Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12

BHAKTI-YOGA

INTRODUCTION
In the twelfth chapter the topic is predominantly devotion, bhakti. Bhakti is from the root bhaj used in the sense of service. Dedicated action to Ì¿vara who is in the form of dharma is called bhakti. One who conforms to dharma and avoids adharma, looking upon it as Ì¿vara is a bhakta, a karma-yog¢.

ARJUNA’S QUESTION

The chapter opens with a question by Arjuna. It is in the same vein as all his other questions in the Gita. His conflict lies in the fact that his mind is in sannyasa but he is being called to duty. Everyone has such a conflict in one form or another. Even in the early morning you wonder, ‘Should I get up or should I sleep in for a while?’ You start the day with a conflict of pravrtti and nivrtti and this continues in various forms. Arjuna’s mind is still not settled. In the second chapter he declared that he was not interested in kingdom and comforts but preferred a life of bhiksa. After using the word bhiksa, he was obsessed with sannyasa.

His commitment is of course for sreyas and he wants sannyasa for that. The action he is called to is a terrible one. He has to fight a war. If it were a prayer like sandhy¡-vandana, or a ritual like agnihotra it would not be a problem. His difficulty is that he has to kill all these great men like Bhisma and Drona for whom he has so much respect. How can he fight against people who deserve his worship? In the same chapter
he said further that it was not possible for him to engage in such a battle. He would rather live a sadhu’s life and gather alms, bhiksa. Such a lifestyle is possible for only two types of people, a brahmachari or a sannyasa, a renunciate. Arjuna cannot be a brahmachari now; he is already married and has grown-up sons. He can only become a sannyasa, which is exactly what he thinks is good for him now. He has said so, in so many words.