Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita

भगवद्-गीता, bhagavad-gītā

"The God's Song"

“Bhagavad Gita” (or simply “Gita”) is an ancient text that is part of the sixth book of the most famous Indian epic “Mahabharata”. “Bhagavad Gita” consists of 18 chapters and about 700 verses. It contains many key topics related to Indian spiritual tradition.

Scientists suggest that "Bhagavad Gita" was written between 400 BC and 200 AD, and the authorship is attributed to a sage named Vyasa. In "Bhagavad Gita" itself, Krishna states that the knowledge set forth in this text was first given to the sun god Vivasvat, and he in turn passed it on to the progenitor of humanity, Manu, and it was in ancient times.

The plot of “Gita” is based on the struggle of two clans: Pandavas and Kauravas. The pretenders to the throne are each other's cousins. The largest battle takes place in Kurukshetra, Kurusa region, in the modern Indian state of Haryana.

Arjuna, the great archer and leader of the Pandavas, is a member of the Kshatriyas varna (warrior caste). He looks at his opponents and recognizes friends, relatives, teachers and begins to doubt the correctness of the battle, realizing that he will have to shed the blood of loved ones. Arjuna is ready to drop his bow and arrows and leave the battlefield. Krishna (the avatar of God Vishnu), who plays the role of a charioteer, sees Arjuna's attitude and begins to convince him to fight, because he must fulfill his duty as a warrior. “Bhagavad Gita” is presented as a conversation between Arjuna and Krishna, man and God, seeker and knower.

Krishna points out to Arjuna five reasons why he should fight, and explains why this action will not entail bad karma:

  • the first reason is that since the Atman (true self) is eternal, it is a mistake to think that you can actually kill someone. Death is not the end, but the beginning of a new stage of the existence of the soul (jiva);
  • the second reason Arjuna has to fight is honor and duty, in other words, the fulfillment of the kshatriya dharma;
  • the third reason is that inaction is impossible. Everything in the world is subject to change. The fourth reason, voiced by Krishna, is that the source of evil is not in actions, but in intentions, for example, in passion and desires;
  • and from the fourth reason, the fifth and final reason follows: Krishna explains to Arjuna the ways in which one can do what is ought and necessary, but at the same time without receiving bad or even good karma.

In “Bhagavad Gita” Krishna explains three paths:

  • Jnana yoga – the path of cognition of one's true eternal nature and the unity of everything;
  • Bhakti yoga – the path of devotion to the Supreme;
  • Karma yoga – the way of acting without attachment to the result.

During the dialogue, Krishna reveals his divine essence to Arjuna by presenting himself in the universal form (Vishvarupa). Arjuna recognizes the Supreme in him, is fully convinced of the rightness of Krishna and steps onto the battlefield. Pandavas won the battle.

“Bhagavad Gita” is considered one of the most important spiritual Indian texts, which explains to all segments of society what dharma is and how to treat the performance of any actions.

Many commentaries on “Bhagavad Gita” have been written, and they often differ in interpretations. Among others, the text of "Gitarthasangraha" by the outstanding philosopher of Kashmiri Shaivism, Abhivanagupta, can be distinguished. There are translations into Russian and English.