“Lookto your own duty; do not tremble before it” (Miller, 34, V 31). In the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, dharma holds greatimportance to creating harmony in the universe. Dharma signifies sacred duty whichis a specific obligation that should be conducted by everyone, to ensure avirtuous and devout livelihood. The ‘BhagavadGita’ explores the significance of duty and explains how to live an ethicaland renounced life. When duty is threatened to be undermined, to what extentdoes it affect the balance in the universe? As dharma is essential to Hinduvalues explored in the ‘Bhagavad Gita’,not completing your duty will affect your own path, the caste system, cycles ofreincarnation, and the gods. Duty is significant to keeping the balance in theuniverse as it fulfills the ritual to help create order and righteousness.
Byundermining duty that should be performed, the universe’s balance and cycle isdisrupted to an extent which it affects individual and communal paths, and the corebeliefs of Hindu principles.Refraining fromcompleting one’s own dharma will affect your own soul and individual path. The ‘Bhagavad Gita’ explores the importanceof completing one’s duty for one’s own sake. “Your own duty done imperfectly isbetter than another man’s done well. It is better to die in one’s own duty;another man’s duty is perilous” (Miller, 46, V 35), shows that self-disciplineand respect betters one’s self. As part of the Hindu religion, thesecharacteristics are essential to living a righteous life, supported by Krishna exclaiming”So sever the ignorant doubt in your heart with the sword of self-knowledge,Arjuna! Observe your discipline! Arise!” (Miller, 55, V 42). The power ofdiscipline is also essential to renunciation, which if not completed willaffect one’s path and duty.
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Krishna explains that to “be intent on action, noton the fruits of action; avoid attraction to the fruits and attachment toinaction” (Miller, 36, V 47), will help complete one’s sacred duty if allpersonal and selfish interests are abandoned. When duty is threatened, it tendsto be due to a lack of renunciation of personal desires. There tends to be self-conflictbetween doing the correct action and the pleasant action. Arjuna is strugglingwith choosing to complete his duty or look after his family as “a place in hellis reserved for men who undermine family duties” (Miller, 26, V 44). AlthoughArjuna knows killing his family is not the pleasant action, he must perform hisduty simply because it’s the correct thing to do.
Individual duty must becarried out as propriety is essential to keeping the universe balanced.Individual dutyis specified within the caste system, which is affected by the threat to dutyas job fulfillments that are not carried out will prevent the universe’sbalance from effectively functioning. Dharma must occur, and duties that wereassigned must be performed to allow the social hierarchy to work as Krishna”created mankind in four classes, different in their qualities and actions”(Miller, 51, V 13). The ‘Bhagavad Gita’ supportsthe caste system as completing duty is performing karma, which in turn producesthe next caste in one’s next life, hence why “knowing this, even ancientseekers of freedom performed action – do as the seers did in ancient times”(Miller, 51, V 15). The caste system is held in such high regard, therefore by”honoring gods, priests, teachers, and wise men, being pure, honest, celibateand nonviolent is called bodily penance” (Miller, 139, V 14).
Sacred duty isdifferent for every individual, as it is based on the caste level you areplaced. For example, “Great Warrior, kill the enemy menacing you in the form ofdesire!” (Miller, 47, V 43), shows that Arjuna’s caste is a fighter, thereforehis duty is to battle and kill. As your caste determines your duty, it must be accomplishedin that manner, otherwise the outcome could disrupt social rankings and orderin the universe. Social hierarchies are moral as the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ shows that all duties must be carried out,including the lower, more suppressed ones, to create balance in life. “The actionsof priests, warriors, commoners, and servants are apportioned by qualities bornof their intrinsic being” (Miller, 149, V 41), therefore there is no activediscrimination in the caste system, plus ones who carry out oppressive dutieswill be rewarded in their next lives. The only way to change your caste is tobe reincarnated into a new one, therefore completing a cycle of rebirth thathelps the universe to be balanced.Undermining duty willnot only affect the balance in one’s current life, but also the process of releasefrom reincarnation. The aim of the life cycle is to achieve salvation andfreedom from rebirth.
Reincarnation occurs as the soul cannot be harmed as”weapons do not cut it, fire does not burn it, water does not wet it, wind doesnot wither it” (Miller, 32, V 23). However, to allow the universe to functioneffectively, duty must be completed to allow souls to break throughreincarnation, as “without faith in sacred duty … they return to the cycle ofdeath and rebirth” (Miller, 83, V 3). The goal of Hinduism in the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ is to let one’s soul befree and transcendent. Krishna stresses the importance of completing duty, as itenables souls’ to be liberated. Souls are released “when suffering does notdisturb his mind, when his craving for pleasures has vanished, when attraction,fear and anger are gone, he is called a sage whose thought is sure” (Miller,37, V 56).
This idea of freedom from the cycle, creates a theory called Moksha.To attain Moksha, you must complete your duty as “when you have long enjoyedthe world of heaven and your merit is exhausted, you enter the mortalworld; following the duties ordained in sacred lore, desiring desires, youobtain what is transient” (Miller, 86, V 21). Krishna emphasizes that”resorting to this knowledge, they follow the ways of sacred duty; in creationthey are not reborn, in dissolution they suffer no sorrow” (Miller, 121, V 2).
Therefore,if dharma is not fulfilled, souls will stay trapped which will disrupt the universalpeace.The gods are alsoaffected by the threat to dharma, which prevents the universe from staying inharmony. When sacred duty is undermined, Krishna’s appears to set them on thecorrect path.
Krishna, having the power of a god, will “protect men of virtueand destroy men who do evil, to set the standard of sacred duty,” doing so by”appearing in age after age” (Miller, 50, V 8). In the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, Krishna is the authoritative god that has the powerto help balance the universe. Krishna’s power is so strong that it becomesanother duty for people to obey him, as Krishna explains to “keep me in yourmind and devotion, sacrifice to me, bow to me, discipline yourself toward me,and you will reach me” (Miller, 87, V 34). His power can be used, and universalharmony can be reached if everyone “relinquishes all sacred duties to me,make me your only refugee; do not grieve, for I shall free you from all evils”(Miller, 152, V 66). Krishna is the ultimate deity, “the infinite spirit’sfoundation, immortal and immutable, the basis of eternal sacred duty and perfectjoy” (Miller, 125, V 27), and therefore duty must be done to allow the gods tocare for the people and universe.Overall, duty issignificant to the way of life, as following the right path will reward one’sself and the balance of things.
The universe needs to stay harmonic, and thisis achieved through correct dharma. The ‘BhagavadGita’ shows that everyone has a specific duty that should be fulfilled totake one’s self on the correct path to righteousness and transcendence. Bycompleting individual dharma, it contributes to a wider communal dharma whichhelps the universe to be balanced. The ‘Bhagavad Gita’ is important to our lives as it teaches usthe importance of our own duty. It helps us to understand that every action wecomplete has a purpose and an outcome.
It encourages us to try and live a lifewithout desire, greed and attachment, and rather look at each action we take asan opportunity to help the greater good.