|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 323 ]
The BHAGAVAD GITA is one of the best known and most cherished literary works not only in India, but throughout the world. A part of the famous Hindu epic MAHABHARATA, it is the teachings of Lord Krishna to Arjuna (his disciple) at the commencement of the battle of Kurukshetra -- with explanations on sannyasa yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga and jnana yoga. This grand mystical poem about life, death, love and duty, contains the inner essence of India, the moral and spiritual principles found in the very earliest scriptures of this ancient land.
The BHAGAVAD GITA (frequently referred to simply as "The Gita") recounts the conversation between prince Arjuna of the Pandavas and his charioteer, Lord Krishna, on the battlefield of Kurukshetra prior to the commencement of the Great War. In this moment, Arjuna, upon seeing the opposing army filled with his family members, teachers, loved ones, neighbours and childhood friends, feels a state of utter despondency and loses his will to fight.
Lord Krishna then begins to counsel Arjuna on right action, duty and truth. Krishna carefully leads Arjuna out of his despondency, into a positive state of mind where he is able to fulfill his duties as a warrior.
In these eighteen chapters, the proper yoga bhava or yogic attitude towards every human crisis is given, and the concepts of karmasu kaushaam, or "skill in action," and uchayati samatva, or "equal mindedness in all circumstances," are expounded, with emphasis on vairagya (detachment) and viveka (discrimination); along with other concepts that were very much part of Hindu culture from vedic times, such as karma yoga, bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, and dhyana yoga. As Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani points out:
"Even Dejection and Despair can be a 'yoga' in the sense that often such despair is the starting point of the spiritual life. Thus the author of the BHAGAVAD GITA has entitled his first chapter, 'THE YOGA OF THE VISHADA OF ARJUNA', or the 'YOGA OF THE DESPONDENCY OF ARJUNA'."
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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