The Bhagavad Gita



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The kingdom of the Bharata family, which the Pandavas and Kauravas fight over in the Mahabharata. read analysis of Hastinapura


The royal family that the Pandavas and Kauravas all belong to (also often known as the Kuru family). read analysis of Bharata


Arjuna’s side of the Bharata family, who are battling their cousins (the Kauravas) to take back Hastinapura in the set-up to the Bhagavad Gita. The Pandavas are all “sons” of the king… read analysis of Pandavas


The side of the Bharata family that opposes Arjuna and the Pandavas. The Kauravas descend from the blind king Dhritarashtra, to whom Sanjaya narrates the Bhagavad Gita. At the beginning of the… read analysis of Kauravas


A central concept in Hindu philosophy, and arguably the central concept in the Bhagavad Gita, dharma is a moral code of behavior that follows from one’s sacred duty to the gods, other people, and… read analysis of Dharma
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Often translated as “discipline” or “spiritual path,” yoga is a practice of deliberate, intense devotional engagement that usually involves meditation. (This sense of yoga far exceeds yoga’s usual connotations in the West as a form… read analysis of Yoga


Sanskrit term for action. “Yoga of action” is a translation of “karma yoga.” read analysis of Karma


A form of philosophical knowledge that entails understanding everything in the universe, including the difference between the eternal self and the gunas that comprise material things. read analysis of Samkhya


The renunciation of action. read analysis of Samnyasa


A Sanskrit term for devotional worship, which Krishna asks of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Bhakti allows Hindus to resolve moral conflicts by turning to a higher power through disciplined, emotional rituals that establish… read analysis of Bhakti


The three component forms or “threads” that comprise all material things: sattva, rajas, and tamas. The physical world and the bodies that a soul inhabits over time are composed of the three… read analysis of Gunas


The highest and lightest of the gunas, sattva is the quality of truthfulness, lucidity, or purity in things that leads people to worship the gods trustfully, act without clinging to consequences or desires, and… read analysis of Sattva


The guna of passion, rajas attaches the soul to action’s consequences, leading people toward greed and distancing them from wisdom. (The adjective form of rajas is “rajasic.”) read analysis of Rajas


The darkest and heaviest of the gunas, tamas is connected to ignorance, laziness, and neglect. Those governed by tamas tend to reincarnate downward, into inferior bodies, and act destructively, forgetting the gods and religious… read analysis of Tamas


The interconnected, imperishable, unitary force of being that animates everything in the universe. Brahman is identical with atman (the individual self) and created by Krishna, who calls it his “womb” and explains that the… read analysis of Brahman


The individual self or soul that moves through samsara (the cycle of reincarnation). Atman is a component of Brahman, as its being is connected to that of all other things, and recognizing this fact… read analysis of Atman


The cycle of birth and death (also known as reincarnation or transmigration) in which the eternal self (atman) participates until it forfeits all attachment to the gunas, recognizes its unity with Brahmanread analysis of Samsara


An sacred syllable and mantra (chant) with various religious meanings, which is ostensibly the highest of all sounds. Krishna encourages devotees to chant “om tat sat” (“om is the truth”) during their discipline and sacrifices… read analysis of Om/Aum


The four oldest and often most authoritative Hindu scriptures, generally considered direct revelations from Brahma (the creator god) and dated to approximately 1,000 years before the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita. read analysis of Vedas


A sage who successfully abandons any attachment to the fruit of actions, a tyagi is the highest kind of human being and destined to join Brahman upon death. read analysis of Tyagi

Caste System

The Hindu caste system, or social order, consists of four categories: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. The outcaste, or untouchables, exist outside of (and below) the caste system. read analysis of Caste System


The highest Hindu caste, traditionally composed of priests and teachers. read analysis of Brahmin


The second-highest Hindu caste, traditionally composed of warriors and statesmen. read analysis of Kshatriya


The third Hindu caste, traditionally composed of merchants, farmers, and artisans. read analysis of Vaishya


The fourth Hindu caste, traditionally composed of servants and manual laborers. read analysis of Shudra


Also known as untouchables or pariahs, those outside and therefore below the caste system. read analysis of Outcaste