The Scenario of the Gita

We stand with Krishna and Arjuna between two armies, in the Field of Truth, Dharma-kshetre. Dialogue genre, disciple and guru, following a typically Indian (Asian) pedagogy of reiterated themes, viewed differently at different levels of reality and understanding: as it were, an ascending spiral that progresses from partial to fuller knowledge. The “I am” words of Krishna in the early chapters are not yet a revelation of unique divinity, since any teacher is divine in virtue of the dharma (truth…) he conveys, by speech and by presence. What is dharma?

The literary structure of the Gita. The arguments from internal criticism in favor of, or against, the literary unity of the work (I prefer to affirm the literary unity and single authorship of the Gita). Structure of the chapters; the recapitulation of the whole Gita in a string of verses of the eighteenth chapter. Is the return to less significant and more traditional themes in the later chapters (after the theophany of the eleventh) a sort of letdown (cf. Stephen Mitchell)?

The first chapter: Arjuna’s despair as his necessary yoga. Violence and caste-duty, action and renunciation as basic themes. The Bhagavad Gita as allegory and spiritual metaphor (imminent war as the symbolic context of the spiritual life: see both Gandhi and Yogananda). For Bede Griffiths, the battlefield is human nature.

Read the first three chapters in the commentary of Gandhi. Compare the dilemma of Arjuna with Gandhi’s clear choice of non-violence. “We know only one simple thing: God is, nothing else is.” Action/work and its fruits; yoga is “skill in work” especially when the skill is the renunciation of the fruits of work. The examples of fasting and desire for God in Mohammed and Jesus.

About ashramdiary

Thomas Matus, who blogs this Ashram Diary, was born 1940 in Hollywood, California. Academics: A.B. in music from Occidental College (Los Angeles); S.T.L. in ecumenical theology from Athenaeum Anselmianum (Rome, Italy); Ph.D. in comparative mysticism from Fordham University (New York). Initiated into Kriya Yoga (by direct disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda) in 1958. Became a Catholic in 1960 and entered New Camaldoli Hermitage (Big Sur, California) as a novice monk in 1962. Lived for more than 30 years at the Monastery of Camaldoli in Italy. Traveled to India some 20 times; made frequent retreats at Saccidananda Ashram (Shantivanam) in southern India. Was in Brazil, off and on, from 1999 to 2006. Now back in California, he lives at the Hermitage in Big Sur and Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, California. See: http://www.youtube.com/user/thomasmatus
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