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Hindus/How old is the BG?

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Question
This is VERY important to me.. When was the Bagavad Gita written?
I'm struggling with my understanding here.. Krishna and Jesus are so very similar but one of them claims to be the ONLY incarnation of God. Knowing who came first is important to me..

Answer
Dear Ken,

Thank you for your question.

There is no single, simple answer to the question regarding the date of the Bhagavad-Gita. To ask when it was "written" is not the same as asking when the events depicted in it actually happened. From a scholarly perspective the language of the Gita places it between 600 BC and 100 AD. But native scholars date the events of the Gita to at least 5000 BC. From a Hindu perspective the relative historicity of Krishna or the Gita is irrelevant, because the truths contained in the Gita are timeless.

Any religion that claims to be the "only" truth is immediately suspect because a true religion should be universal, not limited in time and place to a single historical event. Both Jesus and Krishna taught they were the way, and Hindus would agree with both. As incarnations of God both are ways to God-realization. Some Christians of the first three centuries AD known as Gnostics did not even consider Jesus a historical person but rather a potent spiritual symbol. Read Elaine Pagel's THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS, based on the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Sinai in the 1940s. The orthodox view of Jesus was only fully codified a full four hundred years after his birth. That version of Jesus served the power structure of the early Roman Church.

The life of Jesus reflects the myths surrounding various Middle Eastern heros that date back thousands of years. If Christianity stands or falls on the historicity of Jesus, then it is built on a very shaky foundation, indeed. The truth of the Gita and the life of Krishna do not depend on their historical accuracy. They are universal and timeless. Both Jesus and Krishna live today in the hearts of their followers. From a Hindu perspective that is all that matters.

Best wishes,

Brother William

Hindus

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William Schindler, a.k.a. Brother William

Expertise

I can answer questions about Vedanta philosophy, Patanjali Yoga philosophy and practice, Tantra, Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, Vivekachudamani (Shankara`s Crest-jewel of Spritual Discrimination), Advaita (non-dualism), the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda tradition, Goddess worship, meditation practice, Hindu monasticism (sannyasa), and Sanskrit.

Experience

I've been studying and practicing Vedanta and Tantra since 1969.

Organizations
I'm the founder and spiritual director of Ashram West, a gay spiritual community based on traditional Hindu Tantra. I have been a member of the Vedanta Society of Southern California since 1969.

Publications
I have three books in print: GAY TANTRA, ESSAYS ON GAY TANTRA, BLOOD OF THE GODDESS.

Education/Credentials
I hold a B.A. in Sanskrit (UC Berkeley 1975) and an M.A. in clinical psychology (Antioch University 1986).

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