Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Bhagavat-gita included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Bhagavat-gītā

General.

The Bhagavad Gītā is a poem consisting of 650 verses divided into eighteen chapters. The Gītā covers chapters 25-45 in the Bhīṣma Parva of the Mahābhārata, and it is in the form of a talk or discussion between Arjuna and Lord Kṛṣṇa. The mighty armies of the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas were arrayed on opposite sides for mortal combat on the field of Kurukṣetra when Arjuna, overcome by grief at the prospect of fathers, brothers, preceptors and other Kinsmen fighting and killing one another expressed to his charioteer, Śrī Kṛṣṇa his aversion to fighting. But, the Lord pointed out to the unwilling Arjuna, by unique and various arguments, his imperative duty, under the circumstance, to fight and fight in heroic earnestness with the result that Arjuna shed his disinclination to fight and entered the fray, which ended in the ultimate victory of the Pāṇḍavas. And the dialogue between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa, and especially the great teaching of Kṛṣṇa on the field form the theme of the Gītā. The Gītā contains three spheres or fields of teaching; the karma yoga (philosophy of action), jñāna yoga (philosophy of knowledge) and Bhaktiyoga (philosophy of devotion). The three yogas are treated each in six chapters.

The theme of the Gītā is philosophy, and it is revered as one of the most sublime philosophical texts of the Hindu religion. Many a great thinker and philosopher like Ācārya Śaṅkara, Rāmānujācārya and Madhvācārya have annotated, and written commentaries on the Gītā. There is a school of thought which believes that the Gītā was taught to Arjuna by Kṛṣṇa himself on the battle-field in something like tabloid form and that Vyāsa eleborated the mighty teaching in its present form. The poet, Bāṇa, who flourished in the 7th century A.D., and the great Śaṅkara, who lived in the 8th century believed that the Gītā was sung by Kṛṣṇa himself. But there are some modern thinkers, who argue that the Gītā was composed some time between the third and fourth centuries B.C. and it was interpolated into the Mahābhārata in the second century A.D.

The Gītā has translations in all the languages of the world. The whole world has acclaimed it as a very weighty and valuable contribution in the sphere of philosophy.

Theme of the Gītā.

It has been mentioned above that the Gītā forms chapters 25-45 in the Bhīṣma Parva of the Mahābhārata. The subject-matter of each chapter of the Gītā is given below.

Chapter

25. Arjunaviṣāda yoga :—Both the armies take positions in Kurukṣetra. At the sound of the conches Arjuna becomes dejected and sorrowful at the prospect of killing relations, preceptors and Kinsmen.

Chapter

26. Sāṃkhya yoga :—The greatness and majesty of the Sāṃkhya and the Karma yogas.

Chapter

27. Karma yoga :—The need for action according to the Jñāna and the Karma yogas.

Chapter

28. Jñānakarma Vibhāga yoga :—Power of Saguṇa Brahma (Brahma with attributes), Niṣkāma-karma yoga (Action without an eye on the result) spiritual greatness of various yajñas.

Chapter

29. Sannyāsa yoga :—Sāṃkhya yoga, Niṣkāmakarma yoga, Jñāna yoga, Jñāna yoga with Bhakti.

Chapter

30. Ātmasaṃyama yoga :—Niṣkāmakarma yoga, Ātmodhāraṇa, Jñānayoga.

Chapter

31. Jñāna yoga :—Jñānavijñānas, origin of the world, the Daiva and Āsura aspects of Īśvara, worship of other Devas.

Chapter

32. Tārakabrahma yoga :—Seven questions of Arjuna about Brahma, Ātmatatva and Karma. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s answers thereto. Bhakti yoga, the Śukla and the Kṛṣṇa mārgas.

Chapter

33. Rājarāja guhya yoga :—Jñāna and Vijñāna, origin of the world, Īśvarasvarūpa, Sakāmaniṣkāmopāsana, Bhagavadbhakti.

Chapter

34. Vibhūti yoga :Bhagavān’s Vibhūti (Divine attributes), Bhakti yoga.

Chapter

35. Viśvarūpadarśana yoga :—Arjuna’s prayer to be shown Viśvarūpa (cosmic form), description of viśvarūpa by Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Sañjaya, Śrī Kṛṣṇa reveals viśvarūpa to Arjuna; fear-stricken at the sight, Arjuna sings the praise of Kṛṣṇa.

Chapter

36. Bhaktiyoga :—The great benefits of worshipping God with form and without form.

Chapter

37. Kṣetrakṣetrajña Vibhāga yoga :—Description of Kṣetrakṣetrajña with Jñāna, and of Prakṛti and Puruṣa.

Chapter

38. Guṇatrayavibhāga yoga :—The greatness of Jñāna; world’s origin from Prakṛti and Puruṣa, the three guṇas, sattva, rajas and tamas; means to attain god; marks of Yugātītapuruṣa.

Chapter

39. Puruṣottama yoga :—Essential principles of world and life, attainment of God, relationship between Jīvātmā and Paramātmā, principle and theory of kṣara puruṣa and akṣara puruṣa.

Chapter

40. Daivāsura sampadvibhāga yoga :—Good actions, evil deeds, scientific actions and unscientific actions.

Chapter

41. Śraddhātrayavibhāga yoga :—Descriptions of Scientific tapas, diet, yajñatapas and dāna. Interpretation of Om.

Chapter

42. Mokṣasannyāsa yoga :—Tyāgam, Sāṃkhya theory, Varṇadharmas, jñānaniṣṭhā, Niṣkāmakarmayoga with bhakti and the greatness of the Gītā.

(For another story about the greatness of the Gītā see Duśśāsana II).

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