Bodhyagītā

(‘that [which is] sung [by the sage] Bodhya’)

The extreme popularity and importance of the Bhagavadgītā gave rise, in course of time, to a number of religio-philosophical tracts of varying lengths composed in verse form to which the title ‘Gītā’ was appended. The Mahābhārata alone contains sixteen of them, and the Bodhyagītā is one such.

It is a short piece of only ten verses (Śāntiparva 178.3-13) and contains the teaching given by the sage Bodhya to the king Yayāti.

The sage declares that he learnt great lessons in his life by observing the following persons and animals during the course of his wanderings as a mendicant: a prostitute called Piṅgalā, the bird kurara or osprey, a serpent, the legendary cātaka bird (Cucculus melanolecucus) that lives on rain drops, a blacksmith who prepared arrows and an unmarried girl.

From Pīṅgalā he learnt the spirit of renunciation; from the osprey, that attachment leads to misery; from the serpent that one should be homeless; from the cātaka bird that one should live on alms without being a burden to anyone; from the blacksmith, concentration of mind; and, from the unmarried girl, that one should live all alone to avoid quarrels and misunderstandings.

This Gītā seems to be a summary of the story of the Avadhūta with 24 teachers in the Bhāgavata (11.7-9).