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I was raised at LDS (Mormon) in the United States of America. My only real experience with Hinduism is my readings of the Bhagavad Gita this summer (Isherwood translation with introduction by Aldous Huxley).

How central is the Bhagavad Gita to the Hindu religion? How well does it represent Hinduism, standing alone? Is it considered outdated in parts (as the Old Testament is, in Christianity)?

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    All modern Hindus (Vedantists) rest on three scriptures - the Upanishads, the Brahma-Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita is considered the essence of the Upanishads. It is not outdated. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 17 '16 at 5:51
  • @SwamiVishwananda how do you interpret yajna in the Bhagavad Gita in the modern context? – vidyarthi Nov 18 '16 at 2:55
  • @vidyarthi what verse specifically are you taking about? – Swami Vishwananda Nov 18 '16 at 4:23
  • @SwamiVishwananda the verses in third and seventeenth chapters – vidyarthi Nov 18 '16 at 4:28
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    @vidyarthi It looks like the first is 3.14. It is not a question of a modern interpretation of yajna, one can simply look to Sankara for commentary. Sankara in his commentary on the verse says the word means sacrifice, and refers to Manu Smriti 3.76 as to his interpretation. Simply because the word yajna is used does not mean it refers to those in the Work portions of the Vedas. See Gita 2.42-44. I'll assume its the same for Chapter 17. – Swami Vishwananda Nov 18 '16 at 11:07
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Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam writes:

Question

Swamiji, is there some basic text, for example, the Bible in Christianity, that defines the Hindu religion?

Answer

In Hinduism, we have a galaxy of saints, prophets and incarnations of God. We have also inherited a large collection of books. And thus if I have to name a book which represents the essence of Hinduism, it becomes a daunting task. Despite this difficulty, if I am pressed to point out one and only one book, then I would have to say that the book of the Bhagavad Gita represents the essence of Hinduism.

  • Give scriptural references. Shri Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati is not our authority. Vedas, Puraanas, Aagamas are – user9392 Jun 4 '17 at 14:43
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    @AnuragSingh "Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati is not our authority" - what do you mean by "our" :) IMO, subjective questions like this cannot be answered using scriptures, acharyas routinely comment on such things and it's absolutely fine to quote them on this site. FYI, see #2 in Guidelines for new users answering questions. – sv. Jun 5 '17 at 15:06
  • okay. I actually said this- "not our authority", because when I said- 'RamaKrishna once said- ''when I followed​ Islam, I almost worshipped no other God.' ' On this comment, a wise person said thus- 'Ramakrishna is not our authority. Vedas and Agamas are.' – user9392 Jun 5 '17 at 19:39
  • "Our", as per the wise person, is Hindu "Group". And I want to know- What is IMO and FYI – user9392 Jun 5 '17 at 19:41
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    @AnuragSingh IMO = In My Opinion, FYI = For Your Information. "a wise person said thus..." - you could've told them to stop making silly comments like that and pointed them to the meta post I linked above. It's well within site rules to quote Ramakrishna in support of your answer. – sv. Jun 5 '17 at 22:28
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The Mahabharata is said to contain all information available anywhere about the four aims of life: wealth (achievement), pleasure (enjoyment), Dharma (righteousness), and salvation (Moksha).

The Bhagavad Gita is said to be the culmination of the Mahabharata, and I believe Book 2, Verse 3 is said to be the essence of the Gita.

क्लैब्यं मा स्म गम: पार्थ नैतत्तवय्युपपद्यते |

क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परन्तप || 3||

O Parth, it does not befit you to yield to this unmanliness. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O vanquisher of enemies.

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    I think the book 2, verse 3 is the one recommended by Swami Vivekananda – vidyarthi Nov 18 '16 at 2:54
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The Bhagavad Gita is the summary of Hinduism ,written in a Dialectical style, popularised by Socrates. It contains all the Philosophies developed in India during the last 5000 years and discusses the problems in implementing these ideas in practice , using the Mahabharat War as an Example .

How would one , use these apparently self contradictory ideas , in solving another REALISTIC PROBLEM, in another situation and at a different time ? Different philosophers and leaders in different professions ,at different times , have discussed the issue and given their own Answers. Not all Answers are IDENTICAL. The reader will have to use his own judgment in analysing these Answers or DISCOURSES . A cut and paste method will have to be used to find a satisfactory answer or interpretation.

Hinduism ,therefore ,permits every Individual to have his/her own philosophy of life.
Swami Vivekananda,Mahatma Gandhi ,Swami Chinmayananda and Dr.S. Radhakrishnan ,have given their own interpretation of Bhagavad Gita , which are relevant to the Modern World.

  • Give Scriptural references. – user9392 Jun 4 '17 at 14:44
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since you are not experienced with Hindu scriptures, I advice this:- SrimadBhagwadGita embodies complete truth but it can not be understood by reading only it. The teachings of puranas and scriptures culminate in SrimadBhagwadGita .Chapter 7.2 :- SriKrishna says :- I shall now explain to you fully this phenomenal knowledge along with its full realization: which by knowing nothing further remains to be known in this world. If you are genuinely interested in SrimadBhagwadGita, then you are worthy of our respect because it is said that one becomes interested in reading and understanding it only when one's pious actions of many lives materialize.

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Bhagavad Gita was rendered by none other than Bhagavan himself. In Hindu culture, thousands of years ago, we already had the concept of working like Wikipedia. The ultimate knowledge is known only to people who were self-realized, who used to be known as Rishis. The seers, who experienced ultimate knowledge and decided to share it in some form left behind the scriptures and works for the larger benefit of humanity.

Viewed in that sense, Hindus are not guided by any one scripture and the treasure of knowledge is mind-blowing to say the least. The unique distinction of Bhagavad Gita is that it was rendered by none other than an avatar of Narayana himself and as Swami Vivekananda himself explains, ordinary humans in today's age cannot fathom how someone like Krishna lived and walked on earth. He was a super human personality that inspires awe to this age.

Krishna paramatma spelt out Gita in a battle context and therefore it took a certain form and shape. The principles enunciated by Gita re-inforce the messages earlier laid out in Vedas and Upanishads and helps understand them deeper. However, it's not possible to understand the true meaning and depth in one reading and perhaps through one translation. It takes dedication and humbleness to understand the nuances of what Krishna says.

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