|The Bhagavad Gita - Introduction|
The Vedic Religion popularly known as Hinduism owns the largest number of sacred books. Even a catalogue of them is staggering to the unacquainted. The fundamentals of this religion are all contained in the Upanishads. The essence of the Upanishads is the Bhagavad Gita. It is a dialogue between Sri Krishna, the Divine and Arjuna, the human. This conversation is placed in the battlefield to indicate that life on earth is verily a conflict between the good and the bad. The good triumphs ultimately.
The Bhagavad Gita is a treatise on Reality called Brahman. It has three categories - the Immanent Reality, the Transcendent Reality and the Absolute Reality. It is not a mere mechanism, as the materialist would view it. It is a divinely constituted training ground where, through pain and pleasure, through life and death, through friend and foe all beings are driven to evolve in divinity. The vision of the Cosmic Form that Arjuna was blessed with in chapter eleven in this book reveals this truth. It is the abode of all living beings. The Transcendent Reality or Iswara contains, controls and governs the Immanent. Sri Krishna is Iswara apparently embodied for the benefit of the devotee. All worship and adoration are to be offered to this Reality. The purified in heart can have access to Him even as Arjuna had. He bestows emancipation on them who perfect themselves. The Sub-stratum of these two is the Absolute Reality, Nirguna Brahman or Pure Consciousness. Duality of any kind has no place in it. The salt doll does not survive sea bath. Even so the spiritual aspirant dissolves his individuality in this Cosmic Awareness - Prajnanam. This is the goal of human life.
The science of Yoga is the process and discipline by which man regains his identity with Brahman. Turning out enormous work and maintaining equanimity at the same time is Karma Yoga. Self control to the core is Raja Yoga. It makes man whole. Bhakti Yoga binds the entire Creation as One in Pure Love. Jnana Yoga sharpens the intellect and makes the Yogi realize that Reality is One without a second. This book is a manual of these paths of Yoga.
Man becomes great to the extent he cultivates and cultures the mind. The possibilities of the mind are immense. Broadly it may be said to be constituted, namely of the will, emotion and cognition. The first six chapters of the Gita deal with the development of the will. The second six chapters aid the evolution of emotion, culminating in pure and inspired love. The last six chapters draw out the latent intelligence in man. A harmonious development of these three faculties makes man perfect. The Bhagavad Gita aims at this perfection. It is therefore a universal scripture.
Besides being a historical event, the Bhagavad Gita set-up suggests a subjective bearing. The Kurukshetra battlefield is analogous to the human body. As the contending cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas made use of that battlefield to serve their causes, the human body is utilized both by the bad and the good to serve their purposes. Like unto the Kauravas the bad are more in number. Parallel to the Pandavas the good are limited. Conflict between the good tendencies and the bad is an eternal strife. The majority of mankind chose the wrong path exactly as the armies of the Kauravas were more in number than those of the Pandavas. As Sri Krishna the embodied Divinity charioteered the virtuous Pandavas, Conscience backing the good is enshrined in the hearts of all. The wicked do not pay heed to its dictates even as the Kauravas did not care to follow the advice of Sri Krishna. Life lived by man is a warfare in which the virtuous ultimately vanquish the vicious.
There are no brain-racking propositions in the Bhagavad Gita. The teachings in it are very simple. But all of them may not be understandable to the ordinary. Still a pious study of the book, portion by portion, is recommended. Whatever in it is enlightening and appealing may be deeply pondered over. The easy tenets may be put into practice. Grounding in Yoga commences that way. The student is thereby bound to advance ethically and spiritually. As he advances the apparently intricate teachings become lucid. This book is therefore a guide for spiritual unfoldment.
He who can read the original in Sanskrit will do well to religiously chant a chapter a day. The translation may be pursued simultaneously or subsequently.
The study and the practice of the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita transforms an ordinary man into a superman, without coming into clash with any creed of theology.