The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita

The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita

Aarti Natarajan Sharma

One of the most important and famous parts of the epic Mahabharata is the Bhagavad Gita. This 700-verse scripture was written by the sage Ved Vyasa. The literal meaning of the Bhagavad Gita is ‘The Song of God.’ It is considered to be the crux of all Hindu holy books. 

The Gita centers around three main concepts—knowledge, action, and love. In his discourse to Arjun, Lord Krishna expands on the philosophy of life and the battle of dharma against adharma

Three Main Themes

The Gita is also referred to as ‘Yog Shastra’ because its 18 chapters are equally divided among three themes—Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Jnana Yoga.

Karma Yoga deals with the yoga of actions and takes up the first 6 chapters of the Gita. Lord Krishna says that God pervades the entire Universe. It is neeyat or motive which ultimately determines whether an action is right or wrong. One should do one’s duty without focusing on the fruits of one’s labour. Every action of ours should be surrendered to the divine powers. 

Chapters 7 to 12 deal with Bhakti Yoga or the yoga of devotion. As human beings we have trouble focusing on a formless god. Lord Krishna likens bhakti to the love a mother has for her child—unconditional. He tells Arjun that he, too, needs to focus only on Lord Krishna and be unconditional in his devotion and love towards him. When we centre our mind only around the Lord, we have taken the first step towards moksha (liberation). 

The final chapters from 13 to 18 deal with Jnana Yoga or the yoga of knowledge and wisdom. Lord Krishna says that true knowledge is a means of liberating ourselves from the cycle of births and deaths. Suffering is due to the misconception that happiness is to be found in the external world. It comes from within when one detaches oneself from external sources of perceived happiness and realises that one is neither the body nor the mind. One is the Atma, the soul, which is never born, and never dies. 

Important Lessons

The Gita answers questions on life. It expounds the doctrine of karma, that is it explains that one takes birth based on past karma. One’s present karma determines one’s future birth. 

  • The Lord explains that whenever there is a decline in values, in order to protect the good and destroy the wicked, He manifests himself to set people on the path of righteousness.
  • Life is always full of obstacles and battles. One must face these head-on and not shirk from doing one’s duty, even if it is at a high personal cost. 
  • Whatever happened was for the good, what is happening is for the good and whatever will happen shall be good. As human beings we might not be able to see the larger purpose of a circumstance but we need to believe that the Lord has a plan in mind for us. 
  • The universal law is that change is permanent. Nothing ever stays the same. We can either fight it and make ourselves unhappy or embrace it and be at peace. 
  • We are born empty-handed and we shall die the same. Whatever we use, acquire and accumulate in this lifetime shall not be carried with us when we die. 
  • We should do our duty without fretting about the results of the same. 

Gifting the Bhagavad Gita 

The Bhagavad Gita continues to be one of the most relevant texts of present times. It makes for a wonderful gift on all occasions. Having the Gita in the house is considered to be extremely auspicious. Among numerous versions of the Gita in the market, one of them is by Devi Chitralekha. This comes in a luxurious wooden box with a plush maroon lining. The book is hardbound with a gold and copper foiling, adding to its regal look. It is full of gorgeous illustrations and paintings by talented artists. The text is printed with special UV glossy ink on matt velvet paper. Overall, this gift is one that is sure to make anyone feel loved and cherished.