The All Merciful – The Qur’an (Week 11)

This week’s reading was, “The Qur’an 610-632”. While reading through the text, a specific section stood out to me, “Surah 55: The All Merciful”. The section begins by explaining all that the “All-Merciful” has done:

“And the earth He laid out for His creatures,

with her fruit and date-palms, with clustered sheaths;

and corn, with husks, and scented plants.

Which, then, of your Lord’s favors would you both deny?” (55:10-13)

Allah has created Earth and everything on it, he is an almighty being. The terms “He” and “His” are capitalized to deepen his all-powerful status. The last verse of this quote is repeated throughout this section multiple times. This is done to emphasizes the blessings that Allah, or God has given us. This phrase reminds us time and time again of the many blessings we take for granted on a daily basis.

Through difficult times we sometimes begin to ask ourselves, “Why me?”. However, during the good times we do not do this. We do not truly stop to be thankful for everything we take for granted. We only stop to complain about the bad although many other people have it significantly worse.

It is important to keep these small challenges we may face in perspective. Everything happens for a reason. You may not be aware of the reason at that point in time, but it will come. Everyone goes through rough times, this is inevitable. It is important to keep faith through these tough times and push forward. Having the ability to preserve and continuing to progress will help to move on from the tough times.

Consciousness Vs Obedience

Bhagavad-Gita, specifically the war of The Mahabharata, is a compilation of poems in the Sanskrit language made by Krsna Dvalpayana, but presumably to be written by a long generation of poets that primarily based them on the inheritance of thrones in northern Indian dynasties describing battles in between relatives.

According to the compilation of verses, Krshna wanted to make a deal with the Kauravas. Still, the Pandavas refused to accept it and instead decided the best suitable situation to agree on the kingdom’s inheritance was through a war according to the Dharma rule of Succession and Inheritance. Before the Mahabharata war, Arjuna, the main character, experienced an emotional dilemma before starting the fight. In his conversation with Krshna, he expressed that he couldn’t stand to shred all his loved one blood in the division of something material. He faced a moral and emotional dilemma; he realized what was more valuable for him had no material worth, and he explained his thoughts to Krishna in the follows verses:

” I am strung: my limbs collapse
beneath me, and my mouth is dry,
there is a trembling in my body,
and my hair rises, bristling;
“Gandiva, my immortal bow,
drops from my hand and my skin burns,
I cannot stand upon my feet,
my mind rambles in confusion”.

Khrshna tried to convince Arjuna of how “necessary” it was a war to fix the conflict of the kingdom’s inheritance and show him that his participation in it was a “sacred duty” that couldn’t be eluded. He also portrayed himself to Arjuna as the God Vishnu and that it was a part of getting enlightened to follow God’s will regardless of his consciousness of right and wrong.

The message Krsna gave Arjuna was that by being loyal to “God” by fighting even he didn’t want to, he should obey blindfolded over his own will. As bystanders, we acknowledge lots of examples of people every day. People do covenants to saints and Gods who they believe and have faith in before prioritizing any reasoning on the issue they are experiencing in their lives.

Video lecture on Essay #2

Hi, everyone!

This week, I’m doing something different with the video lecture. Due to recent queries voiced by your classmates, I thought it best to devote time to talking about writing. This video lecture focuses on writing the argumentative thesis, which is a key component of essay 2, due November 5.

We will discuss our readings as usual on Wednesday, but we will do so with an eye toward preparing for your upcoming essays. Please put some thought toward what you might want to write about, if you haven’t already, and do take a look at the guidelines for the assignment.

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

Essay writing tutorial

Fruit of action

This week’s reading on “From The Bhagavad-gita” is about Arjuna first questioning the purpose of war and the disadvantage of having a victory while your kinship suffers. To make a wise decision, Arjuna asks Krsna- the god who preserves the moral order of the universe to advise him so that he can make an effective choice between being the greatest warrior or a thankful family member. In this case, the action Arjuna takes in the middle of this battle is essential. Actions are the step or motions of completing something, however, according to Krsna, action is: 

“Action is far inferior 

to the practice of higher mind;

seek refuge there, for pitiful

are those moved by fruit of actions! (The Bhagavad-gita, 1284)

This quote is saying that every action has a result or every action has a reaction. The fruit of action is the results that come from doing the action. When taking actions one needs to consider whether there is an intended or unintended motivation behind that action. In the case of Arjuna’s problem to pursue the action of being a warrior or leaving the battlefield, Arjuna needs to understand the motivation behind his action. Essentially, Krsna is saying when action is done by the desire for pleasurable results, that result won’t be so pleasurable as time passes by because the intention behind that action (the seed) wasn’t a good reason. Also, according to Krsna, this action has to be done without “attachment” which means being unbiased about what is right and wrong. All in all, I believe Krsna is telling Arjuna to think of his motivation and act with full mindfulness and skills without attachment to have a good outcome or result in this war. 

 

Week 10: Conscience Vs Violence

Arjun – The Warrior Prince Cast List | Arjun – The Warrior Prince Movie  Star Cast | Release Date | Movie Trailer | Review- Bollywood Hungama

In this week’s reading “The Bhagavad Gita” is known as an independent poem that consists of the philosophical message as the meditation to universal issues. These issues can’t simply be answered rather elaborate on the dilemmas which can’t be resolved once and for all.

‘I have no wish for victory,

nor for kingship, pleasures and enjoyments,

are now drawn up in battle lines,

their lives and riches now abandoned:” [ The Bhagavad Gita 1280 ]

Is violence really worth materialistic pleasure in the world? Or is it really justifiable to kill your loved ones for possession of land and wealth? Even though we all know that ‘Everything is fair in love and war but is the cause of war really fair as it can only create violence. For me, my conscience could never justify killing someone. Arjuna, the righteous man who was deprived of his rights along with his brothers went to Kuruksetra to have a war against the Kauravas who had wronged them. But upon seeing his loved ones on the battlefield against him shook him in terror. Arjuna no longer wanted to participate in this war as the thought of killing his loved ones hit his conscience. He landed in a dilemma that how killing and violence could give him pleasure in this world. Arjuna was determined to give up all the wealth and not to engage in this war saving all the lives of his loved ones however seeking advice from Krishna helped him to muster courage and fight for his rights. Maybe at some point in life, we have all been in a place where we didn’t want to continue further and wanted to give up but we had someone who motivated us and pushed us to move forward. Sometimes it is really hard to justify some actions but it becomes necessary to do what is right from one’s perspective even though it stands wrong in others.

 

Week 10- Bhagavad Gita

In this week’s reading, “The Bhagavad Gita” the varying concepts and constructs of the universe that are beyond the control of humans is explained to us with divine rationalization. Chapter 3 in particular stood out as an important part of continuity and divine duty supplied to humans by Lord Krishna.

“Not even for a moment does

someone exist without acting.

Even against one’s will, one acts

by the nature-born qualities.” – (The Bhagavad Gita, 1286)

The primary qualities that we are all born with are purity, passion, and inertia. These are the driving forces behind our actions or our ability to act. Purity is the normalcy of your actions, the day to day functionality of your physical appearance, like walking or eating. Passion is the drive behind your actions, it’s all about your ability to act and what leads you to act, like running or working. Inertia is the state of doing nothing, yet this is where your actions are done unconsciously, like your heart beating or breathing. These states of actions are an unchanging process to human functioning. This eternal duty for humanity that is consistent with Krishna’s comprehension revolves around action. In one way or another being active is what it means to be alive, even in death our souls are active and alive. For the living though people are obligated by duty and performance to act. It is this sense of duty to act that leads each and every member of society to function, increasing productivity. In accordance with our lives the rules and regulations of the society in which we live determines how we choose to act regardless of our performance. In most cases depending on the actions you take humans are bound to these decisions and are used as a means to determine if you are meant to lead a life of bondage or salvation.

Week 10: The Purpose of Meditation and Dharma

This week’s reading focused on one’s duty to his family versus one’s duty as a warrior. This text was challenging for me to understand because for the first time a divine being is providing straightforward answers, yet I keep looking for something hidden. One phrase that spoke to me was about yoga/mediation in the following passage:

‘ “Like a lamp in a windless place

unflickering,” is the likeliness

Of the yogi subdued in thought,

Performing yoga of the Self’(The Bhagavad-Gita 1290)

Arjuna is someone readers can easily relate to because of his constant questioning in search of clear answers. In fact, the readers themselves probably would ask the very same question. Krishna leads him to the path of mediation-a familiar practice in today’s time. The ability to stand still and push away distracting thoughts so one’s center is maintained is no easy feat. The simile of the lamp suggests that when starting out that flame might flicker or even completely blow out, but with practice and balance, outside factors like the wind will have no impact. Action has been a recurring theme throughout this text, so it must be comforting to Arjuna to know that his actions will help him achieve his duty. The importance of action though seems to be linked with insight; one must be willing to put in the true effort and be aware of the impact of actions rather than simply just doing.

Actions have consequences that result in karma. From my understanding, Krishna tells Arjuna that there are no boundaries to life and death. The soul transcends on in. Throughout one’s life, the series of actions have reactions. The next lives are about seeing and living the results of those actions. Dharma seems to be the duty of maintaining the karma from one’s (all) lives. This is a difficult concept to grasp, hence why I’m not surprised why Arjuna wants to see Krishna’s form. As God in the Book of Job, Krishna reveals himself, and Arjuna is awed in the visual he can’t completely comprehend.

Week 10

Looking at this story, the quote “Those for whose sake we desire kingship, pleasures and enjoyments are now drawn up in battle lines their lives and riches now abandoned”

Seeing one refiect being a king is something that is rare in those times even today. Those that worship earthly possession have to face steep consequences that some are not ready to face. “What good even life and pleasure”?

What good is all the perks of success if you have to ruin others to get it. Arjuna does not what any part of death and does not want Dhritarashtra’s sons death on his conscious. All of the riches that kings enjoy mean nothing after you die, you cant’t take it with you. “Even if they mastered by greed are blind to the consequences of family destruction” Mastered by greed is a human weakness that most of us have as we all want to live the best life possible before we die. The love for money can destroy us and control our lives. So therefore money does become our master. It can cause us to turn against our loved ones and ruin life long friendships. Arjuna  does a good job stating his point as he revels the bigger picture of things to Krishna. Looking at this story the quote ‘’ money is the root of all evil’’ as the obsession with money can ruin your life and even though we need it to survive, it shouldn’t consume us. In the end of it all, earthly possessions are just not worth your life and your family’s life.

Week 10 – Krishna and Arjuna

The Bhagavad-Gita presented a small excerpt of a Hindu epic. It explored the difficulties of choosing between loved ones and one’s duty as a warrior. Arjuna was in the midst of a war with fellow family and friends. He had difficulty deciding whether to kill the ones he loved in order to fulfill his dharma and duty of a warrior at war or drop his weapons and refuse to murder the people he knew and grew up with. To help him decide on his course of action, Arjuna asked for Krishna’s divine advice. This was one of the things that Krishna told Arjuna:

‘The one cannot ever perish

in a body it inhabits,

O Descendent of Bhrata;

And so no being should be mourned.

‘Nor should you tremble to perceive

your duty as a warrior;

for him there is nothing better

than a battle that is righteous (The Bhagavad Gita, 1284).

In this excerpt, Krishna began by telling Arjuna that people cannot perish, or die. This was referring to the family and friends that Arjuna refused to kill. Krishna was trying to comfort Arjuna by reminding him of reincarnation, while clearly advocating heavily for Arjuna to go against his morals and, instead, put dharma above all. He wanted Arjuna to follow the duty of a warrior at all costs, no matter who was on the opposing side. Krishna followed that by saying that no one should be mourned, further trying to emphasize the fact that the people who do end up dying from his actions should not be mourned because they would be reincarnated anyway. After that, Krishna continued to emphasize the importance of Arjuna’s duty of being a warrior because of a “righteous” battle. This entire excerpt shows the opposition between Krishna, who represents dharma and the warrior duty, and Arjuna, who represents the typical person’s morals that may not always align perfectly with dharma.

Too Much Passion

This week’s text “The Bhagavad-Gita” explores very interesting ideas on what it is to be human and our responsibility as beings in this universe. Specifically, Lord Krishna’s views on what he believes to be evil offers us a way to reflect on these evils and on how they often manifest in our own lives.

“Know that the enemy is this: 

Desire, anger, whose origins,

are in the quality of passion, 

all consuming, greatly harmful. (pg.1288)

 

In our previous class/lecture, we touched upon what it means to be evil in the context of Medea. And while focusing on the Bhagavad-Gita text, I found these lines to be very reminiscent of Medea. We know that Medea posed great harm to others (as we see with her own children) all because of these very intense emotions that consumed her. We can also say that Medea was very passionate for Jason. Passion that initially was out of love that later turned into a dangerous passion filled with anger and desire for revenge. And overall, as readers we were questioned whether or not Medea was evil and an enemy in her story because of the way she acted out. 

In general, we may agree that acting out of desire or anger often does not always bode well in getting what we want. It can often end in regret, shame, and suffering, as it continued to do so for Medea. In trying to explain these evils to Arjuna, Lord Krisha really tries to convey the need to detect these evils or intense emotions and to keep one’s mind and judgment sharp. While difficult, being able to control these kinds of emotions and to act independently of them is important. However, these emotions shouldn’t be ignored as these make us human to feel so passionately. Lord Krisha also gets at the need to confront the obstacles that challenge our values and disturb our surroundings with an open mind. Those that are strong and wise are able to make these distinctions in the way they are acting and how to best control these kinds of behaviors.