Review: The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata

The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata
The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata by J.A.B. Van Buitenen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the second Hindu text that I’ve read, and I struggled comprehending this one as I did with the Upanishads. I’m not sure if the difficulty comes from cultural unfamiliarity, or if it is simply overwhelming.

Two aspect of this text overwhelmed me. There are so many foreign words and names sprinkled throughout the book. It made it hard for me to keep track of the different characters. Secondly, there is so much in this book! It would require several re-reads for me to feel like I was starting to wrap my head around it.

That said, I did find it a worthwhile read. Many of the teachings in the Bhagavadgita are compatible with my LDS faith.

I love the concept of mastering one’s desires and impulses and finding one’s center through yoga. I’ve experienced this powerful practice in my life recently after a traumatic experience. Contemplation of this book led to a session of yoga and meditation, which transformed into prayer. Having prepared my mind and body through yoga and meditation, I found my prayer much more powerful and meaningful than often is the case.

I also found comfort in the main conflict of the Bhagavadgita. The protagonist, Arjuna, is leading his people into battle. Many in the opposing army are friends and family members of Arjuna, and his heart fails at the thought of killing his kinsmen. He throws down his bow in disgust.

Krshna then teaches Arjuna and shows him that we all have a purpose and a calling. His purpose in that moment is to fight. There’s much more to it than that, but you’ll have to read it to get the details.

In the end, Arjuna realizes that he must fight and he does so with great honor and respect for others, himself, and consequently for god. His actions inspire all on the battlefield.

From this, I realized that my recent trial was like Arjuna’s crisis. I had to make hard decisions, but in the end they were the right decisions, and I was able to find peace in that.

I’m curious to learn more about Hinduism, specifically the practices of yoga and meditation. I look forward to my next class for the opportunity we will have to discuss some of the difficult and important questions that this book identifies.

View all my reviews

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About Jonathan

I am a man whose life has been profoundly changed by a beautiful woman, 5 amazing kids, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Leadership Education.
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