Humanities 201
India: The Mahabharata & Bhagavad-Gita
India Background  Bhagavad-Gita Background  Bhagavad-Gita Q's 
India's Heroic Age (550 B.C. - A. D. 100)

Important Terms:

EPICS of India's Heroic Age: Four classes (varna) of Indian society: karma: "action": principle that "all deeds, good and bad, have inevitable results, which must be borne by the doer in an existential state, so that the soul is trapped in an endless cycle of birth and death" (Norton 840)

moksa: ultimate goal of life--liberation from constraints of worldly existence- denied to sudras and women
(lesser goals include dharma, artha, and kama)

Men: bound by a prescribed program of sacred duty (dharma) that is appropriate to their class (varna)

Women: "form a class in themselves, for a woman's dharma is defined as that of a wife, allowing women no identities or aspirations apart from their allegiance to their husbands" (Norton 839).

Caste system: larger number of "service" castes subordinated to a small number of elite groups.

Quatama Buddha (563-483 B.C.) & Mahavira (d. 468 B.C.)


Mahabharata (ca. 400 B.C. - A. D. 400)
See link with more extensive background discussion 

Bhagavad-Gita (1st century B.C.)
"Song of the Lord" part of 6th book of Mahabharata Things to Consider:
** Homework Questions **
555: Second Teaching (The Yoga of Knowledge)
557: 559: 560: Tenth Teaching (Divine Glory)
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