Mahabharata - Kurukshetra War
The Mahabharata centers on the exploits of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, two families of royal cousins descended from two brothers, Pandu and Dhritarashtra, respectively. Because Dhritarashtra was born blind, Pandu inherited the ancestral kingdom, comprising a part of northern India around modern Delhi. The Pandava brothers were Yudhishthira the eldest, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. The Kaurava brothers were one hundred in number, Duryodhana being the eldest. When Pandu died at an early age, his young children were placed under the care of their uncle Dhritarashtra who usurped the throne.
The Pandavas were endowed with righteousness, self-control, nobility, and many other knightly traits. On the other hand, the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, especially Duryodhana, were endowed with negative qualities and were cruel, unrighteous, unscrupulous, greedy, and lustful. Duryodhana, jealous of his five cousins, contrived various means to destroy them.
Attempts by elders and Krishna who was a friend of the Pandavas and also a well wisher of the Kauravas, to resolve the issue failed. Nothing would satisfy Duryodhana’s inordinate greed. War became inevitable.
The Bhagavad Gita begins before the start of the climactic battle at Kurukshetra, with the Pandava prince Arjuna becoming filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realizing that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Krishna, for advice. In summary the main philosophical subject matter of the Bhagavad Gita is the explanation of five basic concepts or “truths”. Krishna counsels Arjuna on the greater idea of dharma, or universal harmony and duty. He begins with the tenet that the soul (Atman) is eternal and immortal.
Ishvara (The Supreme Controller)
Jiva (Living beings/the individualized soul)
Dharma (Duty in accordance with Divine law)
The battle is “an allegory in which the battlefield is the soul and Arjuna, man’s higher impulses struggling against evil and Lord Krishna is the Supreme Godhead Narayana. When we sum up its esoteric significance, it means the war which is constantly going on within man between the tendencies of good and evil. Gita is spoken by Lord Krishna, the Supreme avatar of Narayana in plain terms and professes to solve the great ethical and spiritual difficulties which the life of man raises.
There are 6 arishadvargas or evils that the Gita says one should avoid, which are kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobh (greed), moha (delusion), mada or ahankar (pride) and matsarya (jealousy), which are the negative characteristics which prevent man from attaining moksha (liberation from the birth and death cycle).
The Gita addresses the discord between the senses and the intuition of cosmic order. It speaks of the Yoga of equanimity, a detached outlook. The term Yoga covers a wide range of meanings, but in the context of the Bhagavad Gita, describes a unified outlook, serenity of mind, skill in action and the ability to stay attuned to the glory of the Self (Atman) and the Supreme Being (Bhagavan). According to Krishna, the root of all suffering and discord is the agitation of the mind caused by selfish desire. The only way to douse the flame of desire is by simultaneously stilling the mind through self-discipline and engaging oneself in a higher form of activity.
However, abstinence from action is regarded as being just as detrimental as extreme indulgence. According to the Bhagavad Gita, the goal of life is to free the mind and intellect from their complexities and to focus them on the glory of the Self by dedicating one’s actions to the divine. This goal can be achieved through the Yogas of meditation, action, devotion and knowledge.