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Literature / Bhagavad Gita

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"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Robert Oppenheimer, translating Krishna's famous linenote 

The Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God) is a book within a larger epic based on the conversation in the Hindu Epic Mahabharata between Warrior Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna during the Kurushetra War. Arjuna had to fight his cousin Evil Prince Big Bad Duryodhana, his archnemesis Karna, his teacher and mentor Drona and Kuru Patriach and beloved grandfather Bhishma after exhausting all other legal means in order to get back his Kingdom. Arjuna gets a Hamlet moment and is unresolved on whether to take part in the battle and in consequence, kill his kinsmen and teachers on the other side of the war. Krishna talks him into fighting in the war and along the way, talks about subtle philosophy regarding the nature of the soul, the doctrines of yoga, the nature of man and the way to love God. The conversation ends as he shows his real form as God to Arjuna and convinces Arjuna to trust his judgement.

Like the Mahabharata, it is a narrative poem written in Sanskrit and is one of the major books in Hindu Mythology. Because of its complex subject matter, it is subject to countless interpretations.

Tropes in Bhagavad Gita:

  • Adaptation Distillation: A lot of people are more influenced by the Bhagavatam's take on the Gita than the Gita.
  • God in Human Form: Hindu mythology is the Trope Maker. Though God can reincarnate in nonhuman form as well, according to the Gita.
  • God Was My Copilot: Arjuna's charioteer turns out to be the god Krishna in human form.
  • Messianic Archetype: The most famous verse of the Gita states that God reincarnates on earth to preserve dharma, or righteousness.
  • Physical God: What Krishna ultimately is. Mahatma Gandhi's commentary famously asserted that this was not literally the case; Krishna was simply a very exceptional human being who obtained the title "Incarnation of God" by virtue of simply being that awesome.
  • Reincarnation: See Messanic Archetype.
  • We All Die Someday: When Krishna urges Arjuna to fight, he dispels Arjuna's scruples about killing his enemies with the argument that they will all die anyway sooner or later.
    I am time grown old, creating world destruction, set in motion to annihilate the worlds; even without you, all these warriors arrayed in hostile ranks will cease to exist. Therefore, arise and win glory! Conquer your foes and fulfill your kingship! They are already killed by me. Be just my instrument, the archer at my side!

Alternative Title(s): The Bhagavad Gita