Hinduism and the Bhagavada-Gita


Your initial post is due by January 30, 2019.

Final post are  due by February 5, 2019



"Song of the Lord"

“The restlessness that you feel in this world and the unhappiness that characterizes your daily life will tell you that life in this world, as a human being is not complete. If human life is complete, you would be happy always and no problem would be facing you. There would be no anxiety of any kind if human life is the last point, the terminus.”

Using the supplied excerpt of the Bhagavad-Gita provided, consider the above quote while answering the following prompt. Your response should cite at least three examples from the text and demonstrate your knowledge Hinduism.

What, according to Krishna, is the proper mode of human action (karma)?  How is the relationship between action (karma) and duty (dharma) discussed in the poem?

Comments

  1. According to Lord Krishna, the proper mode of human action (karma) is: "Renunciation is in fact what is called Right Action. No one can become spiritual who has not renounced all desire." (Bhagavad-Gita, page 1). Krishna also relates examples of karma and dharma throughout the poem. These include: "He who desires nothing but wisdom and spiritual insight, who has conquered his senses and who looks with the same eye upon a lump of earth, a stone or fine gold, is a real saint." (Bhagavad-Gita, page 2). "When the mind, completely controlled, is centered in the Self, and free from all earthly desires, then is the man truly spiritual." (Bhagavad-Gita, page 3). In these quotes of Krishna, he is explaining karma and dharma and how it should be done.
    The above quote basically explains that if you feel restlessness and unhappiness in life, life as a human being is not complete. However, it is also saying that theoretically if you don't feel unhappiness and restlessness in life, it means that life is complete. If it is the terminus, or the end, that there would be no unhappiness and restlessness. Karma and dharma are related to this, as action and duty both weave into life and it depends on your karma if you can move closer to Brahman. Throughout the excerpts of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna continues to give examples to Prince Arjuna of how karma and dharma should be done, among other things.

    - Graham Bryer

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    1. Graham, I agree with several aspects of your interpretation of the meaning of karma and dharma and how it is expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita. However, I think you could further your develop of the idea that unhappiness and restlessness causes life to be incomplete and how Krishna explains the remedies that devotion to Brahman can bring. You could do this by adding Krishna’s assertion that one who has self-control, “…looks impartially on all – lover, friend or foe; indifferent or hostile; alien or relative; virtuous or sinful” (2). This quotes relates to Arjuna’s specific situation, as he fears going against his relatives in battle, and it supports idea that these doubts disappear when one is devoted to Brahman.

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    2. Graham I like your interpretation of karma and dharma. However I feel like your analysis would be significantly more coherent if you gave more specific examples of Krishna giving examples to prince Arjuna of how karma and dharma should be done.

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    3. Graham, I think you could strengthen your comment on Karma by adding a quote demonstrating how every human has the ability to achieve reaching Brahman, even, as Krishna states, "even the children of sinful parents, and those miscalled the weaker sex, and merchants, and labourers" (14).

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    1. 10/10 very rhetorically powerful

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  3. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna tires to resolve the doubts of Arjuna and explain the proper way to live one’s life. Krishna maintains throughout the poem that the proper course of life is to devote one’s self to Brahma. In order to achieve this one must gain a balance of mind, self-control, and look beyond their finite self. Krishna addresses Arjuna own doubts, concerning the dishonor Arjuna fears will result from killing his own kin in battle, and how they are limiting Arjuna, “Self of him who is self-controlled, and has attained peace is equally unmoved by heat or cold, pleasure or pain, honour or dishonour” (2). In this way Krishna is asserting that these doubts would not plague Arjuna if he devoted himself to Brahma. Furthermore, Krishna asserts that no ill will befall those who follow Brahma in the next life, even they stray for his path, “No evil fate awaits him who treads the path of righteousness…he who has slipped from the path of spirituality will be born again in the family of the pure, benevolent and prosperous (5). This connects to the idea of karma, or the idea of actions that accumulate during previous lives, because if Arjuna continues to devote himself to Brahma he shall not suffer in the next life for missteps.
    Krishna takes his assurance of the righteousness of the path to Brahma and step further and claims that as long as “…a man will meditate on Me and Me alone, and will worship Me always and everywhere, I will take upon Myself the fulfillment of his aspiration, and I will safeguard whatsoever he shall attain” (13). This quote is significant as it raises the idea that as long as Arjuna goes into battle with completely devotion in Brahma, he does not have to fear that killing of his kin in battle will affect his karma. In fact, the duty that he fulfills by participating in battle will positively effect him.

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    1. Isabelle, your reply is very coherent and answers the prompt question well. Possibly next time, you could implement the idea of the prompt quote more into the response. If there is no unhappiness and restlessness in human life, then life is complete, and if there is unhappiness and restlessness, then human life is not complete, that could have possibly been used more in your response.

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  4. Karma, in our western society, is basically understood as what goes around comes around. However, to the Hindu religion it is on a much larger scale. Instead of one action impacting another, each past life determines how close you are able to get to God. The main goal in life is to finally be close to God, and Hindus achieve this through the basic idea of Karma. As Krishna says, “Coming thus unto Me, these great souls go no more to the misery and death of earthly life, for they have gained perfection” (10). Each person must give themselves completely to God and they will be rewarded with “perfection.” To be able to reach this, one must put aside all small desires and anxieties, as the quote above describes. Krishna says, “They have followed the letter of the scriptures, yet because they have sought but to fulfill their own desires, they must depart and return again and again” (13). Each time someone falls back and gives in to a desire or selfish act, they will become farther from their goal. This is where the idea of duty, or dharma, comes into play. One’s soul duty in life is to devote themselves to God, and by proving themselves selfless this is possible. This idea is applicable throughout all social classes and societies, “For even the children of sinful parents, and those miscalled the weaker sex, and merchants, and labourers, if only they will make Me their refuge, they shall attain the Highest” (14). The Hindu religion recognizes different ways to reach God, as long as they are acting selflessly and devoting themselves completely to the idea of God.

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    1. Summer, I believe your interpretation of how karma and dharma are related in regards to the Bhagavad-Gita is fairly spot on. The only recommendation I have is perhaps expanding the idea of the worship of Brahma being applicable to all social classes, etc. According to Krishna, “Even the most sinful, if he worship Me with his whole heart, shalt be considered righteous, for he is treading the right path” (14). I believe the addition of this quote could highlight the importance of devotion to Brahman no matter your station in life or any supposed “wickedness.”

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    2. Summer, I believe your interpretation of karma and dharma are fairly accurate. But an important detail got kind of lost. You say that the point of karma and dharma is to get closer to god, but really it's more about your atman trying to become part of the whole, Brahman.

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    3. Summer, I think your interpretation is pretty spiffy. However, I think you could strengthen your argument by emphasizing on the fact that comprehension is a crucial part of ones journey to Brahma. Krishna is in everything, and “he who understands [his] manifested glory, and [his] creative power, beyond doubt attains perfect peace” (15)

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  6. To those who believe in the Hindu religion believe that ones soul life is on a journey, that carries on from one lifetime to the next. This journey consists of ones atman attempting to find its way back to Brahma. The Bhagavad-Gita goes into this journey in depth, and explains that “among thousands of men, scarcely one strives for perfection, and even amongst those gain occult powers, perchance one knows [Krishna] in truth” (6). In order to successfully complete this journey, one must fully devote themselves to living the lifestyle that puts them on the path to their God. This is where Karma comes into effect. Each life that is lived by a person effects how close the come to their God. There are various stages that one must endure on this journey. “First, they who suffer, next, they who desire knowledge, then they who thirst after truth, and lastly, they who attain wisdom” (7) It is ones dharma, or duty, to act in ways that will in turn bring them closer to Brahma. What a person accomplishes in each life influences what stage they progress to in the next.

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    1. I like how your explanation of karma is substantiated well. However your explanation of dharma could have been more in depth. Such as how dharma was actually related to karma in the poem, not just in general.

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    2. The inclusions of how a human's life effects the stage that they head to in the next life is good. However, I think your paragraph could be a little stronger if you included a statement that you can be bumped down stages instead of just implying it.

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    3. ReAnna, your explanations are very informative. I've read this several times and I keep going back to one quote you used, " among thousands of men, scarcely one strives for perfection..." (6) I find this quote to be one of your strongest examples. It's relative to the message you're trying to convey and it also gives your explanation depth and meaning that resonates even after you've finished reading it. Your argument is simple yet intelligent. Perhaps to add to your final statement concerning reincarnation, you could use the example from page 5, " Having reached the worlds where the righteous dwell, and having remained there for many years, he who has slipped from the path of spirituality will be born again in the family of the pure, benevolent and prosperous."(page 5)

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    4. ReAnna, your response is to the point, and I like that. You implemented quotes well into your response. However, if you went more into depth of karma and dharma into your response I feel it would have been even more effective in answering the prompt question.

      Graham Bryer

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  7. Karma is what determines what body the soul inhabits next. It is your karma which brings you closer or further to being with Brahman and achieve moksha. So there are many paths which bring you to moksha, or push you away from Brahman. It is through dharma, or their duty to brahman that people can become one with the whole through devotion. As Lord Shri Krishna says “Only by tireless devotion can I be seen and known; only thus can a man become one with Me, O Arjuna!” (Bhagavad Gita page 23)

    One of the paths to come closer to Brahman is to be empathetic to others and accept them as they are. Or as Lord Shri Krishna says “He looks impartially on all – lover, friend or foe; indifferent or hostile; alien or relative; virtuous or sinful.” (Bhagavad Gita page 2) Or another way to put it by Mark 12:31 is to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Lord Shri Krishna further stresses this importance of good karma through understanding and the value of dharma together by saying that “He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye;” (Bhagavad Gita page 4)

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    1. Max, I really like how you compared a Hindu belief with a passage from the Bible, I think it adds to your argument. However, I think if you went more in depth into dharma and its role on reincarnation and what Krishna actually says about it, your statement would be even better. Krishna says throughout the passage that one's duty in life is to rid themselves of desire and selfish needs. Including this idea would strengthen your statement.

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    2. I interpreted from the Bhagavad-Gite that to become closer to Brahman, you need to be more apathetic towards people at different stages. By being apathetic, you don't care what stage they are at or their relation to you because you see everyone as equal. Rather than being empathetic.

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    3. Max, I like your reply to the prompt question. You implement quotes of Lord Krishna into your response well. You mentioned karma in an effective way, however, if you mentioned dharma and Krishna's way of putting it more into your response, I feel your response to the prompt question would be even more rhetorically powerful.

      - Graham Bryer

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  8. According to Krishna, the proper mode of human action is to work their way towards accepting Krishna as being in everything, as well as everything being in Krishna (Bhagavad-Gita,4). The Bhagavad-Gita states that “He who… has conquered his senses and who looks with the same eye upon a lump of earth, a stone or fine gold, is a real saint” (2). Humans should work towards perfection so that they will have no desire or bias towards how they treat anyone or anything. It is also stated that “because they have sought but to fulfill their own desires, they must depart and return again and again” (13). Because of this, the opposite can be assumed as true: once you have achieved perfection you will be accepted by Krishna and no longer be reincarnated. Krishna says “All beings… return at the close of every cosmic cycle into the realm of Nature, which is part of Me” (12). This shows that the duty of every human is to go through as many lives as it takes to achieve this perfection and return to be one with Krishna.

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    1. Connor, while I agree with the majority of your interpretation I believe that you left out an aspect of Hinduism in your explanation. in your response you claim "...once you have achieved perfection you will be accepted by Krishna and no longer be reincarnated." While this is true to an extent it is important to note that the reincarnation cycle will begin again once the Atman eventually separates once again from Brahman.

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    2. Adding on to Isabelle's comment, the Hindu belief is that your soul is a "reservoir of being," (Smith). While reaching Brahman is their true goal in life, their atman's cycle does not end once it reaches Brahman through your body. Once it reconnects with Brahman, it is free to inhabit something else.

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    3. Connor, while I agree with your central arguments and most quotes, I have trouble connecting your second quote with the argument you made for it. If man looks at all things with the same eye with no discrimination, then I can see how he would see Krishna in everything, but does that show also how he is perfect? I think that, for me, it took away from the rest of your argument and distracted my attention. Maybe instead you could've used something like, " While he enjoys the Bliss which passes sense, and which only the pure intellect can grasp, when he comes to rest within his own Highest Self, never again will he stray from reality."(page 3) this could be used to describe the way man should see Krishna in everything. Other than that I think your post is clear and concise as well as interesting.

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  9. Krishna describes the proper human action as the denouncing of sin, possessions, and ignorance among other things. “ The sinner, the ignorant, the vile, deprived of spiritual perception by the glamour of illusion, and he who pursues a godless life - none of them shall find Me.” (Page 7) This explains that if people follow him and renounce sin and ignorance, then they will be rewarded with knowing him. Another example of this comes from page 13 of the text, “ Those who are versed in the scriptures, who drink the mystic Soma-juice and are purified from sin, but who while worshiping Me with sacrifices pray that I will lead them to heaven; they reach the holy world where lives the controller of the powers of nature, and they enjoy the feasts of paradise.”(page 13) This shows again that those who follow him will be rewarded. If karma is what describes the human action, then Krishna is saying that while others lead a life of sin and will not be rewarded, those who follow him and renounce sin and ignorance will be rewarded. Yet another example of this comes from page 14 of the text, “ So shall thy action be attended by no result, either good or bad; but through the spirit of renunciation thou shalt come to Me and be free.”(page 14)
    The poem describes how human life can not feel fully complete as we have strayed from Brahman. Action and duty work together in one’s life and by devoting one’s life to being aware of and respecting karma and dharma, we can become closer to feeling like our life is full. The poem discusses how if the relationship between karma and dharma was fully complete, then there would be no essentially “bad” parts of human life and we would be connected and one with Brahman.
    - Sierra Murray

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    1. Sierra, your claim is valid, but you ceased to mention how this all applies to Dharma. It is the duty of the people to reach perfection, and their Atman’s quest for Brahma must “be practiced with determination and with a heart which refuses to be depressed” (3).

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