The Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, also known as the Gita, is the third and final scripture forming the foundation of Hindu philosophy. Hindus have great reverence for this divine manuscript. The text is composed of 700 verses spread across 18 chapters, or adhyayas. It is part of a much larger work, the Mahabharata, the great Indian epic poem written by Veda Vyas.
The Gita speaks of performing one’s own swadharma, or duty, without the expectations of merit or its fruit. This is the only way to please God and realize His true form. This learning is delivered in the Gita as a dialog between Shri Krishna and Arjun, on the battlefield of the Mahabharata war. The warrior Arjun loses heart and the strength to face his enemies in battle, which includes his gurus, elders, and relatives. The loss of this strength symbolizes a greater loss; it symbolizes Arjun unable to perform his duty.
The questions raised by Arjun about right and wrong, duty and responsibility - and the answers given by Shri Krishna - are still relevant and valid today, nearly 5,000 years later. The knowledge of the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita is eternal. Shri Krishna elaborates on various Vedantic philosophies with examples and analogies. He describes the knowledge of self-realization and the process by which a human being can establish an eternal rapport with God. Some of the most famous verses discuss the concept of stability of the body, mind, and soul. A famous shloka from the Gita’s introduction gives the beautiful anology of Arjun being a calf drinking the nectar-like milk of the Gita from the Upanishadic cow offered by Shri Krishna, the cowherd.
After much discussion, Arjun is still unconvinced. Lord Krishna then utters the conclusive shloka, “Sarva dharmaan parityajya…,” which means, “Oh Arjun, leave all your ideas about right and wrong, and surrender to my will. I shall free you from any consequences of your actions and deliver moksha to you.” Thus, the Bhagavad Gita is a call to action, a dialogue between God and man in which God is exhorting man to perform his duties as per the wish of God and thus fulfilling his spiritual as well as worldly duties.
The Shrimad Bhagavad Gita’s simplicity and universal messages can be imbibed by all, thus making the Gita an important philosophical and religious classic of our world.