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Quest for Enlightenment 4.docx

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Mount Allison University
Religious Studies
RELG 1681
Sam Borsman

Epic Tales of Hinduism: the Mahabharata  attributed to sage Vyasa o written form circa 200BCE-200CE  approximately 100,000 verses- the longest poem in the world  story of a great (maha) struggle among the descendants of King Bharata = Maha bharata  battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas who are cousins  Kauravas try to cheat the Pandavas out of their share of the kingdom and will not accept peace  ensuing battle, all major kingdoms expected to participate  Krishna (accepted to be the ninth incarnation of Vishnu) is on the Pandavas side, refusing to take up arms and instead offering to be a charioteer for the warrior Arjuna o Arujna later seen to symbolize the human soul in quest for salvation  Pandava king loses wealth, wife, kingdom, himself The Bhagavad Gita (pg 44)  "Song of the Lord" (Krishna)  teaches loving devotion to Krishna as Arjuna is instructed on the nature of God and the human soul, as well as how to attain liberation  Krishna describes the soul as existing beyond the reach of the mind and the senses, unaffected by the physical nature; that just as human beings change clothes, a soul changes bodies at death until it acquires the knowledge that will free it from the cycle of birth and death  Part of the Mahabharaha- begins on the battlefield with war between Pandavas and Kauravas  Krishna makes several statements about himself that mark an important shift in Hindu theology o in the Upanishads, the sages were wary to describe the Brahman, but in the Gita, Krishna reveals himself as the ultimate deity o contrast of an unknowable Supreme Being vs. a loving and gracious deity who is lord, witness, refuge, sanctuary, etc; as well as origin of the universe  The story: o Arjuna, a Pandava kshatriya (member of the warrior class in ancient Hindu society), goes into battle with his charioteer, Krishna o Arujna becomes distressed at the idea of fighting and killing his relatives o he asks Krishna whether it is acceptable to fight a war in which many people will die, especially one's family o Krishna replies that it is correct to fight for what is right and if peaceful means have not been successful, violence is acceptable for the pursuit of righteousness ('dharma') o Reasons Krishna gives to fulfill for Arjuna to fight:  fulfillment of his duty, that society relies on the order of everyone fulfilling their duty  if he does not fight for righteousness, he will be guilty of moral cowardice and have failed in his duty (dharma) to protect the people  concept of reincarnation, that one may damage a body but not their soul o when Arjuna questions Krishna's claim to be the God incarnate. Krishna reveals his cosmic form o Arjuna receives divine vision (theophany) of Kirshna's true nature- the ultimate, everything in the universe, every manifestation of Vishnu, every Hindu god  some who are extremely devoted to Krishna disregard Vishnu and practi
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