Bhagavad Gita translated as the Song of the Lord is a 700-versescripture of Hindu origin and part of the infamous Hindu Mahabharata.Scholars estimate that the epic existed in the third and fourthmillennium. The epic involves a dialogue between the prince Arjunaand his aide, Lord Krishna. Krishna advises Arjuna to fulfill hismandate as a prince and warrior by participating in the war againstthe Kauravas. Their conversation depicts their divergent attitudestowards war and attainment of liberation. This paper reflects on thecharacters in the novel and their contribution to the themes found inthe epic.
Arjuna is the main character and central figure in the story. Helearns under Lord Krishna, and he serves as a faithful and dutifuldisciple. As a prince, he has to fight for his family and takecontrol of the kingdom that had been taken from the control of hisbrother. As one of the five brothers of Pandava, he is in the lineageof Hastinapura (Easwaran 21). He has to take over the familyresponsibility. I consider Arjuna’s position as a disciple learningunder Krishna as the best preparation for the duties awaiting him.Krishna works hard to help him get rid of his fear and undertake hiscosmic duty (Easwaran 24). I also consider him as the bestrepresentation of honoring dharma, a man’s righteous duty. He isalso one the few privileged individuals who get a chance to conversewith a deity and get direct instruction.
Sanjaya is a wise sage who recounts the Gita to the blind kingDhritarashtra since he cannot witness the ordeals of thebattleground. He is a man of immense spiritual strength who hasmastered his body and mind to an extent of using them as vehicles toreceive divine knowledge (Easwaran 131). As an old man full of wisdomand pure soul, I believe that these characteristics led to the Lordselecting him as his vehicle of imparting knowledge to the king.
Krishna is also another instrumental character in the epic that helpsin the development of several themes. He is the incarnation ofVishnu. He serves as the charioteer of Arjuna in the battle, and hismain purpose of coming to earth was to help Arjuna in his cosmic duty(Easwaran 72). He reveals both his omnipotence and divine nature asthe ultimate deity. His name means “The Dark Lord.” As a deity,he contributes to the theme of Dharma and allegory for war. I believethat were it not for him Arjuna could not have accepted his duty tofight for his family. Arjuna needed a lot of persuasion and assurancethat he could win the war. Krishna is symbolic of knowledge and thesource of all knowledge.
Dhritarashtra, the king of the Kurus and who has been blind sincebirth serves as the leader of Hastinapura although he is not therightful leader (Easwaran 62). He seeks to battle Arjuna. His sons,the Kauravas battle with Arjuna and his Pandava brothers. Hisphysical blindness is symbolic of ignorance and spiritual blindness.His soul is imperfect and the exact contrast of Sanjaya. His desiresare dominated by egocentric desires to expand his kingdom.
We can draw a lot of lessons from the nature and behavior of thesecharacters. First, the all of us have duties and missions in life.However, we require someone o give direction. The role of Krishnashows the importance of having a mentor in life to give direction andpersuasion. Were it not for Krishna, Arjuna could not have taken uphis task. Also, the nature if king Dhritarashtra of holding ontopositions that are not rightfully theirs reflects a common trend intoday’s society. Some people turn a blind eye on the rights ofothers by using the influence of the positions they hold. They,therefore, live in fear of losing what they have taken from therightful holders. It brings us to an important lesson that therecannot be peace in a world dominated by mean and exploitativeintentions.
In conclusion, it is the characters who help in developing variousthemes in the epic. Arjuna as to fight for his family and gets theguidance of Krishna, who help him to overcome fear. Sanjaya andDhritarashtra contrast in behavior. While Sanjaya has a perfect soul,the king seeks to hold on to what does not belong to him. BhagavadGita remains one of the most dissected epics of Hindu tradition.
Easwaran, Eknath.The Bhagavad Gita:(Classics of Indian Spirituality).California: Nilgiri Press, 2007. Print.