What Are the Main Teachings of the Bhagavad Gita?


Quick Answer

Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita's teachings vary widely. One interpretation includes seven main teachings: The world is not real or permanent, and is the main cause of suffering; know one's true self and that it is eternal and divine; restrain the senses in order to attain mental stability; seek intelligence and wisdom; act without desire; surrender to God and know that he is the Creator of everything; and cultivate purity to be close to God.

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Another interpretation focuses on the most important lessons for the attainment of happiness: Avoid anger and strive to be calm; people all enter the world alone and leave the world alone; everything happens for a reason; shun fear; accept that everyone must physically die; a person should not worry about results, as he gets what he deserves; and practicing meditation is crucial to achieve happiness.

Many scholars believe the Bhagavad Gita was written between the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. and that it was later incorporated into the Hindu epic Mahabharata. It offered a new form of asceticism not requiring a withdrawal from social life or the performance of extreme austerity. Some scholars have addressed what many people have criticized as inconsistencies or contradictions in various interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita, sometimes attributing the criticisms to varying religious perspectives.

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