We know the Bhagavad Gita principally for the life lessons that Lord Krishna imparts to a personally agitated and ethically troubled Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra as two armies of brothers and friends face off against each other. It is more than just the lesson of dharma that Krishna imparts to Arjun. In a sense the Geetopadesh is the complete blueprint of life as it should be lived and as such includes the practice of yoga as well.
Yogic philosophies in the Bhagavad Gita
Lord Krishna uses the term yoga more than one hundred times in the Bhagavad Gita. He advised Arjun about his dilemma with the help of philosophies relating to karma (action), dharma (duty), aatma (the soul), brahmaan (the universe), moksha (release from the worldly coil). He showed Arjun how these teachings could liberate him and how they could be applied to real life.
According to Lord Krishna, yoga is not just about performing the aasans and the Pranayams of yoga. It also refers to the dynamic, voluntary and clear participation of the human being in their life and about a striving for the ideal, healthy life simultaneously at the physical, mental and spiritual levels. Yoga is also about recognizing the beauty around us and about responding to this with love and wonder. It is about being selfless, about helping others, about doing one’s duty joyfully and harmoniously. The yogi’s connections is to the whole universe – as one is a part of the world, the world is a part of one’s own being as well.
According to Lord Krishna, the practice of yoga also involves sacrifice and an embrace of our own higher being. Such practice elevates us and helps us evolve into better human beings. In his teachings, the Lord also speaks about yoga as being the most direct and quick way to become one with the ultimate reality; to achieve the ultimate goal of life.
The Bhagavad Gita – the first book of yoga
According to some experts, the Bhagavad Gita is the first book of yoga and it imparts an entire life philosophy to those who look to becoming better and more evolved people. The Gita is the practical guide for raising consciousness and encompasses the main subsystems of yoga such as bhakti (devotion), gnana (knowledge), karma (duty) and raja (meditation).
As such, various philosophers, writers and scientists from the west have also studied and become inspired by the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. I suppose it is up to us Indians to delve into and fully understand and rediscover our own treasures.