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Thread: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

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    Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~


    namast

    We know the bhāgavad gītā is divided into 18 chapters. Why 18 chapters not 12 or 21 or 15 or 9? My POV is offered here: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=21869&postcount=7


    We also note that the bhāgavad gītā is from the mahābhārata , bhīṣma parva, consisting of the 25th through 42nd chapters. There are some that see the bhāgavad gītā parva (section) starting at chapter 13, where sanjaya rushes to the king dhṛtarāṣṭra to depict for him the actions that are taking place on the battlefield. Many say the bhāgavad gītā consists of 700 verses, others say 701.

    If we look to this book (mahābhārata) we will find no title for each chapter offered, yet over time the theme emerges for each chapter. This is the crux of this and future posts. The chapters are called out below.

    I thought to spend some time on the titles for each chapter to gain an appreciation for its naming and the wisdom that is contained in each adhyāya (chapter). Perhaps if you care to participate and point out the salient features/wisdom/insights of the chapter being discussed that would be a great contribution for discussion. Please avoid cut 'n paste, or dumping excessive information that cannot be consumed as each of the 18 chapters is offered in sequence.

    Let me list out the 18 below and start with chapter one.
    • adhyāya (chapter) 1
      viśāda or viśati - to enter or settle down; to mind or attend
      viśate - any business, attend to; be absorbed.
    It seems straight forward that the 1st chapter is considered viśati , or to enter, settle down or attend the mind. It is the entrance point for the knowledge to flow. Some can consider this chapter bhūmikā or the preface , an introduction to the overall story . We can also consider this the preface (bhūmikā) of the prapāṭhaka (lecture) to follow.

    Yet if we notice one thing of this notion of viśāda or viśati it has the word viśa - a tribe, or class of people; also 'of a man', embedded in it. We know that arjuna is ' of a man' and is called nara (a man , a male , a person ) in the mahābhārata. Also , in adhyāya (chapter) 1, arjuna clearly talks of his 'tribe' (viśa) as he speaks to kṛṣṇa-ji ( 26th, 27th,28th, 31st, 34th śloka-s). Hence this word viśāda or viśati becomes very versatile to depict the 1st adhyāya of the bhāgavad gītā.

    Chapters 2 through 18
    • adhyāya 2
      sāṁkhya ( some write sāṅkhya) yoga
    • adhyāya 3
      karma yoga
    • adhyāya 4
      jāna yoga
    • adhyāya 5
      karma vairāgya yoga
    • adhyāya 6
      abhyāsa yoga
    • adhyāya 7
      paramahamsa vijāna yoga
    • adhyāya 8
      akśara parabrahman
    • adhyāya 9
      rāja vidya guhya
    • adhyāya 10
      vibhūti vistara
    • adhyāya 11
      viśvarūpa darṣana
    • adhyāya 12
      bhakti yoga
    • adhyāya 13
      kṣetra kṣetrajā vibhāga
    • adhyāya 14
      gunatraya vibhāga
    • adhyāya 15
      puruṣottama
    • adhyāya 16
      daivāsura sampad vibhāga
    • adhyāya 17
      śraddhātraya vibhāga
    • adhyāya 18
      mokṣa opadeṣa (upadeṣa)
    praṇām

    words and references
    • dhṛtarāṣṭra was the eldest son of vyāsa by the widow of vicitra-vīrya (brother of pāṇḍu and vidura) and born blind; husband of gāndhāri and father of 100 sons of whom the eldest was duryodhana
      • dhṛtarāṣṭra धृतराष्ट्र means whose empire is firm , a powerful king - from dhṛta धृत held born or maintained + rāṣṭra राष्ट्र kingdom, realm , empire , dominion , district , country
    • adhyāya अध्याय - is a chapter, lesson or lecture; also the proper time for readng or a lecture.
    • bhīṣma happens to be one of the twelve most knowledgeable people on dharma. The bhAghavataM says that there are only twelve men in the whole world who know the ins and outs of dharma in all its subtlety. These twelve are: BrahmA, the Creator; Narada, the roving sage; Lord Siva; Lord SubrahmaNya; the sage Kapila; Manu the law-giver; the boy-devotee Prahlada; King Janaka; bhīṣma; King Bali; the boy-sage Suka, the reciter of the bhAgavatam; and Yama, the Lord of Death and Dispenser of Justice.
      • Thus bhīṣma happens to be one of the twelve most knowledgeable people on dharma. It was fitting therefore that when yudhiṣṭhira at the end of the mahābhārata war wanted to know all the subtleties of all the different types of dharma, he was directed to go to bhīṣma by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself.
    • More on bhīṣma here: http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showpost.php?p=15089&postcount=2
    • Yudhiṣṭhira was the eldest pandava, son of King Pandu and Queen Kunti if we do not count Karna who was born first. His name is most excellent - it means yudhi or 'in battle' + sthira or 'steady, calm, unperturbed'; so yudhiṣṭhira is he that is steady or unperturbed in battle.
    • Resources:
      • mahaṛṣi mahesh yogī's commentary chapters 1 to 6
      • abhinavagupata's commentary on the bhāgavad gītā
      • Śrī Jānadeva's Bhāvārṭa Dīpikā some call Jāeśvarī ( his commentary on the bhāgavad gītā)
      • S.rādhākṛṣṇan
      • mahābhārata by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
      • svāmī prabhupāda's bhāgavad gītā as it is
    Last edited by yajvan; 28 March 2010 at 10:44 PM. Reason: spelling corrections
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2
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    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~
    namasté

    Continuing the chapter review...

    adhyāya 2
    sāṁkhya ( some write sāṅkhya) yoga

    sāṁkhyā is relating to a number; counting up or over , reckoning or summing up . We also know it, sāṁkhya, as the philosophy of Kapila-ji (his name meaning the brown or tawny or reddish colored one).

    This view of Reality is that of ( or composed of) puruṣa and prakṛti. In sāṁkhyā the Spirit/Universal Being is passive and a spectator of prakṛti or creative force which brings forth creation. Much can be said about this view, as prakṛti brings forth the well known 3 guna-s many are familiar with.
    Yet if we look to chapter 2 śrī kṛṣṇa does not call out all the particulars of this darśana i.e. 'seeing' as the word is also used to define a system of thought i.e. a view.
    Yet in the 39th verse He says that which has been set before you is understanding in terms of sāṁkhya, now hear it in terms of yoga.

    So, why has this chapter been deemed sāṁkhya yoga ? My teacher said that śrī kṛṣṇa presents the principles of all 6 systems of Indian philosophy and is sāṁkhya for the bhāgavad gītā.

    I never understood this until I further studied the word form of sāṁkhya meaning samyag-jñāna. Samyag-jñāna is samyag+jñāna. Samyag =
    samyañc. This is defined as correct , accurate , proper , true , completely , wholly , thoroughly. And we know that jñāna is knowledge.
    Hence samyag-jñāna = thoroughly true and proper knowledge in whole.

    And for me, the one verse the sums up this notion of thoroughly true and proper knowledge in whole , is verse 12:
    There never was a time when I was not nor you nor these rulers of men.
    Nor will there ever be a time when all of us shall cease to be.


    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~
    namasté

    Continuing...


    adhyāya 3
    karma yoga

    Who has not heard of karma? It is short for kárman. We know the definition to be as follows:
    • act , action , performance , business
    • office , special duty , occupation , obligation
    • work , labour , activity (as opposed to rest , praśānti)
    Many view this kárman as a former act leading to inevitable results - cause and effect. In jyotish is is another name for the 10th house,
    as it deals with career and action, performance.

    Yet this 3rd chapter of the bhāgavad gītā develops a significant insturction śrī kṛṣṇa offers in the 48th śloka of chapter 2:
    yogastha kuru karmānī- established (or steadfast) in yoga ( union) perform actions (karma).

    This is the crux and foundation of karma yoga. Karma has just been defined, and yoga we know as union. And śrī kṛṣṇa informs us to be steadfast in this yoga and perform actions. This is called skill in action. Chapter 3 Is offered to bring a high level of underatanding to this condition.

    For me a few key śloka-s that are paramont to comprehend are:
    • śloka 27 - actions in every case are performed/carried out by the 3 guna-s
    • śloka 43 - still the self by the Self
    • śloka 39 - surrender all actions to Me by being possessed of the Self
    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  4. #4
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    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~
    namasté

    continuing the conversation...
    adhyāya 4
    jñāna yoga

    We know this word jñāna means knowledge, knowing , becoming acquainted with , knowledge , yet is more associated with higher knowledge i.e. the śāstra-s or the Supreme. Jjñā means to know as , know or perceive that , regard or consider as. Yet the beauty of this word is also defined as to recognise as one's own. This word in the masculine gender ( 2nd derivation) is also considered brahmā.

    This IMHO is at the core of chapter 4 , to recognise as one's own, that the SELF is separate from activity , completely unblemished from the field of action. For this to be understood, kṛṣṇa-ji offers the wisdom of what action is beginning with the 16th śloka and continuing to the 23rd śloka on this matter.

    There are some key śloka-s that have been not clearly understood ( as I see it). A key śloka that needs better definition is the 21st.
    It says the following: Expecting nothing, his heart and mind disciplined , having relinquished all possessions, performing actions by the body alone, he incurs no sin.


    If you recall we can view knowledge of the śāstra-s on 3 levels

    • ādhibautika - the physical level - derived or produced from the elements
    • ādhidaivika - the cosmic level pertaining to the devatā
    • ādhytmika - spiritual , of the Supreme, Self.

    If we view the 21st śloka on the physical level it suggests one should relinquish their possessions and expect nothing, only minding the needs of the body to survive. While this may be viewed as useful i.e. one gets rid of the need to manage possessions and should have more time for one's sādhana, there is a much deeper meaning (ādhytmika) being offered as I see it and study.
    • having relinquished all possessions - the word used is parigrahaḥ . It is defined as wrapping around, laying hold of on all sides , surrounding , enclosing , fencing round. This is significant because it is inferring to the things other then one's own SELF. The notion is to abandon the whole field of change . And who owns and manages that field? It is the 3 guna-s. As stated in back in chapter 2, 45th śloka, kṛṣṇa-ji says be without the 3 guna-s, freed from duality, firm in purity, independent of possessions. If one is independent of positions it is all possessions that surround (parigrahaḥ) him/her and thus being possessed of the SELF.
    • expecting nothing - for the person established in the SELF, is free from desire ( this is called out in the 19th verse of this chapter 4). Hence we're talking of the person possessed of the SELF.
    • his heart and mind disciplined - this is a nice reference back to chapter 3 (41st and 43rd śloka) again. One becomes perfectly disciplined when the self ( ego, desires, etc) is stilled by the silence of the SELF. The 41st śloka says organize/regulate/manage the senses. The word used is niyamya or ni+yamya - to curb or control/manage. Hence it is the enlightened person that has curbed and fully controlled the senses. They now only act to , perform actions by the body. That is the enlightened are not tugged here and there by the senses, as they reside , rested in the SELF, perfectly poised or 'disciplined'.
    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 06 April 2010 at 09:44 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  5. #5

    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    Namaste Yajvanji
    With the ongoing discussion about shloka 12/2 , I take the help of shruti as.Atman +Atmanambhi sam viveshyaj and vibhuh prajasuyaj.Adhatt pitaroyaj .
    Arjun talks of pitars and then talks of Varnashankar also he says that this is from shruti .
    Total three things 1. moksha 2. rebirth and 3. pitar is explained by this shloka as per shruti respectively as I mentioned above .

    FromSwami Dayannd.. assume a circle of limited diameter , then add a number you will find a limited number , and this is about the explanation about jeeva and pitar .
    Take a diameter of infinite size then add something to it you will find an unlimited number and that is the parmatma and moksha .
    And after everything is gone or the universe is perished , then there is a new creation alwaysjain dharm also confirms it .

    Also chapter 4 is known as wisdom yoga , wisdom above gyan and karma .

  6. #6

    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    Namaste Yajvanji,
    First of all, thanks a lot for starting this thread which gives more insight into the chapters and their reason for such classification. One thing that could be added to the first Chapter title would be that Vishada(viśāda) on the whole means dejection\sorrow\depression. This type of emotion display is seen throughout the first chapter where Arjuna speaks to Sri Krishna about his sorrow.
    Please correct me if wrong.
    Best Regards,
    mukunda

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    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté kd gupta and mukunda20

    Thank you both for your contribitions to this string. I hope we can go deeper and wider.


    mukunda20, offers the following:
    first Chapter title would be that Vishada(viśāda) on the whole means dejection\sorrow\depression
    Yes you are correct. If we spell viśāda like this viāda then we get the following definition ( that absolutely applies).

    viṣāda - drooping state ; dejection , depression , despondency ; disappointment , despair.; this word also means dullness or insensibility; fear or weakness. To be clear from my point of view, I see no fear or weakness in arjuna, yet disappointment and despair is there.

    So this first chapter as the introduction ( viśati - to enter or settle down) + the notion of viāda ( despondency ) fits the 1st chapter quite well. Thank you for your offer and insight.


    kd gupta, offers the following:
    Also chapter 4 is known as wisdom yoga , wisdom above gyan and karma
    .

    Yes I see your point and appreciate how this applies.


    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  8. #8

    Re: Chapters of the Bhāgavad gītā

    Namaste
    Devam devatra suryamganm jyotiruttamam10/50 sukta/1st mandalam rig..

    Shruti says that let we learn to live like the sun which is absolute and above all darkness .
    That is only the wisdom which krsn says to learn from the sun and follow

    Evam jnaatwaa kritam karma poorvair api mumukshubhih;
    Kuru karmaiva tasmaat twam poorvaih poorvataram kritam.

    Having known [ GYAN ] this, the ancient seekers after freedom also performed actions [ KARM ]; therefore,
    do thou perform actions as did the ancients in days of yore.

    And this is Wisdom .

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