Hinduism - What Is The Bhagavad Gita?

The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu scripture, and One of the most well-known Hindu texts, and part of the Mahabharata, the second of the two major Hindu epics. 

The sections of the epic preceding the Bhagavad Gita record the rising conflict between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, the epic's major protagonists, two branches of a royal dynasty. 

  • The struggle that eventually kills the whole family is detailed in the sections that follow the Bhagavad Gita. 
  • The Bhagavad Gita is composed as a conversation between the Pandava prince Arjuna and the ultimate deity Krishna, who is disguised as Arjuna's charioteer, in the moments before the war starts. 

Arjuna is the world's best archer and can easily dispatch his foes. 

  • However, when he examines the enemy's features, he learns that the people he is going to battle and murder are his family, instructors, and friends. 
  • The idea, predictably, makes him chilly, and it is up to Krishna to provide divine counsel. 
  • The second chapter of the Gita begins with Krishna attempting to humiliate Arjuna into fighting (in effect, “everyone will believe you were frightened and make fun of you”), but when this strategy fails, Krishna is forced to offer more substantial counsel, which comprises the remainder of the book. 
  • The Bhagavad Gita invokes the three commonly recognized ways to soul liberation (moksha): the path of wisdom (jnanamarga), the road of action (karmamarga), and the path of devotion (karmamarga) (bhaktimarga). 

The teachings of the theoretical writings known as the Upanishads are at the heart of the wisdom path. 

  • The awareness of one's fundamental essence as the everlasting Self is emphasized on this path (atman). 
  • All dualistic notions and erroneous knowledge vanish once one accepts that the atman is identical to the universal truth known as Brahman. 
  • The road of action emphasizes behaving without selfish motives—doing one's responsibility as one's duty, but without regard for the end result. 
  • As a result, this route maintains and strengthens the dharma literature's strict social order. 

Arjuna's duty as a warrior in such societal structure is to murder people. 

Simultaneously, the route of action offers a means of converting socially sanctioned obligation into religious practice. 

  • The road of devotion involves devoting one's whole life to God and fulfilling one's duty as a divine instrument. 

The Bhagavad Gita makes no clear preference for any of these ways, indicating that the book was rewritten throughout time by various authors. 

  • According to Professor Arthur Llewellyn Basham, the “original” Bhagavad Gita concluded with verse 2.38, following a passage outlining the morality of fighting in a fair battle, providing Arjuna with his justification to fight. 
  • It is said that this "original" text was subsequently modified by an upanishadic philosopher, who understood of the Ultimate Reality as the impersonal Brahman and freedom as mystical realization. 

The last parts were most likely added by a fervent follower (bhakta) of Vishnu, especially after he took on the avatar of Krishna. 

  • This final author, according to Basham, not only placed poems into some of the previous volumes, but also created some whole new ones. 
  • Arjuna's vision of Krishna in his cosmic form in the eleventh chapter of the Gita is widely regarded as one of the most brilliant religious writings ever written. 
  • Although some academics may disagree with some aspects, Professor Basham's thesis seems to be the most compelling explanation for a book with such a wide range of interpretations. 

Different interpreters have interpreted the Bhagavad Gita's message throughout the last two thousand years, according to their own preferences. 

Shankaracharya, a ninth-century philosopher, viewed it as endorsing the road of knowledge, whereas Ramanuja, an eleventh-century philosopher, believed it emphasized devotion. 

  • Mohandas Gandhi, the most recent important interpretation, interpreted the passage as demanding action. 
  • He viewed Arjuna's fight as a model for his own time and effort, encouraging him to strive for Indian freedom without attachment or expectation of personal benefit. 

Because of Christian missionaries' push, the book has grown even more significant as a "scripture" during the last two centuries. 

  • One indication of this is that the Gita is the book upon which Hindus swear the oath of honesty when summoned to testify in contemporary Indian courts. 

Barbara Stoller Miller (trans. ), The Bhagavad-Gita, 1991; Arthur Llewellyn Basham, The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism, 1991; for Dr. 

Basham's study of the text, see Arthur Llewellyn Basham, The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism, 1991.

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