The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is part of the Mahabharata, an ancient Indian epic poem, composed several millennia ago. Its setting is the battlefield of Kurukshetra where the warrior prince Arjuna is counseled by Bhagavan Krishna to join his noble brothers to fight against their treacherous cousins. On its deepest level, the Gita serves as a metaphor for the battle between the soul and the ego, providing the essence of India’s age-old philosophy of Yoga and its ancient techniques of meditation.
The Gita is the first text in which the word Yoga appears: Krishna uses the phrase over 100 times, in fact. The word Yoga means “union”— of soul with Spirit. There are various paths of Yoga that lead toward this goal, each one a specialized branch of one comprehensive system. The Gita reveals how each of these paths contributes to the overall goal of union with the Infinite.
Many visionaries and world leaders have been influenced by the Bhagavad Gita, including Mahatma Gandhi, who referred to it as his “Spiritual Dictionary.” Even physicist Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called “Father of the Atomic Bomb” was familiar with it. He famously quoted from the Gita after the first detonation of a test bomb in the New Mexico desert: “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” (a quote we use in AWAKE).
Yogananda’s criticallyacclaimed translation and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, God Talks With Arjuna, elucidates the Gita’s profound spiritual, psychological, and metaphysical truths, including its hidden meanings presented as allegory. A more condensed introduction is The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, which is taken from Yogananda’s larger two-volume work.