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Ethical Philosophy of the Gita Paperback – 30 Jan 2010


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  • Paperback: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math (30 Jan. 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 8171204988
  • ISBN-13: 978-8171204984
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Format: Paperback
In this ethical analysis of Gita, the author examines the concepts of right and wrong behavior. The meta-ethical component investigates if the ethical principles come from society in which we live. Are they social inventions? Here the author focuses on the issues of universal truth, the will of God and the role of reason in ethical judgments. Is there a moral standard that regulate our conduct of right and wrong. Does this involve performing certain duties, or the consequences of our behavior on others? By using the conceptual tools of meta-ethics and normative ethics, the author analyzes the rights and wrongs. He explains how a war, especially if the enemy consists of your own kin, elders and preceptors, can be justified. Is it good or for bad? It has two sides to it; war eliminates the bad and evil, but it is achieved by the loss of thousands of human lives. This makes Bhagavadgita an excellent subject matter to discuss the applied aspects of ethics. Many interpreters regard the actual battle as the moral warfare between good and bad and the venue for this battle is atman. Yoga theory regards Kurukstera is the body, the one hundred cousins as hundred nadis, Arjuna as the soul and Krishna as the Paramatman who controls the mind.

Gita is essentially a song about the glory of God, who assumes the shape of a human to teach the paths of karma yoga, jnana yoga, and bhakti yoga. The Gita theory of morals is based on Samkhya philosophy, in fact Samkhya is often mentioned by its name and Vedanta is mentioned only once (Vedantakrit, Gita XV. 15)

Samkhya and yoga together form the theory and practice of conduct. Jnana is not abstract thought devoid of content, but is Immanent in volitional activity and illuminates its nature. Karma is the dynamical side of the moral law.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
A philosophical evaluation of Bhagavadgita 11 Aug. 2010
By Rama Rao - Published on Amazon.com
In this ethical analysis of Gita, the author examines the concepts of right and wrong behavior. The meta-ethical component investigates if the ethical principles come from society in which we live. Are they social inventions? Here the author focuses on the issues of universal truth, the will of God and the role of reason in ethical judgments. Is there a moral standard that regulate our conduct of right and wrong. Does this involve performing certain duties, or the consequences of our behavior on others? By using the conceptual tools of meta-ethics and normative ethics, the author analyzes the rights and wrongs. He explains how a war, especially if the enemy consists of your own kin, elders and preceptors, can be justified. Is it good or for bad? It has two sides to it; war eliminates the bad and evil, but it is achieved by the loss of thousands of human lives. This makes Bhagavadgita an excellent subject matter to discuss the applied aspects of ethics. Many interpreters regard the actual battle as the moral warfare between good and bad and the venue for this battle is atman. Yoga theory regards Kurukstera is the body, the one hundred cousins as hundred nadis, Arjuna as the soul and Krishna as the Paramatman who controls the mind.

Gita is essentially a song about the glory of God, who assumes the shape of a human to teach the paths of karma yoga, jnana yoga, and bhakti yoga. The Gita theory of morals is based on Samkhya philosophy, in fact Samkhya is often mentioned by its name and Vedanta is mentioned only once (Vedantakrit, Gita XV. 15)

Samkhya and yoga together form the theory and practice of conduct. Jnana is not abstract thought devoid of content, but is Immanent in volitional activity and illuminates its nature. Karma is the dynamical side of the moral law. When kamya karma is given a new direction by the rational insight afforded by jnana, it changes from prudential expediency to inner excellence. Then the warfare in the moral life between "is" of sensibility and the "ought to be" of reason is reconciled by the concept of niskama karma. The advantages that follow from the performance of duty as niskama karma is as follows; Kamya karma makes a man slave of passion and the propulsions of the senses. But the moral law fosters self-sovereignty by purifying the motive of conduct raises the man from animal desires to true humanity.

Moral consciousness presupposes the existence and eternity of Self or Atman as distinguished by jiva which is the mode of prakriti or matter. The self may be defined negatively by the refutation of theories that explain it in terms of matter, life, mind and reason. Or positively as the spiritual entity that shines for ever by His effulgence. The physical philosopher describes self as an epiphenomenon or as an assemblage of atoms or fundamental particles. But matter has no life and it does not reflect on itself. A biological philosopher may define self as life, but consciousness cannot evolve out of life; it is not a mere cluster of sensations, because no sensation is self conscious or has conscious of unity. The Atman or the "I" is different from empirical "me." The rationalist could define the self as a rational being, but reason doesn't fully describe the spiritual consciousness. The Atman is different from physical and mental processes, it is different from jnana. It is metaphysical and meta-psychical. It is immutable, eternal, and persists in all states of consciousness. The term soul spirit, self, etc., do not bring the meaning of the word Atman which can only be experienced. The experience is not inferred but intuited. This intuition presupposes moral and spiritual discipline, and jnana yoga is the process of discrimination (viveka) and dissociation (vairagya) and lead to moral and spiritual autonomy. A yogi who has intuited his Atman sees a similar self in all selves owing to the affinity and unity of their attributive spiritual consciousness (Gita VI.29). The karma-ridden body obscures the spiritual vision and distinguishes one jiva from another. But to a man with Atman drsti or spiritual consciousness all jivas are alike (Gita V.18). By renunciation (viaragya) and inwardness (jnana nishta) leads to spiritual autonomy but the divine consciousness which is the real bond of unity is not discernable at this stage. In the second stage known as "Samaya," the yogi visualizes the spirituality of Atman to the Lord and thus is able to perceive God in all jivas and all jivas in God (Gita VI.30). In the third stage oneness is perceived naturally even when the yogi is not practicing introversion, and the fourth stage involve consequences of attaining the third stage; the yogi develops disinterested love to all beings in their joys and sorrows (Gita VI.32). Thus the theory of niskama karma establishes the nature of right conduct a priori by self-legislating reason or buddhi which excludes the empirical determination of Prakriti and the gunas. The Kantian view of the moral imperative based on the distinction between reason, feeling, persons and things is very suggestive. It tends to rationalize and socialize conduct but it has no clear idea of the nature of the Self. Thus the Lord Krishna enlightens Arjuna and eases his mind about the moral and spiritual dilemma of fighting in a war.

The book is difficult to read as it was originally written in 1943 (and later reprinted editions), mainly for specialists in the field. The modern reader is accustomed to finding exhaustive information about Bhagavadgita in thousands of websites, and it is hard to read a book where the philosophical ideas are jumbled in short and concise form.
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