Dr. Ithamar Theodor - Karma Yoga in the Bhagavadgita as World Philosophy

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Associate Professor of Hindu Studies at Zefat Academic College, Israel, Dr. Theodor began by explaining the significance of Yoga, which adheres to the vision of the saṃsara. It acknowledges the repeated births and deaths and also focuses on the release of one’s own being from this cycle. Yoga he said, focuses the most on the mind, and it's purification. The yogic perspectives sees the mind as an agent for both attachment and release from the world.

Regarding the Bhagavadgītā, Dr. Theodor insisted that the first level i.e. Bhagavadgītā is concerned with the humanistic teachings where one can find instances, pathways which encourage one to live a decent human life. On the second hand, the second level carry which are yogic values. It is here that Dr. Theodor revealed that despite their different natures, lecture basically focuses on show the complimentary nature of the primary and secondary levels which share a harmonious relationship.

Dr Theodor discussed the dialogue between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa to explain the illusionistic duality between the humanistic acts and the yogic acts. Quotes from the Bhagavadgītā were used to explain the harmony between the two. He pointed in the direction of how Kṛṣṇa answers Arjuna’s doubt in relation to enlightenment (by being a yogi) and action (by being a warrior) and explains that there are two paths, the first is for those who uphold reasoning (jnana Yoga) and the other is for those who uphold action (Karma Yoga) and in this light Kṛṣṇa here explains to Arjuna that not merely by abstaining from action one attains action-lessness and not by renunciation alone does one attains perfection.

Through the quotes and teachings of Bhagavadgītā, he explained a very interesting combination between the yogic idea of NiśkāmaKarma and Karma in the sense of Dharma. He posited that Dharma has a very wide application as it focuses on the essence of things and in this manner he gave his own understanding and says that Dharma is not limited to Vedic Dharma, Hindu Dharma or Indian Dharma but it can go beyond that and it can be cultural Dharma, religious Dharma in a very wide and universal sense where people have their Dharma (some duties towards others: personal/professional) even if they have different religions or even if they are a part of different cultures.

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