The Bhagavad Gita is a Sanskrit poem consisting of 700 verses and is the principle text within the religion of Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita can also be individually considered as an Upanishad and essentially comes across as an 18-chapter poem in book six of the Mahabharata. It, however, had a significantly minor religious impact until Shankara made a commentary on in during the 700’s C.E. Shankara was a celebrated holy man in India during those times.
The main content in this text is a dialogue between the Arjuna, the hero prince of Pandava and Krishna on the essence of life. The dialogue occurs before the great Mahabharata battle that took place on Kurukshetra, a holy field.
Prince Arjuna is very unwilling to partake in a battle against his blood relatives and friends who are amid the Kauravas. In reply, Krishna argues that he has to carry out his duty as a warrior.
Krishna proceeds to elucidate on the characteristics of the immortal self – the Atman – and the precise method of reaching the Brahman. Krishna insists that people must let go of Karma’s burden, or the residual blameworthiness, for the sins committed both in their present and past lives.
Krishna then offers an assurance to Prince Arjuna that the Atman, or self is immortal. Upon the death of the human body, the Atman previously contained in it gets reincarnated in accordance to its merits or demerits about karma. Krishna further pushes that given the existence of reincarnation, it would be worse if prince Arjuna declines the battle than failing in his duties as a warrior. Krishna then outlines the three yoga paths towards unity with God in chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita. The following is a rephrase of the paths beginning at the 16th verse:
The unreal never is. The Real is not. Those who can see the truth has witnessed this truth.
The spirit is interwoven in his creation and is beyond destruction. Nobody can kill the everlasting spirit.
For beyond the ages, he dwells within these bodies, though these bodies have an end in their lifetime, he remains immortal, immeasurable.