The Bhagavad Gita is a philosophical Hindu scripture in which the god Krishna imparts lessons to the warrior prince Arjuna about sacred duty (dharma) and the path to spiritual liberation (moksha). This classical scripture has had a long and active interpretive life, and by the 19th century it had come to be regarded as a core text, if not the core text, of Hinduism. During the colonial period, interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita considered the relevance of Krishna’s lessons to Arjuna in the context of British colonial rule. While some Indians read a call to arms into their interpretation of this scripture and urged their fellow Indians to rise up in armed resistance, Gandhi famously read a nonviolent message into it. This article argues that equally as important as Gandhi’s hermeneutics of nonviolence is his commitment to enacting the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita as he interpreted them in the daily life of his intentional communities. When explored through the lens of daily life in these intentional communities (which Gandhi called ashrams), we see that Gandhi’s interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita emphasized not just nonviolence but also disciplined action, including self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Link to OA full text
McLain, Karline. "Living the Bhagavad Gita at Gandhi's Ashrams." (2019) .