Published On: Sat, Feb 11th, 2017

Bhagavad Gītā: A Background

vasudeva sutaṁ devaṃ kamsa cānūra mardanam I
devakī paramānandaṁ kṛṣṇam vande jagad gurum II
‘I salute unto you Bhagavān Kṛṣṇa,
Guru (master) of the world,
son of Vasudeva, supreme bliss of Devakī,
destroyer of Kamsa and Cāṇūra’

Srīmad Bhagavad Gītā is the ultimate sacred scripture of yoga, Yogaśastra and the pristine glory of the Vedic culture, the eternal living tradition called sanātana-dharma. It belongs to the whole Universe for it is delivered to the Universe by the source and embodiment of Universe. We salute and bow down to Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who spoke the Bhagavad Gītā out of His infinite love and compassion for all beings.

Whenever unrighteousness, adharma becomes predominant and dharma, righteous living declines and the Yoga of Enlightenment is lost, Parabrahma Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Consciousness appears again and again to revive this sacred yoga, to protect and to enrich the devoted beings; and destroys adharma to re-establish the pure and everlasting dharma—the Science of Enlightenment. dharma saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge—this is Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s promise and the essence and spirit of the Gītā.

Gītā is also called Brahmavidyā—the Knowledge of Brahman, the supreme absolute truth; it is Jīvan Mukti Vijñāna—the Science of Living Enlightenment. As with all scriptures, it is the knowledge and experience that is transmitted verbally as Śri Krṣṇārjuna Saṁvād, an intimate dialogue between Master of the world, Jagadguru Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His dear devotee and disciple, Arjuna. It is called śruti in Saṃskṛit, meaning something that is heard.

Gītā, as Bhagavad Gītā is generally called, translates literally from Saṃskṛit as ‘Sacred Song of God’. Unlike the Vedas and Upaniṣads, which are stand alone expressions of Truth, the Gītā is written into the greatest Hindu epic, the Mahābhārat, called a purāṇa, an ancient historical
happening. It is part of the recorded history of the greatest tradition, the paramount civilization in all its Divine grandeur and its human complexity, so to speak.

As a scripture, Gītā is Gītāśastra, the essence and the most important part of the ancient knowledge base of the Vedic tradition, which is the expression of the experiences of great sages. Vedas and Upaniṣads, the foundation of śruti literature, arose from the insight,
vision and the consciousness of completion of these great sages when they were raised into a no-mind state of Advaita (non-duality). These are as old as humanity, as eternal as truth, and the first and truest expressions in the journey of man’s search for truth.

Unlike the Vedas, which were revealed to the great Sages or the Upaniṣads, which were the teachings of these great Enlightened Eages, Gītā is part of the great Bhārata’s (India’s) history narrated by Śrī Veda Vyāsa or Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dvāipāyana Vyāsa, one of the great
Enlightened Sages and the compiler of all scriptures and hymns. Gītā is scribed by Śrī Ganeṣa, the elephant God who embodies pure wisdom and joyful spontaneity. It is narrated as the direct expression of the Divine Himself. It is because of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s direct presence that the Mahābhārat and jeweled in it, the Bhagavad Gītā is the indisputable authority of the greatest revelation of Truth. The Gītā is the sacred text incarnation of the Absolute Divine.

No other epic or part of an epic has the special status and space of the Gītā. No other book but the Gītā gives a scientific, systematic, applied science of living joyfully in completion, while empowering the human action-field with authenticity to evolve into a responsible Divine
play-field. Called the royal supreme knowledge and the royal secret of secrets—rājavidyā rājaguhyaṁ (9.2), this one sacred book conveys the essence of knowledge contained in all written and oral vedic truths to enrich the simplest to complex humans at all planes. It holds within itself the direct key to every possible human enquiry, the solution to every dilemma of emotions, and the sublime righteous path and goal of every quest of rising or falling civilizations for every age, time or geography. As a consequence of the presence of the Gītā, the Mahābhārat epic itself is considered a sacred Hindu scripture.

Gītā arose from the super consciousness of Śri Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme God, the complete Incarnation Purṇāvatār, and is therefore considered Gītāśastra—the essential scripture, knowing which, one is liberated from all incompletions, yaj jñātvā mokṣyase asubhāt (9.1) and Gītopaniṣad—the essence of all Upaniṣads, the purest and highest knowledge to be ever known and cognized because it gives the direct experience of the Self— pavitram idam uttamam pratyakṣāvagaṁ dharmyaṁ (9.2).

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