By Swami Harshananda
Uttaragītā is one of the minor Gītās composed in imitation of the well-known Bhagavadgitā. Though sometimes mentioned in the colophons of the manuscripts as forming a part of the Mahābhārata or the Bhāgavata, it is not found in the extant texts of these works. By all the means, it is an independent work. It is in the form of a dialogue between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa.
Overview of Uttaragītā
As per most of the manuscripts, it has three adhyāyas containing 122 verses in all. Only one version contains 241 verses spread over six chapters. There is only one commentary ascribed to Gauḍapāda. It is quite useful in understanding the text.
Content of Uttaragītā
It is made of 57 verses. Arjuna asks a question about Brahman, the knowledge of which gives immediate liberation. Kṛṣṇa replies that Brahman which is represented by Om in the scriptures is immutable and indestructible. Attaining to it, the knower is released from all the bondages. Practice of prāṇāyāma and meditating on Brahman helps in this attainment.
Incidentally, Lord Kṛṣṇa says that dharma and adharma, the mind, the five senses and the five elements accompany the jīva even after the death of one body, as long as he has not attained the highest knowledge. Control of the senses as a necessary means of spiritual wisdom is greatly stressed.
It has 48 verses. When can one realize the omniscient, omnipresent Brahman and the means by which one can actually know “I am Brahman?” This is the question of Arjuna. Kṛṣṇa says that it is a direct experience like water becoming one with water or milk becoming one with milk. This is followed by a detailed description of the several nāḍīs in the body.
It has 17 verses which sums up the discussion and declares that the reality is to be sought from all the different sciences. Life is too short to master the various sciences. Yogins devoted to ātmajñāna do not bother to visit the various places of pilgrimage. The work stresses that steady devotion to Keśava gives liberation to the yogin, especially if he is free from cravings.
- Adhyāyas means chapters.
- He lived in circa A. D. 700.
- Ātmajñāna means Self-knowledge.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore