Topics for today:
- Opening prayers and Gita Dhyanam
- Context of the Gita
Highlights of today’s class:
- Stories in Mahabharata point out human virtues or weaknesses. Dharmaputra’s weakness was gambling for which he had to pay dearly. Duryodhana’s biggest weakness was his jealousy towards his cousins, the Pandavas.
A battle between dharma and adharma:
- Pandavas lived a life conforming to dharma. Duryodhana was given to adharma. His attempts to kill Pandavas in the wax house, usurping the kingdom from its rightful rulers, etc. attest to this.
- The war of Kurukshetra was a war between dharma and adharma. If it had been for kingdom or power, the Pandavas would not have negotiated with Duryodhana with a proposal to receive as little a share as one village.
- Pandavas tried to avoid the war but as kshatriyas in order to uphold dharma and challenge Duryodhana who was against dharma, they had no option but to wage the war. Hence Kurukshetra is also called Dharmakshetra.
Symbolic of inner human conflict:
- Another interpretation of the Kurukshetra war is that it is symbolic of the inner conflict we all experience between dharma and adharma, between what is to be done and what is not to be done, between what is right and what is wrong.
Knowledge of right and wrong is universal:
- Just as all creatures are endowed with intelligence necessary for their survival, which we call instinct (ex. the baby monkey knowing that it has to hold on to its mother tightly so that it does not fall to the ground due to gravity), human beings are endowed with the common sense knowledge with reference to what is good and what is not good for oneself.
- ‘I should not get hurt’, ‘I should not be robbed’, ‘I should not be cheated or deceived’, ‘I want others to help me when I am in trouble’, ‘I do not want to be the target of anybody’s anger or hatred or jealousy’, etc. – these are all examples of common sense knowledge that does not need to be taught by anyone.
- Similarly, knowing that others do not want to get hurt by me, to be robbed by me, to be cheated or deceived by me, that they want me to help them when they are in trouble, they do not want to be targets of my anger or hatred or jealousy, etc… – this common sense knowledge is also given to all human beings.
- This basic knowledge of right and wrong is therefore universal and given to all human beings.
Additionally, human beings have choice:
- Unlike animals, human beings have a choice and are not controlled merely by a set of instincts. When choice is involved, there is the possibility of proper choice and improper choice.
- Therefore inspite of having the above mentioned common sense knowledge of right and wrong, people could settle for compromises because of improper choices which are driven by their priorities and their value systems.
om tat sat