Is the Gita Relevant In the Modern World?

The question of the ongoing relevance of the Gita is one that must be addressed if we are to rely upon and find living benefit from its teachings. As with many teachings which originated in an age several thousand years ago, we must be able to find its universal principles and application, despite the changes in human development, and the vastly different circumstances of society that we see today compared to the civilization when the Gita was first composed.

The Gita remains among the most important and well-recognized spiritual scriptures of the world because it has described universal and over-arching issues and solutions that remain essential regardless of differing specific or localized details. The Gita addresses “the human condition”.

Arjuna’s plight, his attempt to sort out conflicting duties in a difficult situation, resonates with all of us as we face the pressure of survival, the desire to live according to some higher principle, while yet faced with the demands of a social and economic order that appears to be ready to crush us under its weight.

Similarly, the Gita’s prescription can be applied anywhere, putting aside the localized statements that were addressing the specifics of Arjuna’s time, and focusing on the universal truths of human nature and human capacity for development as spiritual beings.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the Gita’s relevance in today’s world: “Its influence is not merely philosophic or academic but immediate and living, an influence both for thought and action, and its ideas are actually at work as a powerful shaping factor in the revival and renewal of a nation and a culture.”

“Outside India too it is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s great scriptures, although in Europe its thought is better understood than its secret of spiritual practice.”

As humanity begins to recognize the essential nature of the spiritual quest and the development of a new standpoint for life and action, those teachings which provide true insight to spiritual practice are being recognized for their inherent value. If anything, the Gita has become more important today than it has ever been as a guidebook for the spiritual transformation so desperately required for the survival of humanity.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 23, The Core of the Gita’s Meaning, pp. 543-544

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