Introduction to the Bhagavad-Gita (1)

[For the Disciple—A Guide]

There is plenty of material, as well as help, in the devotional books to the realization of the Heart Doctrine, for they are designed to awaken the Buddhic faculty—that of Intuition, the only means by which light can come to you or anyone.

Friendly Philosopher, p. 9

The Bhagavad-Gita tends to impress upon the individual two things:

  • selflessness, and
  • right action in practice.

Bhagavad-Gita, XVii

It speaks of one Spirit that pervades all Nature, and suggests that a "ray" of this One Spirit is in us [Gita, XVii]. It further states that:

"The Bhagavad-Gita tends to impress upon the individual two things: first, selflessness, and second, action; the studying of and living by it will arouse the belief that there is but one Spirit and not several; that we cannot live for ourselves alone, but must come to realize that there is no such thing as separateness, and no possibility of escaping from the collective Karma of the race to which one belongs, and then, that we must think and act in accordance with such belief."

Gita, XVii

The Maha-Bharata --- An Allegory and History

The title "Mahabharata" literally means the Great Bharata. Bharata was a name given to the founder of the Lunar Dynasty, Chandra-vansa. It also indicates a certain cycle of time.

The Maha-Bharata, as history, is narrated by the twenty-eighth bearer of the title of Vyasa. This last, was the repromulgator, or as some say, incorrectly, the originator of the sixth school of Indian Philosophy, the Utara Mimansa, or Vedanta, the origin of which is far earlier. It represents, perhaps the most comprehensive of the six "points of view" that the Shad-Darshanas—the six Philosophies—offer. The seventh is their synthesis, welding all points of view into a Unit, a statement of Truth. This seventh is called the Sanatana Dharma—the Eternal Wisdom.

Ancient India was named Bharata-Varsha (country of Bharat) and was, in ancient times, "the land of active (spiritual) works...the land of initiation and of divine knowledge (SD, II, 369)." In India "the people are fitted by temperament and climate to be the preservers of the philosophical, ethical, and psychic jewels that would have been forever lost to us had they been left to the ravages of such Goths and Vandals as western nations were in the early days of their struggle for education and civilization." (Ocean, p. 9.)

In the course of time, enormous cycles called golden, silver and bronze ages came to their close. In this present age, now some 5,000 years old, called the Kali (black) or Iron age, wisdom burns low, forgotten by most men. The glories achieved in earlier times, have become, now, the subject of dramas and cradle tales, which keep ideals alive in the consciousness of both Indian children and adults, especially in the villages, remote from westernizing influences. One of the continuing functions of India is to preserve ancient wisdom. Historically, every great Sage, respected and honored in the West is known to have traveled to the plains and mountains of Northern India for a final initiation: Pythagoras, Apollonius, Plato, Jesus, to name a few.

Mr. Judge introduces the Bhagavad-Gita saying: the story of the Mahabharata may be considered as an allegory of the several natures that are evolving together in each Man-Soul. The key to such an understanding lies in grasping the inner meaning of the values that were assigned by Vyasa to the names used in designating the actors, their weapons, trumpets, etc., used during the great war. The psychological faculties thus marked, can be found in every human, and their relations to other faculties are clearly designated—especially in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

Each man is composed of the body and the Spirit. But intelligence or consciousness which symbolizes the mind sees both of these and all the degrees of complexity between them. This makes of every man a three-fold being: Spiritual ideal, reasoning, observing Mind, and the physical body. In this battlefield we see that on one hand virtues are exercised under control, and on the other the same virtues become vices because they are uncontrolled, and are thus exaggerated.

Man becomes confused. Both sets of faculties are closely related—the Kurus (embodiments of selfishness and vice) are cousins to the Pandavas embodiments of ideals, and virtue in action). Each of us have constructed our natures, our characters, in the past by choices we made in dealing with this duality. Our vices and virtues are ours. If we find either to be unsatisfactory, the wise counsel of Krishna instructs man in the Path of right choices.

If, on consideration, we decide to make changes in our personal natures, we may feel a horrified rejection by the Lower Nature. The Kurus in us, raise objections at such a suggestion. Then a great struggle begins, as to whether we, the authors of this personality of ours, have the right kind of desire to make such changes, and whether we have the ability to alter it. And if this is persisted in we find we have a war.

The Maha-Bharata, of which the Upanishad named the Bhagavad-Gita is a portion, belongs also to records of events in Indian history, called the Itihasa.

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