Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reading the Bhagavad Gita Today

Here's a great essay about the value of the Bhagavad Gita today, written by Charles Martin who co-authored a new translation of the Hindu classic. The Gita is part of the great Indian classic, the Mahabharata and Martin sees a number of lessons from the story that are still valuable today.

The Gita is a drama that pits Arjuna in battle against his cousins and teachers for control of the kingdom of Bharata in northern India. The moral dilemma that this causes Arjuna is the subject of the book as he debates what he should do with his charioteer, who also happens to be the god, Krishna, in mortal  form.

Arjuna ultimately decides to wage war against his relatives. Martin suggests that "Krishna’s reasons are deeply set in Hindu doctrine and practice: as a member of the warrior class, Arjuna has a duty to wage war, and it would be shameful for him to turn away from his responsibility."

Martin sees a number of lessons that Gita still has to teach us.
  • One is that we should always live our lives deliberately. “Better to do one’s duty/ ineptly than another’s well,” Krishna tells Arjuna. 
  • One must act without concern for loss or gain
  • Don't follow. Instead lead with responsibility and not out of fear
Here is  a link to a lesson I usually do with Hinduism that asks students to think about the moral dilemma Arjuna faces and what he should do.

You can find other posts about religion on my World Religions blog here.

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