The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Hindu spiritual text whose name means “the song of the Lord”. Hindus believe the book, which they often refer to as the Gita, contains “the direct message of God” and it is common to find it on bedside tables in hotels in India, much like we find the Bible in hotels in the US.
Like the Bible, there are mysteries that surround the Gita. Scholars do not know who wrote the book and disagree at to then it was written, with estimates ranging from 500 years before the birth of Jesus to as late as the first century of the Common Era.
The first translation of the Bhagavad Gita from its original Sanskrit language into English was not made until 1795. And these early translations eventually made their way into the hands of our most renowned American sages; Ralph Waldo Emerson calling the Bhagavad Gita “the first of books…the voice of an old intelligence” and Thoreau stated that even Shakespeare paled by comparison.
What makes this text so special? As author Stephen Mitchell points out, in his modern-day translation of the book, the Bhagavad Gita answers a basic human question: how should we live? The answers are provided in poem form and feature a character named Krishna who turns out to be God incarnate. As Mitchell points out Krishna “speaks as God so that he can speak about God.” Here’s a sample passage:
However men try to reach me,
I return their love with my love,
Whatever path they may travel
It leads to me in the end.
There is a chapter in Mitchell’s translation titled “The Secret of Life.” And it is wise now to ponder the author’s words when he says that as we read the Bhagavad Gita we must understand that “ultimately it has nothing to teach. Everything essential that it points to—what we call wisdom or radiance or peace—is already inside us.”
The Bhagavad Gita tells universal truths about the nature of God, no matter which religion you may follow. On the pages that follow, you’ll find four of my favorite passages from “The Secret of Life.” Like all great spiritual texts, I believe the words of the Gita resonate deep within. Click the Continue bar below to see more.