Origins & Purpose of The Bhagavad Gita, Intro. I of II

 

Praise

The Bhagavad Gita (or just “Gita”) is the greatest scripture ever expressed by humanity. Within its verses both direct and indirect references are made to all helpful practices. With a little effort all students of the blind intellect are able to find similarities to the moral proscriptions of hoary philosophies and time-tested religions in the short, 700 verses, of the succinct Bhagavad Gita.

The Bhagavad Gita is the scripture above all other scriptures. It guides the individual on their inevitable, personal journey of self-discovery. Regardless of genetic, ethnic, national, religious or racial background studying the Bhagavad Gita is useful to anyone who is receptive to the truth it expresses. The wisdom within the Gita sheds light into the practices that one adopts in the search for the meaning of life.

Author

If it is written, a person must hold the pen. While the mythological Ganesh is attributed with being the scribe, it is the words of the esteemed Indian sage Vyasa that the Gita contains. However, the phrases, or mantras, of the Gita existed millennia before sage Vyasa walked on earth. The Bhagavad Gita was first generated by specialized schools of yoga during the last Golden Age.

Ancient Variations of The Bhagavad Gita

Each different tradition of yoga had their own variation of the Bhagavad Gita that served the particular purpose of the school. The schools of yoga included Karma (action) Yoga, Hatha (asana or posture & movement) Yoga, Laya (sound) Yoga, Jnana (wisdom) Yoga, Raja (Royal – combined) Yoga, Mantra (repetition) Yoga and many others. As the dark Iron Age approached, another sage Patanjali, categorized the most important essence of each of the various schools into eight “limbs” of yoga. Patanjali’s eight limbs include: Yama (morals), Niyama (prescripts), Asana (postures and movement), Pranayama (energy mastery), Pratyahara (sense self-control), Dharana (techniques of concentration), Dhyana (attainment of one-pointed concentration) and Samadhi (non-attachment or meditation). The Bhagavad Gita takes the work done by Patanjali one step further. The Gita simplifies the eight steps into one conversation that is essentially between “God” and a “devotee” regarding the essence of every school of yoga. A devotee seeks to know the absolute Truth through systematic steps.

In today’s terms, consider a University that has separate colleges as representative of the last Golden Age of yogic schools. The colleges of a major university cover areas of study including: Law, Medicine, Business, Engineering, Fine Arts, Communication, Theology and perhaps many more narrow divisions. Now, imagine that the intellectual capacity of today’s students was decreasing quickly. Without capable students the expert professors in each area of study would become fewer with each generation. Essentially, this is what happened to the dozens of expert schools of yoga during the decline of the last Golden Age.

A decreased human capacity for intuitive wisdom and intellectual development was confronted by the ancient yogic masters. As the earth headed into the limitations of the darkest period of its ever progressing cycles between ignorance and enlightenment, yogic schools were faced with a decreasing number of master-professors and almost no students able to understand their teachings.

The few yogic masters who remained at the start of the Iron Age came together and designed the Bhagavad Gita. Going back to the example of today’s university, imagine professors of engineering, medicine, business, law and fine arts sitting together to design one unified statement that included the essence of each of their respective fields in a mere 700 verses. The Bhagavad Gita accomplishes this feat and much more by finding the common basis of each yogic tradition.

Physical and Subtle Sound, A Common Ground of Understanding

During the Golden Age, each school of yoga conveyed its particular expertise through intuition and through sound. Sound was the common ground that the council of masters agreed could contain and express their wisdom. Tasked with preserving the essence of their schools through the age that suffered from a lack of intuitive wisdom, sound was the only option.

The ancient Sanskrit language is based upon the very specific sounds that a human form makes both physically and subtly. A written, visual representation (any form of script or glyph) of sound can be a fatal limitation to the meaning. Aware of these limitations of 1) focusing on vocalizations of human anatomy and then 2) a visual written form, the council of yogic masters set out to preserve one or two building blocks from each tradition. The crucial foundation stones preserved in the Bhagavad Gita could be used to rebuild the schools when human capacity for intuition and intellectual development increased once again.

Sage Vyasa’s Role

The sage Vyasa was a trusted diplomat and the top communicator of his time. Working with the council of yogic masters, he delicately satisfied each of them by incorporating their requirements into a tale that even the ignorant could enjoy repeating. The generations of “deaf, dumb and blind” humans had to be entertained by the repetition of these phrases that contained the essence of the highest accomplishments of the last Golden Age. If the ignorant were not entertained, the stories would be lost. With these demands, Vyasa “wrote” the Mahabharata with a special emphasis on the Bhagavad Gita.

Vyasa’s role could be considered similar to today’s project manager. He is also credited with reorganizing the ponderous Vedas for easier study. The service performed by Vyasa and the Masters succeeded. Concepts necessary for the smooth progress of society have been transmitted through the Iron Age.

One of the purposes of the Bhagavad Gita is to preserve the foundation stones of the top schools of yoga and the essence of the eight limbs of yogic practice. The Gita surpasses this noble goal by intertwining the related philosophies of Sankhya and Vedanta and Yoga. It was designed to transmit this knowledge through the repetition of its mantras (or verses). The ancient masters hoped that the study of the Bhagavad Gita would inspire future generations. Born after the end of the dark Iron Age, each advancing generation would resurrect the light out of the darkness.

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To be continued….

 


Ancient History

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