief. [2:1-7, Iii—~27, 31n—38, 47-48] In rimybrsr 2, Krishna- rEIJ-alzrr Arjuna and mgr; him ta fight. Krishna advances several arguments: (I) the? soul is immortal) and all 6156 is imprrrrrimzmr; rlrsi'rafiiri: the battle Ian: at) real eternal significance,- (2) An jIHHI, a Ki'lmtriya (warrior) wrist do his raste- di-rry and fight; (’3) be iriiirrfiglrt in a, conifer/aple- rive, derricth warmer; (4) yoga. (discipline) is the way r0 HIE/‘1 detachment. Vi’m’ 38 is the lacy: “for partial to joy and mfl‘srmyj, git-iii mad. lass; victory mm? deferral; arm yam‘mfiffb-r #2:: battle, [err yoafall firm) evils” 5a iijaya: Arjuna sat dejected, filled with pity, his sad eyes blurred by tears. Krishna gave him counsei. Lord Krishna: Why this cowardice in time ofcrisis, Arjuna? The coward is ignoble, shameful, foreign to the ways ofheaven. Don’t yield to impotence! It is unnatural in you! Banish this petty weakness from your heart. Rise to the fight, Arjunaf Appendix I: Select-rim:fiwm slit: Bhagavad-Gita A rin a: a: Krishna, how can E fight against Bhisinna and Drona with arrows when they deserve my u'orslup? It is better in this world to beg for scraps of food than to eat sneais smeared with the blood ofelders I killed at the height of their power while their goals were still desires. We don’t know which weight is worse to bear our conquering them or their conquering us. We will not want to live if we kill the sons of Dhritarashtra assembled before us. The flaw of pity blights my very being; conflicting sacred duties confound my reason. I ask you to tell me decisivelywm-Which is better? E am your pupii. Teach me what 1 seek! . . . Lard Krishna: [1 1] You grieve for those beyond grief, and you speak words ofinsight; but learned men do not grieve for the dead or the living. Never have I not existed, nor you, nor these kings; and never in the future shall we cease to exist. lust as the embodied self enters childhood, youth, and old age, so does it enter another body; this does not confound a steadfast man. 3'! n 56 C H A 5"1' if R 'E'W’UI H INDUISM Contacts with matter make us feel heat and coid, pleasure and pain. Arjuna, you must learn to endure fleeting things—they come and go! {.1 5} When these cannot torment a man, when sut‘tering and joy are equal For him and he has courage, he is fit for immortality. Nothing of nonbeing comes to be, nor does being cease to exist; the boundary between these two is seen by men who see reality. Indestructible is the presence that peri-‘ades ali this; no one can destroy this unchanging reality. Our bodies are known to end, but the embodied seii‘ is enduring, indestructible, and immeasurable; therefore, Arjuna, fight the hattlei He who thinks this sell‘a killer and he who thinks it killed, both faii to understand; it does not kiil, nor is it killed. [20] it is not born, it does not die', baring been, it wili never not be; unborn, enduring, constant, and primordiai, it is not killed when the body is kiiled. Arjuna, when a man knows the self to be indestructible, enduring, unborn, unchanging, how does he kiil or cause anyone to kill? As a man discards worn-out ciothes to put on new and different ones, so the embodied self discards its worn—out bodies to take on other new ones. Weapons do not cut it, fire does not burn it, waters do not wet it, wind does not wither it. It cannot be cut or burned; it cannot be wet or withered; it is enduring, ail»pervasive, fixed, immovable, and timeiess. [25} It is called unmanifest, ineoneeivabie, and immutable; since you know that to he so, you should not grieyei Ifymi think of its birth and death as everrecurring, then too, Great Warrior, you have no cause to grieve! Death is certain for anyone born, and birth is certain for the dead; since the cycle is inevitable, you have no cause to grieve! . . . [31] Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior than a battle ol‘saered duty. The doors of heaven open for warriors who rejoice to have a battle like this thrust on them by chance. Ifyou Fail to wage this war of sacred duty, you wili abandon your own duty and fame Only to gain evil. People wilE tell of your undying shame, and for a man of honor shame is worse than death. [35] The great chariot warriors will think you deserted in fear ofbattie; Appendix I: Seisct-iunrfi'ani the Bhagavad-Liita you will he despised by those who held you in esteem. Your enemies will slander you, scorning your skill in so many unspeakabie waysm \ could any suil‘briug be worse: If you are killed, you win heaven; if you triumph, you enjoy the earth; therefore, Arjuna, stand up and resolve to fight the battle! Impartial to joy and sufibring, gain and loss, victory and defeat, arm yourself {or the battie, lest you fall into evii. . . . {47] Be intent on action, not on the fruits of action; avoid attraction to the fruits and attachment to inaction! Perform actions, firm in discipline, relinquishing attachment; be impartial to failure and success— this equanimity is calied discipline. [4: 1—-15_/ I n chapter 4 Krishna tells Arjuna afnir n-inny incarnations. The Gita imifdocr not explic- itly nan that Krishna is an incarnation ofVirlJn-n, but the Wis/marina afinter devotional H innit-aim; saw this relationship and developed iifiiiiy. Lani Krishna: I taught this undying discipline to the shining sun, first of mortals, who told it to Mann, the progenitor of man; Manu toid it to the solar king Ikshvaku. Royal sages knew this discipline, which the tradition handed down; but over the course of time it has decayed, Arjuna. This is the ancient discipline that I have taught to you today; you are my devotee and my friend, and this is the deepest mystery. A rjiinri: Your birth foilowed the birth of the sun; how can I comprehend that you taught it in the beginning? Lord Krishna: [5} I have passed through many births and so have you; I know them ali, but you do not, Ariuna. Though myself unborn, undying, the lord ofcreaturcs, I fashion nature, which is mine, and I come into being through my own magic. Whenever sacred duty decays and chaos prevaiis, then, I create myself, Arjuna. To protect men ofvittue and destroy men who do evil, to set the standard of sacred duty, I appear in age after age. He who really knows my divine birth and my action, escapes rebirth when he abandons the hoder and he comes to me, Arjuna. {10} Free from attraction, fear, and anger filied with me, dependent on me, purified by the tire ofknowicdge, many come into my presence. 1 As they seek refuge in me, I devote myseif to them; Arjuna, men retrace my path in every way. Desiring success in their actions, men sacrifice here to the gods; in the worid of man success comes quickly from action. I created mankind in four ciasses, different in their qualities and actions; 57 q (.JE'I Ai"l'1iR TW'OZ i'lINDUISM t ,4 I) though unchanging, I am the agent ot'thisa the actor who never acts! i desire no fruit of actions, and actions do not defiie me; one who knows this about me is not bound by actions. [15] Knowing this, even ancient seekers of freedom performed action—— do as these seers did in ancient times. [9:16-28] Chapter 9 tells 1902? the universe was spun out (JfKr-islma'} body. Next came the attrib- r-trs's MGM (Krishna), rear vies (y'dz'fi‘ermr ( H ind a ) gun's, rim-2’ r; critique: 0f Midis religion. At the and, iterative to Krishna is swiplmsizrd as fire port that, in contrast :0 the Vsdir: cult, is 0pm :0 all. Lord K 1"3-513713 a: I am the rite, the sacrifice, the iihation for the dead, the healing herb, the sacred hymn, the clarified butter, the fire, the oblation. I am the universal father, mother, granter of all, graudfiither, ohg'ect of knowledge, purifier, holy syllahie Om, threefold sacred iore. I am the way, sustainer, iord, witness, sheiter, refuge, friend, source, dissolution, stability, treasure, and unchanging seed. 1 am heat that withholds and sends down the rains; [ am immortality and death; both being and nonbeing am I. [20] Men learned in sacred lore, Sonia drinkers, their sins absolved, worship me with sacrifices, seeking to win heaven. Reaching the holy worid of Indra, king of the gods, they savor the heavenly delights of the gods in the ceiestial sphere. When they have long enjoyed the world of heaven and their merit is exhausted, they enter the mortal world; foliowing the duties ordained in sacred lore, desiring desires, they obtain what is transient. Men who worship me, thinking solely of me, always discipiined, win the reward l secure. When devoted men sacrifice to other deities with faith, they sacrifice to me, Arjuna, however aberrant the rites. I am the enjoyer and the lord ot'all sacrifices; they do not know me in reality, and so they fail. [25] Votaties of the gods go to the gods, aneestor—worshippers go to the ancestors, those who propitiate ghosts go to them, and my worshippers go to me. The leaf or flower or fruit or water that he offers with devotion, I take from the man of'self—restraint in response to his devotion. Whatever you domwhat you take, what you offer, what you give, what penanees you perlbrm— do as an otiering to me, Ai'jtmai You will he freed from the bonds ofaction, from the fruit offortune and 111isfo1'tune; armed with the discipline ()Frei'mnciatimi, your seli’liherated, you will join me. [I] :1~20, 50—55] In chapter 11, after Arjuna arias it) see It'risijrm’r divine firm-2., Krishna shows Irina all his divine firms at (mes. Ami-ma o‘fih'rd with £11173 and praise: Krishna. Krishna that; re:- tm‘m to his Iii-nearifiir-m. The praise (MIG-irks“: ex- presses the kind oj‘nrmcbmrnr r0 one find that is characteristic {y'devotirmal H indnimi. Arjuna: To favor me you revealed the deepest mystery of the self, and by your words my delusion is dispelled. I heard from you in detail how creatures come to be and die, Krishna, and about the self in its immutable greatness. Inst as you have described yourself, I wish to see your form in all its majesty, Krishna, Supreme among Men. ifyou think I can see it, reveai to me your immutable self, Krishna, Lord UfDiSCiplinc. Lard Krishna: [5} Arjuna, see my forms in hundreds and thousands; diverse, divine, of many colors and shapes. the sun gods, gods oflight, howling storm gods, twin gods of dawn, and gods of wind, Arjuna, wondrous forms not seen before. Arjuna, see all the universe, animate and inanimate, and whatever else you wish to see; all stands here as one in my body. But you cannot see me with your own eye; I will give you a divine eye to see the majesty or my discipline. Sn njnyn .' 0 King, saying this, Krishna, the great lord ofdisciplinc, r‘lppmdix I: Stitch's)”from the BhagavadnGita revealed to Arjuna the true majesty ofhis form. [10'] It was a multiform, wondrous vision with countless months and eyes and celestial ornaments, brandishing many divine weapons. Everywhere was boundiess divinity containing all astonishing things, wearing divine garlands and garments, annointed with divine perfume. If the light of a thousand suns were to rise in the sky at once, it would be like the light of that great spirit. Arjuna saw all the universe in its many ways and parts, standing as one in the body of the god of gods. Then filed with amazement, his hair bristling on his flesh, Arjuna bowed his head to the god, joined his hands in homage, and spoke. Arjuna: [15] I see the gods in your body, 0 God, and hordes of varied creatures: Brahma, the cosmic creator, on his lotus throne, all the seers and celestial serpents. E see your boundless form eve rywhetc , the countless arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes; Lord ofAll, I see no end, or middle or beginning to your totality. I see you blazing through the fiery rays 59 (>0 tznar'raa 'rwo: HINDUIsM of your crown, mace, and discus, my own nature, hard to behoid and my reason is restored. in the burning light offire and sun Lorri Krishna: that surrounds . . . _ This form you have seen your measureiess presence. . ~ is rarely revealed; ion are to be known the gods are constantly craving as supreme eternlty, for a vision of this form. the deepest treasure ofall that is, the immutabie guardian of enduring sacred duty; I think you are ITI‘JH’S Ell‘l‘lClCSS Spll'li'. dcvotion alone can I, as i reaily am, be known and seen and entered into, Arjuna. Not through sacred iore, penances, charity, or sacrificial rites can I be seen in the form that you saw me. I see no beginning or middie or end to you; only boundiess strength “1 Wm“ Endlcss arms: [55] Acting only For me, intent on me, the [noon and sun in your eyes, free from attachment, your mouths ofconsuming flames, hmtuc to no “mum, Arjum . I . r i , YOU? 0““ Milka”? a man of devotion comes to me. scorching this universe. [20] You 310m: [16:1—11, 21-24j Chapter 16 is n immunity of fill the 393cc genera! mamliry suitable fin” all mice-horn Him flit-U. Itfim‘ describes the person “horn to inherit a godly destiny, ” who git-richly escapes the process afre- I'Jirth. Then it tells ry‘"‘hmnnn devils,” who are eter- nnlly regal-tag} through rebirth. between heaven and earth and all the directions; seeing this awesome, terrible form of yours, Great Soui, the three worlds Lard Krishna: “Habit ' ' ' Fearle...
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