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Main Idea Eventually, some religious thinkers began to
question the Vedas. New ideas appeared called the Vedanta
or “the end of the Vedas”. These new teachings centered
around two epics which are long poems based on historical
or religious themes. The Bhagavad Gita, a portion of one of
these epics, is the most famous of Hindu scriptures. These
epic poems form much of the basis for Hindu teachings.
Dharma & Karma
Dharma - doing one’s moral duty in this life so that the soul can advance
to the next life.
Karma - the good or bad force created by a persons actions.
According to Hinduism, people who fulfill their Dharma, earn good karma
Nirvana & Reincarnation
Nirvana - inner peace. The Hindu concept of “heaven”. When a person
reaches Nirvana the cycle of reincarnation is complete and the soul
joins with Brahman. This can also be called moksha.
Reincarnation - the belief in the rebirth of souls in a new body. The
Hindu concept of reincarnation is driven by Dharma and Karma.
Having good Dharma is like having a role in a play. You have to play your roll as
well as you can. And if you do a good job, next time you might get a better role!
The Hindu god Brahma takes many forms: Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva
the Destroyer are all forms of Brahma. Hinduism appears polytheistic but the religion is actually
which means a belief in the unity between god and creation.
Hindus believe these are all part of the same god.
What Would Arjuna Do?
It is around 200 B.C.E. A royal family feud between cousins has turned into a
war over who has the right to rule. On the eve of battle, Arjuna, one of the princes
asks Krishna, his charioteer, to drive his chariot to the front line so he can look out
at the foes he will face tomorrow. As he looked at his enemies, he recognizes his
favorite teacher, Drona, and his beloved grand uncle, Bhishma, and many other
relatives and friends. Horrified to realize that he must kill the very people he loved,
he throws down his bow and arrow and tells Krishna he will not fight.
Krishna gives Arjuna many reasons to fight.
“You must fight,” he told Arjuna, “or it will look like
you are a coward, and the people will say you were
afraid. You are a prince, and you must set a good
example for other people in the kingdom. If the
prince refuses to fight, who else will? Remember,”
he said, “it is your dharma. You are a warrior, and
a warrior must fight. You'll build up good karma if
you fight, because there is nothing better for a
warrior than a battle.” He reminded Arjuna of
samsara. Samsara says that everyone dies but
then they are reborn. Krishna told him that dying
is like leaving aside worn-out garments, only
instead, one is leaving aside a worn-out body.
1. What is Arjuna’s dharma?
“Fulfilling your dharma and earning good karma
is the only way to reach moksha or inner peace.
Further,” he said, “if you kill Drona, Bhishma and
your cousins in battle, you enable them to build
good karma, so you are really helping them.
Think Question: What do you think Arjuna will decide to do?
Think Question: What would YOU do in Arjuna’s place?