Hinduism - Lesson 18

The Bhakti Movement (Part 2)

The Brahminical branch teaches that works and devotion lead to true knowledge (Upanishadic vision, tat twam asi). Bhaktis say that knowledge and works should lead to devotion.

Lesson 18
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The Bhakti Movement (Part 2)

II. Four Themes in the Bhakti Movement

A. Personal/popular over ontological/impersonal

1. Re-Reading of the Upanishads

a. God as personal and distinct

b. Transcendence/ immanence paradox

c. Anti Brahminical dissent – egalitarianism

d. Priority/superiority of bhakti over jnana marga and karma marga

e. Emphasis on antaryamin

2. Emergence of Puranic literature

B. Devotion over knowledge or ritual or caste

1. Bhagavad Gita (from the Mahabharata)

2. Harivamsa (supplement to Mahabharata)

3. Gitagovinda (12th century Sanskrit lyrical poem)

C. Ecstatic response and/or mystical union with personal deity

1. 18 major Puranas - Bhagavata Purana - adventures of Krisha

2. Bhaktisutras

D. Simplicity

1. Puja as an expression of devotion/adoration

2. Concept of 'mana' - touch or contact with deity via icon

III. Five themes of Bhaktism

A. Some concrete manifestation of the divine

B. The idol or the icon is a bridge between the soul and the divine

C. Power or spiritual blessing can be transferred from the idol to a


D. Being overwhelmed or enraptured in the presence of god

E. Desire for the company of other Bhaktis who have had similar ecstatic experiences

IV. The Role and Practice of Puja in Bhaktism

A. Meaning of Puja

1. Definition – a ritual symbolic offering to a god or gods in Bhakti Hinduism

2. Pa – ja (parayana – japa) repetition of the names of God, mental recitation of the names of God

a. Pu – ja (pushpam – flower, jal – water)

b. Pu – ja (purusha – ja – janma – to wake up, bring purusha to life within

B. Key elements of puja

1. Icon / idol of deity located in a ‘mandir’ (sacred space)

2. Sacred vessel (Purna kumbha) immediately next to icon / idol filled with water and/or rice, leaves, flowers and coconut

a. Pot symbolizes Devi / Lakshmi

b. Flowers – beauty and ornamentation of gods/goddesses

c. Rice – material wealth

d. Coconut – divine consciousness

3. Prasad – sacred offering of food, flowers, perfumed substances, and coconut milk

4. Lighting of oil lamp

a. Lamp, virtue, and know.- dharma

b. Oil, wealth- artha

c. Cotton, wick, and pleasure - kama

d. Light, itself, and liberation - moksa

  • Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and one of the oldest. It is about 12% of the world population and about 95% are in India. Hinduism is difficult to define. There is evidence of civilization in the Indus valley as early as 2800 BC. The sacred literature that is the basis for Hinduism was created and developed over hundreds of years. It was originally transmitted orally and was eventually written down.

  • Introduction to fundamental ideas and literature that are basic to the Hindu religion. The first lecture given for this class is not available at this time. This lecture begins on the class outline at II, C.

  • Discussion of the influence that the Vedic tradition has on Hinduism. 

  • Mahavakyas is made up of two words meaning, “great utterances.” The creation stories are a collection of different stories with various themes. The world is created by a divine figure dismembering themself and their body becomes the world. The caste system has a racial element to it based on some of the creation narratives in the RgVeda.

  • The Upanishads are one strand of the Vedas. Brahman refers to the all-pervading reality in the Upanishads, not the Brahmin caste. The question throughout the Upanishads is, “Who or what is Brahman?”

  • Brahman is the ultimate reality of the universe. Our atman is encrusted with karma and stuck on the wheel of Samsara. A Hindu's goal, in the process of being reincarnated through thousands of lifetimes, is to rid themselves of karma so they can achieve moksa, oneness with Brahman.

  • Maya is the ability of the gods to create the world and give it the appearance they choose, thereby concealing the true nature of Brahman. Karma is the principle that what you sow, you alone reap.

  • A Hindu must work off their karma to be released from the wheel of Samsara and achieve moksa when their atman becomes one with Brahman. Yoga was developed as a way to achieve the goals of the Samkhya philosophy. Hindus see God as a material cause of the universe, not an efficient cause.

  • The Mahavakyas are “great sayings” that give you insights into core teachings of Hinduism. The Brehed Aranyaka Upanishad shows that Hindus believe that diversity can come through oneness and not be an “other.”

  • Sankara says that Brahman is unknowable and we can't perceive any of his qualities. The rope-snake metaphor is often used by Hindus to discuss the difference between perception and reality.

  • Hindu writers often use metaphors to illustrate and teach the essentials of the Hindu philosophy. In their writings, they refer to these metaphors in a way that assumes that you know and understand them.

  • The purpose of this lecture is to see the structure of Hinduism at a glance. Hinduism operates and a philosophical level and a popular level. Hinduism attempts to resolve the relationship between knowledge, works and devotion. The four stages of life and the caste system determine much of cultural structure of Hinduism. Hindus worship many Gods.

  • The three major dissent movements that area a challenge Hinduism are Buddhism, Janism and materialism. Hinduism is adept at absorbing other movements. Buddhism claims that there is a teaching that makes it possible for you to reach the state of Nirvana which is liberation from all suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama. The content of his teaching is the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

  • The key insight of the Upanishads is the identification of atman with Brahman. Buddhists deny both atman and Brahman.

  • The Bhakti marga is branch of Hinduism that emphasizes a spiritual journey undertaken by a devotee that will culminate in a state of union with God or mutual indwelling of the deity and the bhakta.

  • The Hindu gods have identifying characteristics that make them easy to recognize when you see them in temples or other settings. The Trimrti are the three major gods of India which are Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is not often visually represented, so Vishnu and Shiva are seen the most. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. Vishnu has 10 incarnations or avatars. These are partial incarnations and don’t represent the fullness of Vishnu.

  • The Siva icon always has the presence of the Trishal, which is a sacred weapon of destruction. There is also the nag (cobra), damaru (drum), third eye, Ganges river flowing out of his head. The dancing Siva has a damaru in one hand and a flame of fire in the other that represents creation and destruction of the world. He also has dreadlocks and the trunk of an elephant.  The third eye of siva is what Hindu women have on their forehead. The Siva Lingum is the most dominant icon in north India.

  • The Brahminical branch teaches that works and devotion lead to true knowledge (Upanishadic vision, tat twam asi). Bhaktis say that knowledge and works should lead to devotion.

  • The Ramayana is an epic account of India. It is the story or epic of Rama and Sita, and is the origin of the tradition of Suti. Mahabharata is the epic of India. It’s the longest collection of poems in the world. The Bhagavad-Gita  is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It talks about both the dharma of caste and the dharma of denial and renunciation.

  • Gurus integrate different parts of the marga system. Paramahamsa Ramakrishna declared the unity of all religions. He claimed to have visions of Hindu gods and Jesus Christ and Mohammed and that all religions lead to the same ultimate reality, sat chit ananda. Swami Vivekananda was the most well-known follower of Ramadrishna and brought his message to the western world. He accepts tat twam asi, the great insight of the Upanishads, but thinks that everyone, not just Brahmans can perceive that unity. (The last point of the lecture was cut short due to a technical limitation.)

    You may download the text of Vivekananda's speech by clicking on the Handouts link in the upper left corner.

  • These are nine of the major holidays celebrated in India. Sankara has been called India’s greatest philosopher. Sankara emphasized universals and Ramanuja emphasized the particulars, similar to Plato and Aristotle in Western thought. Sankara has greater status as a philosopher, but Ramanuja has had a great influence on how the masses practice Hinduism.

    The chart Dr. Tennent refers to near the end of the lecture is the “Three Vehicle Structure of Hinduism,” which is labeled Lecture 6 in the complete class outline pdf document on the class page.

  • Brahmabandhav Upadhyay was an upper jati Brahman teacher who converted to Catholicism. He attempts to explain Christianity by using Advadic motifs. Brahmabandhav is an example of how a Brahman can address the Brahminical community using a Brahminical line of reasoning.

  • There are opportunities for preaching the gospel and planting churches, but there are significant challenges. There is a difference between being unreached and being unevangelized. Homogenus unit principle is one factor that makes it difficult for the gospel to spread in India. It’s important to send people to unreached groups and use a strategy that is effective for those groups.

In-depth survey of philosophical and popular Hinduism’s historical and theological themes. Exposure to current strategies being used to bring the gospel to Hindus and how Christian theology is being formulated in the Indian context.

Dr. Tennent occasionally uses pictures of Hindu gods or other visual resources in his lectures. You can download a document with these pictures by clicking on the Hindu Deity Pictures link. 



Dr. Timothy Tennent



The Bhakti Movement (Part 2)

Lesson Transcript


Joy, would you open prayer today with me personally? Oh, Jesus, Lord, Lord, thank you for being real. Thank you for finding this where we dedicate our lives to you. We dedicate our minds to you. Lord, use us for your glory. Jesus. Thank you. Amen. Amen. Okay. We haven't actually taken time to formally look at some of the epic material. So I wanted to start out with that today. We finished the discourse on Puja. What's involved in Puja because of time? I'm actually not going to say a lot about the periods, except just to remind you that we have the formative period which we looked at very early in the course where you have the emergence of texts like the Vedic material, which would include not only the some heaters but also the Aranya, because the Romanos in that period, the stack of material which is the upon shards which attaches to the end of the Vedic material, which we have spent a good bit of time looking at the markings of the planet shards. And then the third period, which we haven't discussed, is the epic and classical period, the emergence of many of the great epics of India, the two most important of which are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Those text we have not had a chance to talk a lot about except in connection a bit with the Rama iconography, and you may have noticed that in the handout showing the icons of Rama or the iconography, I mentioned that one of the difficulties with identifying Rama as opposed to Vishnu or for that matter, the incarnation Vishnu is Rama is almost always shown with various scenes from the Ramayana, including Hanuman carrying the mountain with Sita or whatever. So this epic is very important, widely known throughout India.


So we need to take a little time. Look at the Mahabharata. I'll just say some brief words about it as a whole. But then we want to particularly focus on the Bhagavad Gita and look at that chapter by chapter. Make a few comments about that since you spent time reading that important portion of the Mahabharata. Okay, so let's begin with the Ramayana. This is one of many, many translations of their might. Ramayana, the most famous, is actually one by Tulsi Das, which I don't have here before me, but it's a an epic poem, epic account of India that has had a number of translations with some variety to it. So the story doesn't have a single, it does have a single plotline, but there are many variations of the story because it essentially is an oral tradition that's been brought down to the modern period. The word Ramayana simply means the story or epic of Rama. So this would be obviously very important to the followers of Rama. So therefore, it's a very highly known and worshiped all over India or the epics within this, but certainly even more so in south India. It's dividing the seven books, though this particular version of it is has many more chapters in that because this is for popular reading in the West, but traditionally has seven books, 24,000 couplets, which makes it much smaller than the Mahabharata, but nevertheless a very, very important account. Essentially, what is the book about? The book is about the epics of one of this news main incarnations of Rama. And you recall what are the two major incarnations of Vishnu that we've celebrated, looked at Krishna and Rama. So with the Ramayana, you're going to find the real emphasis on Rama and with the Mahabharata, especially in the Bhagavad Gita, the emphasis on Krishna.


So these two epics actually highlight two of the most important incarnations of Vishnu. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. We looked at ten of those, and it's essentially about winning the hand of Sita in marriage. We looked at earlier, If you call me, I should bring this up, since it's worth mentioning this at this point. If you go back, you recall. I can find. It's been some time ago. Looks like this is one of the icons. One of the many icons of Roman Citta. These are all actually pictures taken from the epic of the Ramayana. The amazing thing is this kind of picture does not actually occur in the Ramayana. It only happens at the very, very conclusion of the Ramayana. So essentially the whole epic is winning her hand. And there's a number of battles involved. And she is taken captive by a demon king known as Ravana. Ravana is portrayed in this horrible light. He takes her off and he takes her to the island of today, we know is Sri Lanka and Romanus is known as Lanka, so Rama wants to rescue her in the process. This is where he meets Hanuman. There's Hanuman carrying the mountain. Hanuman is the famous monkey. God, You can see this actually is Sanskrit for Ram here. So you'll often find the iconography of Hanuman has some designation of RAM on it because his whole purpose is to help and assist Rama. He decides to go and help. And so the whole Ramayana is full of a lot of very powerful discussions and conversation in Ramayana or for Rama and Hanuman about his loyalty to Rama, his willingness to do whatever it takes to win Sita. Back in the process, he gathers together both gods that incarnate themselves as monkeys and various other monkey manifestations, and they create a monkey bridge that connects India with Sri Lanka.


You surely you play the game when you're going up Barrel of Monkeys. This is the Ramayana. You didn't know you were toying around with Hinduism. See, it just creeps in everywhere you look. So the barrel of monkeys is actually from the Ramayana epic because every monkey grabs hold of the arms and legs of the next monkey and they create this bridge and it allows the armies to come across in the process. He takes some mountains, which he also does to, you know, level the low places and all of this part of this whole thing and this army of monkeys for a long time has a huge battle with Ravana. And Ravana is defeated, which comes toward the end of the Ramayana. And finally Sita is rescued. Just typical, almost in the fashion of a true British movie or a soap opera, right At the point when you think the whole thing is going to be climaxed in this wonderful reunion and Cetus finally rescued, Rama says, Wait a minute, how do I know she's been faithful to me? So the whole thing is put off. So in the process, there's several versions of this, but essentially one of the main versions of it is that Rama decides that she has not been faithful. So Sita is cast into the fire, but the fire takes Sita and hands her back, saying to Rama she has been faithful. That's where the whole project of Saathi comes from. Saathi is the name of the woman he's rescuing. The the expression subtlety is the way it's spelled today is referring to the offering of a woman on the funeral pyre. It's supposed to be the sign of a faithful woman. So it was typically done that if you wanted to prove that you've been faithful to your husband, you were told, devoted to him that when your husband died, if he preceded June death, that the wife would join him on the funeral pyre.


This is, of course, another big part of the the famous story around the world. In 80 days, this is where he gets his wife from. He rescues her from Sun. If you're a fan of the around the world, 90 days, I mentioned last time that something is still practiced in India, but it is illegal but is still practiced and occurs. There are two that happened last summer when I was there and it's was widely reported in the papers but is technically illegal. There's also a period where she is swallowed up by the mother, goddess of the earth. We talked about the MAA before. So all this is part of the Ramayana. It's a very famous epic. In fact, I wanted to read you a portion of this, the very end where she actually comes and he doubts. So he finds out that she's been rescued. He asked her to be bathed and bedecked herself and bring her here. So she gets all the jewels on, She takes a bath and all of this. Finally she comes and listen to what he says. Now, this is very interesting. He says to her and this What kind of your heart gets a little, you know, turn when you because you're expecting this marvelous you know, joining I have slain the enemy, said Rama. I have recovered you. I have done my duty as a shut. Are. Number three is, Ah, what Warriors? My vow is now fulfilled. So she looks and she's incompetent. She can't understand why his face looks as it was. His face was darkened for some reason. Then he spoke even harsher words. It was not for mere attachment to you that I wage this grim battle, but in the discharge of my duty as a patriot, it gives me no joy.


Now to get you back for Dubai, it envelops you like a dark cloud of smoke. What do you wish me to do now? You must live alone. We can not live together. You cannot stay under the protection of any of our kinsmen or friends. How can a Qatari a take a back? A wife who has lived so long in a stranger's house, her eyes flushed with fire? Unworthy words. Have you spoken? She said. My ears have heard in my heart is broken. So you go on and on. So she is so upset. So he turns to Lakshman. I remember you saw Lakshman on the I can't as well his brother. Fetch the fagot. Those are what Fetch the Fagots lucks from now and kindled the fire so he can open fire. All this is the building up to the city. This is the kind of drama of the whole thing. Quite a remarkable story. Every Indian knows the story very, very well. It's used today to dramatize great heroism. Rama because of the great hero, it's emphasizes, believe it or not, wifely devotion, husband, devotion, because eventually they are finally united. But there's a lot of mistrust involved to recite. The Ramayana is considered to be a religious act. You can receive tremendous karmic satisfaction by reciting the Ramayana, and so it's recited in every major event. It's been cartoon eyes put into cartoons, and therefore it's very widely known around the country. Okay. Any comments about the Ramayana? I think that's about all we have time to. Yes, we need. Irony is definitely a literary feature in Indian material. They use that as one of their literary devices. How much it plays their mind up. I don't I don't think it's a major theme in their minor, but certainly it's it's something that is it.


They have the full use of literary devices in Hindi literature, and their mind will be a part of that to some degree. Is there a particular extent that. Right. I think the thing that is more prevalent and of course, irony or not, but they do tend to play a lot on how popular religion intersects with Hindu philosophy. So you have the irony, if you will, as I read, read to you, that the whole thing is played out on the popular level of a man trying to win his wife back or his lover back. So that's a very popular theme that you would find in any soap opera or anything else. And yet when it actually comes down to the explanation of why he does it, he does it for these these very lofty spiritual reasons and have nothing to do with his. So he actually says, I'm detached from you. I don't have any emotional feelings for you. I'm doing this because of my duty. We'll actually see more with the Geeta you have throughout all this literature. I think an internal war going on within Hinduism about the whole dharmic system. What is a true Hindu? What is it mean to be a true Indian? Is it to be totally enrolled in life? Invested in life, poured out in life, family, children, all of that? Or is it the ascetic who leaves life and who separates from worldly pleasures? And that is actually a war that goes on within the Hindu literature. And so you have that toyed with a lot. And I think in that sense, irony plays a role. But I think the it's actually played out more maybe more overtly in some ways than you might expect, because this is very, very plain in the text.


Or he says point blank, I don't have any attachments for you. When you get right down to the final battle, we'll see that even more with the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, which you know from the word Maha means Great Bharat is the word for India, the great epic of India. This is actually a collection of books and books of poetic material. It's considered to be the longest collection of verses in the world. 18 books. Quarter of a million lines of verse had to memorize that. A quarter of a million lines of verse. 18 books probably composed around 300 B.C., but gone through many, many changes throughout. If you had to ask what is the central theme of the Mahabharata, it's a contest between two families, the Punjabis and the Carryovers, and they're fighting each other throughout the book for the possession of North India. This is actually written for people ages 8 to 12. So you have excerpts from the Mahabharata in nice picture format that families would read to their children. This involves a lot of blood and gore and people get their heads cut off. It's nevertheless written kind of in a gentle counter version of the hope. But nevertheless, I think I think there's actually pictures here of people like, here's a guy who's been beheaded. There's no head I don't know if this would pass like the folks in the family, you know, chart or whatever. But you have and I'm saying find other beheaded people. There's here's a guy that has multiple arrows stabbed into him, but it's not shown in a way that's like overly shocking. It's like probably a typical movie that a lot of kids watch today. There's subtly shown in here women being burned to death.


You've got oh, let's see. Sure, we can find somebody holding their head. Anyway, I can't find the whole net off to him, but there's definitely a lot of fights and battles in here. The most important part of this is the Bhagavad Gita, which comes toward the end. Bhagavad Gita is a part of this overall epic. I wanted to ask, did anybody bring their deities with them today? Bless your heart. I meant to tell you to bring your gifts today because we do spend a little time looking at the Bhagavad Gita making a few comments about it. So take careful notes because I want to make sure that this book is in its context. How many of you have actually read the Geeta in its entirety at this point? Okay, we've got some good recommends. Okay, great. First of all, I'm sure at the very last chapter, right? Yeah. Okay, no problem. It would be really good to finish that part assignment up because it won't take long. I don't know how long it took you to read this in its entirety, because a lot of it's the Sanskrit. When you actually read the text, it's not that long, is it? No. You can read through it. So. Want to read it? Yeah. It's a real page. And then you can flip the pages and there's only six verses per page. So, you know, you can probably plot that pretty quick. This only best version I like because it gives individual verse ification. At some point we may have some quibbles about her translation, but certainly it's a it's a nice one. I hope that you found it helpful. As I've told you before, the Bhagavad Gita is the place where this real battle. Occurs, not just the battle that this book describes, but the real battle between various dharmic tensions within the Indian context.


And this is why the gate is so important. It's actually written in relatively simple Sanskrit. So this is has the added benefit that not only is it the place where all of the markers actually meet, and there's enough ambiguity that you can find in the Geeta all kinds of ways to reinforce whatever your previous position was. So it's a nice kind of way that everybody can agree on the. Geeta The Brahmans love it, the Qataris love it, the popular religion, people love it. Everybody loves the Geeta. They find in the Geeta a source for their beliefs. There are a lot of ambiguities about the Geeta, but essentially it is creating the place where this whole tension can be resolved or at least talked about lived out between the dharma of caste, which would involve your responsibilities in this world warfare, kings, family, life, schools, all of that, or the dharma of denial and renunciation. This whole tension we discussed earlier, There are three ways in which the Geeta could be interpreted to resolve this tension. One theory is that you are first to start out with. You are to be a wandering ascetic and you're to wander through the forest and you are to renounce the world. You're to gain spiritual insight, and because of your insight, you are given the authority to reign and to rule. So these all these great kings and rajas of North India in ancient times where belief according to the stories to have had a previous experience in their lifetime of self-denial. That's one way. So you deny first, then you have the right to reign with sovereignty. The second idea is what we have looked at in passing on the chart. If you have your chart, you can once again refer to that because it's where you have the idea that actually everybody will go through four stages of life, the last of which is the Sun, Yasin or the world renounce or if you remember the four stages we have the student stage, you have the householder stage, you have the forest dweller and you have the Sun Yat sen are world renowned.


Sir. Going through this four stages has become idealized because the Mahabharata in general and the Geeta in particular highlights this as a possibility. This is how I want interpretation that essentially you would go through various stages of life. This would involve active engagement in life as a learner and as a household, father, mother, you know, bearing children, raising children, and then you would begin to separate from life that retirement stage live in a community or ashram, people who withdrawn from the world, but you're not completely separated. And finally, a world renounced where you announce everything that usually involves a pilgrimage to Varanasi, where you'll die in Varanasi. And this is ideally be cremated on the one of the ghats there in Sir in Varanasi. And I've seen people who've done that. I've seen people who, you know, old men who arrive with a sacred thread, They've all they have is the you know, they have a little pot they carry and they have nothing else. They've renounced everything and they go down there. And what they want to do is they want to they want to die with the Ganges water being poured into their mouth. Now, I've always said that if you haven't died, one cup of Ganges water will push you over the edge. So there is now is no mistake that there is a there's a nice happy intersection between the Ganges water and death. I mean, my biggest shock, actually, and I've been there several times, but my biggest memory was actually with Gordon Cornell students. We were on a boat in Varanasi, I think, in front of this famous God. And Sean Doyle, one of our students, looked and said, Look, there's a cow floating down the river. Somebody had had thrown a cow and this dead cow was floating in.


There was all these crows and stuff like picking its flesh off. Right? So he was absolutely horrified then to the gasp of our former female students who was also in the boat. And another one of our Allana said, Look at that. A human body, a human body bloated with Ganges water, also with crows and stuff, picking the flesh off of it floating down the river. So my thoughts, my body and I couldn't afford a cremation that's on the body. Or it could be a Brahman Brahmans don't have to be cremated. So it could have been a Brahman or it could have been some who couldn't afford it, but they cast their bodies. So this is a this is not a very sanitized place. And yet you can buy this Ganga water and big jugs there and people take it all the way home. It's also you have someone who's dying who can't make the journey. You buy it in these jugs and they say mantras over it and you bring it home and they even have vessels you can buy special little like copper vessels that you pour it into, and then you pour it into your your grandfather and father's mouth as they die, even if they're in Haiti durable, Paula, or wherever. It was quite a remarkable, shocking experience. So this this son Yasin idea, you'll see this and Yassin's all over the banks of the of the gone in Varanasi, especially people who claim to have renounced everything and are coming to die They Geeta is part of the intersection of this because it raises the possibility of one way to resolve this tension these this tension a be a renounce or first. Then you rule and rain or you go through the process and you announce or in the geeta creates the possibility what if somebody could be fully engaged in the world as a householder or whatever, but be inwardly detached, Inwardly detached? That's a new possibility.


It's the idea of outward, fulfilling life's duties, but being inwardly detached from those duties. So the Geeta plays with this thing a lot and resolve the Geeta resolves it by saying rather than looking at it chronologically, like when do you become detached either early or late and separating the two, as you know, When are you involved in life? When are you separate from life? What if you are involved with life but inwardly? In your heart, you are detached from it. So you could be a householder, but be have a heart of us in the US and the population uses us to to point out and say, you don't have to be a Brahman. You can have the heart and devotion of a Brahman. You don't have to be, you know, if you're a guru. In fact, modern day India, you don't have to go to an ashram and live with a guru in an ashram you can be. I work in the World Trade Towers. You know, they ask, is India Indians working there who claim they followed some guru somewhere? They had merely detached themself, but they're involved in the mental financial investment and they're bankers or whatever else. So that kind of thing is now possible in the Geeta is that the third resolution is the first and you detach and then you write in this you just had the inner planet, right? And the third is here and we're not word right? Those are the three possibilities. The words Bhagavad Gita. Did we discuss what this means? What is the word? What does the word mean? Bhagavad Gita. Song of the Lord. BhagavAn is a word for Lord. Geeta is the word for song. It comes in the sixth of the 18th book of the Mahabharata.


And essentially, as we saw actually in the slides, it's a conversation that takes place between Krishna and Arjuna in the chariots prior to a battle. Arjuna is the human hero of the story. He's on this field known as Kurukshetra. They're about to have a battle on this field, and at the beginning of the battle, Arjuna is extremely grieved about the possibility of killing his kinfolk in this battle. So he basically tells Krishna, I'm unwilling to engage in war against friends and relatives. Christian, respond by saying, You must do your duty. You're a Qatari. The Qataris are warriors. Besides, he says, if you understand the true nature of the soul, the ottoman, this shouldn't bother you because the ottoman is indestructible. So all of the philosophical talk to I see the whole the punishment vision is now recapitulated and expressed in popular form through the lips of Krishna. So everything is coming together in the Geeta. I mentioned that it's relatively simple Sanskrit. In fact, the traditional way, even the way I'd learn Sanskrit, was through this process where you, rather than study Sanskrit grammar and all that, which maybe we spent maybe six months doing that. But essentially, once you get a few basics out of the way, then you actually translate the Geeta You learn it Inductively. It's a basically inductive form of learning how to understand how Sanskrit works. So most of the schools in India that teach Sanskrit teach it through the Geeta. So everybody spend their time look at learning the Geeta, understanding that, translating it, working with it. This is like the standard way it's done. So the Geeta becomes very, very important. You should have a sheet that has on it the markings of the back and they get to the great scenes of the Bhagavad Gita.


If you don't have your texts with you, this may help you a little bit because we can look at the sermon or the sayings of Krishna and Arjuna and point out a few things about it. Chapter one of the Geeta is Origin is Dilemma. It points out the whole dilemma he feels about being stressed out, about having to perform his duties. A shut out involves people in his own family who are claiming the territory. Krishna essentially tries to point out the limitations of his perspective. You're a sutra, rise and fight, he explains this by philosophical means, as I mentioned, and if you look at chapter two, verse 19, which is the first verse on the Maha vocalist, you have this statement, he who regard this regard as this. This is the dweller in the body as a slayer. And he you think that he is slain? Both of them are ignorant. He slay is not, nor is he slain. So there is no body that slays, no body that is slain. The ottoman is the only true reality. Everything else is a matter of the phenomenal world. So this is a powerful philosophical statement. He goes on to say in 222, as you see there on the second, have archaea as a man casting off, worn out garments taketh on new ones. So the dweller in the body cast off, worn out bodies and enter off into others that are new. What is the dweller in the body? What is talking about? Ottman. So again, this is a kind of a gnostic conception that the body is but a shell. The true atman within is the one who dwells within. And don't. Don't you see also how this connects with that theme of the eponymous shards, the Yaman, the one who dwells within.


Remember that this is where the anti-human is connected from the upon a shot at vision to the idea that the ottoman is not just dwelling within passively, but the ottoman is actually dwelling within in a way that could be animated by some deity. And eventually we'll see later on in the Geeta how Vishnu goes through this transformation and Arjuna sees all Gods present in Vishnu or in Krishna. So separate to chapter three, he tells him that all activity. Is a sacrifice if done in the right spirit. This this is the whole thing about this inner detachment idea that begins to emerge in chapter three, that even though you are outwardly a warrior, you can be inwardly a sin. Yassin Because what he says is if you do your duty. So he's really at this stage in his life. Arjuna is a householder, his family is another family. So he's telling him, if you fight as a shut up, but you do it with the right spirit, the right attitude, you do it with the with for the right purpose, then you actually are living the life of a son, Yasin. That's chapter three. You can be endlessly detached in the midst of life. You can have activity. You can have pursuits. And this is a powerful popularization of Hindu ideals, because this now makes it possible for anybody in India anywhere to be a devoted Hindu, essentially, without accepting the minimal ideal. So this becomes a, again, a powerful anti criminal dissent. The possibilities open now for anybody. This is the same this is a reaction, a lot of this interpretation, at least to Buddhist ideals that have come in and challenged the political ideal as well. Now, chapter four is what swings things. The fourth discourse to another possible interpretation, because the intent intended for Krishna begins to outline at least two marriages, He explains the way of works in the way of knowledge.


Carmen Marga. Jana Marga. You remember how we showed said last time, What are the three ideals that they're going to be dealing with? What are the three markers that they're going to be? And always intention in all of this discussion about the past. Right. Knowledge works and devotion. Okay. Well, once again, these three ideals become displayed in the fourth discourse chapter for the the problem is or you could say the beauty of I mean, depends how you interpret it. The problem with this is that it's unclear whether Krishna is saying in the discourse these are all various ideal pathways. There's the way of knowledge is the way of works is the way of devotion. Some will follow the way of knowledge someone will follow the way of works, one for the way of devotion. Or if he's saying there's the way of knowledge, yes, there's the way of work. Yes. But if you really want to achieve moksha, follow the way of devotion. Devotion to me, a compasses, all the other markers. If that's true, then he is essentially creating this paradigm with that yesterday, our last time, where you have knowledge in works leading to devotion. But now nobody agrees with that. That's a matter of a lot of dispute among various groups in India. It's here that he begins to play out the possibility of vision of worship with devotion. If in fact, if you look at in the third and fourth mahavir is there whenever there is a decay of righteousness. And that's a really bizarre translation of that, because actually the term it's used there is a decay of dharma. So it's really this is a stretch for her to talk about. This is a Western interpretation of it. But what he's actually saying, whenever there is a decay of people doing their duties, Shastri is being shot.


There he is Brahmins being Brahmins. So that can be used to not just to what the college needs, but talk about the possibility of actually, I mean, the Brahmins interpret this as saying he is underscoring the fact that we want to honor all four of the caste. Brahmin should be Brahmin shut admissions, arteries, vicious, vicious shooter shooters. And even by the way, Gandhi accepts this interpretation and Gandhi insists that there's nothing wrong with the caste system. It just has to be improved and made more dignified. But the idea of people in separate categories is not a problem for him. So whenever there's a decay of Dharma O Bharata and there is exaltation of our Dharma, it's the exact same word with the negative all in front of it. Then I myself come forth. So what he's saying is, whenever people don't do their Dharma, so he's telling Arjuna, If you don't fulfill your Dharma as a shut up and you relent from this battle, then that's part of the decay of the world. Part of the perfect age is that the people are doing their dharma, people are fulfilling their life calling. So this is the idea that avatars come forth in order to restore this, the caste system for the protection of the good, for the destruction of evildoers, for the sake of. Firmly establishing Dharma. That's what you were there in the Sanskrit. I am born. From age to age. This is that passage that many of you quoted in your papers on Avatar. And it's a good one to quote, because this is one of the key passages in the Geeta, at least that underscores the idea of avatars coming regularly to Earth to deliver, to save, and certainly possibly to restore the caste system to its original purity, which is essentially a pro from pinnacle stand.


Because if the caste system is protected, then you actually have a preservation of the system as it currently exists, even if you allow freedom within it. Comments about that or questions about that, that's important. The whole ambiguity of the Geeta is important. The next whole section. Tetras 5 to 10. We won't go step by step, but essentially goes through a lot of discussion. The nature of the supreme deity attributes. There are people who do argue and some books are arranged this way that he introduces yet another Marga the way of yoga. And also there is a discussion on the power of the whole ohm, which we've discussed already as well. The ohm emphasis and the Geeta is actually, I think, trying to find this here. He essentially says that in the ohm all of the gods are manifested and known. I think that is once again reinforcing the idea that you find on all of Hinduism that we can't introduce new theology without touching base with all of the basic points everybody already believes. So in that sense is a reinforcement idea. That's I don't know how the reference that that's my problem I was trying to look for. I don't see it here. I mean, the passage I'm looking at actually is is 11th chapter one through nine where he makes that point, but he doesn't actually tied into the arm at this point. And I have to I don't have it properly marked here. I keep giving my copy of the guides away and I keep getting new ones. So this and then the marks. And then in the 11th chapter, that's the famous thi often they or whatever you call it, the revelation of Krishna, of his universal form. And it's during this discourse that once again you have all these strands of Hinduism flow and you have Arjuna sees in Krishna all of the aspects of Vishnu, and eventually he sees all the pantheons of Vedic gods, he sees Brahma, he sees everybody.


This is what later gets really brought to the fore by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness ISKCON, which tries to argue that actually Krishna is the personal name of Brahma and forget about and they're going to say, we're now saying that near Goona Brahman has revealed himself not itself as Krishna. So they're trying to trump. I mean, this is contrived to actually leap over that so goon on their goon a golf and try to essentially establish Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead that's taken from this chapter. We haven't actually discussed this Khan yet, but just to give you a little feel for that, Arjuna C sees this. I mean, I mean 1115 here. Chapter 11 verse 1511 Discourse within Thy Thought as Arjuna speaking within thy form. Oh God, all the gods. I see all grades of beings with distinctive marks as their iconography. Brahma, the Lord upon his lotus from the Ricci's, all the serpents, the divine with mouths, eyes, arm, breast, mouth, breast, multitudinous. I see the everywhere, unbounded form, beginning, middle and on and on and on and on. He goes on and on, describing all of what he sees. And I believe I had in here. Didn't I have that at one point? The picture of that. Yeah. This is one example of that where he's this is that point in the Geeta where Krishna is showing him his transcendental form. Arjuna is worshiping that There he is. This is of course the more that we looked at, the more degrading. This is a form of he's welcoming all of these gods and goddesses and this is one depiction of it. But there's many, many depictions of this particular scene in the Bhagavad Gita. But that's a picture of that there.


Finally, and this is perhaps why I think that the book, the Movement has a strong case for saying this movement is showing this paradigm, that devotion is supreme, is that the last discourses 12 to 18 do develop quite profoundly the concept of bhakti devotion. And it really culminates, and this is important in the way Hindu discourse occurs. It culminates with a very controversial how you translate this passage, but a very, very important one, because the idea in Hinduism is often that you can give all kinds of teaching, but then the very end you give your greatest revelation. And so what happens at the end of a discourse carries more weight than what may be found dead in the middle of the discourse. So the fact that the whole discourse comes out to this statement in 1866. Chapter eight and this is one of the most spoke I must have it on here, surely. Yeah, on the last Mahavir This is any of recent songs. Translation. Abandoning all duties come under me alone for shelter, sorrow not I will liberate the from all sins. Now, what that literally says is abandon all Damas. Now, what does that mean? What does it mean to abandon all Damas? This has been translated as she does. Abandon all of your duties, which we've seen earlier. The reinforcement of duties. People say abandon all other religious activities. Abandon all religions. There's been no huge range of interpretations of what Christian means by this. But essentially, it has been interpreted to mean that Cristina is saying, if you come to me, I will liberate you from all sin. So don't worry about all of these dramas. Just focus on devotion to me. And this is why you have the supreme focus on Cristina as the one who can liberate you from all sense.


This also developed the idea, which has made this whole discussion in our syllabus on avatars a little more complicated, because in the Avatar concept, even with the vision of 810 avatars, they're all considered to be partial avatars. So God manifests himself in a partial way in Rama or whatever. But they claim that this text argues for a of a pure avatar when we get our well, this sort of word pure comes from a permanent avatar would be an avatar that is complete, absolute manifestation of the fullness of deity, which is a quite a remarkable claim to make. This is the butter of the you know, this is the same little fellow that was mischievous and stole butter and all that, that he's now being proclaimed as the all deities present in him. He manifest everything. And if you just are devoted to Krishna, then all your sins will be forgiven you. She translates as soon she translated, abandon all duties. Oh, no limit for me. I'll. You can also translate it as the cross months of karma. But the word karma is actually not used here, but it's a word that can be related to that. So yet it is often translated as sin, but it will not be sin. The way we view sin. You're quite right. Part of the whole Geeta is trying to create a functional theism where people can sin against a personal god. So the whole idea of the impersonal is of karmic law is slightly watered down in this statement. So if you picked up a Geeta translated by someone recently, they have chosen another word for this text. They often will say the word sin. I have about six or eight translations. I actually don't recall how consistent that is.


I think it's fairly widespread, but I can look and give you some thoughts on that. All right. Any other comments or questions about the Bhagavad Gita? How in conversation with people do you compare fiction? I think it depends on the person you're talking to him and I. I debated a ISKCON man at court in college last year who I knew going into it. He wasn't like your popular Krishna, my follower. He was a member of S Khan. So he believes that Krishna is the Supreme Conscience of Godhead. But I also know that he's a Hindu, and so that still is there. So he went on and on and on about the personal nature of God and all this. So it sounded very Christian, but I actually kept pressing the point because he argues for the distinction between the eternal distinction, between the devotee and the God that would make you think that. And it certainly gave the impression to those who are there at Gordon College that night that you don't have the kind of monastic, syrupy ocean that you would find in advertising. But I knew actually that he doesn't believe that. So I kept pressing him. I said, okay, you're saying there's distinctions, But I kept saying, Do you believe in an ontological distinction? He didn't know what the hell how to respond to that. So I said, okay. I said, I believe that if you take a glass of water, for example, and you take some water out of that, you've got water here and you have water here. This water is from this water, but there are the same essence, water as water. Are you telling me that Krishna is of a completely different essence than you are or not? Because he kept evading and evading.


I kept pressing. What? Any of you there. Were you there? I'm trying to think the place is packed out of you. But anyway, he eventually admitted to the whole group there that he. He did not believe in the ultimate ontological distinction, Christian and the devout. This is a functional distinction within devotion, but not ultimate distinction. So I think it is very, very careful. But the majority of Kushner followers are actually operating at the realm of whereas it is the realm of the of this realm. Christian and the GOP's and all that, The butter thief and all that. That's the more popular Christian stuff. So I often will say talk about, oh, you know, would you like it if your husband treated you this way? 18,000 women he had sex with and then after he had children and killed them all. I tell you, this is a long way from the Bhagavad Gita. So I think it depends on who you're talking to and how you deal with it. But Krishna is a powerful force in India. Rama and Krishna are really ever present and you, you have to deal with it and that about it. The third way I would say there's too great insight. So I say one inside. Yeah, inside of the Geeta I guess the insight of the Geeta in relation number two is that one can fulfill your social obligations while being inwardly renounced. That third choice that resolves coming age long debate in Hinduism about whether you should be involved in the world or renounce the world, is the God the king or the assassin? Yasin The rule, and I think this actually goes back to the fact that what are the Aryans who invade India? What would they be? What would they what would be their orientation? Aryan Invaders? Are they going to be a priest? No, they're going to be sutras because they're the ones invading warring.


So how did the priest become greater than the Qataris? I mean, you can understand it. If the Qataris were on top, that would show a clear victory for the warriors. But you don't. You have the priest on top. So there's a tension. And by the way, in India, Qadri is and Brahmins are both considered high caste. So you have as well as vice. Yes, for that matter. But you have a clear idea that the Qataris and the Brahmans are the very, very top. So there's a tension between the two. So I think this, Geeta, is the final way that the Qatari is kind of have their last say on the Brahmins. At least that's one interpretation that, you know, we we yes, we're shot with, but in our hearts we can be a true Brahmin, we can be detached and all that. The other insight of the Geeta would be I think the I guess the larger point that's that the Geeta is a battlefield, not just about Arjuna. It's a battlefield field for the whole philosophy of India and the whole the tension between Jana marga, Carmen Marga and Bucky Marga. The three major karmic movements in India all find their foothold in the Geeta. The Brahmins find it as reinforcing certain philosophies that they have the karmic ideas of your Dharma. Your duties are fond their birth, as well as the Bhakti movement. So it's all there? Yes. So just like Sethi, Sethi is still practice in India, but it is illegal. But they will do it in the name of religion. I mean, the most obvious example is taken from this is where we get our word thug from. The word thug is a Sanskrit word. You didn't know you knew a Sanskrit word thug is a god in India.


And what they did, what they would do is that if you wanted to make an offering to this God, then you would hide on the side of road and some poor, hapless soul walks by and you jump out of the woods and you would attack them and kill them. And they were called thugs who did this. And people in the West had got turned as thug, someone who would they beat you up as an offering to a god. So this is also illegal in India, but it still happens. And so that, yes, that impulse is there. I mean, I would say it's a marginalized movement. It's like a lot of these things. The main thrust is try to spiritualized the whole thing. But there are people who literally try to go out and kill people for the sake of their devotion to these gods. Quite remarkable.