Bhagavad Gita


Bhagavad Gita. Krishna to Arjuna: Behold My mystic opulence! Artwork © courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


The Bhagavad Gita comprises eighteen chapters totaling 701 verses which appeared in the epic Mahabharata (Bhishma Parva chapters 23 – 40). The verses using the range and style of Sanskrit meter (poetry) (chhanda) with similes and metaphors are very poetic, and hence the title, which translates to "the Song of the Divine One" or Bhagawan in the form of Krishna.
Commonly referred to as The Gita, it is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna which takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, just prior to the start of climactic war. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties and then elaborates on the Yogic teachings, with examples and analogies. During the discourse, Krishna reveals that he is the Supreme Being Himself (Narayan), and blesses Arjuna with an awe-inspiring glimpse of His divine Absolute form.


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Bhagavad Gita Quotes


Action is the product of the Qualities inherent in Nature.

As a man can drink water from any side of a full tank, so the skilled theologian can wrest from any scripture that which will serve his purpose.

Fear Not. What is not real, never was and never will be. What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed.

For that which is born death is certain, and for the dead birth is certain. Therefore grieve not over that which is unavoidable.

To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same.

One who has control over the mind is tranquil in heat and cold, in pleasure and pain, and in honor and dishonor; and is ever steadfast with the Supreme Self.

The power of God is with you at all times; through the activities of mind, senses, breathing, and emotions; and is constantly doing all the work using you as a mere instrument.

One gradually attains tranquillity of mind by keeping the mind fully absorbed in the Self by means of a well-trained intellect, and thinking of nothing else

Delusion arises from anger. The mind is bewildered by delusion. Reasoning is destroyed when the mind is bewildered. One falls down when reasoning is destroyed.

There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.

Still your mind in me, still yourself in me, and without a doubt you shall be united with me, Lord of Love, dwelling in your heart.

The live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.

Those who consciousness is unified abandon all attachment to the results of action and attain supreme peace. But those whose desires are fragmented, who are selfishly attached to the results of their work, are bound in everything they do.

Out of compassion I destroy the darkness of their ignorance. From within them I light the lamp of wisdom and dispel all darkness from their lives.

It is better to do one's own duty, however defective it may be, than to follow the duty of another, however well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it, never sins.

Living creatures are nourished by food, and food is nourished by rain; rain itself is the water of life, which comes from selfless worship and service.

The sage awakes to light in the night of all creatures. That which the world calls day is the night of ignorance to the wise.

I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear. But those who worship me with love live in me, and I come to life in them.

Governing sense, mind and intellect, intent on liberation, free from desire, fear and anger, the sage is forever free.

God is seated in the hearts of all.

Which is as poison in the beginning, but is like nectar in the end; that is declared to be "good" pleasure, born from the serenity of one's own mind. That which is like nectar in the beginning from the connection of the sense-object with the senses, but is as poison in the end, is held to be of "passion

The wise see knowledge and action as one; they see truly.

Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he becomes.

Austerity of speech consists in speaking truthfully and beneficially and in avoiding speech that offends.

All created beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their interim state, and unmanifest again when they are annihilated. So what need is there for lamentation?


Bhagavad Gita Synopsis


Chapter 1. The Yoga of Dejection (despondency) of Arjuna

Verses

1-11
Description of the principal warriors on both sides with their special qualities as fighters.

12-19
Blowing of conchs by the warriors on both sides.

20-27
Arjuna beholds (observes) the warriors drawn up for battle.

28-47
Overwhelmed by the sight of friends and relations as warriors on both sides, (overwhelmed by attachments to friends and relations), Arjuna gives expression to his faint-heartedness, tenderness and grief.

Chapter 2. Sankhya Yoga or the Yoga of Knowledge

Verses

1-10
Arjuna and Sri Krishna discussing Arjuna’s faint-heartedness.

11-30
Sankhya Yoga (the Yoga of Knowledge) described.

31-38
The Kshatriya’s duty to engage himself in battle (to fight).

39-53
Karma Yoga (the Yoga of Selfless Action) described.

54-72
Sthitapragnya. Person of steady wisdom. Marks of the man of stable mind and his characteristics described.

Chapter 3. Karma Yoga or the Yoga of Action

Verses

1-8
Importance of the performance of duty, in a detached way, according to both Jnana Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge) and Karma Yoga (Yoga of Action).

9-16
The necessity of performing sacrifices etc.

17-24
The necessity for action on the part of the wise, and even on the part of God Himself, for the good of the world.

25-35
Marks (characteristics) of the wise and the unwise. Instructions about performance of action without attachment and egoism; keeping in mind that attraction and repulsion are rooted in all sense-objects.

36-43
How to overcome desires.

Chapter 4. The Yoga of Knowledge
The disciplines of Action and Knowledge

Verses

1-18
The glory of God with attributes Karma Yoga or selfless Action described.

19-23
The conduct of Yogis and sages.

24-32
Different forms of sacrifices described with their fruits.

33-42
The glory of Knowledge described.

Chapter 5. The Yoga of Action and Knowledge

Verses

1-6
Sankhya Yoga and the Yoga of Action (Yoga of selfless, disinterested Action).

7-12
Marks of the Sankhya Yogi and of the Nishkama Karma Yogi.

13-26
Jnana Yoga (Yoga of Knowledge)

27-29
Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of Meditation), together with devotion, described.

Chapter 6. The Yoga of Self-control

Verses

1-4
Karma Yoga (Yoga of selfless, disinterested Action) described.
Marks of one who has attained Yoga.

5-10
Urging one to uplift the self.
Marks of the God-realized soul.

11-32
Detailed description of Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of Meditation).

33-36
Question about control of restless mind.

37-47
The fate of one who falls from Yoga.
Dhyana Yoga (Yoga of meditation) described.

Chapter 7. The Yoga of Jnana and Vijnana (Yoga of Wisdom and realization)

(The following explanation is by Swami Shivananda The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh.)
Jnana is paroksha-jnana or theoretical knowledge from the study of the scriptures and Vijnana is visesha jnana or aparoksha jnana, i.e., direct knowledge of the Self through Self-realization (spiritual experience or anubhava.

Verses

1-7
Knowledge combined with direct realization.
Inferior prakriti and higher prakriti (lower nature and higher nature).

8-12
Inherence of God in all objects as their cause.

13-19
Maya. Men of demoniacal nature do not adore the Lord. Four types of devotees worship the Lord.

20-23
The question of worship of other gods.

24-30
Men who are ignorant of the glory and true nature of God and approbation of those who know them.

Chapter 8. The Yoga of the imperishable Brahman (Supreme Reality)

Verses

1-7
Answer to Arjuna’s seven questions on Brahman, Adhyatma (science of the self or spiritual science), and Karma (Action), etc

8-22
Bhakti Yoga (Yoga of devotion) discussed.

23-28
The bright and dark paths (during time of death) described.

Chapter 9. The Yoga of the Sovereign science and the Sovereign secret

Verses

1-6 Knowledge combined with experience (Self-realization).

7-10 The origin of the world.

11-15
Deceitful nature of demons of vain hopes, vain actions and vain knowledge.
Mahatmas (great souls) worship the Lord with single-minded devotion.

16-19
Description of God as the soul of everything and His glory.

20-25
The fruits of worship with a motive and without motive.

26-28
Glory of devotion and pure mind.

The act of offering everything to the Lord with profound faith constitutes the Yoga of renunciation.

Chapter 10. The Yoga of Divine Glories

Verses

1-7
Divine glories Power of Yoga and the fruit of their knowledge.

8-11
The source of all.
The characteristics of a devotee who has attained the realization of oneness.

12-18
Arjuna offers his praises to the Lord and prays to the Lord for a description of His Divine glories and the Lord’s Yogic power.

19-42
The Lord describes the Divine glories and the Yogic power.

Chapter 11. The Yoga of the vision of the Cosmic (Universal) Form

Verses

1-4
Arjuna prays to the Lord for a vision of His Cosmic Universal Form

5-8
The Lord describes His Cosmic Universal Form.

9-14
Sanjaya describes the Universal Form to Dhritarashtra

15-31
Arjuna sees the Lord’s Universal Form and offers praises to the Lord.

32-34
The Lord describes His Divine glories.
The Lord exhorts Arjuna to fight; be the Lord’s instrument.

35-46
Upon seeing the Universal Form, overwhelmed with fear and trembling, Arjuna praises the Lord, craves the Lord’s forgiveness and says, ‘I desire to see Thee as before, crowned, with four arms, bearing a mace and with the discus in hand.

47-50
The Lord describes the glory of the vision of His Universal Form, and reveals to Arjuna His four-armed, gentle human form.

51-55
Seeing again the Lord’s gentle human form, Arjuna feels composed and restored to his own nature.

(For an ordinary man the Cosmic Form (vision) is overwhelming and terrifying, but for a Yogi it is encouraging, strengthening and soul-elevating. It is an inducement to all spiritual aspirants to strive to attain this sublime vision. What they should do is explained by the Lord in verses 53 to 55.)

Chapter 12. The Yoga of Devotion

Verses

1-12
Merits of worshipping the Lord as Unmanifested or as Manifested (formless or with form).
The means of God realization.

13-20
The characteristics of the God-realized soul.

Chapter 13. The Yoga of distinction between the Field (Nature, matter, body) and the knower of the Field (Spirit; the Lord).

Verses

1-18
The subject of field and the Knower of the field.

19-34
Prakriti and Purusha (Matter and Spirit).

Chapter 14. The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas

Verses

1-4
Glory of Supreme Knowledge.

Evolution of the world from Purusha and Prakriti (Spirit and Nature).

5-20
The qualities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas described.

21-27 Means of God-realization.

Arjuna asks the Lord ‘What are the marks of him who has crossed over the three qualities or gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). What is his conduct?’

The Lord describes the characteristics of the sage who has gone beyond the gunas.

Chapter 15. The Yoga of the Supreme Spirit

Verses

1-6
Metaphorical description of the universe as a Peepul tree with its roots above and branches below.
The means of God-realization.

7-11
Jivatma (individual soul).

12-15
The Light of Consciousness.
The immanence of the Lord as the all-sustaining life.

16-20
(The following explanation is by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli)

The Lord describes the two entities in the world, viz., the mutable and the immutable. The mutable is all (these) creatures. The unchangeable one is called the Immutable. But there is another, the Supreme Being, called Parmatma, who is the Eternal, All Pervading Lord, Sustainer of the three worlds (Purushottama, the Highest Being).

Chapter 16. The Yoga of Division between the Divine and the demoniacal

Verses

1-5
Description of the divine qualities and the nature of the demoniacal.

6-20
Characteristics of one possessed of demoniacal properties

21-24
Triple is the gate of this hell, destructive of the self- lust, anger and greed.

Let the scripture be the authority, in determining what ought to be done and what ought not be done.

Chapter 17. The Yoga of Division of Threefold Faith

Verses

1-6
Faith analysed (Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic).
A man consists of his faith; as a man’s faith is, so is he.

7-22
Threefold food (Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic)
Threefold sacrifice
Austerity of speech
Mental serenity
Threefold austerity
Threefold gift

23-28
‘Om Tat Sat’ explained

Chapter 18. The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation (through the path of Knowledge and Self-surrender)

Verses

1-12
Renunciation and abandonment
Sanyasa is renunciation of action with desire.
Tyaga is abandonment of fruits of all actions.

13-18
Five causes of Karma (Action) according to the Sankhya system.

19-29
Knowledge, action and doer are of three kinds.

30-35
Threefold division of intellect and firmness.

36-40
Threefold pleasure

41-48
The four orders of human beings and their duties (distributed according to the qualities born of their own nature.)

49-55
Path of knowledge described.

56-66
The path of Karma Yoga (Yoga of selfless action)
The path of devotion
Take refuge in the Lord

67-78
The glory of the Gita

The Blessed Lord said: "He who with supreme devotion to Me will teach this supreme secret to My devotees, shall doubtless come to Me. Nor is there any among men who does dearer service to Me, nor shall there be another on earth dearer to Me than he. And he who will study this sacred dialogue of ours, by him I shall have been worshipped by the sacrifice of wisdom."

Original synopsis compiled by A - Z Hinduism


Bhagavad Gita Background


The discourse on the Bhagavad Gita begins before the start of the climactic battle at Kurukshetra. It begins with the pandava prince Arjuna, as he becomes filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realising that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Sri Krishna (an avatar of Sri Vishnu), for advice.

Krishna counsels Arjuna, beginning with the tenet that the human Soul is immortal, and human death on the battlefield is just the shedding of the body, but the soul is permanent. Krishna goes on to expound on the yogic paths of devotion, action, meditation and knowledge. Fundamentally, the Bhagavad Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the Ego, the little Self, and that one must identify with the Truth of the immortal Self, (the soul or Atman), the ultimate Divine Consciousness. Through detachment from the personal Ego, the Yogi, or follower of a particular path of Yoga, is able to transcend his mortality and attachment from the material world, and see the Infinite (the Brahman).

To demonstrate the infinity of the unknowable Brahman, Krishna grants Arjuna the boon of cosmic vision (albeit temporary), and allows the prince to see Him in all his Divine Glory. He reveals that He is fundamentally both the ultimate essence of Being in the universe, and also its material body. This is called the Vishvarupa/Viratrupa.

Gita refers to the war as Dharma Yuddha, meaning just war. In chapter 4, verse 7, it clearly states that God takes incarnation to establish righteousness in the world.

(For more information see Wikipedia)

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