Gita Is Fresh & Renewable
I was shown at an early age the various scriptures of all religions, including the Torah, the Bible, the Tripitaka, the Grantha Sahib, the Gita and the Quran. In a single shelf, all of them initially appeared like a bouquet of flowers. I was attracted towards the Gita at first due to its very attractive cover page. It looked like a kind of story-telling while on a journey. I read with interest this conversational literature, but I could hardly grasp the meaning. It made me think as to who is an ideal man, the vastness of creation. I was inquisitive to ponder over the origin of self, others around me and the world. I never got all the questions answered, but with those questions in my mind I grew up.
As a youth
As a student of science, I realised early that poetry and mythology have preceded philosophy and science. Man understands, but is condemned to follow a path of paradox. There is rebirth as well as shraddha for the ancestors. Omnipresence is far as well as near depending on the state of our mind. Omniscient is formless and has form. I calculated that the Gita comprises 18 chapters with a total of 700 hymns (slokas) . Chapterwise, the slokas are distributed as 47, 72, 43 ,42, 29, 47, 30, 28, 34, 42, 55, 20, 34, 27, 20, 24, 28, 78. Broadly, there are three sections viz. Action-centered (karma), knowledge-centered (gyana) and devotion-centered (bhakti). I understood these three sections stood for three stages of life i.e. youth, middle age and the ripe age respectively.
The guiding principle of youth was kartavyam karma: to do only the work that must be done. Youth destroys when by destruction the world must advance, but hate not that which thou destroy, neither grieve for those who perish.
I knew it well that Kurushetra was a place in Haryana where no war is fought today, but it took time for me to realise that it is also within me. War and conflict are not only universal principle of our life here in its purely material aspects but also of our mental and moral existence. No real step forward can be made without a struggle, a battle between ‘what is’ and ‘what to be’.
Whenever there was conflict in my being slowly I discovered the interplay of the three fundamental forces within me: sattwa (equilibrium), raja (activity) and tama (inertness). Sattwas lead to happiness, rajas to action and tamas to negligence. After all, life is not measured in the length of years and months, but in its quality, like fire is measured in its brief brilliance and heat, not by its lingering smoke. The spirit of a person is always there within him shining. Once he realises his unity with the universe, he becomes one and indistinguishable. Each breath is a life. No breath, no life. Every breath made me conscious of the active spirit in me. “Like pearls of a necklace are held together by a thread, so are everything in the universe supported and held together.”
I learnt that to control mind is difficult but not impossible. Uddharetat manata manam: with the help of the mind itself the mind has to be purified. With one part of the mind the other has to be controlled. It is possible by abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (dispassion). They are not separate but are complementary to each other.
As a middle-aged person
The Gita is a teacher which changes the meaning of life and death completely. As a youth I learnt what pravrtti (impulsion) was and how rajasic it was, also apravrtti (inertia) and how tamasic it was. As a middle aged person, I could understand. What was prakash (enlightenment) and its sattwic nature, also about aprakash (absence of light) and its tamasic nature. The Gita grooms the mind spiritually. Spiritually disposed mind breaks the barrier of senses and touches the inner reality. The Gita has inspiring feelings and revelation. It has several themes and can be variously approached. It provokes towards effective truths of life. From acute and challenging problems of life, from the numerous crises it liberates.
It is in the field of ignorance that the tree of death grows. That is the reason both the learned and the fool equally fear death. Look to the end, no matter what it is you are considering. Death is nothing. It is the conception of death which haunts. It is not annihilation but a change. There the sun does not shine, nor the moon, nor fire; having gone thither they return not; that is the Supreme Abode. All beings are invisible before they are born, visible in its middle (while in the world) and once more become invisible in the end when one dies.
Whenever there are questions like: Who am I? Am I only a skeletal structure wrapped around by a bagful of flesh? etc., the answer is the ultimate is in me, within me and I am That. From the state of elevated mind, a life of perfect surrender and non-attachment emerges.
The inner life of a man must possess perfect tranquility-complete freedom from passion and passionate desires to realise the deepest delight, the bliss (ananda). This tranquility should not be misunderstood as indolence, inertia, inactivity, incapacity, insensibility. It is capable of all action and full of immortal power. You have the right to work but for the work’s sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give away to laziness either.
Life is a struggle for existence against offensive factors of life and also a persistent endeavor towards self-excellence outgrowing the limitation of life. The Gita takes into account these two aspects. During serious crises, there might arise the tendency to run away from life, evade challenging problems that appear insoluble. But that is no solution. These crises of the life of strife cannot be solved by escaping or bypassing or fleeing from life, and its challenging situations, they can be truly resolved facing life, by rising to a higher consciousness in and through all the situations.
A deeper insight reveals these crises are not due to situations so much as due to the ordinary human consciousness. Had the crises come from this or that circumstance, it would be simple to get out of it by changing one’s situations. But if it is due to man’s own consciousness it would arise in every life situation. It can be resolved only by changing the consciousness, by rising to a superior poise of it, and by no other means. “Your nature shall appoint you to your innate disposition, your temperament will impel you into strife.” There is a deeper law of being and living.
All beings have their specific aptitude, their inner character and every man, even the man of knowledge follows his unique nature and acts according to it. There is no point of coercing one’s true nature. What is meaningful and important is therefore self-mastery so that we are no more victims of attraction and repulsion that are set in sense objects and which becomes obstacles in the free march of the soul in life.
The Gita gives decisive guidance when man is not in his normal self or his crisis is radical (dharma sankata).
As a critic
The Gita is free from ‘this’ or ‘that’ bias. It is something to be read and re-read. It is already of international interest. Entering into it again and again gives refreshing and veritably new revelation. Imploring into this work of knowledge is a service to oneself and to the Supreme. It occupies a place in all spiritual literature. It is emerging as the most spiritual inter-religious book of the world inviting attention of the sectarian as well as the nonsectarian of people all over.
Modern man is drifting more in outer activities of life than the inner. Any effective life’s action can come out of an integral synthesis of both the inner and outer life. Introspection soothes the perplexed man. Problem of human life arises from the complexity of existence. Different levels of an existence in psychosomatic plane perplex us because the existence of man is at once a mysterious triple web: physical- vital, mental and spiritual. Man must remind himself about swabhava and swadharma.
The Gita is ever fresh and always renewable in experience. It is an in exhaustible treasure trove, inexhaustible and ever new for the seekers. No seeking has gone in vain. It gives peace and solace and takes away the turmoil and grief.