Is the Bhagavad Gita a Hindu Text?

The Bhagavad-gita is widely regarded as the most famous Hindu scripture in the world. But if we accept what the Gita says about its own origin, we would have to  conclude that the Bhagavad-gita cannot properly be called a Hindu text.

The Bhagavad Gita answers the question, “What is the highest dharma?” Dharma doesn’t denote any particular religion; it denotes universal principles that point us in the direction of religious experience. The Bhagavad-gita speaks to the universal nature of religious experience, which the Gita regards as the ultimate fulfillment of knowledge.

Following Kṛṣṇa’s teachings in the Gita doesn’t mean converting to Hinduism if you don’t already identify as Hindu, nor are Kṛṣṇa’s teachings exclusively meant for followers of Hinduism. You can integrate Kṛṣṇa’s teachings into whatever form of faith you follow or develop a personal expression of faith according to Kṛṣṇa’s teachings.

There’s no argument about the geographic location of the Gita’s original recitation and transcription, nor any denial that the culture of sanātana-dharma (“the eternal occupation of the living entity”) from which modern Hinduism evolved was current around the time and place of the Gita’s composition. If there is any argument, it’s about whether or not wisdom literature can have both an empirically measurable history and originate from a place beyond the limits of empirical measurement.

In either case, the Gita predates the ethnic, national, and religious identity we now call “Hinduism” by anywhere from fifteen hundred years by scholarly estimation to thirty five hundred years by traditional estimation to millions of years according to the Gita itself (see the fourth chapter for details).

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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