The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient, sacred Hindu text, considered by many to be the Hindu bible. The text itself is part of an ancient Hindu epic poem, and surrounds the story of three main characters: Arjuna, Krishna, and Sanjaya.
Arjuna is a warrior about to embark on a battle against members of his own family, along with great seers and sages. His soul is in great conflict concerning whether to fight or not, so he turns to Krishna, cleverly disguised as his charioteer, for advice. An ongoing conversation ensues between Krishna and Arjuna, in which Krishna offers protective, reassuring, philosophical and revelatory words of counsel to Arjuna. Sanjaya is able to witness this encounter through his visionary abilities, and it’s he who narrates the story.
In the beginning, Arjuna starts out as a troubled warrior in the midst of conflict, but he transforms into a humble, devoted student of Krishna- not afraid to ask important questions. Krishna, showing his many manifestations and divine, intimate forms to Arjuna, becomes Arjuna’s teacher. The principle ideas expressed by Krishna concern yoga, the state of Brahman, discernment, primordial nature, and the relinquishing of the fruits of action: “Indeed, those wise ones/ who are absorbed/ in the yoga of discernment,/ relinquishing the fruits/ born of action,/ who are freed/ from the bondage/ of repeated births,/ go to a place beyond suffering.” Krishna also states, “the yoga of action is superior/ to the renunciation of action.”
Although Krishna gives advice on how to become closer to Him, the divine, he also points out that the human heart has free will to either connect with divinity or connect to an impermanent world. Souls are subject to their own natures, but in order to find and express love, our souls must have some free will.
Schweig does a fantastic job of translating the text without subtracting any important information. Below some of the verses are explanations of certain words and their translations into Sanskrit, while at the end of the English translation there is a Sanskrit version of the verses as well. Following the text is a section called “Textual Illuminations,” where Schweig analyzes and discusses what the reader just read. In regards to yoga, he writes: “At the highest level, yoga is a secret state of union within supreme love, bestowed by divinity, who is also subsumed in this union. Indeed, yoga is the power of love that transforms the heart and to which even divinity submits.”
Overall, the Gita is an enlightening, transformative poem which has the ability to make the reader contemplate higher states of consciousness, and most of all, how to reach these states.