The Integrative Genius of the Gita

Sri Aurobindo points out that “The Gita itself does not evolve any quite novel solution out of its own questionings.” Rather, the Gita builds upon, fleshes out, organizes, harmonizes and integrates the earlier experiential spiritual visions and insights found in the Upanishads, while setting it forth in a language that was understandable to the intellectual mind and development of its day.

The Upanishads take up major questions of life and the meaning of existence. They are, however, extremely cryptic, notational rather than expansive, and communicate through an almost aphoristic intensity their meaning. The Gita takes up the hints and insights provided by the Upanishads and organizes and restates the material for the mental understanding. Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “But what is in the Upanishads undeveloped to the intelligence, because wrapped up in a luminous kernel of intuitive vision and symbolic utterance, the Gita brings out in the light of a later intellectual thinking and distinctive experience.”

The true genius of the Gita is just this ability to harmonize and bring together in a wide, embracing and unifying scope, the major questions of humanity, the aim of life, the meaning of existence, and the methods of spiritual realisation available to the seeker. “The greatness of the central though of the Gita in which all its threads are gathered up and united, consists in the synthetic value of a conception which recognises the whole nature of the soul of man in the universe and validates by a large an wise unification its many-sided need of the supreme and infinite Truth, Power, Love, Being to which our humanity turns in its search for perfection and immortality and some highest joy and power and peace. There is a strong and wide endeavor towards a comprehensive spiritual view of God and man and universal existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 7, The Supreme Word of the Gita, pg. 326