• Samuktha Thotta

Wisdom & Truth via the Bhagavad Gita

Hinduism, the world’s oldest and third largest religion, has widely been perceived as “a culture, way of life, and a code of behavior” more than a religion. This is largely due to the concept of Sanatana Dharma, which consists of an overarching set of beliefs and practices that outline how Hindus should approach life; as the Isha Foundation puts it, “the Hindu way of life is not an organized belief system but a science of salvation.”

One major event observed by Hindus worldwide plays an important role in people’s understanding of this salvation -- August 30th (in accordance with the Hindu lunar calendar) which marks the start of Krishna Janmashtami. In simple terms, the religious holiday celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Mahavishnu, who was created in human form to promote the principles of dharma and eradicate evil. In fact, the renowned Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, is a collection of the verses Lord Krishna explained to warrior Arjuna on the battlefield during the Mahabharat (Great War). The verses written in the Bhagavad Gita are so popular among Hindus and non-Hindus alike because of the clarity they provide by discussing topics such as life, reality, eternal peace, and every individual’s role and duties as part of the universe.

On an episode of Jay Shetty’s podcast On Purpose, actor Will Smith spoke of his experiences reading the Bhagavad Gita, saying the teachings have had a major influence on him and changed the way he perceives life. Smith also spoke of how each year, he and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, set a goal to read in-depth one religious text every year. Smith’s approach is an inspiration, as learning about different religions can help advance the principles of #diversityequityandinclusion. An open-minded approach to exploring varying sets of values and beliefs other than one’s own promotes acceptance and understanding; it also fosters the creation of a #psychologicallysafe environment, where individuals feel comfortable engaging in meaningful conversations and bringing to the table their #authentic selves.


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