By Sangeetha Saran
Some traditional Yoga teacher training courses have the Bhagavad Gita (Song of The Blessed Lord) as part of the program. This seems practical within Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma Yoga. However, the deeper aspects of this Holy Scripture may be lost on instructor candidates who pursue Yogic knowledge only for physical mastery. Those who focus on Yoga primarily as an exercise do not have a deep interest in ancient texts or Yogic philosophy. This is why Hatha teacher interns may only skim the surface of Yogic philosophy. Therefore, today’s interns, learning how to become a Hatha Yoga instructor, may not be reading any ancient texts to expand their knowledge.
The Bhagavad Gita is a literary masterpiece, which points us toward a permanent reality in an ever changing world. There are many hidden facets within the writings, but the value of living a life with purpose and meaning is part of the lesson. We must realize it is our personal responsibility to make truth a permanent fixture within our being, rather than expect it from others.
The Bhagavad Gita is a well-known and well-loved Hindu scripture based on a conversation between a warrior, Arjuna and Lord Krishna during the war in Kurukshetra. The Bhagavad Gita is part of the great Hindu scriptural story, the Mahabharata. It is comprised of seven hundred verses. The teacher or Guru of the Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of Parabrahman or God or himself.
The Bhagavad Gita begins before the start of the climactic battle at Kurukshetra when the Pandava prince, Arjuna, was filled with doubt and trepidation as he was about to enter the battlefield. Arjuna was quite disturbed when he realized that his enemies were his own relatives and beloved friends. In order to seek solace and advice, Arjuna seeks out the counsel of his charioteer, who is Lord Krishna is disguise.
In response to Arjuna’s despair and moral dilemma with the impending battle with his own family members, Lord Krishna explains to Arjuna that he has a profound dharmic duty to enter into battle as a prince-warrior. In order to clarify his noble duties, Krishna explains to Arjuna the profound necessity of upholding one’s dharma by illustrating ancient Vedantic wisdom through stories and analogies. This depth of wisdom that Lord Krishna shares with Arjuna is the reason that the Bhagavad Gita is often considered to be the paramount guide to Hindu theology, as well as a practical, scriptural prescription for living a dharmic and righteous life in the world.
As Arjuna struggles with the thought of the impending battle, Krishna explains to him that the death of the physical body on the battlefield is only a release of the eternal soul from the cloak of the physical body. Lord Krishna assures Arjuna that his deep, internal conflict with fighting his own family, friends and revered teachers stems from a lack of true understanding of the real nature of the world. In order to fully explain his point to Arjuna, Krishna outlines the various processes of yoga, as well as the true nature of the universe.
Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Gita how Yogic practices of selfless service, devotion and meditation will break the maya or illusion of ignorance of the individual soul, and reveal the true underlying reality of the universe. In order to underscore his point, Lord Krishna reveals his true divine identity as God or Parabrahman to Arjuna by blessing him with the revelation of his resplendent, numinous form.
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