The Mahabharata, originally known as Jaya Samhita, is an ancient Indian epic that narrates the tale of the great Kurukshetra war. Spanning over 18 days, this epic battle holds immense significance in Hindu history. It is believed that Ved Vyasa, the sage and author of Mahabharata, recited the story to Lord Ganesha, who then wrote it down using his tusk. This is why Lord Ganesha is often depicted with a broken tusk. With over 100,000 verses, Mahabharata stands as one of the longest scriptures ever written.
Within the Mahabharata, we find the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text that holds 18 chapters and 700 verses. It serves as a profound philosophical discourse between Lord Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Contrary to popular belief, the Bhagavad Gita is not a separate entity but an integral part of the Mahabharata.
Dispelling Myths: There have been several misconceptions associated with the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita. One such myth suggests that keeping the Mahabharata at home leads to discord and conflicts among family members. However, this notion is far from the truth. In fact, the Mahabharata imparts profound wisdom and insights into life's complexities. It was during the Mughal and British rule that such false beliefs were propagated.
Another misconception revolves around the idea that the Bhagavad Gita is meant exclusively for ascetics or renunciates. However, the truth is that the Bhagavad Gita was delivered by Lord Krishna, a householder (gruhastha), to Arjuna, who was also a householder. It serves as a guide for individuals to perform their worldly duties without attachment or aversion.
Exploring the Characters: The Bhagavad Gita primarily features four significant characters. It begins with King Dhritarashtra, who inquires from his advisor Sanjaya about the happenings on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
Dhritarashtra - 1 verse
Sanjaya - 41 verses
Arjuna - 84 verses
Lord Krishna - 574 verses
The Context: Arjuna finds himself in a state of deep despair and confusion on the battlefield. It is at this critical moment that Lord Krishna imparts the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita to guide Arjuna in fulfilling his true calling and duty (dharma).
Timeless Relevance: The Bhagavad Gita remains entirely relevant to the world even today. Its teachings transcend time and offer profound insights into various aspects of life. The lessons on duty, righteousness, devotion, and self-realization are universally applicable.
Great Personalities Inspired by the Bhagavad Gita:
Mahatma Gandhi - Mahatma Gandhi is often associated with the verse "Ahimsa Paramo Dharma" as an embodiment of non-violence. However, this specific verse is not present in the Bhagavad Gita. Although it is mentioned a few times in the Mahabharata in different contexts, the popular quote "Ahimsa paramo dharma, dharma himsa tathaiva cha" is not found in the Bhagavad Gita.
Jayadayal Goenka - Inspired by verse 18.68 in the Bhagavad Gita, Jayadayal Goenka founded the Geeta Press, a leading publication house for religious books. The verse is as follows:
"Ya idam paramam guhyam Madbhakteshv abhidhasyati Bhaktim mayi parām kritvā Māmevaishyaty asanshayaḥ"
3. Srila Prabhupada - At the age of 69, Srila Prabhupada embarked on a journey to the United States to spread the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita. He established over 100 temples worldwide and founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which continues to flourish today.
Conclusion: The Bhagavad Gita, an inseparable part of the Mahabharata, has inspired countless individuals and transformed their lives. It provides timeless wisdom and guidance to navigate the complexities of life. As we delve into the depths of this sacred scripture, we discover profound truths that remain relevant in today's world.