The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most ancient religious scriptures of the world. It contains the direct message of god. It is a dialogue between god and his closest devotee. The discourse was delivered originally in Sanskrit, but today its translations are available almost in every language.
Lord Vishnu incarnated in the form of Lord Krishna to root out evil and establish dharma or righteous living upon earth. He participated in the dharma of human life and left behind his discourse in the form of the Bhagavad Gita for the benefit of future generations.
The scripture is truly an icon of the Sanatana Dharma, an ageless and valuable ancient discourse that has the potential to play a significant role in the alleviation of suffering in all branches of human life, in a world that has been increasingly becoming more complex and unstable.
The central philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita characterises in many ways the central theme of Hinduism even in today’s context. It contains the message of divine-centered living based upon right knowledge, faith, devotion, self-surrender, detachment and dispassionate performance of tasks as opposed to the ego-centered living that is characterised by incessant striving, self-centered thinking, egoism, and suffering arising out of non-attainment of desires, or union with the undesired objects or separation from the desired objects.
The Bhagavad Gita says that the pleasures enjoyed by man may be like nectar in the initial stage but will turn as poison after some time. Religious exercises may appear painful in the beginning but will be like elixir in the end. So, too, discipline will be hard to relish but will enable a person to keep physically and mentally alert.
In a similar manner, invariably man claims “I have done this”, “This is mine” and “Because of me this has happened”. All these vain boasts are due to his ignorance and Lord Krishna in His Bhagavad Gita has given the prescription as how to get rid of this ego, how to gain superior knowledge and get away from darkness.
The teachings embodied in the Bhagavad Gita possess eternal value and are universal in their applicability. This is the only philosophical work that enjoys the widest currency. Its message continues to be as fresh and inspiring today, as it was when the Lord delivered it to Arjuna.
The Bhagavad Gita explains the greatness of the path of devotion for god-realisation and the link between the human being and the Paramatma, pointing out that the acts of an individual are guided by the Unseen and that the acts of an individual are guided by the Unseen and that he has no independence.
The Bhagavad Gita suggests three steps for a devotee - listening, seeing and experiencing; indicating that the scriptures should be digested. God’s presence is witnessed and divine bliss is experienced in the end. Then he will maintain internal harmony and balance. In this connection, ‘Satsang’ - association with people of integrity and piety who can help in the process of purifying the mind is recommended for all.
The Bhagavad Gita inspires us to tap the humanistic impulses. The ‘infinite’ manifests itself in all human beings like the Sun whose reflection can be seen in ponds, lakes and pools. Man is the center of infinite possibilities because his soul is pure, has no hatred and does not give room for violence.
The Gita says that ‘work and worship’ are the same. If someone is offensive in speech, we should not retaliate. Forget it for a day or two, your mind will become calm and you will never retaliate. We should enrich society by good work. The study of Gita helps to develop character. We should think that everyone is our neighbour and do everything to help remove the sufferings of others.
Therefore, the Bhagavad Gita searches for a permanent reality that makes life more meaningful, stable, peaceful and purposeful. It discards layer after layer of untruth that surrounds us and reveals the shining self that exists in all of us as the centre of truth and permanence that we should all ultimately discover. It is by understanding the hidden Self in us we will ultimately discover the Supreme Self, that exists in all of us and in Whom we all exist.
sri balagangadhara swamiji, 71st Pontiff of Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamsthana Math