Bhagavad Gita: second assignment

In the seventh chapter of the Gita a profound shift in emphasis occurs. In the first six chapters, Krishna gives Arjuna strong encouragement to perform his duty and fight, and Arjuna responds with doubt and probing questions. Krishna answers with a lengthy discussion of sacrifice, renunciation, and action, in the end exhorting Arjuna to disciplined yogic action, in which the outcome of all his activity is offered to the Lord.

Krishna now deepens Arjuna’s understanding of “offering” by beginning to reveal his own nature, the divine presence to which all action should be offered:

Of thousands of men, scarcely anyone strives for perfection; even of the striving and perfected, scarcely anyone knows Me in truth… Nothing higher than Me exists, O Arjuna. On Me all this universe is strung like pearls on a thread.                        — BG 7:3 & 7

For your second assignment, please:

READ: Chapters 7-9 of the Bhagavad Gita

WRITE A 2-PAGE RESPONSE PAPER on ONE of the following topics. Please use the same format as last week, ending with a short paragraph relating the topic to your own experience.

  • In verses 8:4 and 9:27 Krishna says: I am the inner sacrifice here in your body, O Best of Mortals… Whatever you do – what you take, what you offer, what you give, what penances you perform – do as an offering to Me, Arjuna! Using your understanding of the Vedic yajna, contemplate and discuss the theme of sacrifice and offering that Krishna develops in these chapters.
  • Contemplate and discuss the theme of the relationship between the body and the infinite spirit that Krishna expounds in these chapters.
  • Imagine that you are Arjuna, on the battlefield with your cousin and closest friend, Krishna. Imagine how he must be feeling as the dialogue takes this turn. In your own words, using the teachings of these three chapters, answer the question: Who – or what – is Krishna?

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this assignment, please email me at karen.harris@post.harvard.edu.

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