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What is the Gita?
Regardless where you live in Canada, Vancouver, Victoria , Kamloops, Banff, Jasper, Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London , Halifax, St Johns if you take a yoga teacher training you will come across the Gita.
The Bhaghavad Gita is a sacred Hindu text dating back between 2200 – 2700 years. The Gita, as it is commonly called is one section of a larger work of Hindu literature called the Mahabharata.
The Bhaghavad Gita is approximately 700 verses long and is written in the ancient sacred language of Sanskrit. Although the Gita takes the form of a story, it is foundational in expounding true Yogic Philosophy.
Like Much of Vedic Literature, the authorship of the Gita remains a mystery, however history’s best guess is that a man named Vyasa is responsible. The name “Bhaghavad Gita” means “Song of the Lord”, the Lord in this context is Lord Krishna.
One of the main questions on which the Bhaghavad Gita focuses is “How can one live a spiritually fulfilling life without withdrawing from society?”
This powerful question arises out of the historical context of the Gita, as asceticism (the way of renunciation) was believed at the time to be the best means of living a spiritual life. The Gita’s Narrative plays out between Arjuna, a prince, and his Charioteer Lord Krishna as they await the beginning of a monumental battle.
The battle is centered around two cousins competing for the throne. As Arjuna looks across the battle field he recognizes family members, friends, and other acquaintances.
The sight of familiar faces makes Arjuna want to avoid the confrontation all together. During these moment of inner turmoil, Arjuna is counseled by Lord Krishna who addresses Arjunas concerns around Karma, Death and Morality with his Vedic wisdom.
Three Yogic paths are expounded by Lord Krishna as means to come into union with God, and to be free from suffering without renouncing worldly life. These three paths are Jnana Yoga, The Yoga of Wisdom; Karma Yoga, The Yoga of Selfless Action; and Bhakti Yoga, The Yoga of Devotion.
The context of the Battle that Arjuna finds himself in can be seen as a metaphor for the inner battle between the true self and the ego. Krishna is the manifestation of divine wisdom that leads the ego’s fears and worries towards the light of truth.
The Gita represents the paths the small self can take to be free from suffering without having to renounce all things. The Gita is crucial for Yoga as a whole as it represents one of the most clearly delineated versions of Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, presenting the seeker with clear steps to take towards freedom.
It is believed that the study of the Gita alone as an act of devotion is capable of imparting the student with spiritual attainment. Whomever is responsible for authoring this work, we as Yogis owe them our gratitude, as they lit yet another torch on the path to liberation.