Essential Question

What do Hindus believe?


In this scene from the Mahabharata, Krishna accompanies Arjuna as he heads into battle against his brothers. Arjuna is reluctant to enter this battle because he knows he will be forced to fight against the people he loves. This image portrays the discussion between Arjuna and Krishna, which would become the basis of the Bhagavad Gita. (The Song of the Lord) Popular text within the Mahabharata that describes a conversation between Krishna and the warrior Arjuna on the eve of battle concerning duty and the nature of the cosmos.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would someone want a painting depicting this moment?


There is no single word in the English language that would encompass the entire meaning of dharma. Today we are focusing only on one aspect of dharma and how it relates to Arjuna’s obligation to “do his duty.”

Barbara Stoler Miller explains: "Derived from a Sanskrit form meaning ‘that which sustains,’ within Hindu culture it (dharma) generally means religiously ordained duty, that is, the code of conduct appropriate to each group in the hierarchically ordered Hindu society.1"

Activity 1: Read the following documents and annotate the readings so you can answer and discuss the questions below the documents.


Document A

This passage details Arjuna’s internal conflict.

  • What is the dilemma that Arjuna is facing?

  • Who are his enemies in this battle?

  • Why does he not want to fight?


Document B

In this passage, Krishna tells Arjuna that the soul can never be harmed by what happens to the physical body.

  • What is the “self ” that Krishna refers to in this passage?

  • Can the “self ” be killed or harmed?

  • What happens to the “self ” if the body is killed?


Document C

In this passage, Krishna explains dharma to Arjuna.

  • According to Krishna, what is Arjuna’s dharma?

  • What are the consequences for Arjuna if he does not follow dharma?

  • Why are these serious consequences?

  • In the previous passage, Krishna spoke of the “self ” and how it does not die regardless of any harm that afflicts the physical body. How does this passage support Krishna’s urging Arjuna to fulfill his duty and fight?

Activity 2: Class discussion

GIta Discussion Questions
Beliefs of Hinduism

Activity 3: Hinduism Reading

Read the reading on "Hinduism" and then answer the guiding questions.

Hinduism Reading & Questions.pdf

Discussion Questions

  • What is samsara?

  • Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?

  • What is the main goal of Hindus? How does one achieve it?

  • What are the main religious texts of Hinduism?

Activity 3: How would you classify the main beliefs of Hinduism?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the questions in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.