The Super Bowl Gita

While millions of people are watching the Super Bowl this Sunday I’m going to be studying the Bhagavad Gita… by watching the Super Bowl. Yoga wisdom texts are not for armchair quarterbacks… uh, I mean armchair philosophers: they are filled with instructions about how to actively see and live in the world. So when we try to see the world through the eyes of revelatory texts like the Bhagavad Gita, even something as mundane as a football game becomes an opportunity for enlightenment.

You can associate almost any aspect of a football game with a passage or concept in the Bhagavad Gita. For example, by virtue of the magic of modern technology I’ll be able to watch from afar as two opposing armies, the Giants and the Patriots, align themselves at the edge of a battlefield, prepared for combat. Similarly, Sañjaya, the narrator of the Bhagavad Gita, possessed a mystic power that enabled him to witness the events on the battlefield where the Gita was spoken from a location many miles away.

As the contest is about to commence, I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat in breathless anticipation of what is about to transpire. Is there a verse in the Gita that corresponds to this? Of course:

“Dhrtarastra said: O Sañjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, desiring to fight, what did they do?” – BG 1.1

In the case of the Super Bowl the players will assemble on a field of blended monofilament polyethylene fibers tufted into a polypropylene backing; not like the good old days of natural turf.

“I am the original fragrance of the earth, …” – BG 7.9

The head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, is widely regarded as a grim genius who learned his trade from another grim genius, Bill Parcells, whom Belichick served as an assistant coach before becoming a head coach. Is there a correlation in the Gita?

“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” – BG 4.34

The truth about football may not be as important as the truth about the nature of ultimate reality, but the principle is the same. Let’s see what other associations we can make: Tom Coughlin, the Giants head coach, will develop a game plan designed to put pressure on the Patriots field general, quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots know that they can’t win if they don’t protect Brady from the Giants pass rush so they’ll design a strategy to protect him. The corresponding verse?

“All of you must now give full support to Grandfather Bhisma, as you stand at your respective strategic points of entrance into the phalanx of the army.” – BG 1.11

The Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, was the hero the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, leading his team to victory against all odds in the closing minutes of the game. It takes a particular kind of person to accomplish such a feat.

“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for those in the warrior class.” – BG 18.43

As the contest unfolds, the coaches for each team will be analyzing their opponent’s strategies, calculating the strengths and weaknesses of their foes in order to adapt and improvise as needed in order to overpower their opposition.

“I am the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men.” – BG 7.10

The crowd will fill the stadium with uproarious cheers when the players display their speed, strength and athleticism by making an acrobatic catch, dodging would-be tacklers, or making a perfectly timed defensive play.

“I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” – BG 7.8

But some people won’t be as interested in the action on the field as they will be in the lavishly produced commercials that invite people to enjoy this or that beverage, automobile, or digital thingamajig.

“… those who seek sense enjoyment achieve only repeated birth and death.” – BG 9.21

And for the odds makers and gamblers in Las Vegas the only thing that really matters is the point spread.

“I am also the gambling of cheats, …” – BG 10.36

Then, of course, there’s the extravagant Halftime Show: perhaps the featured performer will show us how to be a jivanmuktah by offering us a ray of light that will illuminate our path to liberation while we are living in a material world.

“To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” – BG 10.11

We can expect this battle to be won in the trenches, with the stronger of the two front lines probably deciding the ultimate outcome.

“I am the strength of the strong, …” – BG 7.11

Time is always a major factor in football: eventually, the clock will wind down, the game will be finished, and one team will be vanquished by the other.

“Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds…” – BG 11.32

There are 32 teams and 1,696 players in the NFL, but only 2 teams reach the Super Bowl. And of the 106 players that make it to the Super Bowl only one will be named the Most Valuable Player.

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.” – BG 7.3

There will be a winner and a loser according to the scoreboard, but I think the real winners will be the players from both teams who will come together after the game is over and reflect for a moment on a truth that transcends winning or loosing.

“For one who has conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquility. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honor and dishonor are all the same.” – BG 6.7

Of course, as a thoroughly self-realized yogi, I don’t identify my self as my body, which, by virtue of some unfathomable karma, happened to take birth in New York City. So I’m detached about the outcome of the game… in a rooting for the Giants kind of way.


  1. Partho-Dhanur-Dharah Dasa
    Posted February 2, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You’re a trip Hari Kirtana

  2. Posted February 3, 2012 at 6:56 AM | Permalink | Reply


One Trackback

  1. By προγνωστικα στοιχηματος on February 20, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    προγνωστικα στοιχηματος…

    Thanks again for the article post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on……

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