Gita on Meditation Practice
By Vijai Sharma, PhD • September 19th, 2010 • 7009 Views
In the western Yoga community, at least for the serious yoga practitioners, an in-depth study of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra (YS) is almost mandatory. However, Srimad Bhagwad Gita commonly referred to as “Gita,” which in many respects can helpful serve as a complimentary reading to YS, has not even gained the status of elective reading.
This is unfortunate! Gita which predates YS by several centuries expounds in detail on various tenets of the Samkhya Philosophy (the integral philosophical theme of YS) and offers practical tips on dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breath control), and behavior and lifestyle conducive to Yoga practice.
So why has Gita not elicited a robust and enthusiastic embrace from western Yoga practitioners? My speculation about the reason is as follows:
The name Srimad Bhagwad Gita, “The Song of the Lord,” indicates it is a Hindu religious text perhaps dwelling on the theme of devotion. Such a suggestion, though mistaken is likely to turn off both the atheists and the people of other faiths. Contrast it with the example of YS. Unlike Gita, the name “Yoga Sutra,” simply means a string of verses pertaining to Yoga-- non-sectarian and directly focused on Yoga, the subject of our primary interest.
But fans of Gita would argue that it presents a cosmological view of the world and creation, the nature and attributes of the core of a human being and discuses the spiritual evolution of the human kind. That this ancient text has broad philosophical appeal not just for India but also for the contemporary world has been eloquently stated by many philosophical and intellectual giants of our times.
Here is what some of those luminaries have said about Gita:
- The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.
- In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.
Henry David Thoreau