Overview Summary of the Gita’s Teaching

Sri Aurobindo pauses here to review the Gita’s teaching through the first six of the eighteen chapters that comprise the entire work. He points out that these first six chapters represent in outline form, the major elements of the teaching, but they leave a lot of details to be explained, worked out and understood in the later chapters. In any teaching as broad-based and with the complexity of the Gita, it is important to recognize that there is a process involved in the understanding and implementation. The initial “top line” overview we have received provides us a general guideline for the major principles, issues and goals of the teaching. It then becomes necessary to take up each of these and work them out in detail, in the light of practical experience and through the modality of time, to achieve the actual result.

Sri Aurobindo points out some of the many questions that remain unresolved at this stage in the mind of Arjuna: “…you have also spoken of rising above the Gunas, while yet one remains in action, and you have not told me how the Gunas work, and unless I know that, it will be difficult for me to detect and rise above them. Besides, you have spoken of Bhakti as the greatest element in Yoga, yet you have talked much of works and knowledge, but very little or nothing of Bhakti. And to whom is Bhakti, this greatest thing, to be offered?….Tell me, then, what you are, who, as Bhakti is greater even than this self-knowledge, are greater than the immutable Self, which is yet itself greater than mutable Nature and the world of action, even as knowledge is greater than works. What is the relation between these three things? between works and knowledge and divine love? between the soul in Nature and the immutable Self and that which is at once the changeless Self of all and the Master of knowledge and love and works, the supreme Divinity who is here with me in this great battle and massacre, my charioteer in the chariot of this fierce and terrible action?”

These and other questions remain to be taken up in the balance of the Gita, with a sufficient grounding in both concept and practice so that an actual sadhana can take place and lead to realisation and fulfilment over time.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 24, The Gist of the Karmayoga, pp. 236-237

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