CHENNAI: The Bhagavad Gita is one of the three important scriptures (Prasthanatraya) in Vedanta. Though the preceptors have interpreted the text according to their philosophical standpoints there is no argument regarding its import as the varied interpretations only cater to the preference of the spiritual seeker with regard to the path to salvation.

In his discourse, Sri C.L.Ramakrishnan said the 18 chapters of the Gita had been divided into three equal sections of six chapters in the Advaita school to expound the paths (Yoga) of action (Karma), devotion (Bhakti) and knowledge (Jnana). Madhusudana Saraswati explains that these three sections are elucidation of one of the important Upanishad aphorisms, `Tat tvam asi', asserting the identity of the individual Self (Atman) with the Absolute (Brahman). The first six chapters delineate the importance of performing action without attachment to the result, which will cleanse the mind of the spiritual aspirant of its latent tendencies, which impel the mind in the form of desires. Thus the objective of Karma yoga is preparation of the mind for the next stage of practising devotion, which is set out in the next six chapters.

The last section is devoted to the exposition of Jnana yoga, which is explained by the knower (the individual) and the field of knowledge (matter with its evolutes along with the Self). The knowledge that it is the Absolute, which resides as the Self in all is the highest wisdom, which removes ignorance leading to liberation from bondage. An individual does not realise he is the blissful Self (Atman) and thereby identifies with his body-mind-intellect personality because of ignorance. So all spiritual practices are intended to remove this delusion after which the Self will shine in its pristine splendour.

Sankara opens his commentary on the Brahmasutra with man's delusion by which he imposes that which is not there on that which is eternal. Vedanta uses the oft-quoted analogy of mistaking a rope for a snake to explain this phenomenon. So, the purpose of Vedanta is to remove man's ignorance which only knowledge can bring about.