December 2019 Philosophy Read-In Group: The Bhagavad Gītā

We had a great time at our December Philosophy Read-In gatherings.  And this month….we explored The Bhagavad Gītā. 

Perhaps the best-known of all Indian texts in philosophy and religion, the Bhagavad Gītā raises questions about duty, responsibility, and the morality of war. What should we do when the needs of our family and of our society pull us in opposite directions?  Is killing always wrong, and is death really the worst thing that can happen to us?  Is it better to be actively engaged in the messy, complicated world of everyday life and politics, or to walk away from it all, living a life of seclusion to focus on our own freedom from suffering?

The book has inspired countless, and quite different, writers and leaders, from Mahatma Gandhi, to Henry David Thoreau, to Robert Oppenheimer, the lead inventor of the atomic bomb!  So in addition to examining the moral questions raised by the text, we also reflected on how such totally different people could all draw meaning and inspiration from it.

The Book

The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War, translated by Barbara Stoler Miller.  Bantam Classics, 1986.  (New for $7.95; widely available used.)

The Bhagavad Gītā has been translated into English more than 100 times (!!), so we cannot possibly be familiar with every translation that’s out there.  Barbara Stoler Miller’s version is especially fluid and approachable, though others versions are fine, too.

Reading Notes

Click on the images below to view and download the reading notes for each gathering.


Thank You’s


Thank you to the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization (PLATO) for supporting philosophy in the community and helping us bring activities like these to the Helena community, to Cottonwood ALC Community Center for providing our group a beautiful space to gather, and to Montana Book Co. for helping us secure books for our group at a discounted rate!

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