In ancient times, religion and Science went hand in hand. It is only now - that all religions, stand away from Science, and look at science as if it is different. Gita is a Huge scientific treatise and a store house of knowledge. Religious content in it is very negligible. Therefore, if you avoid Gita, you are depriving yourself of a Huge , invaluable storehouse of knowledge that is useful to you everyday.
The word Hindu - to connote religion came much, much later and was unknown to Indians for most of the time. Unlike western religions, India does not have a single sacred book or a single prophet. India was in search of TRUTH always, and was always unwilling to accept blind belief systems. This culture is not like organized religions of the west. It is experimental, existential and experiential. Every one is expected to become a prophet for himself and become the holy book of truths for himself. The Vedas, the Upanishads or the Gita - give us guiding principles to some extent. They show the path. But, you will have to find the goal yourself. The Goal, certainly, isn't any HINDU GOD. The goal is a Joyful , purposeful, successful life.
The Best Motivational speaker the world has ever produced, is Lord Krishna. The best of communication skills, employed by any one on earth, is by Lord Krishna. The Best of Goals, the best of Paths are set by Lord Krishna.
Therefore, this Book is a master compendium of success principles. Therefore, it is a must for all of us. This Book is useful, irrespective of religion, colour, caste, creed, sex, nationality, age and all other divisions amongst us. Let us all therefore go ahead in our exploration of this Great treatise called Gita.
The context of the Book is important for us - to begin our study.
The Mahabharata War is about to begin. Duryodhan, the eldest son of Dhritarashtra, on one side and Yudhishtir, the eldest son of Pandu, on the other side, stand ready for war, aided by Huge Armies and Great Warriors.
Arjuna,probably the greatest of warriors of his time, barring Bhishma and Drona, who are his Gurus, is the most feared warrior. Lord Krishna is his charioteer, who has promised not to touch a weapon in the war. The very presence of Lord Krishna on the Chariot of Arjuna is enough for boosting the confidence of Arjuna in himself.
Before start of the War, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to station his chariot in the midst of the two armies, so that, he can see the warriors pf both sides better. Lord Krishna stations the chariot, probably purposefully, in front of Bhishma and Drona. Bhishma was Arjuna's most loved Great Grand father and Drona was his Most loved Guru.Now, fate is such that, they stand on the side of Duryodhana to wage war with Arjuna.
If war happens - Arjuna will need to kill his Great Grand sire whom he loves so much ; and he has to kill his most loved Guru, Drona too, in the war. Can he do so? Should he do so? Apart from the fact that these two great warriors are un-defeatable, Can Arjuna kill the 2 people whom he loves so much? If so, for what? Arjuna becomes extremely sad remorseful at the very thought of the battle with them.
So, why is all this happening? What for, is all this happening? What is the root cause of all these events? Two root causes exist for all these sad events and eventualities. The whole war in which crores of people and warriors are going to die - have begun because of these two root causes that exist in the mind of one blind person.
Therefore, Gita starts with one simple sentence uttered by that Blind person, called Dhritarashtra, the father of the hundred Kauravas headed by Duryodhana.
There are totally 18 chapters in the Gita and each is called a Yoga. Therefore, Gita is also called Yoga sasthra. While Patanjali Maharshi has compiled the Yoga Sutras for what he himself called as Kriya Yoga, Gita incorporates many more facets of Yoga, and is a total compendium on Yoga.
The first chapter of Gita is called Arjuna Vishada Yoga. Vishada means sorrow. As we go through this chapter, we will see that Arjuna's sorrow - is also our sorrow. Everybody's life has some problem, some sorrow, some dilemma. We all face the same problems, same sorrows, same dilemmas like Arjuna. The external mask may be different. But, the underlying problem is the same. Arjuna may need to face his great Grand sire in a war. We may face similar dilemmas - but unrelated to a full scale war. The word "Samsaara" in Sanskrit means earthly life and also Life's sorrows. Arjuna has to understand his Life's purpose and his Life's sorrows with clarity, before the solution comes. The entire chapter and a little into the second chapter talk about Arjuna's dilemma and his sorrow. But, first, the root causes for his sorrow and everybody else's sorrow must be known.
Here it is, in the first verse of first chapter :
Dharma kshetre Kurukshetre samavethaa yuyutsavah
maamakaah paandavaschaiva kimakurvatha Sanjaya ||
Dhritarashtra (the father of Kauravas) said as follows : O Sanjaya, Gathered in the kurukehetra, which is also the Dramakshetra,with the interest of waging war, What did my people and the sons of Pandu do?
Sanjaya is the person who is relating all that is happening in the war field to the King Dhritarashtra. He is the minister and charioteer of Dhritarashtra. He is also a great friend and guide to him. Since Dhritarashtra is blind, Sage Vyasa has blessed Sanjaya with divine vision, with the help of which, he can see all happenings on the war field and also read the minds of the warriors there - and relate all this to Dhritarashtra.
Actually, Dhritarashtra is asking this question, long after the war has started. That, of course, does not matter - since, Sanjaya starts relating from the very beginning of the war.
Kurukshetra, means the place where action takes place. Kuru means do. Kshetra means the place.
Dharmakshetra means - where Dharma or righteousness stands.
This is the place where Great Action is taking Place and where righteousness will stand. But, this is the place where "My People" are standing face to face with Pandavas (the sons of Pandu), ready for war. What did they do?
This simple question from Dhritarashtra reflects the root causes for most problems in the world. The root causes are called 'I' and 'mine' (vs) 'they' and 'theirs'.
Whether my people are righteous or not - I want them to win. Whether 'they' are righteous or not - they must lose. This is the Universal Mindset - but is universally wrong and universally problematic.
I am right - they are wrong - is a mindset that is easily recognizable in all of us. If I have said a thing, I will try to prove it right by all possible means; I will use all evidences available in support of it; I will ignore all evidences which tend to disprove what I said; - until all of my arguments becomes totally indefensible.
I will also support all those things with which I identify myself personally - knowingly or unknowingly, with reason or without reason, be it my dress, my language, my religion, my scripture, my prophet, my god, my flag, my profession, my food - and whatever else I identify with; that must be right and anything else opposed to it can't be right. This is often referred to as 'aham', 'mama', or, "I and Mine" syndrome. In simple words, it is the "EGO" problem.
The whole Mahabharata war arises from this Ego Problem of Dhritarashtra and his sons, the Kauravas.
Dhritarashtra's question is - what are My people doing? what are the sons of Pandu doing? The implication is - sons of Pandu are not "My People". I have no interest in their winning. I am interested in "My People's" winning. This implication reflects his perennial EGO problem. If only he had restrained his "My People" from their immoral and devious ways, the war itself could have been avoided.This is the only sentence which Dhritarashtra speaks in the entire Gita. His Role ends here. But, the consequences of his EGO problem will continue till the end of the war.
Hereafter, His son, Duryodhana, takes over the talking - in the war-field.