Chapter 1. Bhagavad Gita retold by Harry Bhalla

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from the Bhagavad Gita
The Reading Selection from Bhagavad Gita
Topics Worth Investigating

Monkey Temple, Benares, India, adapted from Library of Congress

About the author…

Harry Bhalla provides the following introduction to his summarized version of the Bhagavad Gita:

The Gita says: "Do your duty to the best of your ability without worrying about the results. A farmer has control over how he works his land, yet no control over the harvest. But, he cannot expect a harvest if he does not work his land."

Perceive that God is present equally in all beings. Treat all beings equally.

The four goals of human life are:
Doing one's duty;
Earning wealth;
Material and sensual enjoyment (with senses under control);
Attaining salvation.

The aim of the Gita doctrine is to lead one to tranquility, happiness and equanimity. No rituals are prescribed. The Gita says that the world needs different religions, cults and deities to meet the vastly different needs of individuals.[1]

About the work…

The Bhagavad Gita[2] is a part of the Mahabharata. At the beginning of the Gita, Arjuna is confronted with the moral decision of regaining his kingdom knowing full well that friends, teachers, and relatives will lose their lives. Krishna, the incarnation of the god Vishnu and Brahman, disguises himself as Arjuna's charioteer and offers his guidance to Arjuna. Krishna's advice is based on the relation between the individual-self and Atman (the ultimate Self) and the relation between nature and Brahman (ultimate reality). Indeed, as Krishna explains, Atman is Brahman. Krishna further traces out the various paths to ultimate knowledge and the consequent realization of Atman for the individual. Different paths or yogas are shown to be appropriate for different psychological types—personalities predisposed to intellect, action, devotion, or meditation.

Ideas of Interest from the Bhagavad Gita

  1. How does Krishna justify the assertion, "The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead"?

  2. In the present fight against Arjuna's relatives, what reason does Krishna provide for the conclusion that Arjuna is actually a fortunate warrior?

  3. According to Krishna, what is the proper attitude we should have while attending to our duty? How can fear of failure be an impediment to success?

  4. According to Krishna, what are the two major stumbling blocks to self-realization? Why do you think that this is so?

  5. How does Krishna explain why we sin in spite of our best efforts to avoid sin?

  6. Compare the path of renunciation with the path of service. Which path, if any, is preferrable?

  7. Does the path of contemplation preclude a need for work? State supporting reasons for your conclusion.

  8. Does it matter, according to Krishna, what gods one believes in? Would Krishna allow for belief in a jealous god who would cause harm to those would believe in other gods?

  9. Krishna states, "I am death…I have already destroyed all these warriors. You are only an instrument, O Arjuna." Explain what he means.

  10. Contrast divine and demonic people. Is the difference in character due only to karma? Is there any correlation between these contrasting types of people and the personality types outlined in accordance with the various paths or yogas?

  11. Explain Krishna's description of the modes of material nature.

  12. Recount Krishna's summary of how to attain self-realization by means of work, knowledge, devotion, and meditation.



Note: In the reading selection, the numbers in parentheses are the chapter numbers and verse numbers respectively, of the Bhagavad Gita.


Bhagavad Gita. Summarized by Harry Bhalla. Gita For Free.