The first spiritual text my dad gave was this copy of The Bhagavad Gita. It was at a time when I was struggling with my relationship and my purpose & place, and all far from home. Since that time a copy of The Gita has been something we both keep close by, but we haven't really talked about with one another in great detail. So this past week when he was here, I asked him what it means to him—what he gets out of studying it.
This is what emerged from our conversation:
- The Gita speaks about “the nature of things.” It speaks about humanity, reality and our place in that reality. It emphasizes the various ways in which humanity can deal with the ever-changing world and the emotions of the mind as well as the actions we can take to find wisdom and happiness.
- It begins with, “Dharmakshetra, kurushetra,” meaning “on the battlefield of duty, on the battlefield of the heart’s desire" and this opening line summaries it all: that the battle between wisdom and ignorance is in the mind of each being, and the pursuit to overcome illusion, gain wisdom and become detached from what is impermanent and perishable is our life's work.
- Regardless of spiritual belief, it's purpose is to help guide people live a better life by asking questions, seeking answers and finding meaning.
- ...and bring daughter and father closer through sharing understanding.
Additionally, the Gita provides an introduction and explanation of yoga and defines it as:
6. Heightened sensitivity and awareness of all life around us and within us, and an outpour of love in reciprocation with life’s wonder and beauty.
7. Fearless, illuminating, and a journey that does not end with death.
8. Vision that excludes nothing from its practice.
9. Intimate connection with the whole universe, with eternal realms even beyond the manifested universe, and with our own being’s endless capacity to love.
10. Pure, determined force that moves us toward the mysterious and secret, and connects us with the wonderfulness of existence, of being and of all life.
1. Clear, discerning, totally voluntary, dynamic participation in one’s life.
2. Everlasting, primal, revealing, the archetypal light and fueled by love.
3. Sacrifice that elevates us, motivates us, informs us, actively engages us and does so in a manner that is harmonious to all other living beings.
4. Selfless, cleansing, freeing, balancing, inspiring, and joyfully performed actions based on a vision in which one experiences peaceful interconnectedness with all life around them.
5. Nourished in the company of other yoga practitioners, by offerings of love, and the understandings they give rise to.
The Gita is the sixth book of the Mahabharata, one of India's most famous epic poems. It's unclear exactly when the Gita was composed—estimates vary widely, but a number of scholars suggest it was completed around 200 CE and then inserted into the larger work. Many people see it as the first fully realized yogic scripture. It a metaphorical narrative recounting a dialogue between Arjuna, one of five Pandava princes, and the Hindu deity Krishna, who in this epic serves as Arjuna's charioteer. Arjuna and his brothers have been exiled from the kingdom of Kurukshetra for 13 years and cut off from their rightful heritage by another faction of the family; the Gita takes up their struggle to reclaim the throne, which requires that Arjuna wage war against his own kinsmen. In depicting Arjuna's inner battle as he prepares for war, the Bhagavad Gita presents a synthesis of the yogic concepts of dharma, bhakti, moksha and samkhya philosophy.