Bhagavad Gita – Literally translates to “Song of God” and is commonly referred to as “The Gita”
A part of Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita comprises 700 verses. Verses are in poetic form and are traditionally chanted. Hence the name “song of God”. The content is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra just prior to the start of the Mahabharata war. Responding to Arjuna’s confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and Prince and elaborates on different Yogic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Bhagavad Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. Within the text of the Bhagavad Gita itself Krishna claims that the knowledge of yoga contained in the Bhagavad Gita was first instructed to mankind at the very beginning of their existence
Included in the Bhagavad Gita are lessons on how to lead a moral life, which form the foundations of the spiritual practice of yoga.
Although an ancient yoga text, it has very little to do with the physical practice of yoga (asana). The Bhagavad Gita follows Arjuna’s quest for spiritual guidance, and Krishna’s answers to his questions on how to realize his inner spirituality and take responsibility for his life and role in the world.
What Some Famous People Said about Bhagavad Gita
I find a solace in the Bhagavad Gita that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies – and my life has been full of external tragedies – and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teaching of Bhagavad Gita
American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, Learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life.
Stated that when reading the Bhagavad-Gita he thinks about how God created the universe and then everything else seemed so superfluous.
Stated that the Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested in all actions.
Bhagavad Gita Highlights
Krishna counsels Arjuna on the greater idea of dharma or universal harmony and duty. He begins with the tenet that the soul is eternal and immortal. Any ‘death’ on the battlefield would involve only the shedding of the body, but the soul is permanent.
Arjuna’s hesitation stems from a lack of right understanding of the ‘nature of things,’ the privileging of the unreal over the real. His fear and reticence become impediments to the proper balancing of the universal dharmic order. Essentially, Arjuna wishes to abandon the battle, to abstain from action; Krishna warns, however, that without action, the cosmos would fall out of order and truth would be obscured.
—› Imagine a person whom a love very much. If that person is doing something wrong, do you shelter that person or confront him/her?
Fundamentally, the Bhagavad Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the temporal ego, the ‘False Self’, the ephemeral world, so that one identifies with the truth of the immortal self, the soul. Through detachment from the material sense of ego, the Yogi, or follower of a particular path of Yoga, is able to transcend his/her illusory mortality and attachment to the material world and enter the realm of the Supreme.
It should be noted, however, that Krishna does not propose that the physical world must be forgotten or neglected. Indeed, it is quite the opposite: one’s life on earth must be lived in accordance with greater laws and truths, one must embrace one’s temporal duties whilst remaining mindful of a more timeless reality, acting for the sake of action without consideration for the results thereof. Such a life would naturally lead towards stability, happiness and ultimately, enlightenment.