The Promise of the Gita

Arjuna was overcome by grief and despondency, and thus he spoke with a sinking heart: ‘When I see the field of battle, life goes from my limbs and they sink, and my mouth is sear and dry; a trembling overcomes my body, and my hair shudders in horror; my great bow, Gandiva, falls from my hands, and the skin of my flesh is burning.
— Bhagavad Gita, 1.27-29

The first line of the Bhagavad Gita sets the scene on a battlefield of an epic civil war. It also places the scene at "the field of Dharma," and reveals the deeper context of the Gita: a discourse about how to live a meaningful life.

As he heads into battle, Arjuna represents our taking on the challenges and choices we face. Arjuna carries his bow (his mind) and arrows (directable thoughts) into battle. His chariot (body) is led by five horses (senses).

Arjuna has wisely conscripted Krishna (higher consciousness) to drive the chariot into battle. But when he reaches the center of the field, he faces a quandary: how can he perform his duty when it means battling friends, honored teachers and family? When it means disrupting the order of the kingdom?

In confusion and despondency, he throws down his bow and arrows and sinks into the chariot. He refuses to engage in the war.

Arjuna's confusion is the same we experience when there seems no right choice. Second-guessing and doubt render us inert, unable to move in any direction, let alone the right one.

Without direction or purpose, we disengage from life. We lose ourselves in mindless diversions.

We watch television for hours. We shop for things we don't need. We create drama, fear, pain, and stress in our lives because we aren't equipped to deal with the real choices before us and issues within us.

The Bhagavad Gita shows us how we can face our lives with confidence, conviction and skill in our actions.

It tells us that the path to peace and fulfillment is to know our purpose for living--our dharma--the natural expression of our true Self. This knowing is developed through the practice of yoga, which awakens us to the truth of our own nature, gives us faith and informs our actions.

As the wisdom of the Gita unfolds, Krishna reveals to Arjuna his true nature. He explains how the world works, humanity's purpose in life and how we can fulfill that purpose to reach our fullest potential. He shines a light on a path toward freedom, meaning and happiness.

This is the promise of the Gita. That we have purpose, and our lives are an opportunity to discover and fulfill it.