BBC In Our Time - Bhagavad Gita Listening Guide

This is an optional listening guide to help you complete the assigned material. Below you will find questions to consider as you listen, as well important vocabulary and time codes to look up particular segments. Note that time codes may not work on mobile phones.

Topics Covered: Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Arjuna, Krishna, dharma, yoga, Shankara

Links: BBC In Our Time [with download option]
Soundcloud [alternate link]

[0:11] Introduction - As you listen to this podcast think about the ways in the Bhagavad Gita is the "most important scripture of Hinduism". (If you'd like to hear more about Gandhi you can listen to this optional podcast from BBC Incarnations).

[1:22] The Mahabharata - What is the relationship between the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita? Who is Krishna in this text? Who is Arjuna? Vocabulary: "realpolitik", "enigmatic", "principality", and "integral".

[5:32] Language & Composition - What is the language of the Bhagavad Gita? Listen carefully to the Gita recited in its original language. Vocabulary: "scholarly", "fundamentalist", "cadence", "gravitas", "refuge", and "transgression".

[9:15] Religious Complexities - What is happening in India at the time of the Gita's writing? What other religious ideas existed? Vocabulary: "synthesis", "mendicant", "doctrine", "renunciation", "pluralistic", "ascetic", "gnostic", and "reconcile".

[13:51] The Narrative - What is the main discussion in the Gita? Who is having the discussion? Vocabulary: "charioteer", "crisis", and "nervous breakdown".

[15:22] Philosophical Dimension of the Gita - Krishna tries three arguments to convince Arjuna – what are they? What does it mean to say that renunciation had "become a gripping alternative"? Vocabulary: "metaphysical", "embed", "substantial", "eternal", "supervision", "equanimous" (or "equanimity"), "clincher", and "absolve".

[18:56] Dharma & Yoga - What do the Sanskrit words "dharma" and "yoga" mean in the Gita? Vocabulary: "descriptive", "prescriptive", "tension", "resonate", "righteous", "taint", "harness", "detachment", "sustain", and "viable".

[25:05] Nature of God - How is God understood in the Gita? Is it a new idea according to the discussion? Vocabulary: "simulation", "skepticism", "ground of being", and "personal god".

[28:05] Avatara - What does the Sanskrit word "avatara" mean? Vocabulary: "provident", "preemptive", "descent", "incarnation", and "dispensation".

[30:28] Influence of the Gita - What influence does this text have on later Hindu traditions? Vocabulary: "commentary", "counter-intuitive", "confluence", "coherent", "canon", "theological", "devotion", and "pervasive". For more information on the important commentator Shankara listen to the episode from BBC Incarnations.

[33:27] Reincarnation - What is the view of reincarnation in the Gita? Vocabulary: "abode", "perennial", "ambiguous", and "monism".


realpolitik, enigmatic, principality, integral, scholarly, fundamentalist, cadence, gravitas, refuge, transgression, synthesis, mendicant, doctrine, renunciation, pluralistic, ascetic, gnostic, reconcile, charioteer, crisis, nervous breakdown, metaphysical, embed, substantial, eternal, supervision, equanimous (or equanimity), clincher, viable, simulation, skepticism, ground of being, personal god, provident, preemptive, descent, incarnation, dispensation, commentary, counter-intuitive, confluence, coherent, canon, theological, devotion, pervasive, abode, perennial, ambiguous, monism.

Sanskrit Vocabulary

Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, dharma, yoga, avatara, bhakti