As the opposing armies stand poised for battle, Arjuna, the mighty warrior, sees his intimate relatives, teachers and friends in both armies ready to fight and sacrifice their lives. Overcome by grief and pity, Arjuna fails in strength, his mind becomes bewildered, and he gives up his determination to fight.
Contents of the Gita Summarized
Arjuna submits to Lord Krsna as His disciple, and Krsna begins His teachings to Arjuna by explaining the fundamental distinction between the temporary material body and the eternal spiritual soul. The Lord explains the process of transmigration, the nature of selfless service to the Supreme and the characteristics of a self-realized person.
Everyone must engage in some sort of activity in this material world. But actions can either bind one to this world or liberate one from it. By acting for the pleasure of the Supreme, without selfish motives, one can be liberated from the law of karma (action and reaction) and attain the transcendental knowledge of the self and the Supreme.
Transcendental knowledge¾ the spiritual knowledge of the soul, of God, and of their relationship¾ is both purifying and liberating. Such knowledge is the fruit of selfless devotional action (karma-yoga). The Lord explains the remote history of the Gita, the purpose and significance of His periodic descents to the material world, and the necessity of approaching a guru, a realized teacher.
Outwardly performing all actions but inwardly renouncing their fruits, the wise man, purified by the fire of transcendental knowledge, attains peace, detachment, forbearance, spiritual vision and bliss.
Astanga-yoga, a mechanical meditative practice, controls the mind and senses and focuses concentration on the Paramatma (the Supersoul, the form of the Lord situated in the heart). This practice culminates in samadhi, full consciousness of the Supreme.
Knowledge of the Absolute
Lord Krsna is the Supreme Truth, the supreme cause and sustaining force of everything, both material and spiritual. Advanced souls surrender unto Him in devotion, whereas impious souls divert their minds to other objects of worship
Attaining the Supreme
By remembering Lord Krsna in devotion throughout one's life, and especially at the time of death, one can attain to His supreme abode, beyond the material world
The Most Confidential Knowledge
Lord Krsna is the Supreme Godhead and the supreme object of worship. The soul is eternally related to Him through transcendental worship. The Soul is eternally related to Him through transcendental devotional service (bhakti). By reviving one's pure devotion one returns to Krsna in the Spiritual realm.
The Opulence of the Absolute
All wondrous phenomena showing power, beauty, grandeur or sublimity, either in the material world or in the spiritual, are but partial manifestations of Krsna's divine energies and opulence. As the Supreme cause of all causes and the support and essence of everything, Krsna is the Supreme object of worship for all beings.
The Universal Form
Lord Krsna grants Arjuna divine vision and reveals His spectacular unlimited form as the cosmic universe. Thus He conclusively establishes His divinity. Krsna explains that His own all-beautiful humanlike form is the original form of Godhead. One can perceive the form only by pure devotional service.
Bhakti-yoga, pure devotional service to Lord Krsna, is the highest and most expedient means for attaining pure love for Krsna, which is the highest end of spiritual existence. Those who follow the supreme path develop divine qualities.
Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness
One who understands the difference between the body, the soul and the Supersoul beyond them both attains liberation form the material world.
The Three Modes of Material Nature
All embodied souls are under the control of the three modes, or qualities, of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. Lord Krsna explains what these modes are, how they act upon us, and how one transcends them, and the symptoms of one who has attained the transcendental state.
The yoga of the Supreme Person
The ultimate purpose of Vedic knowledge is to detach oneself from the entanglement of the material world and to understand Lord Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who understands Krsna's supreme identity surrenders unto Him and engages in His devotional service.
The Divine and Demoniac Natures
Those who possess demoniac qualities and who live whimsically, without following the regulations of scripture, attain lower births and further material bondage. But those who possess divine qualities and live regulated lives, abiding by scriptural authority, gradually attain spiritual perfection.
The Divisions of Faith
There are three types of faith, corresponding to and evolving from the three modes of material nature. Acts performed by those whose faith is in passion and ignorance yield only impermanent, material results, whereas acts performed in goodness, in accord with scriptural injunctions, purify the heart and lead to pure faith in Lord Krsna and devotional service.
Krsna explains the meaning of renunciation and the effects of the modes of nature on human consciousness and activity. He explains Brahman realization, the glories of the Bhagavad-gita, and the ultimate conclusion of the Gita: the highest path of religion is absolute, unconditional loving surrender unto Lord Krsna, which frees one from all sins, brings one to complete enlightenment, and enables one to return to Krsna's eternal spiritual abode.