The Bhagavad Gita

by

Anonymous

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Bhagavad Gita can help.

Hastinapura

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

Bharata

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

Pandavas

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

Kauravas

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

Dharma

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
Get the entire The Bhagavad Gita LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bhagavad Gita PDF

Yoga

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

Karma

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

Samkhya

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

Samnyasa

The renunciation of action. read analysis of Samnyasa

Bhakti

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

Gunas

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

Sattva

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

Rajas

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

Tamas

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

Brahman

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

Atman

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

Samsara

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

Om/Aum

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

Vedas

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

Tyagi

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

Brahmin

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

Kshatriya

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

Vaishya

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

Shudra

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

Outcaste

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