Introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran.
The Bhagavad Gita, The Song of the Blessed One is possibly the most well known of all the Indian spiritual texts.
The Bhagavad Gita opens on a battlefield as the warrior Prince Arjuna turns in anguish to his spiritual guide Sri Krishna, as he fights a battle he doesn’t want to be involved in, to continue living in his rightful kingdom with his family. The battle is against his cousins, childhood friends and teachers – which understandably causes a huge conflict for Arjuna.
But what becomes clear as the story unfolds is that it is not the external battle that Arjuna fights that is of importance – but the inner fight he has within himself to overcome his internal battles and lead a true and fulfilled life. Much like the challenge we all face in life to re-discover who we truely are.
The text is made up of 700 verses of instruction, where Sri Krishna provides knowledge and advice to Arjuna, but then leaves Arjuna to make his own decisions as to the path he must take, which Arjuna doesn’t particularly like, as he would prefer the hard decisions to be made for him and that he could be removed from the situation he finds himself in.
Receive your freedom as willingly as you accept your responsibilities and the divine promises to provide everything you need.
Each character in the text represents aspects of one’s own self which needs to be explored and overcome, and details the principals of yoga – meaning to “yoke” join together or to re-connect.
I found this text fascinating as the teachings within it are so relevant today, but were written so, so long ago. The text can be used as a tool to guide how to live one’s modern day life.
The key concepts throughout the text are Karma or action, Dharma or to nurture and sustain, Kala or time, Gunas or the forces of nature (see separate blog post), Ishvara or the nature of God and Atman the soul.
The text is then divided into three sections of six chapters each detailing how one can utalise yoga to find their true self and union with the Absolute.
– Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. The practice of selfless service, to find true knowledge of the self to become open to the light of god. True knowledge destroys the effects of past errors, which generates further karma.
– Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of loving devotion. Union through love and devotion, a path to self realisation, to have an experience of oneness with everything.
– And Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge. Union through pure knowledge, which gives relief from bondage.
One of the verses I really like is the teaching of taking ‘in action’ in a situation is actually taking an action. I thought if you were passive in a situation you didn’t agree with, you then didn’t bat for either side – but really you are making a decision to support the stronger person. So this was a massive eye-opener for me.
In my day-to-day life reading the text has made me much more aware of my preferences and aversions (loves and hates) and gently working through my aversions, which has been a really fascinating eye-opener for me!
My other big take-out from the text is how much the principals of yoga can be brought into our everyday life, so we can all lead more fulfilled, sustainable lives in freedom and ease.