Introduction: Text and the Leadership Context of the Gītā
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This chapter establishes the text and the leadership context of the Bhagavad Gı̄tā. The Gı̄tā is a non-sectarian spiritual text with a universal message for living a life of meaning and purpose and for leading from our authentic self. Although traditionally interpreted as a religious-spiritual text, the Gı̄tā encompasses great practical life and leadership lessons for modern times. It shows how to manage oneself, as a necessary prelude to leading others. The Bhagavad Gı̄tā’s call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian independence movement including Gandhi, who regarded it as his “spiritual dictionary.”
The Bhagavad Gı̄tā, a philosophical poem par excellence, has been extolled as “the scripture of scriptures” within the corpus of Indian spiritual texts. Its unusual battlefield setting, highly practical orientation, and deep philosophical import have endeared it to people from all walks of life looking for guidance in both the sacred and secular realms. While there are many books that aspire to present spiritual truths in practical terms, perhaps there is no other book which presents such an integral vision of attaining the ultimate purpose of life (mokṣa or liberation) while fully engaged in the proceedings of life.