Comparison Of The Analects And Bhagavad Gita

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In reading Roger T. Ames and Henry Rosemont, Jr.’s philosophical translation of The Analects of Confucius, alongside Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the timeless Bhagavad Gita, I found that both texts overlap in the clear precedent placed upon the idea of one’s duty, but differ immensely in their explanation as their formulaic structures contrast, and in their overarching themes and arguments. However, there is a clear reason as to why these ancient texts are still looked towards and valued today. That can be accounted to the lessons both novels pose in regards to living life the best way.

In both The Analects of Confucius and Bhagavad Gita, the idea of personal responsibility supersedes the notion of self-interest and indulgence. These texts are made up of a series of selfless acts in regard to ethical behavior. I would argue that these readings provide detailed and intricate analysis of human growth and the given steps required. Alongside this, the ideas presented not only focus on the idea of self but the bigger picture. To put it in a less vague of words, how our betterment contributes to society in making the world a better and righteous place. These both serve to educate readers in depicting positive moral values alongside practices.

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The Analects of Confucius and Bhagavad Gita stress the idea of a role model. For example, in Bhagavad Gita, Krishna highlights the idea of a “supreme good”, a higher power, or something above us. In order to reach this, we must follow warriors like Arjuna who act in a manner that made him a role model to those who follow Hinduism. He was skillful, always did the right thing, swift, patient, and many other admirable qualities. His actions were paramount to what it meant to be a good person. His character would lead him to have amazing life cycles in the future. For example, Krishna praises Arjuna in stating that “whatever the best leader does the rank and file will also do: everyone will fall in behind the standard such a leader sets.” (Bhagavad Gita ?) This is similar to that of Confucius as he highlighted what it meant to be a role model when deliberating with Lord Ji King in regard to whether or not bad people should live for the sake of good people. He responded and said, ”you are here to govern, what need is there to kill? If you desire what is good, the people will be good.” (Confucius ??). Therefore, both texts highlight the importance of a role model and the importance of being a good role model so that a leader can serve as an example to others.

The Analects of Confucius and Bhagavad Gita stress rituals in regards to the betterment of life. In order to be the best version of yourself, one must part take in rituals that teach one discipline and moral responsibility. In Bhagavad Gita, yoga is stressed as a way to self-improvement. Through the ritual act of yoga, one will be able to reach their higher and best self. In fact, there is a whole portion of the Bhagavad Gita that enforces the importance of yoga. Alongside this, Confucius believed in more subliminal rituals such as always being kind and positive illed in every action we take. If we continue to constantly be good it becomes a ritual, if not second nature. In doing both these acts, Confucius and Krishna highlight riding all evil. Both notable figures emphasize freeing their followers and even themselves from the evils of the world. By doing this one can meet “supreme joy of calm mind and tranquil passion, who has become one with Brahman and is wholly free of evil.” as Krishna noted (Bhagavad Gita ?). Similarly, Confucius notes his “three hundred poems are summed up in one single phrase: Think no evil.” (Confucius 2.2). Therefore, it can be argued that rituals and the avoidance of evil lead to self-betterment and fulfillment.

However, these arguments might be the only similarity they have as both texts argue and stress one’s obligations and its prowess, yet the stories that they tell and the themes they discuss differ immensely. They obviously highlight ethical behavior but their intent and delivery of morality differ. For one, The Analects of Confucius was made as a collection of Confucian thoughts and ideas. The Bhagavad Gita is a religious story and is a vital text in the practice of Hinduism. For example, Confucius brings forth the idea of the cycle of life in mentioning that “At fifteen, I set my mind upon learning. At thirty, I took my stand. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the will of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was attuned. At seventy, I follow all the desires of my heart with-out breaking any rule.” (Confucius 2.4). This proposes how a man’s individual efforts over the course of a lifetime service in the pursuit of happiness, or at least in retrospect to living the best life. Contrastingly, in a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, the surface of the text might seem similar to what Confucius had proposed, yet the themes differ. Here Krishna says, “the embodied one passes through childhood, youth, and then old age, then attains another body; in this the wise are undeceived.” (Bhagavad Gita 14). Now it is clear the idea of a human’s lifespan is mentioned, but since Bhagavad Gita is a religious text, the human lifecycle contributes to the idea of reincarnation, not to the betterment of one’s individual life as Confucius might argue. In the Bhagavad Gita interpretation, the life you live is infinitesimal as you live so many lives through reincarnation, however, each lifecycle one experiences impacts the next. Therefore, the idea of the cycle of life in Confucianism is focused on the one life span humans receive and how to live it the best way possible. In this interpretation, humans have one life. However, in Bhagavad Gita there will always be a rebirth or next life, so whatever you do now isn’t only to better the life you live currently, but future ones as well.

Stylistically, The Analects of Confucius and Bhagavad Gita differ exceedingly. Confucius’ Analects is a catalog of values as it is the philosophy of Confucius. It could be described as his developing ideas of one’s obligations as it is almost a step by step guide of the road towards happiness and self-fulfillment, eventually becoming a lifetime worth of positive morality.


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