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Vedanta Sandesh

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Bhagwad Gita :

Bhagwad Gita is like a pendant in the necklace called Mahabharata. Like a pendant it is beautiful and also almost in the center of the famous epic. Bhagwad Gita or in short Gita consists of 18 chapters which are in fact chapter numbers 25 to 42 of the Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata. It is a philosophical dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna and consists of seven hundred shlokas. Gita is one of the three basic texts of Vedanta philosophy. It is called Smriti Prasthan. The other two being Upanishads and Brahma Sutras, called Sruti prasthan and Yukti Prasthan respectively. Upanishads are the fundamental texts (the Pramana granths), while Brahma Sutras talk the language of logic. Gita deals basically with the translation of the Upanishadic vision in our day to day life.

Even though the discourse of Gita was given on the first day of the great Mahabharata war, but the present text as we have it was given out by Sanjay (the charioteer) to King Dhritrashtra on the tenth day of the war. When the King heard that Bhishma Pitamah had fallen his surprise knew no bounds, he then asked Sanjay to describe to him the details of all the incidents which took place on the battlefront of Kurukshetra. Earlier the great sage Ved Vyasa had offered to the King some divine vision with which he could see all details of the war. The King politely refused. He was in a strange state of mind. On one hand because of some very great warriors like Bhisma and Karna on his side and also larger number of soldiers on his side he was confident of the win, yet deep down he had his own fears about the consequences of the war because he knew he had time & again resorted to various unrighteous means. He would certainly not prefer to see the end of his own sons and would certainly not like the world to know that he was watching the show when the sons of Pandu were being killed. So he declined the unique offer of the sage and instead suggested to let Sanjay have that divine vision, by which he could not only see & hear things outside, but also what others were thinking and feeling. Two people heard this divine discourse directly. Arjuna and Sanjay. One directly by Lord Krishna and other because of the grace of a Sage, indicating thus the total identity of the Sage and God.

The names of all the eighteen chapters come to us as some yoga, like Vishada Yoga, Samkhya Yoga, Karma Yoga etc. for the first, second & third chapter respectively. None of these names are originally found in the Mahabharata. They are a later interpolation by some Acharya and later publishers. However they got acceptability and thus have carried on, giving identity to each chapter. Even though they do give an inkling about the subject matter of each chapter but like any name they are conditionings too. We hereafter tend to look only for the message suggested by the name, and take that alone as the intended message.

Regarding the subject matter of Gita there have been quiet a few opinions by various commentators. The best indication on this point has given by someone who points out that if we look at the first and the last word of the text then strangely enough the real subject matter gets beautifully revealed. Looking at the beginning and the end of a text to discern its real purport has been an old practice. The first word of Gita is Dharma and the last word is Mama. When we combine these two words then we form the sentence Mama Dharma, meaning My Dharma. The term Dharma not only means righteousness or goodness, but also the essential nature of anything without which it cannot retain its independent existence. Here the word Dharma implies the latter. In fact one who is faithful to his essential nature alone can be truly & spontaneously righteous & good. Gita thus reveals to me My Dharma, what is my essential nature, knowing which I revel in the peace & silence within, facilitating not only contentment but also free, selfless & creative action.

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