The Bhagavad Gita is the sixth book of the Mahabharata, one of India's most famous epic poems. Had you attended any one of the performances of Doctor Atomic , a John Adams opera about the detonation of the first nuclear bomb near Los Alamos, New Mexico, you would have heard those words and perhaps been terrified by the image they painted of the Hindu god Vishnu. But the verse is not original to Adams's work; it was respectfully pilfered from the Bhagavad Gita in this case the translation by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. Adams is hardly alone among Americans to have found inspiration in this work. Rather, he's operating in a long tradition of borrowing and appropriation.
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The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna. At the start of the Dharma Yudhha righteous war between Pandavas and Kauravas , Arjuna is filled with moral dilemma and despair about the violence and death the war will cause in the battle against his own kin.
Krishna counsels Arjuna to "fulfill his Kshatriya warrior duty to uphold the Dharma " through "selfless action". Krishna is also said as the first motivational speaker in human history. Numerous commentaries have been written on the Bhagavad Gita with widely differing views on the essentials.
Vedanta commentators read varying relations between Self and Brahman in the text: Advaita Vedanta sees the non-dualism of Atman soul and Brahman universal soul as its essence,  whereas Bhedabheda and Vishishtadvaita see Atman and Brahman as both different and non-different, while Dvaita Vedanta sees dualism of Atman soul and Brahman as its essence. The setting of the Gita in a battlefield has been interpreted as an allegory for the ethical and moral struggles of the human life.
The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis   of Hindu ideas about dharma ,    theistic bhakti ,   and the yogic ideals  of moksha. The Bhagavad Gita is the best known and most famous of Hindu texts,  with a unique pan-Hindu influence. The Gita in the title of the text "Bhagavad Gita" means "song". Religious leaders and scholars interpret the word "Bhagavad" in a number of ways.
Accordingly, the title has been interpreted as "the Song of God" by the theistic schools,  "the Song of the Lord",  "the Divine Song",   and "Celestial Song" by others. This is not to be confused with the Shrimad Bhagavatam , which is a Purana dealing with the life of the Hindu God Krishna and various avatars of Vishnu. In the Indian tradition, the Bhagavad Gita , as well as the epic Mahabharata of which it is a part, is attributed to sage Vyasa ,  whose full name was Krishna Dvaipayana , also called Veda-Vyasa.
Scholars consider Vyasa to be a mythical or symbolic author, in part because Vyasa is also the traditional compiler of the Vedas and the Puranas , texts dated to be from different millennia. According to Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, a Gita scholar, it is possible that a number of different individuals with the same name compiled different texts.
Swami Vivekananda , the 19th-century Hindu monk and Vedantist, stated that the Bhagavad Gita may be old but it was mostly unknown in the Indian history till early 8th century when Adi Shankara Shankaracharya made it famous by writing his much-followed commentary on it. According to J. According to Alexus McLeod, a scholar of Philosophy and Asian Studies, it is "impossible to link the Bhagavad Gita to a single author", and it may be the work of many authors.
This is evidenced by the discontinuous intermixing of philosophical verses with theistic or passionately theistic verses, according to Basham. The Gita is considered by many to be more than years old. Theories on the date of the composition of the Gita vary considerably. It is believed that Gita was recited by Lord Krishna himself.
Scholars accept dates from the fifth century to the second century BCE as the probable range, the latter likely. The Hinduism scholar Jeaneane Fowler, in her commentary on the Gita , considers second century BCE to be the probable date of composition. Kashi Nath Upadhyaya, in contrast, dates it a bit earlier. He states that the Gita was always a part of the Mahabharata , and dating the latter suffices in dating the Gita. According to Arthur Basham, the context of the Bhagavad Gita suggests that it was composed in an era when the ethics of war were being questioned and renunciation to monastic life was becoming popular.
Linguistically, the Bhagavad Gita is in classical Sanskrit of the early variety, states the Gita scholar Winthrop Sargeant. This would date the text as transmitted by the oral tradition to the later centuries of the 1st-millennium BCE, and the first written version probably to the 2nd or 3rd century CE.
According to Jeaneane Fowler, "the dating of the Gita varies considerably" and depends in part on whether one accepts it to be a part of the early versions of the Mahabharata , or a text that was inserted into the epic at a later date. The Mahabharata — the world's longest poem — is itself a text that was likely written and compiled over several hundred years, one dated between " BCE or little earlier, and 2nd century CE, though some claim a few parts can be put as late as CE", states Fowler.
The dating of the Gita is thus dependent on the uncertain dating of the Mahabharata. The actual dates of composition of the Gita remain unresolved. The Bhagavad Gita is the best known,  and most famous of Hindu scriptures.
The Bhagavad Gita is part of the Prasthanatrayi , which also includes the Upanishads and Brahma sutras. These are the three starting points for the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. Some Hindus give it the status of an Upanishad, and some consider it to be a "revealed text". The Bhagavad Gita is the sealing achievement of Hindu Synthesis, incorporating its various religious traditions. It openly synthesizes and inclusively accepts multiple ways of life, harmonizing spiritual pursuits through action karma , knowledge jnana , devotion bhakti.
The Indologist Robert Minor, and others, [web 1] in contrast, state the Gita is "more clearly defined as a synthesis of Vedanta, Yoga and Samkhya" philosophies of Hinduism. The synthesis in Bhagavad Gita addresses the question as to what constitutes the virtuous path and one necessary for the spiritual liberation and a release from the cycles of rebirth moksha.
Thus Gita discusses and synthesizes the three dominant trends in Hinduism: enlightenment-based renunciation, dharma-based householder life, and devotion-based theism. According to Deutsch and Dalvi, the Bhagavad Gita attempts "to forge a harmony" between these three paths. The Bhagavad Gita's synthetic answer recommends that one must resist the "either-or" view, and consider a "both-and" view.
The Gita disapproves of these, stating that not only is it against the tradition but against Krishna himself, because "Krishna dwells within all beings, in torturing the body the ascetic would be torturing him", states Flood.
Even a monk should strive for the "inner renunciation", rather than external pretensions. The Gita synthesizes several paths to spiritual realization based on the premise that people are born with different temperaments and tendencies guna.
According to Upadhyaya, the Gita states that none of these paths to spiritual realization are "intrinsically superior or inferior", rather they "converge in one and lead to the same goal".
According to Hiltebeitel, Bhakti forms an essential ingredient of this synthesis, and the text incorporates Bhakti into Vedanta. The Bhagavad Gita manuscript is found in the sixth book of the Mahabharata manuscripts — the Bhisma-parvan.
Therein, in the third section, the Gita forms chapters 23—40, that is 6. The Bhagavad Gita manuscripts exist in numerous Indic scripts. According to Gambhirananda, the old manuscripts may have had verses, though he agrees that verses is the generally accepted historic standard. An authentic manuscript of the Gita with verses has not been found.
Since Shankara's time, the " verses" has been the standard benchmark for the critical edition of the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is a poem written in the Sanskrit language. Each shloka line has two quarter verses with exactly eight syllables. Each of these quarters is further arranged into "two metrical feet of four syllables each", state Flood and Martin.
The Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna right before the start of the climactic Kurukshetra War in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The Pandava prince Arjuna asks his charioteer Krishna to drive to the center of the battlefield so that he can get a good look at both the armies and all those "so eager for war". He does not want to fight to kill them and is thus filled with doubt and despair on the battlefield.
The Bhagavad Gita is the compilation of Arjuna's questions and moral dilemma, Krishna's answers and insights that elaborate on a variety of philosophical concepts. Bhagavad Gita comprises 18 chapters section 25 to 42  [web 2] in the Bhishma Parva of the epic Mahabharata. Because of differences in recensions , the verses of the Gita may be numbered in the full text of the Mahabharata as chapters 6. However, variant readings are relatively few in contrast to the numerous versions of the Mahabharata it is found embedded in, and the meaning is the same.
The original Bhagavad Gita has no chapter titles. Some Sanskrit editions that separate the Gita from the epic as an independent text, as well as translators, however, add chapter titles such as each chapter being a particular form of yoga. Two massive armies representing different loyalties and ideologies face a catastrophic war.
With Arjuna is Krishna, not as a participant in the war, but only as his charioteer and counsel. Arjuna requests Krishna to move the chariot between the two armies so he can see those "eager for this war". He sees family and friends on the enemy side. Arjuna is distressed and in sorrow.
He wonders if it is noble to renounce and leave before the violence starts, or should he fight, and why. The warrior Arjuna whose past had focused on learning the skills of his profession now faces a war he has doubts about. Filled with introspection and questions about the meaning and purpose of life, he asks Krishna about the nature of life, soul, death, afterlife and whether there is a deeper meaning and reality.
The chapter summarizes the Hindu idea of rebirth, samsara, eternal soul in each person Self , universal soul present in everyone, various types of yoga, divinity within, the nature of Self-knowledge and other concepts. This chapter is an overview for the remaining sixteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita.
He wonders if fighting the war is "not so important after all" given Krishna's overview on the pursuit of spiritual wisdom. Krishna replies that there is no way to avoid action karma , since abstention from work is also an action. Every man or woman is bound by activity. Those who act selfishly create the karmic cause and are thereby bound to the effect which may be good or bad.
Whatever the result, it does not affect them. Their happiness comes from within, and the external world does not bother them. Arjuna questions how Krishna could do this, when those sages lived so long ago, and Krishna was born more recently. Krishna reminds him that everyone is in the cycle of rebirths, and while Arjuna does not remember his previous births, he does.
Whenever dharma declines and the purpose of life is forgotten by men, says Krishna, he returns to re-establish dharma.
The later verses of the chapter return to the discussion of motiveless action and the need to determine the right action, performing it as one's dharma duty while renouncing the results, rewards, fruits. The simultaneous outer action with inner renunciation, states Krishna, is the secret to the life of freedom.
Action leads to knowledge, while selfless action leads to spiritual awareness, state the last verses of this chapter. Arjuna asks Krishna which path is better. The different paths, says Krishna, aim for—and if properly pursued, lead to—Self-knowledge.
This knowledge leads to the universal, transcendent Godhead, the divine essence in all beings, to Brahman — the Krishna himself. The final verses of the chapter state that the self-aware who have reached self-realization live without fear, anger, or desire. They are free within, always. For example, states Arthur Basham, verses 5. It is not those who lack energy nor those who refrain from action, but those who work without expecting reward who attain the goal of meditation, Theirs is true renunciation.
Krishna says that such self-realized people are impartial to friends and enemies, are beyond good and evil, equally disposed to those who support them or oppose them because they have reached the summit of consciousness. The verses 6.
The First Book of Yoga: The Enduring Influence of the Bhagavad Gita
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Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God
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