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Thread: Sri Ramanuja and Bhagavad Gita

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    Sri Ramanuja and Bhagavad Gita

    This thread is for explaining the position of Srimad Ramanuja on the Bhagavad Gita. Anyone interested may contribute, but please avoid personal opinions outside the scope of Vishistadvaita. Verse by verse comentary is intended to be covered by this discussion.

    No debates on this thread please as it will obstruct the flow.

    Any errors in the discussion are my own, and not of the tradition. Please feel free to point out any errors in translation or explanation.

    I have a busy schedule, so please bear with me if this thread moves ahead slowly.
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    Gita - An Introduction

    I am none to introduce readers to Gita as such, but purpose of this post is to start in a formal manner, hence this attempt

    The Bhagavatgita contains divine words emanating from the lips of God Himself. Its glory is infinite and unlimited. Even Sesha, the thousand headed serpent and primary servant of Lord himself cannot fully depict glory of this. Puranas and other texts have sung the glory of the Gita in many places; but if all those words of praise are brought together, even then it cannot be declared that the praise of gita has been exhausted. The fact is full despcription of the glory of this is never possible

    As a scripture, the Gita embodies the supreme spiritual mystery and secret. It contains the essense of all the four vedas. Its style is so simple and elegant, with a little study even ordinary man can follow the structure of the words; but the thought behind those words is so deep and abstruse then even a lifelong constant study does not show one the end of it. Deep reflection with reverence and faith will make it directly appear impregnated with deep meanings at every step. There is not a single word in Gita, which may be described as flattering. I prefer to reiterate this again, there is no single word in Gita which may be described as flattering. Every statement made in it is true to the very letter. Smelling overpraise in the words of God, the embodiment of truth is to show disprespect to the divine words.

    Lord says in Varahapurana - "Take my stance of Gita; the Gita is my supreme abode. I maintain the three worlds on the strength of the wisdom contained in the Gita"

    Apart from this, in the Gita itself, lord say that he who follows his instructions contained in this Gita will undoubtely attain liberation

    The Gita is the very life breath, the heart and the image of the Lord. Really speaking, no sacrifice, charity, austerity, pilgrimage, religious vow, self-restraint, fasting etc stand comparison with Gita

    Gita is an ocean. Just as a diver, diving into the sea lays his hands on precious gems, so the diver into gita will lay his hands on the secrets of Gita. Verily, Garuda and Bee both fly, but according to its capacity, it is also true for every student of Gita, each can make something out of it according to their own comprehension

    Some comments by Non Hindus on Gita, I would like to present herewith

    Finally, here are some quotes about Hinduism by western intellectuals.
    Bhagavad-Geeta is the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known tongue -------- Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) Scientist, philosopher, bohemian, and radical. A theoretical physicist and the Supervising Scientist for the Manhattan Project, the developer of the atomic bomb

    In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial ---------------------- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic, transcendentalist and writer.

    I hesitate not to pronounce the Geeta a performance of great originality, of sublimity of conception, reasoning and diction almost unequalled; and a single exception, amongst all the known religions of mankind ------------------- Lord Warren Hastings (1754-1826), was the first governor general of British India

    I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us The Indian teaching, through its clouds of legends, has yet a simple and grand religion, like a queenly countenance seen through a rich veil. It teaches to speak truth, love others, and to dispose trifles. The East is grand - and makes Europe appear the land of trifles. ...all is soul and the soul is Vishnu --------------- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) an author, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, Unitarian minister who lectured on theology at Harvard University .

    There is none so rare and priceless as the Gita.----------- Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933) was an active socialist on the executive committee of the Fabian Society along with George Bernard Shaw

    The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. The Gita is one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the spiritual thoughts ever to have been made.------------- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) the English novelist and essayist

    Gita deals with a universal problem of mental conflict, one of a sudden inability to face a situation against one's social or moral duty. As long as humanity will exist, so will this conflict. Gita provides the solution to rationalize the thoughts and bring the human being into what several scholars have called "a moral equilibrium" that removes the conflict. That is why Gita holds a universal appeal for all people, a message that applies even today in the context of the Information Technology driven world, as a working User Manual for ready reference on all aspects of life on this earth.

    As and when this discourse proceeds, probably that will stand by itelf as proof.

    Jai shree krishna

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    2.9-2.10

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH


    2.9:- 2.10

    sanjaya uvAca
    Evam uktvA hrShIkESham guDakESha: parantapa:
    Na yOtyasya iti gOvindam uktvA tUNIm baBhUva ha

    tam uvAca prahasann eva BhArata
    SEnayOr uBhayOr madhye viShIdantam idam vaca:

    Sri Ramanuja brings us to the topic only from here. What was the reason for the Lord preaching Arjuna about the knowledge of God? What is the need to do in the midst of a ghastly war? The battle field hardly looks like the right place to enter into a spiritual subject!

    Even though Arjuna is the bravest among the brave, and even defeated the entire army of Kauravas during the Virata Parva, now, he had lost the courage because of misplaced love. Arjuna had lost the ability to discriminate between duty and emotions. The very great archer, who took a terrible vow to destroy Karna, who single handedly defeated many great commanders, and who until the march to the war was in perfect condition to discharge his duties, suddenly broke down because he thought that the war and killing were sinful. He saw his grandsire and his teacher and he could not raise his arms. Not knowing how to manage his internal conflicts, Arjuna broke down and surrendered to the Lord for protection.

    The Lord understood that there was no point in trying to make him understand his duty without explaining to him the highest knowledge. How does making Arjuna understand the highest knowledge make him a courageous warrior again? Because the very war which Arjuna thought was sinful and a route to hell was a passport to liberation if discharged without attachment to fruits of action.

    Arjuna was overcome with grief, resulting from the ignorance about the real nature of the body and the soul. The ignorance had made him misunderstand his duties, and all his words had come with the idea of connecting the body and soul. With a smiling face, Bhagavan started to explain to Arjuna the knowledge of God realization which included the real nature of the individual soul, nature of the Supreme soul, and the three ways to liberation – Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yoga.


    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    2.9-2.10

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH


    2.9:- 2.10

    sanjaya uvAca
    Evam uktvA hrShIkESham guDakESha: parantapa:
    Na yOtyasya iti gOvindam uktvA tUNIm baBhUva ha

    tam uvAca prahasann eva BhArata
    SEnayOr uBhayOr madhye viShIdantam idam vaca:

    Sri Ramanuja brings us to the topic only from here. What was the reason for the Lord preaching Arjuna about the knowledge of God? What is the need to do in the midst of a ghastly war? The battle field hardly looks like the right place to enter into a spiritual subject!

    Even though Arjuna is the bravest among the brave, and even defeated the entire army of Kauravas during the Virata Parva, now, he had lost the courage because of misplaced love. Arjuna had lost the ability to discriminate between duty and emotions. The very great archer, who took a terrible vow to destroy Karna, who single handedly defeated many great commanders, and who until the march to the war was in perfect condition to discharge his duties, suddenly broke down because he thought that the war and killing were sinful. He saw his grandsire and his teacher and he could not raise his arms. Not knowing how to manage his internal conflicts, Arjuna broke down and surrendered to the Lord for protection.

    The Lord understood that there was no point in trying to make him understand his duty without explaining to him the highest knowledge. How does making Arjuna understand the highest knowledge make him a courageous warrior again? Because the very war which Arjuna thought was sinful and a route to hell was a passport to liberation if discharged without attachment to fruits of action.

    Arjuna was overcome with grief, resulting from the ignorance about the real nature of the body and the soul. The ignorance had made him misunderstand his duties, and all his words had come with the idea of connecting the body and soul. With a smiling face, Bhagavan started to explain to Arjuna the knowledge of God realization which included the real nature of the individual soul, nature of the Supreme soul, and the three ways to liberation – Karma, Jnana and Bhakti Yoga.


    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    2.11

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH

    2.11

    shrI BhagavAnuvAca
    ashOcyAn anyashOcyastvam pranjavAdAmscha BhAShase
    gatAsUn agatAsUmscha nAnushocanti panDitA:

    With full of love, the Lord instructed Arjuna thus – You are grieving for people who do not deserve it. You are very well aware of the ill treatment meted out to you by these people. You also know how unrighteous these enemies are. Know that people who know the nature of the soul neither grieve for the body nor for the soul.

    Your confusion has resulted from falsely identifying this body to be related to your soul. You also do not understand the duties of a Kshatriya for whom an unselfish righteous war itself can lead to knowledge of the soul and consequently liberation. The body is perishable someday, and even if the body dies it will embody again. The soul is untouched by death. Thus knowing these, do not grieve. But Arjuna does not know about the soul yet. Thus, the Lord proceeded to instruct Arjuna on the nature of the soul.

    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    2.12

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH

    2.12

    na tvevAham jAtu nAsam na tvam neme janADhipA:
    na caiva BhaviShyAma: sarvam vayam ata: param


    The Lord always speaks the truth, and if he does not , the entire shastra looses its value. Now, Sri Krishna says that he existed eternally, and was never non existant. Should Arjuna fear that since he was under Krishna’s Lordship and that he would perish someday, Sri Krishna allays that fear and says that the soul called Arjuna was always existant, and would exist eternally. The specific reference to words like “I”, “You”, “any of us”, in the context of a discussion that talks of eternity puts to rest any ideas of Arjuna ever being equal to Sri Krishna, or ever becoming Sri Krishna in future. It is however guaranteed that Arjuna will exist for ever, and his soul would not perish. The plurality and eternity of individual souls is thus established at the very outset of Bhagavad Gita.

    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    2.13

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH

    2.13

    dehinO$smin yaTha dehe kaumAram youvanam jarA
    taTha dehAntara prAptir DhIras tatra na muhyati


    Wise men, or knowers of the Atman, do not grieve when the body goes through different states of existence – childhood, youth and old age because the soul inside them is eternal and indestructible. Similarly, such men do not grieve when the physical body dies, because the soul attains a new body after death.

    It should be noted that the state of bondage of the souls in various bodies is the result of the beginningless Karma, and every soul has attained to a physical body in accordance with its past karma. So what needs to be done to put an end to this bondage? Duties prescribed by shastras for various classes of people must be properly done without attachment to the fruits. Various pleasures and pains are the sole result of one’s past deeds, and therefore these opposites have to endured until the final goal of life is attained.

    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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    2.14

    SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH


    2.14

    mAtrAsparShAs tu kaunteya ****OshNasuKhadukkada |
    AgamApAyino$nityAs tvAms titixasya BhArata ||


    Here, mAtra refers to the tanmAtras consisting of sound, touch, form, taste and smell. The contact with these senses gives rise to opposite feelings of pleasure and pain, in the form of heat and cold, softness and hardness, and other feelings. Endure them bravely until you have discharged your duties. Patience needs to be exercised and the pairs of opposite happens periodically. When the Karmas are finally destroyed , this change of opposites terminates and bondage comes to an end.

    Jai Sri Krishna
    Om namO nArAyaNAya
    --------
    srIman nArAyaNa caranau caranam prapadye srImate nArAyaNAya namaha
    --------
    sarva-dharmAn parityajna mAm Ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvan sarva- papebhyo moksayisyAmi ma suchah

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