Bhagavad Gita is one of the most ancient sources telling about the lifestyle, worldview and beliefs of ancient Indian society, however, its acceptance by Indians of the 21st century allows assuming that this narrative implies the essentials of Indian people that remain unchangeable. The precise date of its creation is unknown, though historians agree that it second century BCE. As Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharata written by the Sage Vyasa, Bhagavad Gita is also believed to be authored by him. This paper is aimed to discuss how body, mind and soul are defined and categorized, as this aspect of the teaching determines behaviors of each Indian and, in turn, of the entire Indian society. Bhagavad Gita proves superiority of the soul due to its eternity and capacity to tie to the Divine, while body and mind remain soul’s properties.
Soul is infinite, indestructible and the divine, whereas body is destroyed by death, senses involve in pleasure and desires, mind is unsteady and intellect is incapable of controlling them all without the strength of the soul. The superiority of the soul on body and mind may be comprehended via the analysis of how these concepts are defined in Bhagavad-Gita. Individual Soul or Atman is believed to be birthless and eternal, while body is terminal and mind is deluded. This verse explains that soul is indestructible, it makes the body alive and is inherent in every living being. However, one should distinguish Jiva that is defined as embodied soul of every living being from Atman, which is individual liberated soul that allows evolving spiritually. Mind is not the same as intelligence that can be estimated as property of the mind. For example, in Gita mind has unsteady and flickering nature, therefore is should be controlled by the Self. Next, body may be estimated as destructible property of the soul that cannot destroy the soul. It means that physical body implies infinite soul, but the soul is not limited to the body. Material body is subjected to pleasure and pain, diseases and age, it transports senses but without the soul may be compared to lifeless lump of matter.
Though soul is believed to be above its properties, it also embraces mind, senses and intelligence. It is worth discussing the gradation from senses, mind, and intelligence to individual consciousness, which demonstrates the significance and features of these components. This gradation means that senses are occupied in pleasure in sense object, which makes impossible spiritual development. Mind is able to control the senses, but it is too unstable and capable of enjoying the sense objects, interrupting from spiritual growth. As intellect possesses discriminative faculty, it can rule the senses and the mind, but involved in sense pleasure has nothing to do with Atman realization. Therefore, senses, mind and intellect are believed to be tranquil and passive, whereas kama that rises from desires and emotional impulses may deepen into them and may disturb from knowledge. However, the efforts of the individual consciousness may resist kama and may promote Atman’s development.
As senses, mind and intellect are capable of engaging in pleasure, the development of the Self via Self-realization determines its properties towards the divine. Despite above-mentioned limitation of mind, senses and intellect, Bhagavad Gita offers the path of spiritual development, which teaches to handle the desires and impulses. This verse demonstrates the core of spiritual development: to tie individual consciousness (Atman) with Ultimate consciousness. In other words, the realized Self identifies itself with Ultimate consciousness every time and everywhere, becoming closer to the created world via reaching the Divine. This path is available to those, who practice yoga, as recommended by Krishna. Those, who practice yoga perceive the world in its wholeness, knowing that God is in every being and those, who feel every being’s pain and suffering. Self is developed when mind and senses are so tranquil and steady, that Atman can feel other objects that are external to individual as manifestations of God, identifying own soul as part of Ultimate consciousness manifested in every being.
Spiritual growth of the Self and relationship between soul, body and mind are also demonstrated via the analogy of a chariot, in which the Atman is the rider and intellect is a charioteer. Though the analogy is popular and met in different cultures, including Plato’s Republic, it is important to note that it is mentioned by Krishna and Bhagavad Gita and deeply analyzed in Kathopanishad. According to this model, the strength of the soul (Atman) must unite together senses, mind and intellect to fight against lust. Though this analogy is not discussed in details in Bhagavad Gita, Kathopanishad represents its extended interpretation. According to this interpretation, the body is chariot, while intellect is the charioteer, Self is the rider, and mind is the reins, which lacks understanding when driven by uncontrolled senses – bad horses.
As demonstrated above, Bhagavad Gita pays sufficient attention to relationship of mind, body and soul that provides the path to liberation from involvement into material world’s pleasure and pain. The gradation from senses, mind, intellect and individual consciousness performs the stages of the development of Self via yoga. Understanding of what soul, mind, intellect and body is, makes it possible to harmonize human existence, helping Atman to reach God in every living being.
The history and morals on ancient China may be restored via the analysis of its cultural artefacts, such the Analects and the Mencius. The Analects is a composition of Confucius’s sayings, collected by his disciples after his death. The Analects is made of 20 chapters, dedicated to different to social, political issues of Chinese people, including Confucius’s moral philosophy. It was collected between the Warring States period and the mid-Hand dynasty. The Mencius is canonized Chinese Classic text, dedicated to the issues of political and moral philosophy of China during the Warring States period. It is the collection of anecdotes, sayings and dialogues between philosopher Mencius, the follower of Confucius’s tradition, and his contemporaries, including politicians, monks and philosophers. The Mencius was written the 4th century BC by Mencius’s disciples. Another spiritual tradition’s texts that will be analyzed in this paper are the Buddhists’ Diamond Sutra and the Life of the Buddha. The Diamond Sutra was written by Indian poet and philosopher Asvaghosa in the early 2nd century BC. This epic contains the story of life and acts of Buddha, including the development of his teaching and his way that remains important text in the Buddhist tradition. The Diamond Sutra is related to Mahayana Buddhist tradition and reveals the path to wisdom and Nirvana. The Diamond Sutra’s history remains unknown, the opinion on the date of its composition and author vary among different scholars. This paper conducts comparative analysis of Buddhist and Confucius’ interpretation of society and responsibility as well as paths to wisdom and knowledge, based on the above-mentioned texts. Both the Mencius and the Analects represent ancient Despite numerous differences, Confucian tradition of philosophizing and governance implying that responsibility, wisdom and knowledge may be achieved by cultivation of ren via devotion to parents and tradition, shares with Buddhism the principle of humanism, though initially Buddhism was based on the rules of non-attachment and non-abiding via spiritual purity and recognition of own ignorance.
Both Confucian and Buddhist views on responsibility, social order and wisdom are based on the ideas of humanism. As seen in the Analects and the Mencius, individual and social responsibility should be cultivated via cultivating ren, which means ‘humanity’ gained by devotion to parents, older siblings and tradition. Humaneness in interpreted in the Analects as art, based on the idea that to be able to judge of others by what is in ourselves. In the Mencius the idea of humanism is also evident, as the Confucianism tradition is followed in this text. The Buddhist text such as the Diamond Sutra teaches to follow humanism as well. It means that all living beings deserve liberation and Nirvana. Though the Buddhists deny the existence of soul and material objects, their teaching is based on love to all that exists.
The way to knowledge both for the Buddhists and the Confucian followers begins with recognition of own ignorance. For example, according to the Buddhist vision, ignorance disturbs people from recognition of their desires, which lead to suffering and endless cycle of births and deaths. To end this cycle, one must face that his desires, fears and wants disturb him from reaching spiritual quiet. This quite is achieved when individual is far from joy and sadness, happiness and pain as these feelings are resulted be deluded mind. Principles of non-attachment and non-abiding, therefore, are the core of spiritual growth . The Analects also states that one should recognize that he is not wise and may never reach wisdom, but always have to make efforts to approach it. It means that wisdom does not mean that the one, who possesses it, knows everything. Instead, wise person faces his ignorance and strives to reach wisdom via love to people.
All of the above-mentioned sources are based on the same values of wisdom, humanism, virtue and modesty. They teach people to recognize of ignorance, which is the starting point on the way to true knowledge. These texts are significance because they are still accepted by the ones, who follow Buddha and Confucius. All of the above-mentioned sources provide moral horizons of ancient societies, for which Buddha or Confucius were the moral authorities. These texts prove that despite diversity is religious believes and political philosophy, both Confucianism and Buddhism share the same values of justice, virtue, control on desires, modesty, honest, and love to all humans.
Thus, ancient philosophical and religious teaching are based on the principles of love, compassion, respect and humanism. While Confucianism offers to cultivate ren via obedience towards parents and elderly, Buddhism recommends spiritual purity from uncontrolled desires caused by deluded mind that beliefs in existence of material object. As Analects and Mencius provide both moral and political philosophy embracing the ceremonies, holidays and lifestyles of Chinese people, Buddhists prefer more individualistic way that comes from control on own thought, emotions and desires. The principles of both teachings are topical today, as modern people are challenged by the same problems as those, who lived in Indian and Chinese ancient societies.