Philosophical Synthesis

While it uses a philosophical framework, and the language of philosophical systems current at the time, the Gita represents a unique, wide-ranging and encompassing vision that seeks to unify rather than divide. The normal tendency of the human mind, which is generally visible in philosophical disputations, is to separate, analyse, distinguish and divide. The Gita’s approach, on the contrary, is to sweep up various different philosophical positions and knit them together into a more unified whole of which each one is an essential part.

In order to accomplish this, the Gita does not rely on fine points of philosophical difference, but on a spiritual vision that can see the essential truth behind each of the philosophies. The goal of the Gita is not to create a system of thought or religion, but to reveal a living and vibrant spiritual reality that can impact our lives in a meaningful and real way.

Sri Aurobindo clarifies the sense of the terms Sankhya and Yoga, as used by the Gita: “When the Gita speaks of Sankhya and Yoga, we shall not discuss beyond the limits of what is just essential for our statement, the relations of the Sankhya of the Gita with its one Purusha and strong Vedantic colouring to the non-theistic or “atheistic” Sankhya that has come down to us bringing with it its scheme of many Purushas and one Prakriti, nor of the Yoga of the Gita, many-sided, subtle, rich and flexible to the theistic doctrine and the fixed, scientific, rigorously defined and graded system of the Yoga of Patanjali. In the Gita the Sankhya and Yoga are evidently only two convergent parts of the same Vedantic truth or rather two concurrent ways of approaching its realisation, the one philosophical, intellectual, analytic, the other intuitional, devotional, practical, ethical, synthetic, reaching knowledge through experience. The Gita recognises no real difference in their teachings.”

Sri Aurobindo concludes: “Its teaching is universal whatever may have been its origins.” The question in the end is not about philosophy. “…they are not merely the luminous ideas or striking speculations of a philosophic intellect, but rather enduring truths of spiritual experience, verifiable facts of our highest psychological possibilities which no attempt to read deeply the mystery of existence can afford to neglect.”

“The language of the Gita, the structure of thought, the combination and balancing of ideas belong neither to the temper of a sectarian teacher nor to the spirit of a rigorous analytical dialectics cutting off one angle of the truth to exclude all the others; but rather there is a wide, undulating, encircling movement of ideas which is the manifestation of a vast synthetic mind and a rich synthetic experience.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 1, Our Demand and Need from the Gita, pp. 5-6,