Dr. Ravi Khangai - Karma Yoga and Instrumental Violence in Bhagavadgītā

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Dr. Khangai began the lecture by saying that many scholars have considered the text of Mahābhārata as a heterogenous text where one can find many dichotomous standpoints and that it does not give any singular message. For instance, on one hand, it seems that Bhagavadgītā glorifies war but on the other, one find phrases such as Ahiṃsā parmodharma which means non-violence is the topmost duty. Dr. Khangai basically in his lecture tries to address the questions such as Does Mahābhārata and Bhagavadgītā advocate violence, does they promote peace? And finally, the question what does Mahābhārata and Bhagavadgītā teaches us?

After a brief description of the background and development of Mahābhārata and Bhagavadgītā, Dr. Khangai uses Arjuna viṣād yoga as his fulcrum to argue that Bhagavadgītā allows instrumental violence but there are a number of cases as well where it cautions us to use it. In order to explain the ethical nature of the characters, he contrasts the deeds of Duryodhana and Yudhiṣṭhira. A brush up regarding conflicting Dharmas and plural standpoints are made.

Dr. Khangai then addresses the question Did Arjuna follow Gītā’s message? And explained this question with certain pointers to mention a few are, he talks how Arjuna’s personality evolved over the time and he understood the difference between ideal and practical and how it is perceived that he achieves for perfection and excellence. Dr. Khangai then mentions Kṛṣṇa’s and Pandava’s Adharmic Acts, as well as the synthesis in Pravṛtti and Nivṛtti.

Dr. Khangai concludes that the reason Gītā is narrated in the background of war is because this situation of war widens the philosophical spectrum and helps us to analyse our thought process, action, the role of inaction and so on in the case of crises. He further talks about the Practical implication of the philosophy of Bhagavadgītā and explained the Futility of War and finally he says that Bhagavadgītā teaches us that Ahiṃsā is paramount, but to protect it we may have to use selective violence.

To listen to the entire lecture, please visit our Youtube Channel!

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