By JG Arora
Bhagvad Gita, literally meaning the Divine Song, is a practical guide to day-to-day life. It is meant for those who want to achieve supreme success and excellence. It is meant also for those who wish to transcend suffering and misery. Gita helps them also who want to live a life of contentment and divine blessedness. Because of its theme and content, Gita has got universal appeal, and will help anyone realise his dreams.
Bhagvad Geeta contains just 701 shlokas (verses), and occurs in Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata. As per Adi Shankara, Bhagvad Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of Vedic scriptures.
Gita is a practical guide to day-to-day problems, challenges and obligations of life. It takes us to real freedom and real success. Gita stipulates that real freedom is freedom from attachment, aversion, ego, greed, anger and fear. For Gita, real worship consists of doing one’s duty with perfection without being distracted by thoughts of outcome of our action. It liberates us from all bondages, doubts, self-imposed limitations, anxieties and fears, and enables us to lead happier, fuller, contented, peaceful, blissful and supremely successful life.
Detachment and Yoga
As per Gita, detachment does not mean inaction or renunciation of action. Detachment means renunciation of expectation of reward of action. It repeatedly emphasises performance of duty without getting distracted by the thoughts of outcome of our action. Shloka 2.47, the most quoted but the most misunderstood shloka, is reproduced as follows: -
Karmanye vadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadaachan,
Ma karmphal heturbhurma tey sangoastav akarmani.
(Your right is only to do your duty, and not to its fruit or result. Neither the result of your action should be your motive, nor should you become inactive”). This shloka does not glorify inaction or fatalism, as it is generally misunderstood. Rather, it makes us focussed towards our duty, and instructs us not to be distracted by brooding over outcome of our efforts.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning union. In spiritual context, linking oneself with the Supreme is called Yoga. Vide shloka 8.27, the Lord advises Arjun to be always immersed in Yoga (sarveshu ka1eshu yogayukta bhava Arjun). Moreover, Yoga means having complete control over one’s mind and senses. Here, it is relevant to refer to shloka 2.48:
Yogasthah kuru karmani sang tyaktva Dhananjay,
Sidh asidhyo samo bhutva samatvam yoga uchyate.
(O Arjun! Be steeped in Yoga and do your duty in a detached manner unconcerned as to success or failure. This equanimity is called Yoga).
Same point is repeated in shloka 6.1 which stipulates that he who does his duty without caring for its fruit is a real Sanyasi and Yogi. Adding another dimension to Yoga, shloka 2.50 elevates duty to the status of Yoga since Yoga means doing one’s duty with perfection (yogah karmsu kaushalam).
Fight for justice
Gita teaches that it is our duty to fight for justice.
Bhagvad Gita is the journey of a despondent Arjun, who, faced with the prospect of fighting his near and dear ones in the battle, has thrown away his weapons in the battlefield (as narrated in shloka 1.47), to a self-assured Arjun ready to fight (as described in shloka 18.73). Arjun’s refusal to face the challenge at Kurukshetra is explained in shloka 1.47 as follows:¬
Evam uktava Arjun sankhye rathopasth upavisht,
Visarijya sasharam chapam shok sanvigna manasah.
(Thus, uttering the despondent words, grief stricken Arjun threw away his bow and arrows, and sat down on the chariot in the battlefield).
Gita is replete with Bhagwan’s exhortations to Arjun to get up and fight. Shloka 2.3 starts this transformation: ¬
Klaibyam ma sama gamah Partha naitatava yupapadyate,
Khshudram hrudaya dourbalyam tayaktvo uttishtha prantapa.
(O Partha, do not yield to weakness. It does not become you to yield to weakness. O scorcher of foes, shake off faint heartedness, and get up).
The Lord tells Arjun to engage in the battle without worrying over its outcome. Just visualise the motivation contained in shloka number 2.38:¬
Sukh dukhe same krutava labh alabhou jaya ajayaou,
tato yudhay yujasva na tvam papam vapasyasi.
(Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike, engage in the battle. Thus, you will not incur sin).
After this, the Lord continues to guide and resolve Arjun’s doubts culminating in Arjun’s transformation and readiness to face any situation as described in Shloka 18.73:
Nashto mohah smruti labdha tavat prasadanmaya achyut,
Sthito asmi gata sandehah karishye vachanam tva.
(By Your grace, my apprehension is gone, and I have regained my senses. All my doubts are destroyed, and I shall do as desired by You).
Timeless and universal message
Gita’s message is timeless and universal, and is applicable to all situations, all times and all places. It cannot be confined just to a war like situation.
As per Gita, we are not just the body, the material beings. Rather, we are spiritual beings, the imperishable Aatma. The knowledge that we are the Aatma, a part of divinity, gives the proper direction to our life. Liberating us from our limitations, bondages, attachments, aversions, ego, greed, anger and fears, Gita makes us lead happier, fuller, meaningful, contented, and superbly successful life.
Besides, Gita proclaims that combination of wisdom and valour brings glory and victory as shloka 18.78 (the last shloka of Gita) declares:
Yatra yogeshwarah Krishno yatra Paartho dhanurdharah,
tatra shreervijayo bhootirdhruvaa neetir matirmama.
(Wherever Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, and Arjun, the wielder of bow are there; wealth, victory and prosperity are bound to follow).
(The author is former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)