Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bhagavad Gita: Introduction & Synopsis of Chapter One



Swami Shivananda:

"O Krishna, thou art my sweet companion now. Thou hast a soft corner for me in thy heart. Let me be frank with thee, O Krishna, because thou are the indweller of my heart and the witness of my mind. I cannot hide anything from thee, because thou directly witness all the thoughts that emanate from my mind. Thou art my friend now. O Lord of my breath, accept my humble prayer. Teach me the Gita."



"On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna's chariot comes to the front. His banner is presided over by Hanuman. In the deafening noise set up by the several conches and the war drums and trumpets Arjuna, taking up his Gandiva (bow) in his hand, says: 'Krishna, set my chariot right in the midst of the two contending armies. I want to see all the heroes who are so eager for battle. I want to see with whom I have to fight in this war. I want to see all the many heroes who are so eager to please Duryodhana.'

The chariot rumbles a few yards ahead and Krishna places it just where Arjuna wants it: in front of Bheeshma, Drona and the others. Krishna exclaims: 'Look, Arjuna! Look at this great army with Bheeshma and Drona leading it. Look at all the Kauravas assembled here to die at your hands.' Arjuna casts his eyes on the great spectacle. He sees the heroes ready for battle, and he sees there all those who are dear to him. They are his grandfathers, teachers, cousins, uncles, nephews, dear friends, and comrades. He looks again and again at them and all of a sudden he is overcome with pity for all of them. His voice shakes with grief and he says: 'Krishna, I feel an awful weakness stealing over me. My mouth has gone dry all of a sudden and I am trembling all over. Krishna, my head is reeling and I feel faint. My limbs refuse to bear me up. My form burns as if with fever and my Gandiva is slipping from my grasp. I look at all these who are my kinsmen and I feel that I cannot fight with them. Look on all these omens, Krishna. They do not bode any good to anyone. I do not think there is any good in killing my kinsmen.

I do not want to win this war. I do not want any kingdoms nor do I want the pleasures of this world. I do not see any use for them. These great heroes all mean so much to me and they are there, ready to fight. I will never kill them: not for lordship of the three worlds. For the passing pleasure of ruling this world why should I kill the sons of Dhritarashtra? They have been greedy, evil, avaricious, and covetous. I grant all that. But the fact remains that they are my cousins and it is a sin to kill one's own kinsmen. I would rather turn away from the war. It will even be better if I am killed by Duryodhana. I do not want to fight.' Arjuna collapses in the seat of his chariot. He throws away his bow and arrows and his heart is filled with pain." [From The Mahabharata, translated and condensed by Kamala Subramaniam.]

Ram Dass:

"Arjuna is confronting a situation in which his rational mind is not helping him, a situation in which surrender is the only way through. There are states of consciousness that are always available to us if we have not veiled ourselves from them through our attachments. Krishna is going to say to Arjuna: 'What matters here isn't your feelings towards those people on the other side. There's something bigger at stake here. You have to act out of what your Karma demands. It's your Karmic predicament to have been born a Kshatriya at this particular moment and in this particular place, where it is your responsibility to uphold the Dharma by fighting this war. And so that's your way through at this moment.' Arjuna might not feel that he asked for this role, but there it is. Now it's his Dharma to fulfill it.

In studying the Gita, you may not have thought you were asking to confront tough questions about your own life and about what it all means, but here you are. This is the battlefield of Kurukshetra within yourself. Though you may think you didn't ask for it, yet, on another level, just like Arjuna, you are getting your just deserts. You are getting the benefit of all the work you've ever done up until now, which has put you in the place where you are about to absorb a teaching about a topic that most of the population couldn't care less about. Whatever Karma brought you to this point, it's now your Dharma to work with it."

Eckhard Tolle:

“There are situations where all answers and explanations fail. Life does not make sense anymore. Or someone in distress comes to you for help, and you don’t know what to do or say.

When you fully accept that you don’t know, you give up struggling to find answers with the limited thinking mind, and that is when a greater intelligence can operate through you. And even thought can then benefit from that, since the greater intelligence can flow into it and inspire it.

Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to figure things out and becoming comfortable with not knowing.”

[For when we admit that we don’t know the answer to a question, and can feel comfortable in that state of limbo, we become open to the higher power to shed its light within us and help us to find our way.]

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