The Universal Spirit of the Gita’s Teachings

Sri Aurobindo’s approach to the Bhagavad Gita is an attempt to go beyond scholarly analysis to reach the inner sense and spirit of the teaching conveyed therein. “….if we steep ourselves in the spirit of this great Scripture and, above all, if we have tried to live in that spirit, we may be sure of finding in it as much real truth as we are capable of receiving as well as the spiritual influence and actual help that, personally, we were intended to derive from it. And that is after all what Scriptures were written to give; the rest is academical disputation or theological dogma.”

The importance then of a Scripture is its ability to convey that inner spiritual energy that vivified it initially, across time and to people with different circumstances than were prevalent at the time the teaching was given. The outer clothing of that teaching from its time and situation is less important and we need not try to recreate, which is anyway not really possible, an understanding of the text from a literal sense based on the conditions of its creation.

The Gita has throughout a very broad universal sweep to its teachings and is not tied down to much that is temporary or local in nature. Even when it does address the local circumstance, it provides an impetus to a wider, more general understanding and application. “For we shall find always that the deeper truth and principle is implied in the grain of the thought even when it is not expressly stated in the language.”

Sri Aurobindo calls upon the reader to do more than a mental analysis. He indicates that we must attempt to understand with our deepest inner being, not just our minds, and attempt to live out the teaching, in order to truly gain an understanding of it. The approach taken in his text is tailored to this methodology.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 1, Our Demand and Need from the Gita, pp. 3-5,

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