Sun Analogies in the Bhagavad-Gita and Plato Term Paper

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¶ … Sun Analogies in the Bhagavad-Gita and Plato's Republic

Given its prominence in the sky and its ability to provide humankind with warmth and sustenance through agriculture, it is little wonder that the Sun has played such an important role in literature through the centuries. To this end, this paper examine the various sun analogies that occur in both the Bhagavad-Gita and the Republic to identify what the Sun represents in each case, what can be learned regarded the role of knowledge and its implications for good conduct, followed by a discussion of whether this type of knowledge serves to illume humankind's understanding in each of these instances. A summary of the research will be provided in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Examination of Sun Analogies in the Bhagavad-Gita. In this ancient work, the Sun occupies a predominant role as a life-giving force that can be compared to the Eternal Being (or "Brahm": "Just as one sun illuminates the entire world; similarly, Eternal Being (Brahm) illumines (or gives life to) the entire creation, O Arjun (13:13)" (Prasad 2). Comparable to the Prasad translation is W.J. Johnson's: "Just as the one sun lights up this entire world, so, Bharata, the owner of the field lights the entire field (13:33)" (Johnson 59). In both of these instances, the sun is the most important of the celestial bodies, just as Brahm is the highest manifestation of this essence.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Sun Analogies in the Bhagavad-Gita and Plato's Assignment

In fact, in Johnson's translation and analysis of the Bhagavad-Gita (1994), the translated sun analogies make it clear that this celestial body is the "Cadillac" of ancient comparisons, representing the zenith of what is the best and most pure in the universe. For example, "But for those whose ignorance of the self has been destroyed by knowledge, their knowledge is like the sun, flooding the highest reality with light (5:16)" (Johnson 23). Likewise, even the Almighty resorts to employing a sun analogy in a personal reference to make it clear that both are supreme in their respective realms: "The Lord said: Son of Kunti, I am taste in the waters, light in the moon and sun, the sacred syllable in all the Vedas, sound in the air, manhood in men (7:8)" (Johnson 33). In Chapter 10, the superlatives continue in the sun analogies with the Lord saying: "Of the Adityas * I am Vishnu, of lights the radiant sun, of the Maruts * I am their leader Marichi, of heavenly bodies I am the moon" (10:21) (Johnson 46).

Examination of Sun Analogies in Plato's Republic. According to Daryl H. Rice (1998):

Socrates uses an analogy of the sun to ask his readers to "think of the sun, the light of which provides the energy that causes all other things to grow as well as the means by which we can see them" (79). In this regard, Rice points out that Plato has Socrates maintaining that the form of the good is just like the sun. "All other things," he says, "including ourselves, exist because of the form of the good, and we can know these other things -- which include triangles and triangularity, chairs and chairness, justice and the form justice, as well as the form of the good itself -- only because of its 'light'" (Rice 79).

In the allegory of the cave in Book VII (514a-521c), the point is also made that the vast majority of people are not able to tell reality from the shadowy images being projected on the walls in front of them; these people are chained to these images because they are unable to see the truth (the sunlight) for themselves, and they are most reluctant to believe anyone who tells them differently than what they ardently believe. According to Rice:

Philosophers who achieve knowledge of the form of the good are like prisoners who have broken their chains… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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