Srimad Bhagavad Gita


Fire turns firewood to ash. Self-knowledge turns to ash all actions of dualities on your mind and brings you inner peace.

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagwad Gita is the most widely read and revered religious text of the world. This poem is long poem, which, in fact, describes the gist of life, karma and duties of an individual. Lord Krishna narrates to Arjuna how he should do his duty and become a part of the Ultimate Soul. This poem forms the sixteenth chapters (adhyayas) of the Mahabharata, written by Veda Vyasa. It is in the form of. Sanskrit hymns (Shlokas). Let us study, in brief, what The Bhagwad Gita tells every human form of the world.

The Gita had little religious impact until Shankaracharya’s commentary appeared. From this time onward, it had an important influence on Hinduism. Krishna, presented in the poem as Vishnu in the flesh, is the spiritual teacher who recited the Gita. Most of The Bhagwad Gita consists of a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield on Kurukshetra.

That is where the armies of the royal cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, face each other for the decisive battle to end their feud. The Bhagwad Gita debates the right and wrong of conflict. It also discusses a person’s duty to himself, or herself, his or her fellow human and God.

It explores God’s relationship with humans. It shows how people can begin to understand God and thus, free themselves from the burden of Karma (deeds done in previous lives and in this present life).

Krishna and Arjuna are not the only speakers in The Bhagwad Gita. King Dhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravas, asks the charioteer, Sanjay, to describe the course of the battle for him. The remainder of The Bhagwad Gita deals with the report of Sanjay, who describes what he sees in a trance.

Prince Arjuna watches his cousins and brothers preparing for the battle and is greatly troubled. He asks Krishna, who acts as his charioteer, how he can justifiably take part in the battle because it must be wrong to slay his kinsfolk for the sake of power. He would rather die than kill his relatives. Due to this dilemma, he throws down his weapons and gives up the fight.

Krishna thinks Arjuna is merely showing signs of weakness. But when He realizes that the prince is genuinely anxious about where his duty lies. He speaks as God Vishnu. He explains the nature of the atman (soul).

The atman can never be killed nor can it kill. When the body dies, it simply passes into another body and continues to live. Death must come to all who live and rebirth must come to all who die. Why mourn for what cannot be avoided? It is Arjuna’s duty to fight in a war for the right cause. He is soldier and his responsibility is to fight. Real sin lies not in the killing of his enemies but in failing in his dharma (duty).

Krishna instructs Arjuna about three ways to have union with God. The first is Karma Yoga (the Way of Action). Every person should do his or her duty according to caste, without hope of personal benefit or ambition, but with faith in God. Those who go through the motions of performing rituals without care or interest, or do their work only for profit, will never be released from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

Only if a person acts with his or her mind fixed on Brahman (God), will he or she become free. Moreover he will also remain at peace and unified with the Almighty. Anyone in that state feels no disturbing desires. Where there is no desire, there is no disappointment and there are also competitive ambitions. In work, one’s sole ambition should be to serve as an example to others so that they too may do their duty.

The second way is Jnana Yoga (the Way of Knowledge). Through this method also, the contemplative person can seek union with God. Such person has great self-control and spends much of his or her time in meditation. Through God’s grace, he or she will come to realize that Brahman and Atman are one.

Arjuna asks which one of these two paths is the best. Krishna replies that the result will be the same, whichever path is followed. The end means absorption is Brahman. The entire universe exists because of Brahman but only few are only mature enough to perceive His power. Most people are absorbed with their own petty and temporary concerns, which are only maya (illusion); and maya cannot last but must pass away in time.

The third way is Bhakti Yoga (the Way of Devotion). This is one of the most important contributions made by The Bhagwad Gita to the development of modern Hinduism. Krishna becomes the Ishvara (personal God), who may be worshipped as a spirit or as an image by his followers.

He will accept any offering, however humble, as long as it is made with love. Ever)’ worshipper, who approaches with a loving heart, is welcomed. Union with God and release from the sufferings of birth, death and rebirth shall be bestowed on all those who are devoted to Krishna.

Krishna then reveals Himself to Arjuna as Lord Vishnu, Arjuna is overwhelmed and bursts into a great hymn of praise. He is fearful and ashamed because he had addressed Krishna as his friend. But Krishna is merciful and returns to the human form to comfort Arjuna. He explains to Arjuna that His Majesty is too great for human beings to behold. Krishna continues to teach Arjuna about the nature of man.

He defines the qualities that bring people nearer to Brahman and those that tend to lead them astray. The individual nature of people decides what and how they worship. Some people look to God, others to worldly things. When people make an offering to God, it must be made in taith; otherwise it is unreal and cannot bring good results.

The Bhagwad Gita provides a summary of the Hindu religious thought and practice; much of it is based on the Upanishadas. These are part of the Vedas, the oldest sacred books of Hinduism. It gives a methodology for developing belief as well as for forging a personal relationship between the deity and his/her worshipper. It offers a new approach to the full perception of, and absorption in, Brahman.

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