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Study the Bhagavad Gita

Beyond the Mat

The lessons of this ancient text provide context for all we experience both on the mat and off

The Celestial Song, the Bhagavadgita may well be the most important resource for understanding the development of Hindu-based yoga traditions. Foundational to the variety of traditions known as Vedanta and influential for nearly every other tradition, we introduce the text here to explain its importance and continuing relevance to the study of yoga.
1 60 Dr. Douglas Brooks
In the start of the battle of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna loses resolve as he faces his teachers and relatives on the battle field. He argues that it would be better to be defeated in war than to kill his kin. Krishna, his cousin, charioteer, and later revealed to be an Avatara of Vishnu, reminds him of the warrior's dharma, to fight. Through Samkhya-Yoga, Krishna teaches Arjuna that all things perish, yet the soul can never be killed.
2 60 Dr. Chris Chapple
A lecture on Karma yoga, proposing that working without being attached to the fruits of action, distinguishes itself from other forms of yoga that require retreat from the world. Krishna points out that human beings are impelled into action regardless of their intentions and that by turning all work into sacrifice, purification can be attained.
2-3 60 Dr. Chris Chapple
A lecture on Samkhya, Dharma and Karma. In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna chastises Arjuna, ridiculing his reluctance to take up his dharma as a warrior. In the first part of the chapter, he teaches Arjuna Jnana or Knowledge Yoga, reminding him that the soul can never be killed. In the second part of the chapter, Krishna urges Arjuna to act without attachment to the fruits of action.
2 15 Dr. Chris Chapple
A lecture on the fruits of Action. Krishna announces two of his previous births, providing evidence that the soul merely changes bodies and can never be slain. He urges Arjuna to go beyond all dualities and renounce all attachment to the fruits of his action.
2-3 30 Dr. Chris Chapple
A lecture that retells Arjuna's big question: which is better, action in the world or renunciation of all action? Krishna replies in chapter five that one must act but as if doing nothing whatsoever, remembering always that the true Self is not the doer. By seeing Brahman in all things, one gains freedom. Noting that the self must help the self in chapter six, Krishna gives explicit directions about how to meditate and hence relinquish troublesome desires. He assures Arjuna that any sincere effort on the spiritual path will be rewarded.
2 60 Dr. Chris Chapple
Chapter seven of the Bhagavad Gita opens the topic of Bhakti Yoga, explaining the core principles of how the divine principle suffuses all reality.
2 15 Dr. Chris Chapple
A lecture on chapter eight of the Bhagavad Gita. Here, the nature of death is introduced with Krishna stating that the last thoughts of a dying person determine his or her future course. If one dies thinking about God, one will be delivered into a heavenly state. If one draws the senses inward and brings the thinking process to the heart while chanting Om, one attains the Supreme Goal. And if one dies during or before the full moon before the fall solstice, "the knower of Brahman will attain Brahman.""
2 15 Dr. Chris Chapple
Chapter nine of the Bhagavad Gita returns to the theme of divine presence within all reality. All acts of devotion and sacrifice offered with pure intent will bring one into connection with the great universe, also described as the body of God.
2 30 Dr. Chris Chapple
In chapter ten of the Bhagavad Gita, all qualities, radiance and shadow, can be found in the divine totality. Krishna proclaims himself to be the best of all that is good, from the Vedas to the Gods, from weapons to the letters of the alphabet. By declaring himself to be present in the particularity of all things as well as transcendent, his ubiquity and eternal nature stir up awe within Arjuna.
2 30 Dr. Chris Chapple
Lecture on the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which reveals the cosmic form of Krishna. Here, Arjuna witnesses his enemies and brothers alike being devoured in the many mouths of Krishna, crushed in the jaws of time. Arjuna's awe transforms into overwhelming devotion and surrender, changing the very bedrock of Arjuna's psyche, preparing him for Krishna's teachings about worldly engagement. In the twelfth chapter, Krishna describes equanimity or sama, upeksha, or tulya, as the mark of one who has achieved living liberation.
2-3 60 Dr. Chris Chapple
The Bhagavad Gita creates the complex and compelling notion of the power of devotion, love, and divine participation. Not only does the concept of bhakti imply the grace-bestowing agency of the divine, it suggests to us further how we can share and discover the presence of love as a transformative experience. The Gita is the primary resource for understanding the early conversations regarding bhakti as a form of yoga.
2 15 Dr. Douglas Brooks

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