Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11

Thread: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

  1. #1

    Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Hi Guys
    New to the forum here and not very familiar with Hindu or Vedic religion and philosophy.
    As many westerners do I have read the Bhagavad Gita and found it hard to understand.
    The best explanation have read about its essence and meaning is here: https://www.quora.com/How-would-you-...-Bhagavad-Gita
    Now I don't know how accurate that is so I would love if members here can shed some light on it for me as I am quite interested in it.
    Thanks all
    Nik

  2. #2
    Join Date
    July 2010
    Location
    The Holy Land - India
    Posts
    2,667
    Rep Power
    5153

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Namaste,

    Welcome to the forum.

    When we try to understand something complex, we inevitably have to study (not just read) it many, many times before it starts to make sense. The link you have provided has a wealth of knowledge. Additionally, you might look at the following.
    http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/

    After studying it few times, you might have some specific questions which we could attempt to answer. Best wishes.

    Pranam.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    July 2015
    Location
    Germany
    Age
    62
    Posts
    88
    Rep Power
    249

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Hare Krishna

    Dear Nik,
    your statement ‚As many westerners do‘ speaks for itself. I am from the West too … yes, Bhagavad Gita is propagated in the West as a must. But very very few read about Vedic traditions before. To participate in the business writers simplify and corrupt the Gita to make it understandable for everyone.

    Before you drive a car you listen to driving lessens in a driving school. The same is necessary for Bhagavad Gita. Bhagavad Gita is not a bestseller that everybody must have read. It is a holy scripture, that must be met with honor.

    Best would be you find a Krishna temple where lessons are given, there you have the possiblility to ask questions, what is not possible with a book or an online Gita.

    Krishna temples offer Vedic classes for beginners. Dont put the cart before the horse.

    Pranam
    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  4. #4
    Join Date
    December 2007
    Age
    56
    Posts
    3,174
    Rep Power
    4603

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Namaste Nija,

    Quote Originally Posted by Nija View Post
    New to the forum here and not very familiar with Hindu or Vedic religion and philosophy.
    As many westerners do I have read the Bhagavad Gita and found it hard to understand.
    The best explanation have read about its essence and meaning is here: https://www.quora.com/How-would-you-...-Bhagavad-Gita
    Now I don't know how accurate that is so I would love if members here can shed some light on it for me as I am quite interested in it.
    In my opinion, the answer provided by Uday Khandelwal is quite good in that thread. However, the meaning of Bhagwad Gita is much deeper. If you have any questions, we may try to help you.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,608
    Rep Power
    382

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté



    Quote Originally Posted by Nija View Post
    Hi Guys, As many westerners do I have read the Bhagavad Gita and found it hard to understand. Now I don't know how accurate that is so I would love if members here can shed some light on it for me as I am quite interested in it. Thanks all Nik

    Just before one begins a journey they get a map and the lay of the land...this post is offered in that light.


    One needs to be mindful that the bhāgavad gītā¹ is the essence of the veda. It is often referred to as the ‘cream’ of the veda-s. One also needs to know that the 700 verses are part of a larger work we know as the mahābhārata, of which there is 100,000 verses ( or śloka-s).

    The Why mention this section
    To really understand & comprehend the bhāgavad gītā one needs to address the mahābhārata; at a minimum understand the story at hand. Yet too, not one word in the bhāgavad gītā is wasted. That is, within the 700 verses one will find the 6 schools of Indian thought:

    • sāṁkhya
    • yoga
    • vedānta
    • mīmāṃsā
    • nyāya
    • vaiśeṣika.

    The 6 darśana-s (seeing, looking, knowledge, traditional doctrine or precept , collection of such doctrines) are so complete in themselves, that many people took the 6 to be different views. This is not the case, it is the 6, when taken as whole give a 360º view of Reality.

    Now the interesting part... the bhāgavad gītā is so complete, so whole (pūrṇatā) it talks on 3 levels at the same time:
    • parā - the Supreme level some call anuttra , the highest , unsurpassable; we can consider it the transcendental or Absolute level ; parābrahman
    • parāpara - this is the Supreme co-mingled with its own energy - that which brings forth creation
    • aparā - some call this nara or the level of existence of man and creation

    We can see the 3 in another light: the Fullest level of Divine Will ( icchā) , knowledge ( jñāna) and action (kriyā). It is kṛṣṇa-jī who speaks out (kāyati) the 3 (tri) energies or śakti-s (śa) of the Supreme (parā). It is He that has Full knowledge (anuttarasūtra) and can speak of it from direct personal experience. It is arjuna as nara that is the receiver and the representative of us all.

    Now there's another 3 views the wise mention and applies to the bhāgavad gītā:

    • abhidhā or the conventional some call the literal meaning
    • lakṣaṇā or indirectly via sign, symbol, inference.
    • vyañjanā or the figurative expression more intuitively offered some may call implied indication , yet is on a higher level of meaning.


    Again, why mention all this? To suggest just how robust the bhāgavad gītā is, how full and whole. You will find many translations of the
    bhāgavad gītā because of the possibilities and levels it offers. You see, the translators’ clarity of consciousness is just as important as the work being translated; and the receiver’s consciousness ( the student) is also important to comprehend the teaching.
    What I am saying then? If one is serious about understanding the bhāgavad gītā, the aspirant needs to insure that they are working on themselves ( the receiver) to insure the signal being heard ( the knowledge) is being properly ‘digested’ ( code for comprehension). This is not the type of book that is read once. It is a ‘study’ book, a revisit many times book.

    I have found in no uncertain terms that this
    śastra when studied earnestly transforms the reader.




    इतिशिवं
    iti śivaṁ


    terms

    • śrīmadbhagavadgītā (श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता ) It is made up of śrīmat+bhagavat+gītā or ‘the song of the most high divine one’.
    • śrīmat- possessed of fortune , fortunate , auspicious , wealthy , prosperous , eminent , illustrious , venerable (used , like śrī , as a prefix before the names of eminent persons and celebrated works and sometimes corrupted into śrīmant) , of high rank or dignity
    • bhagavat - ‘ the divine or adorable one’
    • gītā -a song , sacred song or poem , religious doctrines declared in metrical form by an inspired sage
    • we know of the bhāgavad gītā found in the mahābhārata - it is also known as hariḥ gītā or nārāyaṇa gita ( so says the mahābhārata, śanti parvan).
    Last edited by yajvan; 09 November 2016 at 06:06 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  6. #6
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,608
    Rep Power
    382

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    I wrote above,

    To really understand & comprehend the bhāgavad gītā one needs to address the mahābhārata; at a minimum understand the story at hand.
    This mahābhārata was initial 8,800 verses ... this was expanded to 24,000 then 600,000 . Some are known in the world of men and others in the world of the devata. I mention this because narada also recited this work in the world of the deva-s ( so says the mahābhārata). Knowing the story really adds to understanding the bhāgavad gītā.

    So, how do 'we' get a handle on the story? For some they may want to read the whole book (mahābhārata by Kisari Mohan Ganguli) ; this is a vast undertaking ( at least for me it was); but for those that are looking for an abridged version , let me recommend one title: Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachara ( that is how it is written on the book). You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Mahabharata-C-Rajagopalachari/dp/8172763689 . In about 400 pages it does a fine job of introducing the student to this vast work.

    If you recall from the post above , I mentioned 3 levels:

    • abhidhā or the conventional some call the literal meaning
    • lakṣaṇā or indirectly via sign, symbol, inference.
    • vyañjanā or the figurative expression more intuitively offered some may call implied indication , yet is on a higher level of meaning.


    This book (
    Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachara) is more abhidhā with just a hint of lakṣaṇā. So, it is a good place to start. Here on HDF ( HinduDharmaForums) you can look at some of the lakṣaṇā + vyañjanā offers here: http://hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?6446-Symbols-of-the-mah%C4%81bh%C4%81rata ( this is in the Uttara folder on HDF's main folder page).

    What about
    the bhāgavad gītā by various translators ? Here's my favorites:

    • mahaṛṣi mahesh yogī's commentary chapters 1 to 6
    • abhinavagupata's commentary on the bhāgavad gītā is called bhāgavadgītārthasaṁgraha
    • Śrī jñānadeva's bhāvārṭa dīpikā some call jñāeśvarī ( his commentary the bhāgavad gītā)
    • S.rādhākṛṣṇan has a different view on this matter but worth a look
    • svāmī prabhupāda's bhāgavad gītā As It Is


    Note the 1st entry by
    mahaṛṣi-ji. It is only 6 chapters. Why so? The bhāgavad gītā's knowledge comes in 6+6+6 chapters. The knowledge in the first 6 chapters are aligned and grouped as such based upon particular themes as is the next 6 + 6. Of all the translations this one is most dear to me. Mahaṛṣi-ji takes the time to look at abhidhā + lakṣaṇā + vyañjanā ; the translator ( in my opinion and contact) is a fully realized being (stithiprajñāni¹); we are blessed to have these 6 chapters.

    The second offer , bhāgavadgītārthasaṁgraha, is not a beginners book , but for the seasoned practitioner.
    The third offer , bhāvārṭa dīpikā, a highly spiritual book.
    The forth offer is more entry level reading by S.rādhākṛṣṇan.
    The fifth offer by svāmī prabhupāda's bhāgavad gītā As it is, is known by many, and takes the vaiṣṇava point of view.

    ... do as you see fit.





    इतिशिवं
    iti śivaṁ

    terms
    stithiprajñāna - sthita स्थित (standing) + pra प्र (filled, excessively) + jñāna ज्ञान (knowing, highest knowledge)




    Last edited by yajvan; 09 November 2016 at 06:15 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  7. #7

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Namaste,

    Bhagavad Gita is such a gift, it maybe hard to understand in the beginning, and its being spoke about less and less. Its such a practical guide to both the outer and the inner life.

    The first 6 chapters is a good place to start.

    As Yajvan Ji has said that to get a better understanding Mahabharata is needed. I cant go into to much depth with Mahabharata but the first chapter is the setting of the scene. I will just give a very basic attempt to point out some things which have helped me understand Bhagavad Gita.

    The first chapter is about all Characters in MahaBharata, there is some flux within the relationships of the external world and it leads to war. This first chapter represent many things, both on the outside world and the inside world of our mental construct or personality and attributes.

    In the second chapter Arjuna becomes deflated, he lost all his strength due to the flux he saw without and felt within. He lay down his weapons, he gave up and was at a loss. What is interesting is the answer that Sri Krsna Gives to Arjuna once he realized his limit and his inability to know what to do in his crisis.

    Arjuna is at a loss and almost the first thing that Sri Krsna says is how has this clouded mind come about, only due to ignorance of the real self are you suffering and thinking you have something to solve. Sri Krsna did not get into a whole thing about how to solve this situation, diplomacy earlier in the story had already failed, no council at all was given apart from saying to Arjuna that he is Atma, he is spirit, not the body and only by this awareness is Truth understood.

    Sri Krsna then skilfully teaches Arjuna in second Chapter that he is not the external body, and in 3rd and fourth Chapter Krsna instructs Arjuna how to live in the world free from further reaction and conditioning and then goes more deeper to instruct Arjuna in the meditation system in Dhyana Meditation and Samadhi absorbtion beyond mind intellect and senses.

    What else follows in Gita will more reveal the body or full form of the Absolute Truth revealed only through spiritual insight, so the first 6 chapters are the most important to start with and gradually perfect.

  8. #8

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Thank for all the answers everyone I am grateful for your time and effort and also for your warm welcome.

    I had a sort of unrelated question in regards to Hindu philosophy and religion. Is there such a thing as just Hindu philosophy without the religious part or is it always combined? What I mean is can you 'practice' or live by the Hindu philosophy only or do you have to incorporate religious rituals, worship, going to the temple etc?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Age
    47
    Posts
    750
    Rep Power
    1511

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    Hari Om!

    Another suggestion was made earlier to visit a Krishna Temple. May I temper it with the suggestion, better in my experience and humble opinion, of the Chinmaya Mission. The discourses present the Gita in a clearly understandable manner and further demonstrate how to apply it to ones life in a simple, effective way. Swami Chinmayananda is also known for his humor and frank style which makes for an enlightening yet thoughtful time. Although his body has expired and the discourses are often provided via film (you could also find some of YouTube) satsang - company of the wise - is always preferable. Talks are also given by others so please don't limit yourself.

    Bring the Gita alive. My humble suggestion is to stay with the classic and attend satsang to avail oneself of its divine benefits and to have the opportunity to have any queries clarified.

    All the best.

    Om

  10. #10
    Join Date
    September 2006
    Age
    64
    Posts
    7,608
    Rep Power
    382

    Re: Bhagavad Gita explained to a western mind

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Quote Originally Posted by Nija View Post
    I had a sort of unrelated question in regards to Hindu philosophy and religion. Is there such a thing as just Hindu philosophy without the religious part or is it always combined? What I mean is can you 'practice' or live by the Hindu philosophy only or do you have to incorporate religious rituals, worship, going to the temple etc?
    Yes there is... that is why I called out the 6 systems in a previous post:

    • sāṁkhya
    • yoga
    • vedānta
    • mīmāṃsā
    • nyāya
    • vaiśeṣika


    The founders:

    • gautama for the nyāya school
    • kaṇāda for the vaiśeṣika school – his real name was uluka. kaṇāda means ‘atom eater’
    • kapila for the sāṁkhya school
    • patañjali for the yoga school
    • jaimini for the mīmāṁsā school, and
    • bādarāyana- for the vedānta school –there are many ; bādarāyana is hailed as the most comprehensive/best by many.


    Where can you find these 6 which can be easily digested? One book ( a set of 2 volumes) that I am fond of is called The Systems of Indian Philosophy, by Subodh Kapoor.

    What do these views offer or consider? Saḍ darśana ( or the 6 views/schools). What could all these schools look at and discuss ( if I had to put it in a nut shell ) ? - the nature of Reality. From where does it come? What part ( or whole ) are we as the human-Being, in all this? and where does it go? What are some views? (In general):

    • there is a dualistic view ( some call dvaita)
    • a dual-non-dual or mono-dualistic ( some call bhedābheda )
    • and a non-dual view some call monistic (or advaita) and abheda-śruti applies


    You see, in the West , philosophy is more of an 'arm chair' exercise in pondering the notions of truth , reality, virtue. This is not the same in the East. In the East,
    the views penetrate all parts of one's activities. It naturally spills into one's religion.Why so? Because of adoration of the Supreme being non-different from the truth, non-different from Reality, non-different from the highest level of virtue.
    Yet if one wanted to stay an arm's length from the religious practices, there is no concern.

    इतिशिवं
    iti śivaṁ


    Last edited by yajvan; 13 November 2016 at 11:28 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. War in the Bhagavad Gita
    By Jeffery D. Long in forum Bhagavad Gita
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 10 December 2013, 12:28 PM
  2. Appealing to the Western Mind in its Own Terms
    By MarkMe in forum Philosophy
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 16 January 2013, 10:54 PM
  3. Replies: 61
    Last Post: 27 September 2010, 08:58 AM
  4. Bhagavad Gita
    By Govind Joshi in forum On Dharma
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 04 September 2010, 01:04 PM
  5. bhagavad gita
    By surtibadshah in forum Bhagavad Gita
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03 August 2009, 05:30 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •