Often referred to simply as the Gita, the Bhagavad Gita is a verse portion of the epic Hindu work, the Mahabharate. Because the battlefield setting is usually interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of life, the Bhagavad Gita serves an ultimate guide to self-realization. It reveals the essential nature of man, his environment, and his relationship with the Almighty, like no other work.
The teaching of the Bhagavad Gita is said to free you from all sense of limitation. Here are nine excellent books that will help you understand and appreciate the Bhagavad Gita as a classic work of spiritual literature. It includes the original Sanskrit text, Roman transliteration, English equivalents, translation, and elaborate explications.
This is an excellent introduction to the Gita, and includes a glossary to make it even more helpful. This is regarded as one of the best English translations of the Gita. Aldous Huxley provides a brilliant introduction to the "Perennial Philosophy" that lies at the base of all major religions.
Bhagavad Gita by Miller Barbara Stoler
In this translation and commentary on Arjuna's battlefield conversation with Krishna, presented to his followers at prayer meetings over a nine-month period in , Gandhi addresses the concerns that most directly affect the spiritual lives of common people. Rishi Aurobindo is a master of Vedic philosophy who wrote extensively on the Gita. In this commentary and exposition, he analyzes the causes of human problems, and how to achieve peace.
His interpretation of the Gita is unmatched. Maharishi's translation and commentary on the first six chapters of the Bhagavad-Gita is meant to be "a complete guide to practical life, that is needed to raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible level.
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This edition by Juan Mascaro, a sensitive Sanskrit scholar, is aimed "to give, without notes or commentary, the spiritual message of the Bhagavad Gita in pure English. This is a translation by an author who thinks the Gita is "a handbook for self-realization and a guide to action" that "offers something to every seeker after God, of whatever temperament, by whatever path.
Krishna reminds Arjuna of the duty that is assigned to him as a soldier: " Krishna continues: "Now, if you refuse to fight this righteous war, then, shrinking your duty and losing your reputation, you will incur sin" According to Krishna, Arjuna, being a warrior by profession, should be ready to accept both life and death:. Die, and you will win heaven; conquer, and you will enjoy sovereignty of the earth; therefore, stand up, Arjuna, determined to fight.
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War / Edition 1
Treating alike victory and defeat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, get ready for the fight, then; fighting thus you will not incur sin Lord Krishna helps Arjuna to discern the true cause of suffering. Krishna clearly instructs Arjuna:.
Your right is to work only, but never to the fruit thereof. Be not instrumental in making your actions bear fruit, nor let your attachment be to inaction. Arjuna, perform your duties established in yoga, renouncing attachment, and even-temperament in success and failure; evenness of temper is called yoga For a person who has attained equanimity, even the scriptures are useless. Krishna makes a most daring statement:. A Brahman, who has attained enlightenment, has the same use of all the Vedas as one who stands at the brink of the sheet of water overflowing on all sides has for a small reservoir of water He assures Arjuna that, "he who has given up all desires and move free from attachment, egoism and thirst for enjoyment attains peace" Krishna reminds Arjuna of his obligation to act:.
Surely none can ever remain inactive even for a moment; for everyone is helplessly driven to action by nature-born qualities. He who outwardly restraining the organs of sense and action, sits mentally dwelling on the objects of senses, that man of deluded intellect is called a hypocrite However, Krishna points towards the possibility of acting without any attachment, which is sacrifice Krishna points towards God as the best example for this kind of "perfect action".
According to Krishna, God's creative activity in itself was a sacrifice:. Having created mankind with sacrifice at the beginning of creation the Creator, Brahma, said to them, 'You shall prosper by this; may this yield the enjoyment you seek' Arjuna is made to understand that every act of the Creator is a sacrifice. The world has originated, is sustained and supported through sacrifice. Our vocation as human beings is to collaborate consciously and actively in this ongoing divine sacrifice:. Foster the gods through sacrifice, and let the gods be gracious to you.
Each fostering the other disinterestedly, you will attain the highest good. Feed gods and get fed by gods - be a conscious collaborator in this eternal feeding-chain. Krishna calls those who refuse to engage in self-sacrificing activities, thieves Acting with a desire for its fruit is a disgraceful act like a cow that drinks its own milk.
It already had its share of milk as a calf and now her milk is for her calf. Krishna demands from Arjuna action without attachment, seeking only the maintenance of the world order Being material, we have inherited those qualities. Yet, we are not destined to be governed by those natural qualities However, having transcended the control of nature does not give anyone the right to scorn the ignorant, who are still under its yoke.
The liberated should be compassionate towards them and should be willing to help them:. Those who are completely deluded by the gunas of prakrti remain attached to those gunas and actions; the man of perfect knowledge should not unsettle the mind of those insufficiently knowing fools. It is the forgetfulness of the past that makes people proud. Presenting himself as an example; Krishna clarifies the difference between an enlightened person and an ordinary person: "Arjuna, you and I have passed through many births, I remember them all; you do not remember.
It is the forgetfulness of the past that makes people proud, arrogant, and cold towards others. Krishna then reveals another fact about action to Arjuna: "He who sees inaction in action, and action in inaction, is wise among men; he is a yogi, who has performed all actions. Running away from action or finding false justification for our failures to act will not make us wise or masters of our nature:.
On the earth there is no purifier as great as Knowledge; he who has attained purity of heart through a prolonged practice of karma yoga action without attachment automatically sees the light of Truth in the self in course of time, assures Krishna In an attempt to lead him to the royal path of discernment, Krishna says to Arjuna:. He who acts offering all actions to God, and shaking off attachment, remains untouched by sin, as the lotus leaf by water The wise look with the same eye on a Brahman endowed with learning and culture, a cow, an elephant, dog, and a pariah too According to Krishna, when the disciplined mind of a person is firmly established in God and is actively engaged in the service of all beings, it attains Brahma, who is all peace He will be in a position to regard stone, earth and gold alike :.
He who looks upon well-wishers and neutrals as well as mediators, friends and foes, relatives and objects of hatred, the virtuous and the sinful with the same eye, stands supreme This state of mind is attainable if one could perceive the universal self to be present in all beings, and all beings existing within it :. Arjuna, he who looks on all as one, on the analogy of his own self, and looks upon the joy and sorrow of all with a similar eye, - such a yogi is deemed the highest of all The awareness that all beings have emerged from the same source and their destination is also the same will enable one to overcome one's irrational responses of attachment and aversion Krishna offers Arjuna an easy way to reach this state of equilibrium through bhakti devotion :.
Arjuna, whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation to the sacred fire, whatever you bestow as a gift, whatever you do by way of penance, offer it all to me As a powerful means to convince his beloved disciple, Krishna is transfigured in front of Arjuna and reveals his glorious divine form with an effulgence of a thousand suns where he could see the universe, its past, present and future, gods and goddesses, even the terrible conclusion of the battle they are about to wage and the looming mass destruction.
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna's Counsel in Time of War - Google книги
Krishna reveals himself as the embodiment of Time kala and warns him:. Even without you all these warriors arrayed in the enemy's camp must die These warriors stand already slain by me; be you only an instrument, Arjuna. Do you kill Drona, and Bhishma, Jayadratha and Karna and even other brave warriors; who stand already killed by me; fear not. You will surely conquer the enemies in this war; therefore, fight Krishna assures Arjuna that. He has been spoken of as the Witness, the true guide, the Sustainer of all, the Experiencer as the embodied soul , the Overlord and the absolute as well According to Krishna,.
The Bhagavad Gita: Krishnas's Counsel In Time Of War
He alone really sees, who sees all actions being performed in every way by prakrti nature alone, and the Self as the non-doer When light and discernment dawn in this body, as well as in the mind and senses. He who sitting like a witness, is not disturbed by gunas, and who, knowing that the gunas alone move among gunas, remains established in identity with God, and never falls off from that state Krishna's final warning is even more authoritative: "If taking your stand on egoism, you think, 'I will not fight', vain is this resolve of yours; nature will drive you to the act.
That action too which you are not willing to undertake through ignorance, - bound by your own duty born of your nature, you will helplessly perform. After his extensive and magnificent discourse on discernment, Krishna leaves everything to the discretion of Arjuna saying: "Thus has this wisdom, more secret than secrecy itself, been imparted to you by me. Fully pondering it, do as you like" Being fully enlightened, Arjuna responds:.
Krishna, by your grace my delusion has fled and wisdom has been gained by me. I stand shorn of all doubts. I will do your bidding. At last, a happy ending to a long walk to discernment. In a context that explores the biblical roots of discernment, one may reflect on what would be the role and relevance of a study on discernment according to a non-Christian scripture such as the Bhagavad Gita.
The answer is quite simple. Such an exploration is not only relevant, but also exceptionally helpful and enormously valuable for a deeper understanding of this concept from a fundamentally different perspective. Discernment is after all not merely a Christian concern, but also a perennial human obsession.
As Celia Kourie rightly concludes in her article in this volume, an inter-scriptural soul-searching will "contribute to greater insights into the many-faceted splendor of the Ultimate". In our multicultural society, no religion or society can isolate or insulate itself and survive like a living fossil. According to Kourie, tapping into the wisdom of other cultures and religions for mutual understanding and enrichment should be our way forward. For example, the literary style of the Bhagavad Gita, which demands, necessitates, and provides room for any number of commentaries and interpretations, becomes an eye-opener and a challenge to those who support and practise scriptural idolatry that takes away the growth potential, plasticity, freedom, and the life of their Sacred Scriptures.
A generous attitude will keep our windows open to new perspectives and doors to new dives into the ever-deepening realms of divine revelations. Scriptural idolatry can blind people, sapping their energy, turning them into bullies while believing themselves to be defenders of orthodoxy and truth. An occasional glance into analogous concepts found in other religions will, in addition to revealing the complementarities and mutual agreements, save us from forgetting the past that makes people proud, arrogant, and cold towards others. Moreover, as Krishna instructs Arjuna, such comparisons can be regarded as part of our intellectual discernment cum scriptural validation For example, the Bhagavad Gita treats sacrifice - a concept that people often demarcate as a Christian contribution to the milieu of spirituality - from a radically different perspective.
Krishna tells Arjuna that acting without attachment is in itself a sacrifice He points towards God as the best example for this kind of "perfect action". According to Krishna, God's creative activity was in itself a sacrifice. The world has originated, sustained and is supported through sacrifice.
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Our vocation as human beings is to collaborate consciously, actively and collectively in this ongoing divine sacrifice. Even a casual reading of the Bhagavad-Gita will convince a person that our ancestors have left a great treasury of wisdom for us, their posterity, from which to derive some benefit and become enlightened. Thinking that it belongs to the Hindu Sacred Scripture, people of other religions and cultures need not be too nervous about the Gita, as it is part of the epic Mahabharatha a part of smrti [reflections] and does not belong to Vedas or Upanishads shruti [revelations].
The Bhagavad-Gita is an intelligent response to a perennial human predicament which other religions and philosophies tried to resolve in their own way. As the Veda would state, Ekam sat vipra behudha vadanti Reality is one, learned people speak of it differently Rigveda , The superiority-inferiority complexes emerging from blind egos will not benefit humanity. Any answer given, any discovery made in any corner of the world belongs to the entire human species and to the entire universe. Therefore, turning a blind eye towards, or refusing to open up to the available truths and resources is a crime against oneself, others and God.
According to the Gita, there are three margas ways available to us to attain freedom, namely karma action , bhakthi devotion and jnana knowledge. They are not watertight compartments. They are merely three stages of the one and the same path, the goal being transcendence from the servitude of the known and the unknown.
Transcendence is a human potential, even though all have nama-rupa name and form ; only those who attempt to realise this potential can be considered truly human in its proper sense.