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.