Bhagavad-Gita

Introduction

The Shrimad Bhagavad Gita (/ˌbʌɡəvəd ˈɡiːtɑː, -tə/; Sanskrit: श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता, lit. 'The Song by God';[a] IAST: bhagavadgītā),[1] often referred to as the Gita (IAST: gītā), is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata (chapters 23–40 of Bhishma Parva), dated to the second half of the first millennium BCE and exemplary for the emerging Hindu synthesis. It is considered to be one of the holy scriptures for Hinduism.

The Gita is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. At the start of the Dharma Yuddha (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.[2] He wonders if he should renounce and seeks Krishna's counsel, whose answers and discourse constitute the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna counsels Arjuna to "fulfill his Kshatriya (warrior) duty to uphold the Dharma" through "selfless action".[web 1][3][note 1] The Krishna–Arjuna dialogues cover a broad range of spiritual topics, touching upon ethical dilemmas and philosophical issues that go far beyond the war Arjuna faces.[1][4][5]

Numerous commentaries have been written on the Bhagavad Gita with widely differing views on the essentials. According to some, Bhagavad Gita is written by the god Ganesha which was told to him by Vyasa. Vedanta commentators read varying relations between Self and Brahman in the text: Advaita Vedanta sees the non-dualism of Atman (Self) and Brahman (universal Self) as its essence,[6] whereas Bhedabheda and Vishishtadvaita see Atman and Brahman as both different and non-different, while Dvaita Vedanta sees dualism of Atman (Self) 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 human life.[5][7][8]

The Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis[9][10] of Hindu ideas about dharma,[9][10][11] theistic bhakti,[11][12] and the yogic ideals[10] of moksha.[10] The text covers jñāna, bhakti, karma, and rāj yogas (spoken of in the 6th chapter)[12] incorporating ideas from the Samkhya-Yoga philosophy.[web 1][note 2]

The Bhagavad Gita is the best known and most famous of Hindu texts,[13] with a unique pan-Hindu influence.[14][15] The Gita's call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian independence movement including Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi; the latter referred to it as his "spiritual dictionary".[16]


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