BHAGAVBAD GEETA – THE SCRIPTURE PAR EXCELLENCE

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Srimad Bhagabad Geeta is the most important Scripture of Hindus. It is a part of the Bhisma parva of Mahabharata. On the eve of the battle of Kurukhetra, Arjuna was reluctant to fight against the kith and kins those were in the Kaurava army. Bhisma was Grandfather, Drona was his guru, Salya was his maternal uncle, the Kauravas themselves were his brothers and so on.  

          Seeing Arjuna reluctant, Lord Shri Krishna proceeded to explain to Arjuna that life is nothing; death is inevitable. And the whole Indian philosophy was explained to Arjuna in the simplest possible way. This is Bhagabad Geeta. But the question remains – whether such a long discourse was told on a battle field, where time was short and so precious. Geeta contains 700 slokas in eighteen chapters. From research it is learnt that Vyaasa had written Geeta briefly only upto 37 sloka of the second chapter. The rest portion is interpolated in later times especially in Gupta era. The 37th sloka clearly states that it is the end of Bhagabad Geeta.

          Hatobaprapyasiswargam

                   Jeetwababhokhyasemahim

          Tasmatuttisthakaunteyayuddhaya

                   Kritanischayah.

(If you will be killed in the battle, you will attain heaven. If you will win, you will enjoy the kingdom.)

          Not only Bhagabad Geeta but the whole Mahabharata has been enlarged by later interpolations and additions.

          One more thing is that Geeta is a philosophical treatise. But when Geeta was written, at that time Indian philosophy was in formative stage. So the philosophy described in Geeta is not final. Bhagabad Geeta needs reediting. Of course this will raise many eye brows. But it is true. However, Geeta is an important document of Hinduism for its real definition.

          The first sloka of Geeta is –

Dharma khsetrekurukhetresamabetayujutsava

Mamakapandavatsaivakimahkurbatasanjay.

(In the righteous place called Kurukhetra, fighters are assembled. What my sons and Pandu’s sons are doing there?)

          The battle field is Dharma Khetra. Why it was dharma khetra? And why in such a Dharma Khetra, such a horrible battle was fought annihilating most of fighters of India of that time.

          In the Satya yuga, the name of that place was tapah-khetra, in which Gods and Rishis were doing penance and also doing yajnas. Even Parsuram also did yajna in that place.

Later on Raja Kuru got three boons from Lord Vishnu. First – this land should be named after him. So the land was named Kurukhetra. Second – those who will die on this land will attain Swarga(heaven). Third – all the descendants of Kuru will die here. So arrangements were made by God so that a mighty battle took place there. And battle among kith and kin was fought, so that they attained heaven. For this reason, in a Dharma Khetra a horrible war was fought. Adharma was defeated here. So the original name of the epic was ‘Jaya’(Victory).

          There are eighteen chapters in Geeta. These are–(1) Arjuna VishadaYogah, (2) Sankhya Yoga, (3) Karma Yoga, (4) Gyana Karma Sanyasa Yoga, (5) Karma Sanyasa Yoga, (6) AtmaSanjama Yoga, (7) Gyanavijnana Yoga, (8) Akhsara Brahma Yoga, (9) Raja Vidya – Rajaguhya Yoga, (10) Bibhuti Yoga, (11) Vishwarupa Darshana Yoga, (12) Bhakti Yoga, (13) KshetraKshetrajnaBibhaga Yoga, (14) GunaTrayaBibhaga Yoga, (15) Purusottama Yoga, (16) DaivasuraSampadBibhaga Yoga, (17) Sraddha TrayaBibhaga Yoga, (18) Moksha Sanyasa Yoga.

          Bhagabad Geeta has fired the imagination of Indian people. Simply people are spell bound by Geeta – whether they understand it or not. Mahatma Gandhi was much influenced by Geeta. Geeta had become his life companion. Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote an outstanding commentary on Geeta. Sri Aurobinda’s Essays on Geetaare milestones in Indian thoughts. Andre Malraux a French writer said – The questions put in Bhagabad Geeta are very important, whatever may be the answer. Those questions have been asked to the whole humanity. Jawaharlal Nehru called Geeta – a poem of crisis. That means when you are in danger, Geeta will help you.

          During British time, Charles Wilkins translated Geeta into English. After that many persons have translated Geeta into English. Geeta became a worldwide phenomenon.

          Gyana, Bhakti and Karma (knowledge, devotion and action) are three basic themes of Geeta. And these three are essential elements in the life of a person. It is almost like Purusarthas (Dharma, artha, Kama and Moksha). At the end of Mahabharata, the writer is astonished to know that even if people know that artha and kama spring from Dharma, why that Dharma is not followed.

          Geeta teaches practical wisdom. There are many ups and downs in life. Both mirth and mire are there in life. Life is a chequered history. Shakespeare said –there is a history in every man’s life. The individual is now up, now down. In this unstable life Geeta teaches to be of balanced mind – SthitaPrajna. To remain calm and quiet in every situation of life.

          “Sampatau cha bipattau cha mahatamekarupata.”

(In both good times and bad times, the balanced mind – the great man remains undisturbed)

          We find many original thoughts also in Geeta. For example – when all beings sleep in the night, the Muni (controlled mind) remains awake and when in the daylight all beings remain awake, the muni sleeps).

          Yanishasarvabhutanam

                   Tasyamjagartisanjami

          Yasyamjagratibhutani

                   Sa nishapasyatahmuneh.

          There is inner meaning of this verse also. The darkness of the night is compared with ‘ignorance’ and day-light is ‘knowledge’. The moral of this verse is that the discerning and superior man does what others laymen and average men do not. Shakespeare also said it in other words –

          “I do not do,

                   What the multitude do”

          Nature and fertility have also been mentioned in Bhagabad Geeta.

          “Annadbhavantibhutani

                   Parjanyad anna sambhavah.

          YajnadParjanyaSambhavah

                   Yajna karma samudbhavah”.

          (From the foods born the creatures; food is obtained from rain, rain possible by Indra and Yajna. And yajna is obtained from the karma of beings).

          Vaasansijirnaniyathabihava

                   Nabanigrinhatinaroparani

          Tathasariranibihayajirna

                   Nyananisanjatinabanidehi.

          (After an attire is teared, man wears a new one. Just like that when a body becomes unfit for living, the soul gets a new body).

          In this way Geeta has narrated many things which are of paramount importance in human life. The contents of Geeta may be summarized in one sentence –

          “Bhagabad Geeta is a movement from anxiety to serenity ending in cyclical regeneration in nature.”

          So Bhagabad Geeta is a proud possession not only of India but of the whole world. Lord Shri Krishna is Jagad Guru.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)

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Radhakanta Seth is an Income tax officer in Sambalpur.  He is a freelance writer and his articles have been published in some Oriya dailies like Sambad, Samaj, Dharitri, and English dailies like The Telegraph and in a sociological journal ‘Folklore’ published from Kolkata.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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