The Family Feud
The Bhagavad Gita is a majestic poem within the larger Mahabharata, an epic whose length defies any present-day imagination. It is a comprisal of a narrative set within the larger framework of Philosophical Mysticism. Its tone is one of crisis on an epic scale—one that constitutes the incessant war that is waged within the inner-battleground of the embodied enslavement of man’s Spiritual Composition. Although based on actual ancient warfare taking place nearby modern-day Delhi, its account is more archetypical and allegorical in nature, one that encompasses the full scope of the human condition—one that is inflicted with both external and internal turmoil. This cosmic-drama revolves around an ancient family-feud. It involves a dispute between cousins over who was to rule the Kuruksetra kingdom located in central India. At one time the kingdom belonged to five brothers of the Pāndavas family, but they lost their rule during a dice-game and ceded their kingdom over to their shady-cousins who were the hundred sons of a blind king named Dhrtarāstra. Originally the latter family was to return the kingdom over to its rightful ownership after some length of time, but due to their devious nature totally reneged on their promise. Therefore, the Pāndavas had to wage war to reclaim their rightful property. The problem was, though, being cousins both sides had once shared the same teachers and advisers—the very same ones who were now being called upon to advise them in time of war; accompanied with this precarious predicament was the fact that both sides would be facing beloved family members and friends who would be killed due to this ongoing clash. Hence we now arrive at the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita just before the huge battle was to be waged. We find the main protagonist of the Gita, Arjuna, agonizing within himself over his responsibility as a noble war-lord to do his duty, yet having to “do-in” his own family and friends as part of this obligation.
Our text will soon begin with the blind king, Dhrtarāstra, inquiring from his minister, Samjaya, how events were progressing on the battlefield. Upon describing the nature of the warriors involved, Samjaya turns his focus to Arjuna and his faithful charioteer, Krishna. The focus will now shift to a dialog between Arjuna and Krishna during the bulk of the Gita. Arjuna begins by lamenting his predicament of facing so many family members and friends who will surely die in the heat of battle. In response, Krishna (Divine Consciousness) will take Arjuna on a marvelous mystical tour into the very heart of his own consciousness, thus empowering him to respond to the crisis with the necessary gnosis that will totally liberate him from his (as well as our own) life-predicaments.
One of the salient themes to bear in mind throughout this series is the Sanskrit term dharma. The emphasis upon dharma within the Gita will be that of Arjuna performing his sacred duty. On the larger scale of things, in particular for those of us with Buddhist sensitivities, Dharma encompasses “all that sustains” us in our spiritual journey ; and being faithful to the Buddhadharma will always assure us of victory over all dark forces that dare imprison us in psychophysical bondage. The word, Gita, means “Song”. And hence the full title means the Song of the Lord; and for Buddhists, generally, the Song of the Blessed One. In transcendent terms, it is also conveyed as the Song of Spirit—for ultimately this involves Spiritual Warfare for the Spirit’s own liberation from the evil principalities and powers who want nothing more but to keep this Self-Same Spirit enslaved in the ignominious body-consciousness. So, yes, it’s a Spiritual-Family feud, one revolving around the Tathata Family over the nefarious family of the Evil One.