THE RELIGION OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA

Assistant Professor, Department of Sanskrit
B.H. College, Howly, Barpeta, Assam

Abstract
The Bhagavad-Gita contains the highest experience of the Hindu mind on the nature of man and his place in the universe. Of all the great texts of Hindu religious literature, it is perhaps the most popular and at the same time the most profound. While it is thought to be simple enough to be studied and quoted by even a tiro in Hindu religion and philosophy, it has also the merit of having been considered a fitting scripture by the great philosopher and teachers of Mediaeval India like Sankara the founder of Advaita Vedanta, Ramanuja the found of Visistadvaitavada, Madhva the profounder of Dvaitavada and Madhusudana Sarasvati the philosopher of Advaita Vedanta for writing erudite commentaries upon. Distinguished leaders and scholars of modern India, like Tilaka, Gandhi, and Aurobindo, also have written their masterpieces on the Gita. Its teachings begin as an attempt to solve the conflict in the mind of Arjuna, resulting from the urge to wage a sanguinary was as a matter of duty, and the opposite feeling that war is an unmitigated evil. In resolving the conflict, the divine teacher of the Bhagavad-Gita had to trace various ethical problems to their metaphysical roots, and to expound important practical disciplines for curing the ills of the soul; and therefore it has turned out to be a resume of the philosophies, ethical systems, and schools of spiritual culture that existed at the time. Through the present paper, an attempt is made to highlight the religion of the Bhagavad-Gita with the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita.
1.Introduction
The Bhagavad-Gita is an influential Indian religious text. It is the most representative synthesis of Indian philosophical thought, as it combines within itself most of the strangest of the philosophic thought of ancient India. It is certainly a text in the broad Vedic tradition, and yet it makes room within its doctrine of life for the workable elements in the non-Vedic ‘heresies’ Carvaka, Jaina and Buddha. The Gita lays emphasis on Ahimsa (non-violence) and its doctrine of Lokasamgraha (work in the service of the masses). From among the philosophic trends in the Vedic tradition, thought the Gita does not adopt the Nyaya-Vaisesika atomism, it still absorbs it in its own way, its broad conception of prakriti and purusa and the spiritual pathway, have been borrowed and reinterpreted by the Gita to fit in its own fame work and finally the Gita has also accepted the Mimamsa conception of yajna, which it has transmitted and spiritualized into the unique doctrine of selfless work.

The Bhagavad-Gita literally means ‘The Lords song’ i.e. philosophical discourse of Lord Krsna to persuade the reluctant Arjuna to fight. It is the most popular and sacred book of the Hindus, and its contained in the Bhismaparva of Mahabharata. The Gita tries to build up a philosophy of karma based on jnanaand supported by beautiful manner.The teaching of the Gita both metaphysical and ethical.

2.Objective of the study
  • To highlight the religion of the Bhagavad-Gita.
  • To discuss the philosophy of Bhagavad-Gita.
3.Methodology
As per methodology is concerned, this paper is primarily based on secondary data collected through reviewing books, souvenir and internet sources. Hence, the discussion of this paper is made on the basis of this data. However, some valuable information was collected from the persons having knowledge on this subject. Moreover some personal observation and views are added in this paper.

4.Discussion of the Study

4.1 Metaphysics of Gita
The Gita stands neither for the Vedic pluralism nor the Upanisadicsingularism, neither for the many nor for the one. It stands for the many which are the one and for the one which appears as the many. Thought the Gita distinguishes between the aparaprakriti and the paraprakriti, between nature and spirit, thus countenancing, though partly, the Samkhya dualism of prakriti and purusa, it still transcends that distinction by declaring that the two together constitute God or the ultimate reality. The one Lord it is who presides after the evaluation of this variegated world, so the Gita holds, and the Gita assures us that, throughout the Universe, wherever there is anything by way of power, glory or splendor, that only is the portion of His energy.

4.2 Ethics of Gita
The Gita stands neither for the Vedic Hedonism nor for the Upanisadic Asceticism, neither for the pleasure nor for renunciation. It stands for an ethics of the complete personality. The Vedas taught an ethics of pure feeling (Hedonism) and the Upanisad taught an ethics based on pure knowledge (Asceticism). The Gita provides a rounded system or ethics which bases itself not only on these elements of feeling and knowledge in human nature, but also on the third, element in it, the activity.

4.3 The Three Yogas of Gita
The Gita explains three yogas viz. jnana-yoga (the path on knowledge), the bhakti-yoga (the path of love) and the karma-yoga (the path of action).

4.3.1 Jnana-yoga
Jnana-yoga, the path of knowledge, advocates the method of discriminating between the real and the unreal, refusing to accept anything other than the one Reality. Jnana in the Gita does not stop with the intellectual understanding of philosophical problems; it is illumination accompanying the attainment of God.1 It is particularly noteworthy that the term jnana is used in the Gita to indicate the practices and qualities that are helpful towards the attainment of the goal.2 A less elaborate, but more precise, description of the means for the attainment of jnana is given in an earlier chapter,3 where the qualities of sraddha (fervent faith) and sense-control are stressed. Sraddha denotes a burning faith combined with reverence, humility, and profound sincerity of purpose. One who has this trait will not rest satisfied until his ideals have been realized. To begin with, it may be based on partial understanding only, but it is sustained by the certainty of conviction and genuine hope. This may look like blind acceptance, but the person concerned justifies it on the basis of his trust in the scriptures and teachers, which occupies the central place in his faith. But really a person’s sraddha is determined by his character, or rather by the kinship between his character4 and the nature of the object of his faith. Those who are endowed with a materialistic and hedonistic outlook (asurisampad) feel an antipathy to things spiritual, while those who possess a godly nature (daivisampad) feel a kinship with them. It is this kinship and the consequent urge from within that generate the required degree of sincerity of purpose in the man who is endowed with sraddha, and makes him a power in the sphere of his activity.5 The Gita therefore maintains that an aspirant after divine wisdom must have sraddha in his spiritual teacher6 and in the scriptures that give him an intellectual idea of the goal he seeks. It is the knowledge gained through faith that becomes knowledge by experience when jnana dawns on an aspirant.

4.3.2 Bhakti-yoga
Bhakti-yoga or devotion is defined as disinterested service to God. So it is a form of karma. And disinterested action, as we have seen, is not possible without knowledge. Hence, bhakti, too, like niskama karma, can be performed only by a true jnani. Only he can completely resign himself to the Lord. The devotee is confident of the guarantee given by the Lord- “Never does my devotee perish” and “The doer of good never comes to grief.”

Devotion in the Gita is the sentiment of love towards God born of an understanding of His Nature and the Jiva’s true relationship with Him; it expresses itself as the surrender of the devotee’s entire being to the Supreme Deity and the discharge of his duties in a spirit of dedication to Him. A synthetic scripture like the Gita does not take any partisan view on the question whether jnana precedes bhakti or vice verse; it does not find any opposition between the two. Both are recognized to be mutually complementary. Love of God is based on, and fostered by, some preliminary knowledge of His Nature.7 Such knowledge, with which devotional life starts, is born of sraddha. In the higher stages of knowledge also, the Gita considers devotion and knowledge to be interdependent.8 Realization of the experience formulated in ‘All this is Vasudeva’, and perfect self-surrender are shown9 to be the result of mature knowledge. This realization comes to the aspirant as a result of Divine grace, which is essentially a corollary of devotion and the consequence of the supreme devotional act of self-surrender, to which the divine teacher of the Bhagavad-Gita exhorts all devotees.10The growth of devotion up to this stage of full enlightenment through grace is also described fully.11

4.3.3 Karma-Yoga
Karma means deed, duty, work etc. which is not prohibited or warded off, which is not harmful, which is not done which a selfish attitude which is performed to worship the Lord and to serve the humanity. To perform one’s own duty is to worship the Lord and in the language of Gita that is karma.

A person must perform his duty honestly and through that only he can attain his destination. After achieving dexterity or proficiency in work, one should not abandoned that. Therefore, everyone must adhere to his duty. Anyone who scatters his attention in various directions can never attain proficiency in any work, hence the Lord says –

karmanyevadhikaraste ma phalesukadasan/
makarmaphalaheturbhurmatesangohastvakarmani// ibid. II-47
sreyansvadharmauvigunahparadharmatsvanusthitat/ ibid. III-35
svabhabaniyatam karma kurvannapnotikilvisam// ibid. XVIII-47
sahajam karma kaunteyasadosamapinatyajet// ibid. XVIII-48

The purpose of karma-yoga according to the Gita is public benefit i.e. lokasangraha.Tilak the scholar of modern India, defines it as “making wise those persons who behave recklessly as a result of ignorance and keeping them together in a happy state and putting them on the path of self-amelioration.” This right of the Lord is acquired by the enlightened, and so is the duty created for them by the creator. Tilak asserts that the jnani has no right to renounce, but has to set an example, failing which, the world will get destroyed. The Lord Himself incarnates often for the universal welfare. Secondly, for the perfect, the difference of ‘I’ ‘the world’ and ‘the Lord’ disappears. So, the Lords acts through the medium of the scents, and the nature of such an act is of universal welfare.

5.Conclusion
The Bhagavadgita combines many different elements from Samkhya and Vedanta philosophy. In matters of religion, its important contribution was the new emphasis placed on devotion, which has since remained a central path in Hinduism. In addition, the popular theism expressed elsewhere in the Mahabharata and the transcendentalism of the Upanishads converge, and a God of personal characteristics is identified with the brahman of the Vedic tradition. The Bhagavadgita thus gives a typology of the three dominant trends of Indian religion: dharma-based householder life, enlightenment-based renunciation and devotion-based theism.

A fairly popular text from the time of its composition, the Bhagavadgita gained much more prominence beginning in the early 18th century when British and European scholars discovered and translated it. Though many Hindus do not know it or use it, Vedanta philosophy recognizes it, with the Upanishads and the Brahma-sutras (brief doctrinal rules concerning brahman), as an authoritative text, so that all philosophers wrote commentaries on it. It continued co shape the attitudes of Hindus in the 20th centuries, as is evident from the lives of such diverse personalities as the Indian nationalist Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.

The Bhagavadgita, by demanding that God's worshipers fulfill their duties - "better one's own duty ill-done than another's well-performed"
(sreyansvadharmobigunahparadharmatsvanusthitat/

svadharmenidhanamsreyahparadharmobhayabahah// Gita III-35) - and observed the rules of moral conduct, bridged the chasm between ascetic disciplines and the search for emancipation on the one hand and the exigencies of daily life, more particular rules of the caste system, on the other. For those who must live in the world, the Bhagavadgita gave a moral code and a prospect of final liberation. Thus, the work supported a social ethic. Because God is in all beings as their physical and psychical substratum, and because he exists collectively in human society, the wise should not see any difference between their creatures. The devotee should be impartial-the same to friend as to foe. The serious endeavor of realizing God's presence in human beings obliges a person to promote the welfare of both individuals and society. yet, by emphasizing that all humans have not only different propensities for each of the three disciplines of release but also different responsibilities because of their births in different castes, the Bhagavadgita also provided a powerful justification for the caste system.

Notes and References
Gita, IV.33, 35-38
Ibid., XIII. 7-11
sradhabanlabhatejnanamtatparahsamyatendriyah/
jnanamlabdhaparamsantimacirenadhigacati// Ibid. IV. 39
satvanurupasarvasyasradhabhavatibharata/
sradhamayohayampurusoyoyacchradhahsaavasah//Ibid., XVII. 3
Ibid., XVII. 3
tadvidhipranipatenapariprasnenasevaya/
upadekhyantitejnanamynaninastavadarsinah//Ibid., IV. 34
ahamsarvasyaprabhabomattahsarvampravartate/
etimatvabhajante ma budhabhavasamanvitah// Ibid., X. 8
Ibid., VII. 17-19
bhaktyamamabhijanatiyavanyascasmitatvatah//
tatomatatvatojnatvavisatetadanantaram// Ibid., XVIII. 55
sarvadharmanparityajyamamekamsaranambraja/
ahamtvasarvapapebhyomokhyayisyami ma sucah// Ibid., XVIII. 66
Ibid., X. 7-11

Motilal,Banarasidass (1988) ‘Srimadbhagavadgita with the commentary of Sankaracarya’, Srisankaracaryagranthavali, Vol. II, Delhi

Radhakrishnan, S. (2004), ‘Bhagavadgita’ (tr. and ed.), Harper Collins Publishers, Delhi

C.P, Dr. Ramaswami Aiyar  ‘The Cultural Heritage of India’, Vol. II, Introduction

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