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The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit: भगवद्‌गीता - Bhagavad Gītā , "Song of God" or "Divine Song") is an ancient Sanskrit text comprising 700 verses (or 701 in some recensions) from the Mahabharata ( Bhishma Parva chapters 25 – 42).

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Dating of the text

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Dating of the text

  • The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit: भगवद्‌गीता - Bhagavad Gītā, "Song of God" or "Divine Song") is an ancient Sanskrit text comprising 700 verses (or 701 in some recensions) from the Mahabharata (Bhishma Parva chapters 25 – 42).

  • Krishna, as the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita is referred to within as Bhagavan (the divine one).

  • The content of the text is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra just prior to the start of a climactic war.

  • During the discourse, Krishna reveals his identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring glimpse of His divine absolute form.

  • The Bhagavad Gita is also called Gītopaniṣad as well as Yogupaniṣad, implying its status as an 'Upanishad'. While technically it is considered a Smṛti text, it has singularly achieved a status comparable to that of śruti, or revealed knowledge.

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  • The discourse on the Bhagavad Gita begins before the start of the climactic battle at Kurukshetra. It begins with the Pandava prince Arjuna, as he becomes filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realising that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Krishna (Bhagavan, or the Lord), for advice.

  • In summary the main philosophical subject matter of the Bhagavad-gita is the explanation of five basic concepts or truths:Ishvara (The Supreme Controller), Jiva (The Soul) Prakrti (Matter) Karma (Action) Kala (Time).

  • In order to clarify his point, Krishna expounds the various Yoga processes, and understanding of the true nature of the universe. Krishna describes the yogic paths of devotional service,action,meditation and knowledge.

  • In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna refers to the war about to take place as 'Dharma Yuddha', meaning a righteous war for the purpose of justice. In Chapter 4, Krishna states that he incarnates in each age (yuga) to establish righteousness in the world.

Dating of the text

  • Dating of the text

  • Though it is not exactly clear when the Bhagavad Gita was composed, western historians assume a date between 500 and 50 BCE.There is, however, considerable debate on the subject.

  • Based on the differences in the poetic styles and supposed external influences such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, some scholars have suggested that the Bhagavad Gita was added to the Mahabharata at a later date.

  • The traditional date reflecting the beliefs of many devotional Hindus places the text in the 4th millennium BC, (3138 BC).

  • The Bhagavad-Gita contains 18 chapters and 700 verses, which are attributed to the four principle participants of the narration in the following manner: 1. Dhritarashtra 1, 2. Sanjaya 41, 3. Arjuna 84, 4. Lord Krishna 574.

  • In all in the entire Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna has been addressed with 27 different names and titles. These are : Anantarupa, Achyuta, Arisudhana, Krishna, Kesava, Kesanishudana, Kamalapatraksha, Govinda, Jagadpatih, Jagannivasa, Janardhana, Devedeva, Devavarah, Purushottama, Bhagawan, Bhutabhavana, Bhutesah, Madhusudhana, Mahabahu, Madhavah, Yadava, Yogaviththama, Vasudeva, Varsheya, Vishnuh, Hrisikesa and Harih.

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  • The Gita addresses the discord between the senses and the intuition of cosmic order. It speaks of the Yoga of equanimity, a detached outlook.

  • The term Yoga covers a wide range of meanings, but in the context of the Bhagavad Gita, describes a unified outlook, serenity of mind, skill in action and the ability to stay attuned to the glory of the Self (Atman) and the Supreme Being (Bhagavan).

  • Krishna summarizes the Yogas through eighteen chapters. There are four kinds of Yoga:

  • Bhakti Yoga or Devotion,

  • Karma Yoga or Selfless Action

  • Jnana Yoga or Self Transcending Knowledge

  • DhyanaYogaor Psycho-Physical Meditation

  • There are three stages to self-realization enunciated from the Bhagavad Gita:

  • 1. Brahman - The impersonal universal energy

  • 2. Paramatma - The Supreme Soul sitting in the heart of every living entity.

  • 3. Bhagavan - God as a personality, with a transcendental form.

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  • On The Goal Of Yoga

  • " And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me (Krishna) alone, at once attains My (Krishna's- Transcendental) nature. Of this there is no doubt."

  • On Bhakti Yoga

  • Put simply, Bhakti Yoga is Service in Love and Devotion to God (Krishna in the context of the Bhagavad Gita).

  • On Karma Yoga

  • Krishna advocates 'Nishkam Karma Yoga' (the Yoga of Selfless Action) as the ideal path to realize the Truth.

  • These concepts are vividly described in the following verse:

  • "With the body, with the mind, with the intellect, even merely with the senses, the Yogis perform action toward self-purification, having abandoned attachment. He who is disciplined in Yoga, having abandoned the fruit of action, attains steady peace..."

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  • On Jnana Yoga

  • Jnana Yoga is a process of learning to discriminate between what is real and what is not, what is eternal and what is not.

  • Through a steady advancement in realization of the distinction between Real and the Unreal, the Eternal and the Temporal, one develops into a Jnana Yogi.

  • This is essentially a path of knowledge and discrimination in regards to the difference between the immortal soul (atman) and the body.

  • "When a sensible man ceases to see different identities due to different material bodies and he sees how beings are expanded everywhere, he attains to the Brahman conception.

  • On Dhyana Yoga

  • Dhyana Yoga is the stilling of the mind and body through meditating techniques, geared at realizing one's true nature. A very similar (if not identical) practice was later described by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the world’s most distinguished Vedic scholar and teacher. He is uniquely qualified to present the english translation and commentary of the Bhagavad-Gita.

¨I am unable to identify with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find solace in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount....I must confess to you that when doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of external tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.¨

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