The Bhagavad Gita is most widely recognized as one of the central scriptures of hinduism and one of the three pillars of hindu thought. The message of unity preached in the Gita is often overlooked in favor of the message(s) of karma-yoga, raja-yoga, prema-yoga and bhakti-yoga.
The Gita is perhaps the one and only text that successfully provides a unified source in which various hindu philosophies find validation. The Advaita philosophy of Shankara, which proposes that the supreme being or brahman and the human soul or atman are indeed one and the same, is validated in the Gita. Advaita simply means non-dualism, or the negation (a-) of dualism (-dvaita). The role of Shankara in restoring and unifying the various streams of hinduism and encouraging the study of the vedas is widely acknowledged. His commentary on the Gita is one of the most widely read and studied interpretations of the Gita.
According to several scholars, the Gita restates the central teaching of the Upanishads. The Upanishads are the cows, and the cowherd’s son, Krishna (the narrator of the Gita), is the milker; Arjuna (the one to whom the Gita is narrated on the battlefield) is the calf, the wise man is the drinker and the nectar-like Gita is he excellent milk.
sarvopanishado gaavo dogdhaa gopaalamandanah
paartho vatsah bhoktaa dugdham gitaamritam mahat
सर्वोपणिषदो गावो दोग्धा गोपालनंनदन:
पार्थो वत्स: सुधीर भोक्ता दुग्धम् गीतामृत्म महत ।
Hence, the Gita is sometimes called an upanishad, since it derives its main inspiration from that remarkable group of scriptures. The Gita brought together the different elements of Hindu thought which were competing with each other at the time of its composition. The teacher (Lord Krishna himself) undertakes the enormous taks of reconciling the Vedic cult of sacrifice, the Upanisad’s teaching of the transcendent Brahman, the Bhagavata’s theism and piety, the Sankhya dualism and the Yoga approach of meditation.
The Gita draws all these living elements of Hindu life and thought into an organic unity. The teacher of the Gita adopts the method of unification and unity and shows how these different lines of thought converge to the same end.
- Core Principles of the Bhagavad Gita by Shankara
- Gita Summary in Hindi (गीता सार)
- Various commentaries and translations of the Gita. (The Bhagavad Gita – amazon.com link, if you are in the USA and would like to purchase for your reference).
Have you recently read the Bhagavad Gita? How has the Gita impacted your life?