Why the Bagavad Gita is one of the best yoga books?
February 16, 2023
The Bagavad Gita is an ancient Sanskrit text that contains one of the most powerful teachings on the practice of yoga and offers doctrines and advice on our nature and purpose in this life. Despite having been written centuries ago, the Bagavad Gita today represents one of the best yoga books in both Hindu religion and Western spirituality.
The Bagavad Gita was written in the two or three centuries BC and is part of an epic text called the Mahabharata.
The Gita, made up of 700 verses and divided into several chapters, is the dialogue between Prince Arjuna and Sri Krishna, his charioteer, friend and adviser. It is said that it was written by the sage Vyasa and a Hindu legend tells that he narrated it while Ganesha transcribed it with one of his tusks that he broke to use as a feather.
The first chapter of this great yoga book opens with the scene on a battlefield where a major war is about to start and Arjuna asks Krishna for direction. For Arjuna, starting this war is an ethical crisis and the dialogue that takes place between Arjuna and Krishna becomes a discourse on the nature of the soul, the purpose of life and the different aspects of yoga.
The Bagavad Gita is highly regarded because unlike many other yoga books that advocate a total renunciation of the material world, the Bagavad Gita says that it is a difficult and unnecessary practice and instead focuses heavily on the practice of Karma Yoga. Krishna recommends altruistic service as the quickest path to attain the divine and that once Karma Yoga has been attained, then one can advance in the practice of meditation.
In the last chapters of this sacred yoga book, Krishna emphasizes the role of devotion and faith in reaching the state of unity.
The philosophy of yoga in the Bagavad Gita
During the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, definitions of yoga are given for the first time in history. In the first chapter it is described as a state of equanimity created through indifference to pleasure and pain, and a detachment from achievement. Later on, Karma Yoga (altruistic action), Bhakti Yoga (path of devotion) and Jnana Yoga (path of wisdom) are also described.
In this ancient yoga book, many other concepts related to yogi and Hindu philosophy such as karma, dharma, reincarnation, atman, brahman, maya and moksha are also discussed. In an attempt to clarify Arjuna's dilemma, Krishna explains how to apply these concepts in his life in order to free him from his suffering and achieve happiness. The Bagavad Gita is one of the best yoga books since in his dialogue with Arjuna, Krishna gives examples and allegories to better understand and know how to apply all the teachings in our daily life.
Read the Bagavad Gita
You may be wondering at this point if you can read the Bagavad Gita yourself, and the answer is yes. This yoga book is the great cornerstone for yogis and has incorporated many philosophical concepts that are still essential in modern yoga practice. Its first translation into English was made in 1785 by Charles Wilkins and today you can find many versions of the Bagavad Gita in Spanish.
The Bagavad Gita represents both a historical and divine scripture, in which Krisha leads Arjuna in battle but also talks about internal struggles to achieve self-control and happiness through yoga.
We encourage you to read it, and when you do, take your time reading each chapter calmly (there are some versions that offer spiritual commentaries, author's notes, appendices, etc). And ask yourself at the end of each one: What does this chapter tell me about the nature of existence? What does this chapter tell me about the path to liberation and wisdom?