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Bhagavat Gita
© : 2013
(An Institution to Promote Environment Friendly Electronic Publications)
N. Balaraman
Interpretation of Bhagavat Gita generally falls into two categories : one, based on a passionate, unquestioned, devotional worship and the other, a fault finding criticism of its basic tenets. For the faithful Hindu, it is understandably a gospel beyond the realms of discussion and debate, but to be accepted as a governing principle to lead oneís life in accordance to its philosophical outlook. The critic has questions relating to the classification of the society according to the Varna system, an apprehensive propagation of spiritual elevation of one at the cost of societal concern and progress, the evolutionary concepts of nature and life, soul as an entity and in-dweller of every being, rebirth as a consequence of Karma and leaving the birth-death-rebirth cycle to attain the Abode of the Almighty as the sole purpose of one who is born. In these two extreme positions, what is possibly overlooked is an objective inquiry into the contents of the Text to sift out elements of practical utility, having  a bearing on values, ethics and morals which are in consonance with intellectual reasoning and development of a wholesome civil society. This write-up is an attempt to share such an understanding with the readers.

Bhagavat Gita is undoubtedly the most notable and popular religio-philosophical text created in the history of Indian literature. For the faithful Hindu, it is the gospel and leading light for the conduct of a righteous life. For a scholar, it is a treasure-house of knowledge on Indian thought process which has played an important role in the socio-cultural history of Ancient India. More than anything, the unassailable logistics built into its propounded wisdom is breath-taking and striking and gives an in-depth insight into the Indian philosophical thought. The beautiful verses contained in the treatise are unparalleled for their literary merit. Not that everyone who has read it once or several times can claim to have acquired a full knowledge and understanding of its teaching. For a scholar on India, at least an elementary knowledge and understanding of its contents is an essential requirement without which his scholarship of Indian history, society, literature and philosophy will ever remain incomplete.

The purpose for which the text has been unfolded is immediate in its specific context and universal in its general appeal. The immediate necessity was to provide a spirited, forceful guidance to Arjuna, the leading limelight and illustrious warrior-brother among the Pandava brother-hood, who finds himself at war with his forefathers, teachers and his own kinsmen. At the commencement of the first day of the Kurukshetra war, Arjuna undergoes an emotional break-down and is ready to lay down the arms. Sorrowfully, he comes to the inevitable conclusion of the futility of the war which may extinguish all his near and dear; but the gains of the kingdom and resultant pleasures and prosperity would render him and his brothers unhappy and repentant for all time to come. Lord Krishna, his charioteer not only in the war on literal, physical terms, but also in his life as a guiding force comes to his rescue. Lord Krishna is the ninth ĎAvatarí (incarnation) of Maha Vishnu and has been instrumental in shaping up of several crucial events displayed in the great epic, Maha Bharatha.