Domesticating Bhagavad Gita

Generally, we confine our minds within​ a boundary in several things. At certain circumstances, we reluct to emerge out from that boundary we have built around ourselves. We all are conscious that Bhagavad Gita is a text which focuses on self-realization (atma-gyana), we have made up our mind that it is a text that only suits hermits who isolate themselves from the society.

This is not surprising because all the commentators and retellers of Bhagavad Gita has framed our minds that it is only for hermits and not for householders. Here we refuse to rephrase that is also for householders because we have strongly constructed ourselves with the early sayings. Mahabharata spoke about the household, the relationships, and other things. Bhagavad Gita was a part of Mahabharata which also deals with the households.

An essential part of Mahabharata is about Property dispute, which resulted in war between dharma (Pandavas) and adharma (Kauravas) on the battlefield Kuru-kshetra. Mahabharatha is also deeply rooted in relationships. It shows the relationship between a father and a son, husband and wife, brothers and family etc. Arjuna’s conundrum begins when he discerns that enemy is his own family and he fears the impact of killing his own family on the society as a whole.

Although Krishna’s discourse to Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita perpetually speaks of yagna, a Vedic ritual that binds the individual with the community. In Buddhism, Buddha spoke about nirvana, which means stupefaction of individual identity, but in Bhagavad Gita Krishna speaks of brahma – nirvana as an enlargement of the mind that gives way to liberation, ironically symbolising the union.

The reason behind why in Hindu temples God is always envisioned with the Goddess as a householder, one-half of a pair, is because of this aspect. In the temple, the devotee looks at the deity and the deity, with large unblinking eyes, looks back. Here, there is a ‘two – way’ relationship between the devotee and the deity, not ‘one – way’.

In Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, Verse 13, Krishna recounts the human body as a city with nine gates (nava – dvara-pura): two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one anus, and one genital. Predominantly, a relationship involves two bodies, two people, the self and the other, you and me, two cities – eighteen gates in all. That is why Bhagavad Gita is comprised of eighteen sections which seek to make eighteen books of Mahabharata.

Mahabharata narrates the story of a war between two families arising out of property dispute between two families fought over eighteen days with an involvement of eighteen armies. this divulges that the core teachings of Gita have much to do with the relationships that give way to the household. Bhagavad Gita serves the need of the householder than that of the hermits.