Definition - What does Bhagavad Gita mean?
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most prominent Hindu texts, forming a part of the Indian epic known as Mahabharata. Originally written in Sanskrit, the Bhagavad Gita is believed to have been composed between the 5th and 2nd century BCE.
It is more colloquially known as the Gita, and it is often used as an introductory text to Hinduism for Western audiences.
In a narrative style, the tale of the Bhagavad Gita is told through a dialogue between Arjuna, a warrior prince, and his charioteer, Lord Krishna. Whilst Arjuna doubts whether he should go into battle, Krishna explains that he must fulfill his dharma (duty) as a warrior.
In his explanation, Krishna discusses the four classical schools of yoga; Jnana (the path of knowledge), Bhakti (the path of devotion), Karma (the path of action) and Raja (the path of meditation).
The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as the process by which a person can connect with the Absolute, thereby attaining self-realization.
Yogapedia explains Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu scripture, providing a synthesis of several key philosophical concepts of Hinduism and yoga in a narrative format. It is the sixth book of the Mahabharata, one of India's most famous epic poems.
The text offers various approaches to liberation from suffering, self-realization and connection with the Divine, whilst highlighting the importance of selflessness. It is suggested that action, devotion, self-study and meditation are performed from the heart, with full attention and awareness.
The name, Bhagavad Gita, means "Song of the Lord," referring to one of the central characters of the narrative, Lord Krishna. The tale takes place at the Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between Arjuna’s family and allies (the Pandavas) and those of the prince Duryodhana and his family (the Kauravas).
Lord Krishna serves as Arjuna’s charioteer for the battle, in which there are mutual friends and family members fighting on both sides. On realizing this, Arjuna refuses to take part and has to be persuaded by Lord Krishna to fulfill his dharma.
The bulk of the text consists of a dialogue between the warrior prince and Lord Krishna on what constitutes right action, the meaning of life and the nature of the Divine. The battle described in the Bhagavad Gita can be considered as an allegory for human life, helping those who read it to reach a greater understanding of God, truth, purpose and liberation.
One of the more unusual aspects of the Bhagavad Gita is its battlefield setting, which many scholars have noted as incongruous with a spiritual text. Most commentators regard the battlefield as a metaphor for "the war within," alluding to inner struggles for self-mastery in the face of ego and ignorance.
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