The Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita, the Divine Song of God, is a chapter in the great epic called the Mahabharata written by sage Veda Vyasa. This epic is said to be the history of greater India (Maha – great, and Bharata – India). A major portion of this epic entails the story of the sons of the blind King Dhritarashtra - the Kauravas , and the sons of King Pandu - the Pandavas. The bitter rivalry between the cousins, especially between Duryodhana the eldest of the Kauravas, and the Pandava princes, eventually culminates in warfare. In the Mahabharata war, Lord Krishna plays the role of a charioteer. The Lord is the charioteer of His dear friend Arjuna, the Pandava prince.

The day has come when the two great armies of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, are gathered on the battlefield on opposites sides, waiting for the command to attack. Arjuna, who is in his chariot with Lord Krishna, takes up his bow and prepares to fight. When he sees the Kaurava army all set in military array, he requests Lord Krishna to draw the chariot between the two armies, to get a better view of those gathered there.

On the side of the Kauravas, Arjuna sees his teacher, his friends, his much revered grand uncle Bhishma and many relatives who are all dear to him. Arjuna’s mind reels as he realizes that all those whom he holds dear are going to perish in this war. In despair he throws down his bow and decides not to fight.

Now this is a serious state of affairs as the whole clan is looking up to Arjuna, the invincible warrior, for redemption from the oppression of the Kaurava prince Duryodhana. Arjuna surrenders to Lord Krishna and requests the Lord to instruct him.

It was on this battlefield of Kurukshetra, some six thousand years ago, that Lord Krishna reveals His true personality and delivers His immortal message of Dharmakshetra to human kind through His devotee Arjuna. This message known as the Bhagavad Gita comprises of eighteen adhyayas (chapters ) and 700 slokas (verses ).

The Lord advises Arjuna to do his duty first and foremost. Since Arjuna was totally devastated at the thought of killing his kith and kin, Lord Krishna reveals the secrets and realities of so-called death. What follows is a series of queries from Arjuna. By way of answering Arjuna’s queries and clearing his doubts, the Lord unravels to all of humanity the secret of attaining HAPPINESS now and hereafter.
The Supreme Lord said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence. (Bhagavad Gita 9.1)
Lord Krishna’s first instruction is that we are not this body, but are eternal sprit souls.
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change. (Bhagavad Gita 2.13)

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. (Bhagavad Gita 2.22)
Lord Krishna clears Arjuna’s doubts and gives instructions pertaining to the law of life, the law of nature and the codes of morality. Finally, Lord Krishna concludes with his final instruction:
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear. (Bhagavad Gita 18.66)
The Gita, when read with reverence and devotion will reveal answers to matters dealing with both the worldly and the spiritual. An aspirant of the Gita could start with the translated version of this sacred text by reading the Penguin Classics Bhagavad Gita by Juan Mascaro. For a devotional perspective, one may read The Bhagavad Gita with commentary by Swami Chidbhavananda.

The other text that is insightful is by C. Rajagopalachari, a great Indian statesman of the twentieth century. In his Bhagavad Gita- A Handbook for Students, the various aspects of the knowledge and wisdom are grouped together for easy reference and understanding under the following topics.
 
God and Nature
The Soul
Hope For All
Karma
Godlessness
Surrender and Grace
The Practice of Mind-control
Meditation
Advaita and Gita-Discipline
Inherited Propensities
Right Action
Ideals-Austerities-Food
The Oneness of Existence
Seeing God
 
“THE SECRET OF ACTION IS THE MESSAGE OF THE GITA.”
- Aurobindo Ghose.
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