(Update: Chapter 16 name added)
The beauty and uniqueness of Srimad Bhagvad Gita (Bhagawat Geeta) is that even Lord Krishna states that whatever is said by me in Gita is not mine. The immortal supreme knowledge belongs to great saints, who are also described in Vedas and Upanishads. This is the uniqueness of Indian Traditional system of Teachings. Even Lord Krishna says that nothing belongs to 'MINE', but it is passed on from one generation to another by Guru-Shishya Parampara. A true saint following Indian Traditional System never says that "This is mine", "this is something new", "this was never said before". Nobody declares that this shastra is my synthesis - created by me. The very presence of "I-ness" indicates the sustenance of Ego. Spirituality has no place for Ego.
Spirituality teaches one to dissolve / melt Ego. Hence each and every Shastra of Indian origin starts with a humble prayer to Lord Almighty (with or without attributes). Praying indicates that one bends down the ego (or is ready to bend down the ego) and accepts that somebody (God) is above him and wishes to get is help, technically his unconditional love and grace. Prayers helps one surrender to God.
Bhagvad Gita is found in the middle of the great poem epic - Mahabharata. Just like a diamond in the middle of the ring shines, Gita is the most precious gem found in Mahabharata.
The name 'Bhagavad Gita' comes from the fact that out of total 700 verses, 84 Verses were sung by Arjun, 41 verses by Sanjay, 1 verse by Drutrashta and the remaining 574 verses by Bhagavan Shri Krishna. Hence the first word 'Bhagavad' or 'bhagawat'.
Gita = geet = song.
Hence the name 'Bhagavad Gita'
Why Gita is sung and not spoken?
Gita is sung in a melodious rhythm. Singing has many benefits over plain lectures. It has the power to induce bhakti bhava (devotion), and can be easily remembered. Singing has it's own syntax and grammar. It cannot be sung the way one want to. Words in the singing are arranged to maintain the rhythm. Some important words are so well constructed and placed that when that particular word is sung, the pitch increases, thus signifying it's importance in the entire line. (However, in today's time, it is very difficult to realize this when listening or chanting Gita.) Due to this nature of Indian Classical vedic music and singing, no words can be omitted (as it breaks the harmony and rhythm) and they cannot be changed too. Singing helps one memorize Sanskrit verses (which was once the spoken language) "as it is" i.e. without losing any single word. Hence they are passed on from one generation to another verbally in un-adulterated way. There are more than 10,00000 (Ten lakh) different commentaries on Gita, but the Sanskrit version stays "as it is'. Another reason that Gita and other Shastras are sustained since thousands and lakhs of years is from the fact that it is said by Lord or by realized saints who are one with God.
Bhagavad Gita in brief
Gita is the essence of Upanishads. It contains 18 adhyayas or chapters.
|Chapters 1 - 6||Chapters 7 - 12||Chapters 13 - 18|
|Karma Yog.||Bhakti Yog.||Jnana Yog|
|Mala Shuddhi||Vikshepa Nivaarana||Avarana naasha / baadha|
|Tvam-Pada Shodhana||Tat-Pada Shodhan||Aikya (unity) of Tvam and Tat (of the great verse Tat-Tvam-Asi|
|Tvam - Pada Shodhan Vaachyaartha = Jiva |
Lakshyaartha (destination) = Atman.
|Tat - Pada Shodhan |
Vaachyaartha = Ishvara (God)
Lakshyaartha (destination) = Shuddha Brahma (formless God)
|Jiva Brahma Aikya |
Unity of Jiva (incarnicated soul) and Brahman or Atman.
Gita starts with Chapter 1 'Arjun Vishada Yog'. Gita came into existence only because Arjuna bended i.e. surrendered in front of Lord Krishna. Before that Lord Krishna was silent and watched everything with an impartial eye. This is the first condition of giving knowledge, 'sharanangati' or 'surrender'. One can only surrender if one has 'Shraddha' or 'faith'. Hence one who has Sharanangati and shaddha (in God) only deserves to gain Guru's Knowledge. Remember that Gita was told to only Arjuna and not even to Yudhisthira, who had never spoke a single lie and always followed dharma.
'Vishada' means dispassion. When one looses interest in society and worldly affairs, one renounces the society. He deserves Guru's Jnana. Hence after Arjuna's dispassion, Lord Krishna calms him, and gives him the nector like knowledge of immortality in second adhyaya Chapter 2 'Sankhya Yog'. Arjuna unconditionally surrenders and leaves everything to krishna, hence after calming down the mind, answers 4 questions of Arjuna about Sthita-Pragya i.e. a realized saint. Shri Krishna gives him what suits him the best (i.e. karma' in the 3rd chapter "karma Yog'. Why karma and not renunciation? because one must face the situation and not run away from it. Arjuna wanted to escape from the situation of war since he did not wanted to kill his relatives and was attached to them. Had there been any other enemy, Arjuna would not have had a second thought about the fight. He had earlier fought and won many fierce battles. Karma was is 'prakriti' or nature and hence, at that moment karma suited him the best.
Chapter 4 'Jnana-karma-sanyas Yog'. Chapter 3 ends with the updesha (spiritual instruction) to achieve knowledge. Only by the knowledge of Self, 'Kama' i.e. desires can be destroyed. Hence chapter 4 deals with the renunciation of karma by the knowledge of the SELF.
Chapter 5 'karma-Sanyas Yog'. After listening to the glories of SELF realized saint in 'Sankhya Yog' (chapter 2), then the glories of karma in 'Karma Yog' (chapter 3) and then again the glories of 'renunciation of karma and jnana' in 'Jnana-karma-sanyas Yog' (Chapter 4), Arjuna was confused as what to do. Renounce the world or do the karma and. Karma-Sanyas Yog clears the doubt and gives the updehsa that one cannot renounce karma all together. Which karma to renounce? Eating, sleeping, breathing? Karma should be done without the expectation of the result. One must accept the fruits of karma, as the (Prasad) blessings of God. It is the expectation that kills and not the karma itself. 'Freedom in action' and not 'freedom from action'
Karma Kand ends with chapter 6 which is 'Atma Sayyam Yog' or 'Yoga of self control or yoga of mind control. There are many translations like 'Abhyasa yog' by Vinoba bhave or 'dhyan Yog' or sometimes 'Adhyatma Yog'. But traditional name is 'Atma sayyam Yog'. Saints have changed name to avoid confusion as word-to-word translation means 'yoga of control of Atman' How can atman be controlled. In Gita and other shastras, atma means body, mind, sometimes ego, sometimes as jiva atma, and also as brahman or atman.
Chapter 6 summarizes whatever is said in chapters 1 - 5 and open the doors of bhakti. It deals with the control of mind and it's senses. It teaches us how to meditate. It opens the doors of bhakti.
In Chapter 7, 'Jnana-Vigyana Yog', Jnana means the knowledge that God is the creator (cause) of this universe and the world is the result (effect). God is both material and efficient cause, just as spider has both the knowledge (of the web) and the necessary tools (saliva) to make the web and does not depend upon any other thing, God both has the knowledge and the tools (maya) to create the world. So God can make the world without any external help. The knowledge that the world is not different from the God is called as 'Vigyana'. The differences mearges and only one thing remains i.e. Atman or God.
Chapter 8, 'Akshar-Brahma Yog' teaches one to meditate and worship God with Attributes and accepts the fruits of meditation as God's blessings. The Knowledge of Pure Brahman and it's qualities (Sat-Chit-Ananda) are explained.
Chapter 9 'Raj Vidya Raj Guhya Yog' is considered as very important. Just as Gita is in the middle of mahabharata, Raj Vidya Raj Guhya Yog is in middle of Gita. Its gives the most subtle, the very essence of knowledge of given in Upanishads. It dispels the doubt that God can only be realized by meditation on any form of God. It says that to have knowledge of Brahman, there is no need to meditate. Limited efforts cannot produce limitless result. There is no meditation to realize our true nature, as we already are the very Brahman. Meditation is only to remove ignorance. After the ignorance is removed, the SELF or Brahman shines by itself.
Chapter 10, 'Vibhuti Yog' is a repeatation, covers what is said from 7 - 9. It says that the ones with pure heart meditates upon the formless God and others meditate on any one form of God.
Then comes Chapter 11, 'Vishvaroop Darshan Yog'. After teaching 'Unity in diversity' i.e. one God exists in all objects of the world (in Chapter 10), God says that 'all that you see is made only from my small part. This made Arjun curious, and he wanted to have the divine vision of 'Virat swaroopa' of God. (macrocosmic aspect) Arjuna stubbornly wishes to have the divine vision of 'Virat Svaroopa'. He gets afraid when he sees it and requests lord to again return to his human form. Gita does not end with the divine vision of lord.
Chapter 12 is 'bhakti Yog'. Bhakti Yog teaches bhakti, summarizes all that is said from chapter 7 - 9 and opens the doors of Jnana. It also explains the difference between Sakar and Nirakar upasana i.e. meditation on God with and without form (or attributes).
Chapter 13 'Kshetra Khetragya Yog' meaning yoga of discrimination between atman and an-ataman (Lord instructs one to discriminate between atman and an-atman (what is not atman) and leave an-atman. The knower of object is called kshetra-gya gya (or Gna) means the knower. Since the knower of object is different from the object, the knower cannot be the object itself. Hence one must renounce all that is not Atman i.e. renounce an-atman.
Chapter 14 'Guna Traya Vibhaga Yog' or 'Tri Guna Vibhaga Yog' tells about the 3 Gunas - Satva, Rajas and Tamas (qualities) of Maya. It instructs one to go beyond maya.
Chapter 15 'Purushottam Yog' teaches about the famous 'inverted tree of Samsara'. It teaches what happens when soul leaves body. It says that mind along with 6 senses transmigrates to another body. It teaches about uttam - purusha i.e. atman. Chapter fifteen is considered very important. No new updesha or spiritual instruction is given after chapter 15. Day 15 is poornima (full moon). Poorna means complete. There is nothing new to be known after one knows 'Uttam Purusha'.
Chapter 16 and Chapter 17 are called as Parishista. They are the barometers of our life's progress. If one thoroughly knows these two chapters, one can judge his/her spiritual progress.
Chapter 16 Daivasur Sampat Vibhaga Yog' tells us of 21 Daivi sampatti (divine natured qualities) and 8 asuri sampatti (animal natured qualities)
Chapter 17 'Shraddha traya vibhaga Yog' teaches one that a sadhaka (student pr meditator) progresses according to ones shraddha. There are 3 types of shraddha. Tamasic, Rajasic and sattvik. Sadhaka with predominant Satva Guna progresses faster on spiritual path.
It says that vasana (desire) is the subtlest form of karma (action) and karma is grossest form of vasana. vasana is invisible. So by watching one's action (and reaction), one can know his vasana. From the type of vasana, one can judge which kind of pre-dominant guna (guna with maximum percentage) can be determined. From the Guna, one's spiritual inclination, progress and direction (of spiritual path) can be judged.
Chapter 18 'Moksha Sanyas Yog' is called as upsamhara (or upsavhara). Moksha means liberation. Sanyas is a mental state of mind and not the way of living. Sanyas Ashram is the last of the 4 ashrams and moksha is the last, final and the best of 5 purusharthas. This is the final chapter. 1 + 8 = 9. Nine symbolizes completeness. It is the biggest of the numbers. Chapter 18, covers every thing from 1 - 17, gives the knowledge of the highest state of Self Realization. There is nothing more to be known after self realization. It is the final state, where mind merges with brahman.
Only a liberated one can say about moksha. Only a sanyasin (renunciate) can talk about renunciation. Only a yogi can talk about Yoga. Hence Krishna is also called a Yogeshwar (lord of Yoga). He taught about every aspect about spirituality from karma to bhakti to jnana, thus covering individual of any nature. Gita teaches us to stay neutral, be compassionately detached and always surrendered to God each and every moment and in all situations of life. Gita is for all. It can be practically applied by anyone who wishes to walk on spiritual path. This is the uniqueness of Bhagavad Gita.
Last Verse of Arjuna says that, "By your Grace, now I know my true nature (atman). I am free from likes and dislikes and I will do whatever you say (without any doubt).
Sanjay completes holy Gita in his last verse which says that, " where ever there is Yogeshwar Bhagawan Krishna and Dhanur dhari Arjuna, there is Shree or Laxmi (wealth of knowledge) and there is Victory'.
One must become Arjuna, to have the grace of Lord Krishna. Arjuna, inspite having various occult powers and being a master of archery, humbly surrendered at Lord's feet. He left Lord to decide what is best for him. He had dis-passion in society. These are the qualities of Arjuna. Arjuna Represents US - common man, Jiva, Sadhaka, seekers of truth.
May Lord Krishna, bless us with is infinite grace and unconditional love. May Yogeshwar bhagawan, out of compassion, dispel all our doubts is my humble prayer.
Glory to Lord Krishna, Glory to our Realized Saints, Glory to the Indian Tradition of Guru-Shishya. My salutations to all.
*Arjuna had the quality and ability of accurately hitting target. Upanishads says that 'Pranavo dhanusha Sharoyatma, Brahma Lakshya Uchyate'. Pranav (Aum or Om) is dhanusha (bow), Shara or Shada (arrow) is Jiva Atman (incarnicated soul) and the destination or target is Brahman. So, with the help of bow Aum, Jiva (arrow) is targetted at the target Brahman. Arjuna is called Dhanur-dhari or the one having this Bow i.e. it represents Jiva-atman
21 Daivi sampatti (divine natured qualities) and 8 asuri sampatti (animal natured qualities)
Daivi sampatti (Divine qualities):
1. abhayam (fearlesness),
2. Sattvasanshuddi (purity of heart),
3. Jnana Yog (steadfastness in Self- Knowledge and strong faith in dharma)
4. Daan (Alms giving)
5. Dama (control / watch over senses)
6. Yagya (sacrifice)
7. Svadhyaaya ( knowledge of Brahman from Self Study of scriptures giving brahma Jnana)
8. Tapa (austerities, dissolving of ego into SELF)
9. Arjavam (guileless or straight forward nature of mind),
10. Ahinsa (Harmlessness),
11. Satya (Truth)
12. Akrodha (absence of anger)
13. Tyaga (renounciation)
14. Shanti (peace of mindd - chitta)
15. Apaishunam (absence of crookedness)
16. & 17 Bhuteshu daya (compassion to beings - all forms of lifes)
18. Aloluptvam (non-covetousness or absence of desires to obtain objects of the world
19. Mardavam (gentleness / humbleness)
20. Hrih (modesty)
21. Achaapalam (absence of fickle-ness)
Asuri Sampatti (Animal qualities):
1. Dambh (Hypocrisy),
2. Darbha (pride)
4. Abhimaan (ego)
5. Krodha (anger),
6. Abhimana (Ego / covertness)
7. Paarushyam (talking in rough language - harshness).
8. Agyanam (Ignorance)
Source: Extracted from a discourse on Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Swami Tadrupanand ji