The Bhagavad Gita: A Modern Companion - Introduction

8 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2012 Last revised: 28 Jun 2013

See all articles by P. M. Vasudev

P. M. Vasudev

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: June 1, 2010


The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient spiritual text from India. Composed in Sanskrit with a total of 700 verses divided into 18 chapters, the Gita is a lengthy text rich in philosophical content and literary beauty. It offers an abundant menu of ideas, ranging from the immortality of the spirit (atma) and doing one’s duty to the omnipotent nature of the cosmic spirit (the pervasive Paramatma) and the inevitability of actions wrought by the characteristics or qualities (gunas) of the individual self (jeevatma) derived from nature.

The Bhagavad Gita is universalist in its approach and content. Its message and precepts do not promote any creed or sect. On the contrary, it underscores the unity of the cosmos and reflects the principle of oneness that is prominent in the Vedas. In particular, the Gita's stress is on the presence of the universal spirit in individual being, rather than a God as an external factor.

This article is the introduction to a proposed companion to the Bhagavad Gita. The companion will aim to present some of the major teachings of the Gita in a style and idiom appropriate for the contemporary world. The effort is to present the ideas enunciated in an ancient text and explore their relevance for the current age. The time gap is a significant issue considering that the Bhagavad Gita was composed in a different age and setting, when ideas and values were different from many of those now prevailing.

From the copious offerings of the Gita, the volume will present the following 10 major ideas and explore how their wisdom can be applied in present-day life. These are: 1. Action (karma), right action and inaction 2. Ego, natural qualities and their understanding 3. Attachment, aversion and consequences 4. Life temporal and life immortal 5. Idol worship and the formless brahman 6. Social consciousness and affirmative action 7. Individual self, universal self and their relationship 8. Action, destiny and duty 9. Matter and spirit 10. Human life and its perfection

Keywords: Bhagavad Gita, Indian spirituality, philosophy, atma, upanishad, dharma, Mahatma Gandhi, immortality

Suggested Citation

Vasudev, P. M., The Bhagavad Gita: A Modern Companion - Introduction (June 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

P. M. Vasudev (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
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613-562-5124 (Fax)


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