By Swami Harshananda
Brāhmaṇagitā literally means ‘song of the brāhmaṇa’.
The Bhagavadgitā became a model for the later generation of writers of didactical literature. Out of several such gītās produced by them, the Brāhmanagitā is also the one. Actually it is an integral part of a bigger and more well-known work, the Anugītā. The Brāhmanagitā comprises the chapters 20 to 34 of the Āśvamedhikāparva, the fourteenth book of the epic Mahābhārata which has 15 chapters having 325 verses.
The wife of a brāhmaṇa approached her husband with an anxious query as to what would happen to her after death since she found him to have abandoned all the actions prescribed in the scriptures and since that would affect her future life also. The brāhmaṇa, who was actually an enlightened person and hence who had transcended all such actions, started teaching her spiritual wisdom in order to uplift her mind. The teaching is couched in a highly symbolical language and often needs explanations. They can be summarized as follows:
- Superiority of mind and speech over the other organs
- Importance of the five prāṇas or vital airs in the body
- Supremacy of the Lord, who resides in all beings as the antaryāmin or the in-dweller
- Stories of Paraśurāma and the king Ambarīṣa
- Teaching about the kṣetrajña or the Self
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore