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The Bhagavad Gita - a User Manual for Everyday Living

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most well-known and revered texts of Indian philosophy. Presented as a conversation between Lord Krishna and his childhood friend Arjuna, the Gita provides knowledge ranging from the practical to the sublime. It enables us to achieve success by expounding the principles of right action and allows us to find harmony by understanding the nature of our environment and the people around us. Moreover, it provides a clear and systematic path for reaching the purpose of human existence - spiritual enlightenment. 


From food and sleep to the subtlest practice of meditation, the Gita leaves no stone unturned in its guidance for attaining perfection. Through Arjuna’s dilemma and Krishna’s words pointing towards the right direction, we learn what true service and sacrifice are, their role in our self-development and what can be achieved through them. Krishna teaches us the real meaning of bhakti (devotion) and distinguishes clearly between mere book knowledge and applicable wisdom.   


Interestingly the Gita provides clarity on human psychology rarely seen in spiritual texts.  And from dozens of angles this book points at the Supreme, the true Self, the beginningless Being that we truly are. Few scriptures cover the entire spectrum of life thus. It is perhaps for this reason that the Bhagavad Gita stands out in the five-thousand-year-old wisdom tradition called Vedanta and indeed in world literature. 



There are no ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ in the Gita.  It is a compilation of thousands of years of insight, ingeniously constructed in a rational thought flow by Lord Krishna. We are free to study it, question it and whatever our intellect accepts, we may practice it.  But the Gita itself only says if we do X, Y will happen. It doesn’t dictate, doesn’t ask for blind acceptance and nowhere does it require submission to superstition or mechanical activity. 


The Bhagavad Gita is like a hospital with various wards to serve the different ailments that affect human hearts and minds.  For the seekers of Truth there are pointers to the Highest.  For those suffering from attachment and its consequences there is the way to independence, self-sufficiency and love.  And for those victimized by the many emotions of the mind there is a clear path to redemption.  

To become an artisan or specialist of any type one goes through an apprenticeship or residency or years as an assistant. The knowledge of the Gita deals with the subtlest technique of transforming the inner personality.  Therefore, learning from a Master or an experienced practitioner is certainly recommended. 

Traditionally the Gita was taught to young students in Gurukuls alongside their more mundane subjects.  It gave them the fundamental tools of self-knowledge so that they could move through life with a panoramic view, not falling a prey to the latest fads and fashions. Most importantly it provided them with a powerful and clear connection to their identity. From that balcony of truth they were then able to manage their lives gracefully while achieving the true purpose of their birth. 


The first word of the Gita is ‘Dharma(essential nature).  The last word is ‘mama’(my).  Together they mean ‘my essential Nature’.  The ultimate purpose of the Gita is thus the redirection of humanity towards its True Nature, towards Self-Realization.  Join us on this journey with the new ‘Gita at Ananda’ series residential retreat at Ananda, scheduled for 1 week each in April and May 2023. 


Vedanta Master Class Retreat - Chapter II of the Bhagavad Gita entitled Sankhya Yoga – Yoga of Knowledge begins on 8th April till 14th April with Siddharth Jain, senior disciple of Swami A.Parthasarthy. Read More about the Retreat or Click here to register.    


Consider reading… 

The recommended key to unlocking the entire wisdom of the Gita is a book called Vedanta Treatise: The Eternities. Past guests of Ananda will be familiar with this book as it is placed in every room.  The Treatise is a compendium of the entire Vedanta wisdom tradition, written in English and moving from the simplest to most subtle concepts the philosophy has to offer.  It covers the highest ideas from the ancient Upanishads, down through the Prakriyas, the Gita itself and many other texts.  When someone takes the time to grasp the ideas in the Treatise and then approach the Gita, they will find depth and clarity in the scripture that would be impossible without that preparation. 

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