Bhagavad means “blessed”; Gita means “song.” The Bhagavad Gita is The Song of the Blessed One, although the title is often rendered as The Song of the Blessed Lord, referring to Krishna, an incarnation of the Highest Divinity. The title is also written as Bhagavadgita when the two words are compounded.
Within the Hindu tradition, the Bhagavad Gita is regarded as a smriti (that which is remembered) text rather than a shruti (that which is revealed) text, and therefore it is not considered to be ultimately authoritative like the Vedas and the Upanishads. This is as it should be—each one needs to find one’s own attitude to it rather than be governed by an excessive veneration imposed by the orthodoxy in the tradition.
However, by ordinary rational measures nothing is completely straightforward in Indian thought. The Bhagavad Gita is also called Gitopanishad as well as Yogopanishad, implying its status as an Upanishad. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is included in the smriti texts. However, being one of the Upanishads, it has a status of shruti. Since the Bhagavad Gita represents a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called the Upanishad of the Upanishads. It is sometimes said that the Upanishads are the cow and Krishna, the cowherd, milks the cow in the presence of Arjuna, the calf, and the milk is the Bhagavad Gita! The Gita is also called a mokshashastra, or scripture of liberation, since it deals with the science of the Absolute and teaches the way to freedom without measure.
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