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One of the requirements to graduate from my yoga teacher training included an individual project. For my project, I was assigned to read the entire Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Hindu scripture that is part of the larger text, the Mahabharata. It is 7 times as long as the Illiad and the Odessy combined. It’s almost 3 times as long as the Bible. It’s packed with tons of life lessons.
The Gita is the dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krishna on the eve of a great battle between two lineages over the succession of the throne. Prince Arjuna is a general of a large army and a yogi.
Prince Arjuna is overwhelmed and second-guessing his place in what is set to be a massive war with many casualties including reverend teachers and cherished family members. He has family and friends on both sides of the war. Up until this moment, Arjuna did not realize that his charioteer was the God, Krishna.
“One’s own duty performed imperfectly is better than doing another’s duty perfectly.”~Bhagavad Gita
Arjuna’s change of heart caused him to no longer want the kingdom back if it meant the death of family, friends, beloved teachers, and elders. The Gita shows us how morality is essential to spiritual life. After this revelation, Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna and the dialogue begins.
Key things that I learned after reading the Bhagavad Gita
- Be yourself. To be ourselves is to be enlightened. According to the Bhagavad Gita, a happy or enlightened person follows their own Dharma (true calling).
- Let go of what was. To live an authentic life, we must find our own way or purpose without attachment to who we think we are or want to be. If not, we end up struggling to do things that don’t really suit us
- Self-realization and empowerment are key. Each person has to fight their own battles.
- Focus on the action and not the result. Each person has to fight their own battles. Do what’s right and the right action will follow.
- Keep it moving. In a nutshell, get over it. Everything happens for a reason and there is a reason for this season. Quietly accept it.
- Change is the way of the world. What belongs to you today, belonged to someone else yesterday, and it will belong to someone else tomorrow. The Earth keeps revolving, the weather changes, you can be a millionaire or homeless in an instant. Stay fluid.
- Your thoughts makeup and define you. We are made by our beliefs. As we believe, so we are. Sad thoughts = a sad person. Conversely, happy thoughts equal a happy person.
- Don’t focus on “things”. Don’t be attached to material things. If not, objects will possess us instead of us possessing them. We came to this world empty-handed and we will leave the same way.
- Don’t. Be. Scared. We can’t achieve what we are destined to if we are afraid. Fear kills ambition, dreams, and progress.
- Make the necessary decisions. Indecisiveness causes problems and misunderstandings. Doubts confuse and fog the mind with unclear thoughts.
Those are just some (of many) lessons that I learned from the Gita. While the Bhagavad Gita is a large text and may be challenging to read, there are a ton of books available that can make it easier to digest and improve your understanding.
I found The Bhagavad Gita (Translated into English prose with an Introduction by Kashinath Trimbak Telang) and Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation particularly useful.