The Bhagavad Gita is perhaps the most representative and certainly the most influential and popular text from the numerous and varied spiritual traditions of Hindu India. Spoken by Lord Krishna to Arjuna who is undergoing a moment of crisis, the text deals with the nature of the self, the world, ultimate reality, the purpose of human existence, and the spiritual paths that can be undertaken to accomplish this purpose. There are primarily four such paths, or yoga systems, featured in the text through which one can unite with the Divine: the path of self-knowledge, jnana yoga; the path of action in the world, karma yoga; the path of meditation, raja yoga; and the path of theistic devotion, bhakti yoga. This workshop will undertake a detailed discussion of these four yoga systems, with contextual references to the background of the text and to some of the major streams of Hindu thought in general. No prior knowledge of Hinduism is necessary for this seminar; the only requirement is to bring an open mind and sincere heart. Students are encouraged to procure any edition of the text, particularly versions that have the Sanskrit text in Roman script, since we will chant some of the Sanskrit verses together.
Edwin Bryant, a Krishna Bhakta, received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University where he teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published six books and authored a number of articles on Vedic history, yoga, and the Krishna tradition. In addition to his academic work for the scholarly community, Edwin’s Penguin World Classics translation of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the traditional source for the story of Krishna’s incarnation, is both for Indology specialists as well as students and those interested in Hinduism from the general reading public and the yoga community.