Yoga and the Bhagavad Gita

I recently attended the local Hare Krishna group’s monthly(ish) evening gathering in Aberystwyth. I’ve been attending on and off for about three years, and started going because I was studying the Bhagavad Gita as part of my yoga teacher training diploma. This text, itself part of reportedly the longest and oldest scripture in the world (the Mahabharata), is an influential text for Hare Krishnas.

In it, Arjuna, a warrior, asks Krishna for advice before a battle is about to begin. Krishna’s response forms the Bhagavad Gita and covers a huge range of topics including self-realisation, a guide to living, and four yoga paths: jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge), bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion), karma yoga (yoga of selfless action) and raja yoga (yoga of meditation).

At different places in the text Krishna recommends the different paths as being the path that should be followed. I’ve always been a bit confused as to whether one was considered the ‘best’ path to follow. I took the opportunity to ask the visiting speaker at the event if there was any preference for the different paths. He explained that ultimately which ever path is followed, if the person is devoted to Krishna, they will achieve the spiritual union sought.

The Bhagavad Gita is often seen as one of the more practical ways of incorporating yoga and devotion into one’s life as it does not require you to become a hermit in a cave in the Himalayas, or to wear orange. The type of things suggested under each of the four paths in the text can easily be part of your life – some of it is as simple as chanting Hare Krishna! I’m not intending to become a Hare Krishna (I have reservations on a number of issues) but the descriptions of the different yoga paths in the Bhagavad Gita is interesting.

Back to the HK evening – there was mantra meditation including Om, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, and the Hare Krishna mantra of course. During my yoga training course I discovered I liked chanting mantras and I often chant them to myself as I’m walking to and from work. It’s nice to do them in a group as well though, although I know from speaking with other yoga friend that chanting is not for everyone! The evening ended with lovely vegetarian and vegan food.

If you want to know more about the local Hare Krishna group go to Pure Bhakti and click on Contact Us then Centers, then scroll down the list for UK/Wales. They are holding another evening in Aberystwyth on Saturday 2nd July with an international guest – I will blog about that later.

Krishna
Photo credit: xenia from morguefile.com

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