Arjuna shows the close connection between the institution of family and a dharmic way of life. These are intertwined so closely that when one is affected, the other has an impact and then it spirals into a vicious cycle. If family is destroyed, then dharma is destroyed, and with dharma destroyed, the next generation of the family is destroyed
Vedic teachings have 3 aspects of Dharma:
- Values of life: like truthfulness, generosity, non-violence, love, concern for others
- Attitude or basic reverence: towards things and beings ie earth, sun, moon; parents, teachers, and others in the society.
- Rituals: this is a very important aspect and one that is not appreciated much anymore. A ritual is a concrete expression of the abstract values and is required for communication.
The Vedic religion considers rituals as one of the most important aspects of Dharma because:
a. Since the first two aspects of Dharma(Values and Attitude) are abstract
b. Rituals is one of the methods to keep a group together. Every member of a (belonging to the mind) they cannot be communicated or expressed. Hence “rituals” need to be physicalized/verbalized, making it easier to teach babies/toddlers. To communicate the concept of “respect” to a child, you will have to physicalize it….by symbolizing respect in the form of namaskara.
Friendship/love is also conveyed by verbalization or physical embrace, shaking hands, etc. Psychologist point out that physicalization or verbalization is very important for any relationship. Family takes part in a group ritual. Eat together, pray before a meal etc.
The psychological and sociological benefits of Rituals:
- Give concrete form to an abstract value
- Way to communicate the abstract value to the children
- Maintain the togetherness of a group
Whenever there is reference to “dharma”, these three aspects are of importance: values, attitudes and rituals. The communication of values via rituals vary between religions and even between communities of the same religion. Krishna says that once the ritual part of religion is ignored, then there will be varna sankaraha. The values are universal to all religions. Religions differ only from the stand point of rituals. Varna sankaraha is the immediate consequence of sacrificing rituals. This can occur even in a family where rituals are accepted, a person wants to maintain religion, gets married within the same community, etc. If the rituals diminish in importance and leads to the questioning of the cohesiveness of religion and of community, the consequence of this is varna sankaraha.
No particular religion is needed to follow the attitudes and values – any religion is okay. The religion becomes important only when you value a particular way of performing the ritual. But once rituals are given lesser importance, the next consequence is that the separation of religions and the segregation of community will go away and this is varna sankaraha. There is another worse consequence of varna sankaraha….. disappearance of the family institution. A family institution was required for
- Vedic Rituals to be followed; a family is not required for Values and Attitudesa ब्रह्मचारि Brahmachari, a वनप्रस्थ vanaprahsta, a सन्यासी sanyasi cannot perform the ritual of giving दक्षिणा dakshina nor अन्नदान annadaanam. Only a गृहस्थ grihasta can.
- Fulfillment of आर्थ artha – wealth, security
- Fulfillment of काम kama – enjoyment, pleasures
Once the rituals are not respected, a family institution remains for artha and kama; but with changes in a society, artha and kama will become available without families. The government provides the security and if one has money, all artha and kama can be bought. Values and attitudes don’t need a family life. And if artha and kama can be obtained without a family, why is family is needed? A family was required to maintain religion expressed in the form of वैदिककर्म Vaidika karma. All these are relevant because of karma. Once karma goes away family will be disintegrated. Without a stable family, there will be no karma nor values and attitudes. Who will teach values and attitudes to the next generation? No one will preserve Brahmana dharma – studying of scriptures and propagating it.
Chapter 1 Sloka 42
सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः।।1.42।।
सङ्करः confusion of castes नरकाय for the hell एव also कुलघ्नानाम् of the slayers of the family कुलस्य of the family च and पतन्ति fall पितरः the forefathers हि verily एषां their लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः deprived of the offerings of riceball and water. Once the varnasankara(intermingling of 4 groups) takes place, even मत सङ्करः mathasankara(religious confusion). the attitude and value of dharma may remain but ritual part of dharma will not remain. Ritual part of religion will have to be given up with varnasankaraha. Rituals are the method of communicating our feeling.
सङ्करः नरकाय एव – because of the confusion, this will lead to naraka because all karmas are sacrificed. कुलघ्नानाम् कुलस्य – naraka for both the victor of the war and for the vanquished, because they will lose all the values for religious practices; not only they fall spiritually but पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः Vedic religion prescribes five fold compulsory rituals for every आस्तिक or भक्त Pancha maha yagna: Brahma or Rishi Yajna; Deva Yajna; Pitri Yajna; Bhuta Yajna; Manushya Yajna
pitr yagna – respect to our forefathers; blessing of our forefathers are needed for our material or spiritual growth. All rituals in family is started with Naandi sradha – invocation of the grace of the forefathers. Once dharma goes away – all these rituals will be sacrificed. लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः Forefathers will be derpived of पिण्ड क्रियाः pinda kriya- srardham, उदक क्रियाः udaka kriya- tarpana; लुप्त lupta deprived of. Forefathers will be deprived of this karma. These days people replace pitr yagna with manushya yagna but it can only be a supplement not a substitution.
एषां पितरः पतन्ति the forefathers will fall. In a society where rituals were considered important, Varnashrama dharma had value.
If there are no rituals, varnashrama dharma has no meaning..Morals and attitudes can be practiced with out varnashrama dharma. Varnashrama dharma is important only from the perspective of rituals.
Chapter 1 Sloka 43
दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः।
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः।।1.43।।
दोषैः by evil deeds एतैः (by) these कुलघ्नानाम् of the family destroyers वर्णसङ्करकारकैः causing intermingling of castes उत्साद्यन्ते are destroyed जातिधर्माः religious rites of the caste कुलधर्माः family religious rites च and शाश्वताः eternal. कुलघ्न एतैः दोषैः because of these defects in which the ritualistic part of dharma is degraded, वर्णसङ्करकारकैः responsible for the intermingling of various communities, religion, caste etc जातिधर्माः उत्साद्यन्ते casuality is certain practices purely based on वर्ण varna. According to Veda –certain rites can be done only by some varnas only. Rajasuya yaga can be done only by a raja a brahmana can assist the raja. Vedic rites will have to be given up. जाति within one varna itslef, the vedic practices differ from gothram to gothram कुलधर्माः a child of mixed varna cannot choose any vedic dharma; Rituals are gone. शाश्वताः dharmas from a long time ago, destruction takes one generation
Chapter 1 Sloka 44
उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन।
नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम।।1.44।।
उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणाम् whose family religious practices are destroyed मनुष्याणाम् of the men जनार्दन O Janardana नरके in hell अनियतं for unknown period वासः dwelling भवति is इति thus अनुशुश्रुम we have heard. Without rituals, the religion can continue with values and attitudes. But for these a family is not required and so after 2 to 3 generations, when it is realized that with money one can obtain artha and kama, the question arises if a family is needed at all. The negative side to not having a family is that you lose the people that you can call your own, those that you can trust and those that give you unconditional love. The psychological anchor or psychological security will be lost. This leads to sociological disaster when people without the family anchor exist in a society(crimes increase, etc).
मनुष्याणाम् नरके अनियतं वासः even when alive and after death, w/o family, w/o love and trust, it is like hell; इति अनुशुश्रुम when स्वधर्म svadharma is not done(sradha, tarpana), according to vedic rules it is प्रत्यवाय पापं pratyavaya paapam; will lead to narakam. Arjuna says we have heard this repeated in the vedic mantra(not that he has seen).
Chapter 1 Sloka 45
अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम्।
यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः।।1.45।।
अहो बत alas महत् great पापम् sin कर्तुम् to do व्यवसिताः prepared वयम् we यत् that राज्यसुखलोभेन by the greed of pleasure of kingdom हन्तुम् to kill स्वजनम् kinsmen उद्यताः prepared.
Arjuna’s monologue continues as he thinks of the current and future repercussions of the MB battle. अहो बत – alas, a great tragedy indeed; we are about to cause महत् पापम् कर्तुम् वयम् व्यवसिताः perform a great sinful act; killing all these people which will lead to वर्ण varna sankaraha, जाति jaathi (family) sankaraha, धर्म नाशः (ruin) dharma nashaha, पितृनाम पतनं (downfall) pitrnaam patanam यत् राज्यसुखलोभेन because of our short-sightedness; we were interested in royal pleasures; due to our misplaced greed for the pleasures
स्वजनम् हन्तुम् उद्यताः Arjuna has forgotten that this is a fight between dharma and adharma and says we are prepared to kill these people.
श्रीमदभगवद्गीता Chapter 1 Sloka 46
यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत्।।1.46।।
यदि if माम् me अप्रतीकारम् unresisting अशस्त्रम् unarmed शस्त्रपाणयः with weapons in hand धार्तराष्ट्राः the sons of Dhritarashtra रणे in the battle हन्युः should slay तत् that मे of me क्षेमतरम् better भवेत् would be. Arjuna says I have decided not to contribute to this tragedy but the beginning of the war has been signaled by conches. Therefore Duryodana may start the war but I will not retaliate. I am perpared to die but will not contribute to the pending chaos of the society. माम् धार्तराष्ट्राः रणे हन्युः the kauravas may choose to kill us माम् अप्रतीकारम् we, who have decided not to resist; अशस्त्रम् we are with out weapons तत् मे क्षेमतरम् भवेत् I consider sacrificing my life for the sake of dharma; I consider this a good fortune for me to have realized this in the nick of time.
Having said all these, Arjuna has shown raga, shoka, moha. Krishna maintains silence. Therefore Sanjaya says…
Chapter 1 Sloka 47
एवमुक्त्वाऽर्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः।।1.47।।
एवम् thus उक्त्वा having said अर्जुनः Arjuna संख्ये in the battle रथोपस्थे on the seat of the chariot उपाविशत् sat down विसृज्य having cast away सशरम् with arrow चापम् bow शोकसंविग्नमानसः with a mind distressed with sorrow.
Sanjaya gives a picture of Arjuna – who symbolizes a maha samsaari. शोक संविग्न मानसः – Arjuna’s mind is totally grief stricken – indicating the problem of raga and shoka; completely overpowered by attachment and intense grief सशरम् चापम् विसृज्य – he has thrown away the bow and arrow; For a kshatriya, the bow and arrow represent fighting for/establishing dharma, his duty. The physical action of throwing his bow and arrow represents Arjuna giving up his duty. स्व धर्म त्यागः “Sva dharma tyagaha” – indicating conflict or mohaha; स्व धर्म परित्याग – wants to run away from the battle, wants to do tapas(dharma of a sanyasi); a grihasta has to do his family duty first; this is called mohaha: परधर्म ग्रहणं स्वधर्म परित्यागः paradharma grahanam(taking the duties of another caste), svadharma parithyagaha(deserting your own duties) एवम् अर्जुनः उक्त्वा having uttered all these words to Krishna, Arjuna did this
रथोपस्थे उपाविशत् he sat down on the chariot seat
At this crucial juncture, Vyasacharya says:
ॐ तत् सत् इति श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासू उपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविध्यायां
योग शास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे अर्जुनविषादयोगो नाम
This portion comes at the end of every chapter.
ॐ तत् सत् Om tat sat – all 3 words are names of the Lord. Said at the end of every chapter to thank the Lord for the successful completion. There are various meanings in different context. Swamiji gives the simplest meaning for these:
Om – अवति इति ॐ avati iti om; Avati is the protector; protected us from all obstacles
Tat – one who is beyond sense perception; परोक्षः and अक्ष्नः परम् Para (beyond) and Aksha (eye); सर्वेइन्द्रिय अगोचरः beyond the cognizance of the senses
Sat – eternal (past, present, future); From Tatva Bodha: तृकाले अपि तिष्ठति इति सत् The eternal protector who is beyond our sense perception.
प्रथमोऽध्यायः – oh Lord, by your grace, we have completed the 1st chapter called
अर्जुनविषादयोगो – the grief of Arjuna. The main theme is vishada – raga, shoka and moha.
श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे – presented as a diologue between Krishna and Arjuna
Samdavaha – most healthy form of communication, is a dialogues between a guru and a shishya – attitude of guru is love and compassion towards the disciple and the attitude of shisya is faith and reverence towards the guru; Name of this dialogues is called श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतोपनिशद् The full name of Gita – upanishad means knowledge which liberates the person from sorrow. Wisdom which is taught by, revealed by, Srimad Bhagavaan. Meaning of Bhagavan – one who has Bhaga – 6 fold virtues.
The original upanishad, pat of Veda, was in existance even before Krishna was born. Krishna’s teaching is the essence of upanishad. Swamiji recites Dhyana Sloka #4:
सर्वोपनिषदो गावो दोग्धा गोपालनन्दनः पार्थो वत्सः सुधीर्भोक्ता दुग्धं गीतामृतं महत्
sarvopanishado gavo dogdha gopalanandana: parthovatsa: sudheerbhoktha dugdham gitamrutam mahat
There are only two topics in the entire Gita(theme of the entire dialogue):
Religion + Philosophy = Gita; Total contentment is the benefit.
Religion (योगशास्त्र yoga shastra): वेद पूर्व भाग Veda poorva bhaga(first part of Veda); कर्मकाण्ड karma kanda – which relates to ceremonial acts and sacrificial rites. This is a way of life which prepares you to be competent for philosophy; gives fitness for knowledge; makes you a ज्ञान योग्यता jnana yogyata (eligibility). First part of life get fit, then gain knowledge
Philosophy (ब्रह्मविद्या brahma vidya): वेद अन्त भाग Veda antha bhaga(latter part of Veda); ज्ञानकाण्ड jnana kanda – which relates to knowledge of the one Spirit Philosophical part – gives jnanam (knowledge)