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The Gita is the core of the Mahabharata, one of the two great Hindu epics. The Mahabharata (Ma-ha-bha-ra-ta) is the story of Krishna, the other epic is Ramayana, the story of Rama. The Hindus have no single book like the Christian Bible, so the Epics, plus the Vedas (written over a long period) and commentaries called the Upanishads are the holy texts.

The Mahabharata is a story about duty. The two sides in the battle are supposed to be historical, but also allegorical. Sort of good vs. evil, but not quite that simple. More of an inner struggle and having to make choices.

Hinduism, as you probably know, is the dominant religion of India, although there are other major religions that also started in India. Buddhism is one of those religions, Sikhism and Jainism are not as well known but very much vibrant and alive. Hinduism is a layered religion, starting with elemental worship and evolving into belief in a single Supreme being that can take any form (Rama, Krishna, etc.). Loosely speaking, this would be like the Christians believing in the Jewish faith and in the animist beliefs that preceded them, but interpreting Jesus to be yet another form of God or Yahweh. This would be a way to resolve the question "If Jesus was the Son of God, who was God?"

Since the Buddha was born in modern-day Nepal, and obtained his enlightenment in India, it is fair to say that he was influenced by the local religion and in turn influenced it. One interpretation is that Buddhism is to Hinduism as Protestantism is to Catholicism. Buddha is said to have been disturbed by the emphasis of form over function and wanted to define a simpler, purer truth.

A key difference between Hinduism and the Judeo-Christian religions is that Hindus do not believe that their's is the only true way. In fact, most Hindu texts emphasize that there are many paths to truth. Hence, it is not unusual to find Hindus say that Christianity is perfectly acceptable, and Jesus is God as well. Seems to disturb many evangelical Christians, though :-)

I am not sure of the literal translation of the passage you quote, but the Hindus did have the concept of billion and much larger numbers. You probably already knew that the Hindus first came up with the concept of zero, even :-)

I find your statement:
of course, in the end, The Gita mostly gets it wrong
a sign of supreme confidence in your ability to understand and interpret the Gita.

-- Shreeder ("adiabatic")
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