Bhagavad Gita

Start Free Trial

According to the Bhagavad Gita, how is dharma defined?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Lord Krishna defines dharma in a couple of ways to Arjuna.  The first way is to prove to Arjuna that he has a dharma, or duty, to recognize the infinite nature of Lord Krishna.  Krishna teaches Arjuna that he has to recognize that Arjuna is part of a larger desire that Krishna has configured, reflecting a past, present, and future in which mortals have a part.  Arjuna must remove himself from a position of thinking that he is forlorn, a duty to see himself in the manner that Lord Krishna sees him.  In this, Lord Krishna is able to ensure that Arjuna no longer feels alone and isolated.  When this is accepted, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna that if he has taken Krishna as his guide, placing himself without self at his feet and taken his guidance above all, these duties will enable Arjuna to complete his responsibility and dharma in this life.  No matter how difficult it is, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna that selfless devotion and placement at the feet of the divine can give the strength to recognize how what earthly duties are part of a larger configuration.  In this, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna that dharma has to be seen as being able to take action "with having an eye to the maintenance of the world order."  Lord Krishna is able to teach Arjuna that his dharma is to take action in this war, to not shy away from what has to be done, and that all constructs of life and death are part of the universal form of Lord Krishna.  In recognizing the infinite nature of the divine, Arjuna's dharma, or righteous duty, becomes easier to execute and there is a lack of forlornness and agony regarding it as seen in the start of the "divine song."  This becomes the definition of dharma defined by Lord Krishna, seeking the mortal to recognize the totalizing condition of the divine and seeing that the mortal's own role is to act in the name of the divine with an eye on the social maintentance that is reflective of the very define that one prostrates before with total submission.  Through Arjuna, the reader learns this lesson of dharma.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team