Sophia 60 (2):457-471 (2020)

Tommi Lehtonen
University of Vaasa
The Bhagavadgītā, part of the sixth book of the Hindu epic The Mahābhārata, offers a practical approach to mokṣa, or liberation, and freedom from saṃsāra, or the cycle of death and rebirth. According to the approach, known as karmayoga, salvation results from attention to duty and the recognition of past acts that inform the present and will direct the future. In the Bhagavadgītā, Kṛṣṇa advocates selfless action as the ideal path to realizing the truth about oneself as well as the ultimate reality. Kṛṣṇa proclaims that humans have rights only to actions and not to their results, whether good or bad. Therefore, humans should not desire any results whatsoever. The prisoner’s dilemma is a fictional story that shows why individuals who seek only their personal benefit meet worse outcomes than those possible by cooperating with others. The dilemma provides an effective, albeit often overlooked, method for studying the Hindu principle of niṣkāmakarma that is arguably the central teaching of the Bhagavadgītā. In the context of the prisoner’s dilemma, a prisoner who wants to uphold niṣkāmakarma may choose one of two decision-making strategies: to be indifferent and leave the decision to chance or to either pursue the common good or the other person’s benefit instead of his or her own. Assuming that followers of niṣkāmakarma can be goal-oriented, the second strategy is more appropriate than the first, as long as one pursues unselfish goals and remains both indifferent and uncommitted to personal benefit.
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-020-00780-x
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References found in this work BETA

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