Explain how the Bhagavad-Gita and Lysistrata continue to appeal to the readers today.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both works stress how individuals can take action even in the most dire of conditions.  If both works resonate with the modern audience, part of the reason why would have to be their affirmation of human autonomy.  Even in contexts where individuals could be rendered silent and without their own experience being authenticated, both works affirm how individuals can find power and can act to make their own experiences and those of others better.  It is here where their appeal in the modern reader can be seen.

Aristophanes takes the most dire of conditions as the setting for his drama.  The Peloponnesian War had taken a significant toll on the women of Athens.  Sending their sons, husbands, and prospective suitors off to war only to come back dead or not even return is a context in which the silencing of voices could be the reality that the women have to confront. Yet, Lysistrata affirms that the women can have a voice.  They can actively impact their own being if they show solidarity with one another and remain committed to the goal of ending the war.  Lysistrata's plan is one in which she seeks to broaden her connection with other women in order to find a voice.   This is only possible through collective recognition.  Lysistrata does not assume a tragic condition in her own being, and in the being of other women. The comic element in Aristophanes' work is that individuals can act in a manner where their own suffering is alleviated.  Individual action can result in positively impacting one's place in the world and the social order in which one lives.  Lysistrata's ideas about freedom and happiness exist in solidarity and collective empowerment.  In this, there is much relevance to the modern setting with an appeal to the modern reader in showing that individuals can have power even in conditions that might not necessarily allow it.

The ability to keep an eye on the maintenance of the social order while taking action is at the heart of the Bhagavad- Gita.  Arjuna is placed in a position where he surveys the battlefield and is poised against members of his own family and people he has known his entire life.  He looks dejectedly at Lord Krishna and tells him that he cannot continue and he is forlorn.  It is here the Lord sings "the divine song" to his disciple.  Lord Krishna reveals the nature of truth to Arjuna.  The essence of this is that he must take action in the name of collective identity.  He has power, and that power is to do his duty in the name of Lord Krishna and the dharmic duty that is his to perform.  In being able to take action in the name of something larger, Lord Krishna educates Arjuna that his forlorn condition is actually the work of an illusion.  It does not account for the idea that when individuals see themselves as part of a larger entity, greater power can emerge as individual voice is authenticated.  Lord Krishna's words speak such truth: "Giving up all vexations and paths, do thou take refuge unto Me. I will save you from all dangers."  Arjuna's realization of how he is to take action while keeping an eye on the maintenance of the social order is where power is evident.  Like Aristophanes' idea in Lysistrata, individuals are not forlorn, even in conditions when they might see themselves as atomized and alienated.  In this setting, the Bhagavad- Gita appeals to readers today.

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