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Moksa with reference to the Bhagavad Gita


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i found this quite interesting to read, perhaps could help put a few things into context for people. and im sure some people will think im promoting Hinduism, but anyway enjoy this article on from a section of Asian philosophies .....

Two major ways to achieve moksa that will be discussed in detail are the way of disciplined action and the way of devotion.

The Bhagavad Gita narrates the dialogue of Arjuna, one of the five sons of the Pandava family, and the Hindu God Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu. A major battle is about to begin in which Arjuna sees himself playing a contradictory role, that of fighting against his relatives. Caught between his warrior duty and the ethical meaning of fighting against his cousins, between his social duty and the threat of karma, he chooses to not fight and be killed rather than have his conscience loaded with the killing of his relatives. At this moment Krishna reveals himself to the distressed warrior and helps him understand the situation from a transcendental point of view. He performs a spiritual analysis of Arjuna's situation saying, "A man does not attain freedom from the results of action by abstaining from actions, and he does not approach perfection simply by renunciation" (3,4). "Abstaining from work" is practically impossible according to Krishna, as "…everyone, regardless of their will, is made to perform actions by the constituents which originate from material nature" (3,5).

As a warrior, Arjuna must always follow his caste duties. He must be disciplined towards his actions in other words, his dharma. Thus, maintaining disciplined action will help lead him to moksa (liberation/ultimate bliss). In essence, the Gita founds a new element in Hindu philosophy: spiritual perfection is not attained by asceticism or abandoning action, but by giving a new meaning to action - that of detachment from its fruits by sticking with the action, maintaining a discipline towards it. Therefore, one should not withdraw from the world of social involvement but live in it detached from the fruits of actions, while maintaining the true discipline of that action, as "action is better than non-action" (3,8) and renunciation of all action is impossible. As a result, Krishna's command to Arjuna is: "Therefore, without attachment, always do whatever action has to be done; for it is through acting without attachment that a man attains the highest" (3,19). This is Karma Yoga, the path of attaining liberation through accomplishing one's normal duties with a totally detached attitude toward personal benefit. In his given context, Arjuna has to fight no matter who is going to die on the battlefield. He must stay disciplined toward his actions.

One could make the comparison of Arjuna’s “inherent duty†to a soldier in the army. When someone enlists in the army, he or she knows that there are certain rules and guidelines that he or she must adhere to. If a soldier is told to go to a foreign land and fight a war for his country, he has a social obligation to go fight. He cannot back down and say that he does not want to fight because he does not want to kill anyone. Killing is part of war and is ultimately inevitable. If someone enlists in the Army, they are expected to fulfill a certain duty. As in the case of war, they are obligated to conquer and destroy the enemy, which entails the death of others.

When Arjuna found himself in the process of choosing between his duty as warrior and the killing of his relatives, Krishna explained to him that he must give another meaning to traditional morality. Traditional ethical values should not be a hindrance to acting detached to the fruits of action and with discipline. He argued, "Those who know see the same thing in a wise and disciplined brahmin as in a cow or an elephant, or even in a dog or an outcast" (5,18). As only the soul (atman) is immortal, Krishna argues that it is actually impossible to kill anyone: "Anyone who believes this a killer, and anyone who thinks this killed, they do not understand: it does not kill, it is not killed" (2,19). Hence, Krishna is telling Arjuna that since the soul may not perish he must complete the action of fighting with discipline and not hesitation.

Krishna says that actions set standards for others. Even God performs acts in order to set standards. Krishna maintains that if actions are not done, it will lead to anarchy. He also says that every action is done as an offering to God. Those that do this are then liberated and freed from all suffering.

The Bhagavad Gita states a hierarchy in the value of different kinds of sacrifice, with the lowest being the Vedic sacrifice, brought to a God in order to get personal favors, the next being the inner sacrifice of Raja Yoga (that of breathing - 4,29; of the mind and senses - 4,27; and that of empirical knowledge 4,33), and the best or highest sacrifice being that of detached action. Acting like this, one brings his actions as sacrifices to Krishna. “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever asceticism you perform, do it as an offering to me†(9,27). “Thus you shall be liberated from good and evil results, from the bonds of action. With your self disciplined by the yoga of renunciation, liberated, you shall come to me†(9,28).

According to this new understanding of Bhakti Yoga, there is no need for any kind of material sacrifices, rituals or other kind of performances, but only to act in a worshipping attitude toward Krishna, as if all acts are dedicated to him. Doing so, one should attain liberation.

In order to attain liberation, Arjuna is advised to strive hard to realize a detached attitude of mind, “To those who are continuously disciplined, who worship me full of joy, I grant the discipline of intelligence by which they come to me. Situated in their being, out of compassion for them I put to flight the darkness born of their ignorance with the bright lamp of knowledge†(10,10-11). Krishna, therefore, must be understood rather as a kind of meditation object than a personal God who gets himself involved in one's reincarnation journey. Hence, one has to concentrate on Krishna and imitate his way of being in order to advance toward liberation. The only grace one benefits from Krishna is receiving his advice. The rest depends on the one attempting to attain moksa.

In Arjuna’s life the conditioning pair of dharma and karma is at work. The "duty" that forces Arjuna to fight (2,33) is his dharma, hence, his caste-duty as warrior. In turn, Arjuna's dharma is generated by his karma. Therefore the real motivation of Arjuna's actions is his karma, which pushes him into action independently of his present intentions. Krishna says, "If, falling into such egoism, you suppose you will not fight, your resolution is quite pointless: your material nature will constrain you†(18,59). In essence, Krishna is saying by one’s nature one must fight. This "nature" is prakriti or, more specifically, the way the three gunas influence one's mind under the influence of past karma. Therefore, Arjuna is not free to fulfill his dharma, but is compelled by his karma to act according to it. The action that "is better than inaction" (3,8) is not a free decision of man, it does not follow the understanding of one's social duty, but is the way of accepting a pre-ordained scenario. Such an action is devoid of any sense of freedom, being a mere resignation to fate. The only freedom left to Arjuna is to give a certain meaning to his predetermined disciplined actions, that of sacrifices to Krishna: "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer, whatever you give away, whatever asceticism you perform, do it as an offering to me" (9,27).

Even though Arjuna’s stance is that killing others is a worthless act, Krishna’s testimonies about “inherent duty,†disciplined action, and devotion holds stronger not only in Arjuna’s case but with all humans. Every living creature has an “inherent duty,†whether it is to fight in a war or be an educator, they are expected to fulfill that duty without argument or complaint. Arjuna’s argument may be noble, but the truth is that he is a warrior, and a warrior’s duty is to fight in wars.

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"Every living creature has an ?inherent duty,? whether it is to fight in a war or be an educator, they are expected to fulfill that duty without argument or complaint."

sounds like justification for the caste system!

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the "caste" system in theory is perfect and was highly practical in previous centuries, perhaps not so much now. In Samurai tradition people had assigned duties.., warriors, farmers, black smiths etc. if u read Plato's book the republic, he also states that for a perfect society every1 must havr a role, ie the strong be warriors, the intellects teach others, the farmers farm etc.. Similarly India tradition has a similar system. It is important to remember that ur "caste" isnt necessarily determined by birth bu by ur actions. The system isnt about being higher or lower which is the reason why there are so many problems with it today. According to my knowledge the Brahmins messed it up when the began proclaiming they were higher than every1 else

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indian caste system is based purely upon birth, so it doesn't necessarily follow that those best suited to do the job will get it. also i don't like the concept that we must follow our duties without argument or complaint. I prefer to have a choice in what i do in life.

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muli wala sher, i think you'll have agree with me when i say this, but the reason the caste system is perfect in theory is because it is based on a fair and just world, which we don't have.

you spoke about Plato and his ideal society (i wish i could remember what he called it).

of course you're familiar with his entire system of thought and his Forms and forms.

you should also know that Plato himself concluded that such a society is not humanly possible.

we're too caught up in smaller details and cannot adjust our beliefs to make way for the higher truth.

on the other hand, palm tree, i think you need to defo take a look beyond that particular passage as merely being justification for the caste system. that passage can also be looked at as acceptance of Hukam.

if people aren't born blacksmiths or geniuses, similarly you must recognize that the passage is saying that we must accept that some of us are meant to be doctors and some of us blonde bimbos. to each his/her own.

am i makin any sense here?

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