The Bhagavad Gita, translated into “Song of the Divine One,” and also sometimes called, “Love Song to God,” is an ancient Sanskrit text. Passed on from the Mahabharata, it consists of a lengthy 700 versus spoken primarily by Krishna, attempting to explain the meaning of life to Arjuna. According to the text, which could also be referred to as a poem, the meaning of life is to find enlightenment, ultimate knowledge of the universe, and inner peace. The poem seeks to pass on the understanding that God is infinite. All beings and things are essential to his energy, and once one realizes this, devoting themselves to the circle of this energy and god is much easier, and more essential to the individual’s life, as they are a part of the circle, and the circle is a part of them.
Essentially, the poem is about a devoted service to god. The loving aspect of it is sometimes lost. For example, in chapter two, verse 16 of the poem, god says to Arjuna, “Our bodies are known to end, but the embodied self is enduring, indestructible, and immeasurable; therefore, Arjuna, fight the battle!” Krishna says this to Arjuna while encouraging him to fight in a battle Arjuna is unsure about. Krishna needs Arjuna to fight in the Mahabharata War because they will be unable to win without him, however Arjuna realizes the so-called enemies he would be fighting against would be his friends and family. Reasonably, Arjuna does not want to fight; he does not want to forsake his god, either. Krishna attempts to soothe Arjuna’s worries by explaining to him in the verse that our bodies are a temporary home for our spirits; the material world is also temporary. Should he and his relatives and friends be killed in battle, because we are all connected by energy and the soul of god, they will inevitably meet again in a different form. The lesson therein is that part of the meaning of life is to devote one’s self to the endless energy of god and the universe, even if it is against your better judgement or makes you fight against your family and friends.
The poem goes on to claim the war must occur because it will restore the balance and order of the universe. Once again, the poem highlights the essential order of the energy within the universe and how everybody must work to maintain it by obeying god and learning about the universe around them. Krishna explains if Arjuna does not fight, the lost battle will make a balance in energy unachievable. Krishna refers to Arjuna’s duty to fight as sacred, emphasizing that he has a purpose in the war, as well as in the circle of energy throughout the universe. He states, “Nothing is better for a warrior than a battle of sacred duty. If you fail to wage this war of sacred duty, you will abandon your own duty and fame only to gain evil. People will tell of your undying shame .” These words, spoken in chapter two, verse twenty-four of the poem show a justification for what people must do in the name of their god. A war is about to happen. People will be slaughtered and Arjuna will be asked to kill those he considers his friends and family. However, because Krishna calls it a sacred duty, placing the entire balance of the universe on the success of the battle, there is little recourse that can be taken. While it sounds like the rantings of a lunatic, restoring a balance of energy to the universe and pleasing god grant anybody a meaning in life.
Among several other topics, the poem also discusses how one would hope to attain enlightenment and a purpose in life. For example, the primary wish of the gods, including the supreme god, Vishnu, is to have all mortals cleanse their souls of material ties to the mortal world. This, the poem reveals, allows humans to realize their full potential when performing duties to god. It appears throughout the poem that the main objective of life, rather than the purpose, is to be a devoted servant to god. However, this service is not forced, but rather coerced. God has granted everybody free will, and they are able to ignore that he is an all-knowing supreme being, or they can choose to understand he knows best and worship him. He has also granted mortals with the ability to feel guilt, which is a decisive tool throughout this song to god. Despite the presence of free will, however, Vishnu still sees fit to descend into the mortal world, taking human form, to set mortals straight when they forget to perform their services to him. Once more in chapter two, Krishna, now revealed to by Vishnu states, “On action alone be thy interest, never on its fruits. Let no the fruits of action be thy motive, nor be thy attachment of inaction .” The poem makes it very clear the secret to life is simply to do. Regardless of what god’s motives appear to be, one should not focus on the end result, or even the pain they are enduring in this life. They should only focus on the things that will help the universe attain balance, and the individual attain enlightenment, for that is the only way a person can truly be happy.
In sum, while the Bhagavad Vita can be dissected in many different ways, the secret meaning of life within its pages appears very clear. One must perform their services to god without expecting anything in return. One must also perform actions required of them in order to continue the balance of the energy throughout the universe, as it is never-ending and interconnected. One must also acknowledge the energy within themselves as a connection with all other beings and things within the universe in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. These things, along with shedding all material connection to the mortal world and giving forth to god without question, bring the individual closer to being set free from the mortal coil, but allowing for true happiness and purpose during the time they are stuck within it.
Miller, Barbara. The Bhagavad-Gita. New York: Random House Publishing, 2004. Book.