The Bhagavad Gita (Penguin Classics)


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When the mind constantly runs after the wandering senses, it drives away wisdom, like the wind blowing a ship off course View all 3 comments. The Gita , a part of the much larger Hindu epic, the Mahabharata , was no doubt based on ancient oral tradition, much recent scholarship concluding that the approximate date of written composition was the first century CE. The immediate story involves an extended philosophical conversation between the Pandava general, Arjuna, and his charioteer Krishna, who is in actuality the Supreme Being Himself, immediately before a monumental battle, a battle that Arjuna is hesitant to wage because it involve The Gita , a part of the much larger Hindu epic, the Mahabharata , was no doubt based on ancient oral tradition, much recent scholarship concluding that the approximate date of written composition was the first century CE.

The immediate story involves an extended philosophical conversation between the Pandava general, Arjuna, and his charioteer Krishna, who is in actuality the Supreme Being Himself, immediately before a monumental battle, a battle that Arjuna is hesitant to wage because it involves fighting against friends and kin. The argument of the work proceeds in a more cyclical than linear fashion, and it revolves around issues of duty, freedom through the disciplines of action, understanding, and devotion, relinquishment of attachment to the results of action, the meaning of life, and the nature of ultimate reality.

It rejects the concept of a transcendent divine reality outside of or beyond immanent reality and expresses an understanding of cosmic unity that is itself divine. The poetry of this work is itself moving, and Mitchell has done a good job of transmitting its grandeur. Another translation that I like is that by Barbara Stoler Miller, and it is in fact useful to explore this great work by reading, comparing, and enjoying a number of different translations, each highlighting different aspects and nuances of the work. It is certainly possible and valuable to read the Gita primarily intellectually to gain insights into concepts and traditions different from the more definitively theistic traditions known in the West.

It's one day after I wrote the review above, and I've just completed rereading Barbara Stoler Miller's translation. Nonetheless, as I mentioned yesterday, which one a reader chooses may be a matter of personal preference. That being said, each of these two translators has provided an interesting introduction to the text, and again these differ and highlight different aspects and interpretations. This was the first time I've read the Gita. I'm glad I happened to read this version which includes Gandhi's comments--without them I don't think I would have gotten a whole lot from it, with them, I found it to be a beautiful and peaceful book.

One of the problems I've had with my limited attempts at understanding Eastern philosophy is how to reconcile the Eastern idea non-striving with the Western values of action and ambition. Both, in their proper context, seem appealing and right. The Bhagav This was the first time I've read the Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is interesting in how it addresses the necessity of action and physical improvement but how these activities should be engaged in without striving explicitly for results, but instead focusing on the value that is intrinsic to the action itself.

Thinking about the problem of action like this was helpful--I understood it to mean that practice and improvement are important and necessary Western , but it they should be taken with a sense of non-attachment to the outcome if one is to gain the most from them Eastern.

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There are tons of names scattered throughout Ishvara, Bharatarshabha, Kaunteya, Mahabahu, Purushottama etc. Even without making an effort to understand any of the historical and Sanskrit Hindu context, I found the text rewarding and very much worth reading. It will serve them as a permanent and trustworthy companion in performing their various vocations and duties in life. It will lift them up in moments of depression. There are about of these Upanishads altogether: chapters which deal with the ultimate reality of life and death.

The Gita is the nectar, like milk, which can be consumed easily by one and all It talks to man as such. He who reads it is uplifted to a higher realm of happiness The Gita does not differentiate between and man and man on the basis of caste, colour, creed, religion or sex. So the Christians, the Muslims, the Buddhists, the Zoroastrians and the Hindus can derive eternal and everlasting happiness and bliss by pondering over the verses of the Gita. It means that which is lying dormant or hidden in the innermost dark recesses of your heart.

Krishna means black and dark. The Krishan consciousness is lying dormant within us He is there in the wind, in the oceans, on the earth, in the sky and in the sun. The neutrons and the protons are actually activated by the magic of His presence. He is the Presiding Deity of the Whole Universe He alone is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent. There are three steps: 1. King Yudhishthir, the Dharamraja, ruled over the powerful kingdom of Indraprastha. But their cousin Duryodhana was jealous, and wanted to rule the kingdom for himself.

His uncle Shakuni, too, was greedy and cunning.

The Bhagavad Gita

He persuaded his nephew to play a game of dice, saying that he would make the dice fall in such a way that Duryodhana would always win. One must never gamble as there is no limit to the loss one may suffer in it. Of course this game was lost too, and the five brothers were all further exiled for twelve years. This description is highly symbolic. The battlefield represents the human body or heart, and the war being fought is the battle in each one of us, between the forces of good and evil in our hearts. He tells what has happened to Dhritarashtra, the blind king. These stories are allegorical, and similar to parables.

This section comprises the Bhagavad Gita. It conveys a deeper message than what it seems to deliver in a literal sense.


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The white horses representing our five sense-organs: the ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose, enabling us to gain knowledge - to hear, touch, see taste and smell are held back well under control by the pulled reins the mind. This enables the Charioteer the Pure Intellect, or our higher self, represented by Lord Krishna to guide Arunja the ego to be victorious in the battle of Mahabharta, just as we will each be victorious in the battle of our life and gain divine strength.

Traditionally every person is believed to be unique in nature. If I am a man of learning and love knowledge above everything else, my battlefield is confined to books, schools, colleges, students, debates, discussion, reading, writing, preaching and the like. I cannot and should not go to the cricket-field as a batman to get my head struck with a bouncer. It was based upon the physical, mental and intellectual abilities of the persons concerned. A Sudra is interested in serving others.

A Kshatriya can defend the weak, the innocent and the poor, and has a mission to eliminate exploitation, injustuce, tyranny, torture and crimes from society. Liberation is not something that can be acquired or reached. It can be viewed as a synthesis of knowledge, devotion, and desireless action, forming what is appropriate for each person. The Bhagavad Gita was introduced to the world through Sanjaya, who sees and knows all the events of the battlefield.

The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of the concept of Dharma and yogic ideals. That is why the Gita has been called Yoga Sastra. The setting of the Bhagavad Gita in a battlefield, is usually interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of the human life. Its call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. I lost my earthly mother who gave me birth long ago. But this eternal mother has completely filled her place by my side ever since. She has never changed; she has never failed me. Whenever I am in difficulty or distress, I seek refuge in her bosom.

These Upanishads - the verses themselves - are composed with similes and metaphors. The Sanskrit editions of the Bhagavad Gita name each chapter as a particular form of yoga. These eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita can be seen as a progressive order, by which Krishna leads Arjuna up the ladder of Yoga from one rung to another. To follow the path of Karma yoga, action is necessary.

However, the action is to be undertaken without any attachment to the work or desire for results. The work is done for itself, and not for any rewards. The object of the Bhagavad Gita is to show the best way for each individual to attain self-realisation.

CHITHEADS (#11) // Edwin Bryant on the Yoga Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, & the Absolute

This can be achieved by selfless action, and controlling all mental desires and tendencies to enjoy sensory pleasures. When we dwell on things of the material world - sensory things - we become attached to them. From this springs desire, and anger when they are not realised. This results in bewilderment, then loss of memory, and the destruction of intelligence. Thus, he says, we perish. It is our desire that invites all our worries, agonies, sufferings, headaches, heartaches and hellish turmoils.

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The Bhagavad Gita

That is why Lord Krishna lays the greatest stress on desireless or unattached Action throughout the whole Gita. It is known as Karmyoga or the Yoga of selfless Action. Thus he sees that beings are expanded everywhere. Clearly this word too has nuances of meaning. It can mean a holy instruction manual, or both the knowledge of Divinity lurking inside us, and the technique for bringing it out to be manifested. There are numerous commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita , each differing from the rest in one essential point or another.

I enjoyed this book, but even though it is intended as a simple explanation I still floundered, much as young Arunja, finding the esoteric concepts incredibly difficult to grasp, and alien to Western philosophical tradition. Clearly I have not picked up all the connotations here.

The Bhagavad Gita

Plus, as always in religious scriptures, the names of people, tribes, cultures and concepts can seem overwhelming to someone not inculcated into the religion or belief system from birth, and the endless battles rather monotonous. A loving and careful study of this work shall confer happiness and prosperity on the readers. Lord Krishna is ever smiling to bless them! The text is in 44 chapters, varying in length from half a side to a dozen or more pages.

The illustrations by shri N.

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Vikram are quite beautiful, using traditional Hindu stylised images and vivid authentic colours. There are plenty of them, each filling slightly over half a page of this large format book. This song divine is being sung in every heart ceaselessly, but we have no ears to listen to it.

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