Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Invitation to World Literature



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David Damrosch talks about this image
Prince Arjuna and the great god Krishna in Arjuna's chariot. This statue shows Krishna in disguise as a humble chariot driver, taking Arjuna to the battlefield. The great warrior's chariot is appropriately ornate, and the lion on the side is perhaps pausing in the key gesture of action, stilled by the presence of Krishna.
Image ©Andrey Plis, 2010. Used under license from Shutterstock.com
Krishna hunting, an illustration from a 1914 European version of the Gita. Arjuna was an archer, and this was another factor that created a connection between himself and the god. Krishna's blue skin, the only thing that kept him from looking like an ordinary human, is shown, as it always is in Indian drawings of the god.
David Damrosch talks about this image
Krishna instructing Arjuna. The god is still in human form, but he towers over Arjuna, who sits at his feet in the respectful posture of a student listening to his master. Arjuna's troubled face shows that Krishna has not yet fully shown him the justice of fighting his own family in a civil war.
A drawing, made by a European traveler, of a high-caste Hindu woman being groomed by a lower-caste servant while another serving-woman attends. Caste was an important factor in Hindu society, with strict rules for each level of society developed centuries before the Gita was written.
An illustrated Sanskrit text, ca. 1880 CE. The Gita was written in Sanskrit, one of the oldest continually used languages in existence. Copies of the Gita would have been illustrated, like this book is, with images of Krishna and Arjuna.
David Damrosch talks about this image
A statue of Krishna showing his divine form. Toward the end of the Gita, Arjuna asks to see Krishna in his real, godly form. The vision is so terrifying and wonderful that Arjuna begs Krishna to return to human form. Many artists have attempted to show Krishna's god form, which is described in the Gita as having every component of creation, every face, every being, good and bad.
Photo by Jurvetson (flickr)