The Bhagavad Gita is a part of the popularly known epic Mahabharata that describes the war between the Pandavas (Warrior Prince Arjuna and family) and the Kauravas ( Warrior Prince Duryodhana and family) on the battlefield of Kuru-kshetra. The Gita is the discourse given by Lord Krishna to his disciple Arjuna just before the war is about to begin. Arjuna, the warrior gives up his determination to fight as he sees his relatives, family and teachers in both armies ready to fight and sacrifice their lives. Hence Lord Krishna, the supreme being himself is present as the charioteer for Arjuna, and explains the fundamental distinction between the temporary material body and the eternal spiritual soul which is explained in the 18 chapters/yogas of Bhagavad Gita. Gita, the most revered Hindu text, is a combination of Hindu objectives about Dharma, Bhakti and Moksha.
Chapter 1 - The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is known as "Arjuna Vishada Yoga" or "The Yoga of Arjuna's Despondency”. The chapter begins with the setting of the Kurukshetra battlefield, where the Pandavas and the Kauravas are about to engage in a great war. Arjuna struck by a deep sense of moral and emotional confusion, surrenders himself to Lord Krishna seeking his guidance, as he sees his revered teachers, grand father, cousins, relatives and friends in both armies. In a state of distress, Arjuna reveals his doubts, fears, and questions the righteousness of engaging in this war by laying down his bow and arrow in front of his divine charioteer, symbolizing his inner turmoil and his readiness to receive wisdom and enlightenment. Krishna listens to Arjuna’s doubts and concerns, proceeds to guide Arjuna through his teachings. Chapter 1 of the Bhagavad Gita serves as an important introduction, highlighting the central themes of duty, righteousness, and the inner conflict faced by Arjuna setting the stage for the profound teachings to come.
Chapter 2 - This chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Sankhya Yoga" or "Transcendental Knowledge”, sets the stage for the teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna. The chapter begins with Arjuna's despondency on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where he finds himself morally conflicted about fighting in the war against his own relatives, teachers, and friends. He expresses his reluctance to fight and asks Krishna for guidance. Krishna encourages Arjuna to overcome his emotional attachments and develop a broader perspective that recognizes the eternal nature of the soul and the impermanence of the physical world. Krishna discusses various paths to attaining spiritual liberation, including the path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga) and the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga). Throughout the chapter, Krishna emphasizes the importance of self-realization, detachment, and the pursuit of spiritual wisdom. The chapter provides guidance on how to navigate the challenges of life while maintaining inner peace and spiritual harmony. By the end of Chapter 2, Arjuna's initial despondency starts to subside, and he becomes more receptive to Krishna's teachings.
Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Karma Yoga" or "The Yoga of Action or selfless service”. The chapter begins with Arjuna expressing his confusion and seeking guidance from Lord Krishna. In response, Lord Krishna explains the concept of Karma Yoga, which is the path of selfless action performed without attachment. He emphasizes that Arjuna, as a warrior, has a duty to fulfill. The Lord explains that each person has a unique role to play in the cosmic order, and by fulfilling their responsibilities, they contribute to the harmony and well-being of society. He advises Arjuna to govern his senses and desires and not let them control his actions. He emphasizes that selfless action is superior to inaction or renunciation, and that renouncing actions without the right understanding can lead to delusion and unfulfilled desires. The chapter concludes with Lord Krishna encouraging Arjuna to rise above attachment and delusion, to perform his duty as a warrior, and to cultivate a balanced state of mind.
Chapter 4 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled “Jnana Yoga” or “The yoga of knowledge or wisdom”. This yoga involves the pursuit of knowledge and the cultivation of wisdom. The chapter begins with Arjuna seeking clarification from Lord Krishna about the knowledge of the self and its relevance to human action. Arjuna wonders how Krishna appears to be an ordinary human being but have imparted knowledge to ancient sages such as Vivasvan (the sun god). Krishna explains to Arjuna the concept of the eternal soul, emphasizing that He is not an ordinary mortal but an incarnation of God, who exists in each age to guide humanity. Lord Krishna further explains the concept of reincarnation and the eternal nature of the soul, and the importance of selfless action. Krishna teaches that the path to liberation involves performing one's duties as an offering to God, without seeking personal gain or being swayed by desires or emotions. By surrendering the fruits of one's actions to the divine, individuals can free themselves from the cycle of birth and death. He encourages Arjuna to develop unwavering faith in the teachings and practice of yoga to attain self-realization and liberation. The chapter elucidates the concept of renunciation through knowledge and emphasizes the importance of seeking spiritual wisdom from a qualified teacher.
Chapter 5 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Karma Sanyasa Yoga" or "The Yoga of Renunciation of Action”. The chapter begins with Arjuna asking a question to Lord Krishna about the distinction between the renunciation of actions (sanyasa), and performing one’s duty (karma yoga). He expresses his confusion, as both seems contradictory to him. Arjuna is uncertain whether it is better to renounce the world and engage in contemplation, or to fulfill his responsibilities as a warrior and participate in the battle. In response, Lord Krishna explains that both the path of renunciation, and the path of selfless action, leads to liberation. Krishna further explains that true renunciation is not abstaining from action but rather renouncing the fruits of action. He advises Arjuna to adopt the path of karma yoga, which involves performing his duties with dedication and surrendering the outcomes to a higher power. Krishna states that the ultimate goal is to attain self-realization and union with the divine. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the importance of self-knowledge (jnana), and the need to perform one's duties without attachment, and with a sense of surrender to a higher power. Krishna asserts that the one who has transcended attachments and desires experiences lasting peace, and attains liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Dhyana Yoga" or "The Yoga of Meditation”. In this chapter, Lord Krishna continues his teachings to Arjuna, focusing on the practice of meditation and the path to achieving self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. Lord Krishna emphasizes the significance of a steady mind in the practice of meditation. He explains that a controlled mind is a powerful tool that can lead to self-mastery and liberation. He further states that the mind is restless and challenging to control, but with practice and detachment it can be disciplined. Chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita highlights the significance of meditation and the cultivation of a disciplined mind. It emphasizes the practice of withdrawing from external distractions, mastering the senses, and attaining a state of self-realization. The self-realized individual realizes the unity of all existence and transcends the limitations of the physical body and the material world.
Chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled “Jnana Vijnana Yoga” or "Self-Knowledge and Enlightenment". In this chapter, Lord Krishna continues his discourse to Arjuna, revealing deeper insights into spiritual wisdom. Krishna emphasizes the importance of self-knowledge and self-realization. He states that those who are deluded by material desires and attachments do not recognize the divine nature within themselves, and remain bound to the cycle of birth and death. However, those who develop true knowledge, divine wisdom, and unwavering devotion can attain liberation from this cycle and attain eternal union with the Supreme. Chapter 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, therefore, provides profound insights into the nature of the Supreme Being, the significance of self-realization, engaging in selfless actions, and the different paths that can lead to spiritual enlightenment.
Chapter 8 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Akshara Parabrahma Yoga”, which means the yoga of the imperishable Brahman. The chapter begins with Arjuna's question about the nature of the Supreme Being, the process of creation, and the process of dissolution at the time of death. Krishna explains the concept of the eternal soul or the imperishable self (Atman) within every living being, and that the ultimate goal is to attain liberation (moksha) and reunite with the Supreme Being. This liberation can be achieved by understanding the imperishable nature of the self and cultivating devotion, knowledge, and discipline through different paths. He mentions the path of the devotees (Bhakti Yoga), the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga), and the path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), and states that these paths differ in their approach but they all lead to the realization of the eternal truth. He also explains that the cycle of creation and dissolution is a recurring process that occurs over vast periods of time. Chapter 8 therefore, explains the profound insights into the nature of the eternal soul, and Krishna encourages Arjuna to engage in spiritual practices and to surrender all his actions and thoughts to the divine, recognizing the imperishable soul within.
Chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Raja Vidya Raja Guhya Yoga”, which can be translated as the "Yoga of Sovereign Science and Sovereign Secret”. The chapter begins with Krishna emphasizing that the knowledge He imparts is the most profound and sacred, known as the "king of sciences" and the "king of secrets." This knowledge is considered the highest form of wisdom and leads to self-realization and spiritual enlightenment. Lord Krishna reveals Himself as the Supreme Being, the ultimate source of all creation. He describes Himself as the imperishable and eternal reality that pervades everything in the universe, and describes various aspects of His divine manifestations and powers. He mentions that He is the creator, sustainer, and destroyer of all beings. The chapter concludes with Krishna inviting Arjuna, the recipient of His teachings, to reflect upon and absorb the knowledge imparted. Krishna advises Arjuna to take refuge in him wholeheartedly, surrendering all aspects of his life and actions to the divine will. He emphasizes that the teachings are of great significance, and reveals the profound knowledge that leads to spiritual enlightenment and liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The teachings in Chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita highlight the significance of devotion, surrender, and the recognition of the divine presence in all aspects of life.
Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad Gita, titled "Vibhuti Yoga" or "The Yoga of Divine Glories”. The chapter begins with Arjuna asking Lord Krishna to describe his various manifestations. In response, Krishna reveals his divine nature and expounds on his various manifestations in the universe, emphasizing his omnipresence and omnipotence. Krishna begins by explaining that he is the source of all beings and everything in the universe. He describes his manifestations in the natural elements, such as the brilliance of the sun, the light of the moon, the sound in space, and the life-giving qualities of water. He goes on to reveal that he is the vital energy within all living beings, the divine sages, and the mighty warriors, the intelligence in humans, and the courage of the courageous. He elucidates that he is the essence of everything and the source of all knowledge, and that his manifestations are countless and that he is the ultimate cause and sustainer of all beings. The chapter provides profound insights into the omnipresence, and divinity of Lord Krishna, and serves to deepen Arjuna's understanding of Krishna's true nature, and the divine presence in very aspect of creation and all aspects of life.
Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled “Vishwarupa Sandharshana Yoga” or ”The Vision of the Universal Form”. The chapter begins with Arjuna expressing his desire to see Krishna's divine form, recognizing him as the Supreme Being and the ultimate source of all creation. Granting Arjuna's request, Lord Krishna blesses him with divine vision, enabling him to perceive the divine form that encompasses the entire universe. Arjuna witnesses an awe-inspiring spectacle that is beyond human comprehension. He sees the limitless magnificence of Krishna with many faces, eyes, and arms. He also sees countless celestial beings, divine beings, the splendor and majesty of the entire universe. As Arjuna observes the divine form, he experiences a sense of wonder, reverence, and fear. Arjuna offers his salutations to Krishna, and becomes aware of his own insignificance and limitations as a mortal being. He realizes that Krishna is the ultimate source and the highest reality behind all existence. This chapter explains the divine vision of Krishna's universal form that serves as a revelation of his omnipresence, Arjuna's understanding of Krishna's divine nature and expresses his devotion and surrender to Krishna.
Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Bhakti Yoga" or "The Yoga of Devotion”. In this chapter, Lord Krishna imparts spiritual teachings to Arjuna, emphasizing the importance of devotion, and the qualities of a true devotee. He emphasizes that anyone can attain liberation through the path of devotion. Krishna further says that surrendering the fruits of one's actions to God and offering everything to the divine is a central aspect of devotion. The chapter describes the qualities and characteristics of a true devotee as one described who is free from malice, possesses a forgiving nature, contented, self-controlled, and dedicated to serving others. Krishna explains that the practice of bhakti involves surrendering oneself completely to the divine, with unwavering faith and devotion. Chapter 12 of the Bhagavad Gita highlights the significance of devotion and surrender as a means to connect with the divine and attain spiritual enlightenment.
Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Ksetra-Ksetrajna Vibhaaga Yoga” or "The Field and the Knower of the Field”. In this chapter Krishna explains to Arjuna, the importance of understanding the distinction between the physical body (ksetra) and the eternal soul (ksetrajna). The physical body is referred to as the field (ksetra), which encompasses all aspects of the material world, including the physical elements, senses, mind, and intellect, and it is subject to a constant change. The soul (ksetrajna) is the eternal, unchanging consciousness within an individual, and it is the true self, distinct from the temporary body. The soul is described as the knower of the field, as it is aware of all the experiences and activities of the body. Furthermore, Krishna explains on the concept of Prakriti (nature) and Purusha (the divine soul). Chapter 13 of the Bhagavad Gita provides deep insights into the nature of the self and its relationship with the material world.
Chapter 14 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled “Guna Traya Vibhaga Yoga” or "The Yoga of the Division of the Three Gunas." In this chapter, Lord Krishna explains the concept of the three gunas or qualities that exist in nature and in individuals. The three gunas are Sattva (goodness, purity), Rajas (passion, activity), and Tamas (ignorance, inertia). These gunas influence our thoughts, desires, actions, that varies in every individual shaping our character, which determines our spiritual progress. Lord Krishna begins by explaining that the entire material world is made up of the interplay of these three gunas, and emphasizes that those who sincerely strive to transcend the gunas and surrender to the divine can ultimately attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Chapter 14 of the Bhagavad Gita explains the nature of the three gunas, the importance of cultivating Sattva, and offers a guidance on how to rise above the limitations of the gunas and realizing the true Self beyond the gunas to attain spiritual enlightenment.
Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Purushottama Yoga" or "The Yoga of the Supreme Person." In this chapter, Lord Krishna begins describing an eternal, divine tree in an inverted manner, where the roots are above and branches below. He says that the tree represents the entire universe, and explains the nature of the material world and the spiritual reality. Krishna explains that the Supreme Divine, known as Purushottama, is the source and sustainer of the entire universe. All beings, including humans are like the branches of this divine tree, nourished by the three gunas - Sattva (purity), Rajas (passion), and Tamas (ignorance), with the roots being in the Supreme Divine. Lord Krishna explains that one who understands the true nature of the Ashvattha tree and its root can transcend the cycle of birth and death and attain liberation. Furthermore, Lord Krishna explains that the individual soul, known as the jiva, is bound to the cycle of life and death due to its identification with the physical body and the material world. However, when the jiva realizes its true nature as a manifestation of the Supreme Self, it becomes free from the cycle of birth and death. The chapter concludes with Lord Krishna urging Arjuna to constantly remember and meditate upon the Supreme Self, as it is the ultimate reality and the means to attain spiritual liberation.
Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita is titled "Daivasura Sampad Vibhaga Yoga” or “The Divine and Demonic Qualities”. In this chapter, Lord Krishna describes two distinct sets of qualities that exist within human beings, which determine their nature and actions. They are the characteristics of divine (daivi) and demonic (asuri). Krishna begins by discussing the divine qualities, and mentions that those possessed by divine qualities such as fearlessness, purity of self, self-control, self discipline, forgiveness, honesty, non-violence, truthfulness, absence of anger, absence of envy, are considered noble and lead to spiritual growth and liberation. On the other hand, Krishna describes the demonic qualities that arise from ignorance, egoism, and attachment to material desires, and these qualities include hypocrisy, arrogance, conceit, anger, harshness, ignorance, and delusion continue to suffer in the material world. The chapter concludes with Krishna assuring that those who surrender to Him and strive to cultivate divine qualities will be guided and protected by His grace. Chapter 16 of the Bhagavad Gita provides insights into the qualities that shape human nature and behavior.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Lord Krishna describes the threefold division of faith, food, sacrifice, and austerity. This division is known as "Shraddha Traya Vibhaga Yoga," which can be translated as the "Yoga of the Threefold Division of Faith." According to this teaching, individuals are categorized into three types based on their predominant modes of nature (gunas) and the corresponding attitudes they possess towards faith, food, sacrifice, and austerity.
The 3 types Gunas are:
- Sattvic shraddha have pure faith, follow a balanced and healthy diet, engage in selfless sacrifices (Yajna), and practice tapah (Austerity).
- Rajasic shraddha have faith that is driven by material desires and ambitions, they tend to prefer spicy, hot, and stimulating food. Their sacrifices and austerities may be performed with the expectation of rewards.
- Tamasic shraddha have faith that is superstitious, and prone to misconceptions. They often consume impure, stale, or spoiled food. Their sacrifices and austerities may be performed with a lack of proper understanding that turns out to be harmful and destructive.
Furthermore, Krishna explains the significance and importance of the words “Om Tat Sat”, and emphasizes the importance of cultivating sattvic qualities and gradually transcending to attain spiritual enlightenment and liberation (moksha).
Chapter 18 - The final of the Bhagavad Gita, provides a comprehensive summary of the key principles and paths presented throughout the Gita, focusing on the importance of surrendering to the divine and acting selflessly which is titled "Moksha Sanyasa Yoga" or "The Yoga of Liberation and Renunciation”. The Chapter concludes the teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, with Lord Krishna persuading Arjuna to deliberate on the teachings of the Gita and make his own choice, as he has been bestowed with knowledge and wisdom. Krishna emphasizes that those who understand the essence of his teachings and follow them faithfully will attain supreme liberation and union with the divine.
The Bhagavad Gita serves as a conclusion to the teachings of Krishna, summarizing the main concepts discussed throughout the text and providing guidance on how to lead a righteous and spiritual life. Lord Krishna outlines the three paths to liberation or moksha as the path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), the path of selfless action (Karma Yoga), and the path of devotion (Bhakti Yoga). He explains that these paths are interconnected, and individuals may find a combination of these paths for their spiritual journey. It encourages individuals to perform their duties selflessly, cultivate devotion, and surrender to the divine to attain liberation and eternal bliss.