The Gita ends twice. First, with Krishna concluding his discourse. Second, with Sanjaya stating what he gained by overhearing the discourse. ‘Arjuna, thus have I passed on the most secrets of secrets.Reflect on it and do as you wish. If you trust me completely and forsake all other paths,know that I will liberate you. Do not share this knowledge with the cynical, disdainful or disinterested.Those who share my words, I adore.Those who hear my words,even without understanding,are blessed with joy. I hope you have focussed on what I said. I hope this knowledge has shattered all delusion.’— Bhagwad Gita: Chapter 18,Verses 63 to 72 (paraphrased). Arjuna confirms that his delusion is shattered and perspective has been replaced by focus. He stands firm,with clear resolve and no doubts, ready to do as told. Sanjaya the expresses his gratitude towards Vyasa for giving him the telepathic sight that enabled him to hear Krishna’s wise words and see Krishna’s magnificent form. Finally, in the last paragraph of The Gita, he gives his personal take on Krishna’s discourse. ‘Where Krishna yokes the mind and Arjuna bears the bow, there is always fortune,success,dominion,stability,and law.That is my opinion.’— Bhagwad Gita:Chapter 18,Verse 78 (paraphrased). The difference between the two conclusions is stark. Krishna’s conclusion is rather psychological.Sanjaya’s conclusion is very material. Krishna offers Arjuna liberation from worldly fetters (moksha) if Arjuna demonstrates faith in him by performing his role as a warrior, for the benefit of others,without any expectation of rewards. Sanjaya reveals that he believes Krishna’s discourse holds five promises:fortune (shri), success (vijaya), dominion (bhu), stability (dhruva) and law (niti). Arjuna’s problem concerned only him, but Krishna’s solution made him consider the other. Sanjaya is the other: the embodiment of the people of Hastinapur, who are overlooked in the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. For Sanjaya, The Gita is clearly a discourse meant for kings,who are expected to rule, take responsibility for their subjects and usher in peace and prosperity,rather than fight wars in selfindulgence.
It is Sanjaya’s appeal to Dhritarashtra to listen to The Gita and outgrow his own victimhood that blinds him to the plight of others. Sanjaya’s conclusion connects The Gita to Vaishnava mythology, for ‘Shri’ and ‘Bhu’are proper nouns,referring to the two consorts of Vishnu, who is also known as Vijaya, the victorious one. Vishnu is visualized as the king of the universe, dressed in regal attire, attended by his queens: Shri, who embodies intangible fortunes such as sovereignty, glory,fame and charisma;and Bhu,who embodies tangible fortune like the earth and its treasures. Dhruva and Niti are Vishnu’s devotees. Dhruva embodies the Pole Star, a child who wants to sit on Vishnu’s lap, the only seat from which no one can pull him down, so that he can enjoy forever the affection of his divine father. ‘Niti’ means law, that is of value only when it submits to the idea of Vishnu, which is dharma.With dharma,law will help the helpless and provide justice (nyaya) to all.Without dharma, law will be a tool for control, oppression and even sabotage. We must remind ourselves of the period when the Ramayana and the Mahabharata came to be written. It was a time when kinship was giving way to kingship, meaning that communities included not just members of the same extended family or tribe (kin),but also members of other families, tribes and clans.Thus the Ramayana is the story of the descendants of Iskhavaku engaging with outsiders — vanaras and rakshasas, who follow the jungle way.
The Mahabharata is the story of tension within the Kuru clan itself,between two branches of the same family. The central issue in both epics is property: the thrones of Ayodhya, Kishkinda and Lanka in the Ramayana and the throne of Hastinapur in the Mahabharata. A good king was supposed to be one who took care of those he called his own (mama) as well as the rest (para). Ram is considered the greatest king, as he was more concerned about his kingdom and his family’s reputation than his personal happiness. Krishna is considered the greatest kingmaker, as he shows the Pandavas that war is not about vengeance or ambition, it is about governance.
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