Strife, disillusionment, disagreement, quarrel, disappointment and much more mark The Modern Age – The Kali Yuga. Even though sounding pessimistic, it unfortunately defines the age which most of us proudly relate to in different contexts. Where people generally seem to enjoy in the overwhelming sea of consumerism (materialism), they are sick inside with mental and emotional turbulence. This clearly implies that they relate to outside – the material – more than to themselves. People’s outward journey is so ignorantly fast that they have slowed down to travel within.
This is an age when problems are discussed at the stem, leaf, fruits or flower level on various occasions and on different stages completely forgetting the root. I, me, mine are the order of the day. Even if it is not in some cases, the understanding of the subject matter of the problem is astoundingly dumb. Throwing such serious allegations on an age where people are impressed by material advancement beyond measure and wrongly think that they are the most intelligent definitely demands some justification. If one takes the scenario of any area of life, s/he is sure to get convinced by the so-called scientific propositions but can definitely see through the murk that life has to offer today.
Confusion par excellence
Where the economics of the whole world is in doldrums, the physical and social environments alarmingly stand in front of us to scream “Do something about it!” To add to the general misery of people, there is no enjoyment in personal or family life either, though many may just pose to ‘enjoy’. At the same time, when people claim to be medically advanced, they forget the growing number of diseases and physical complications. Culture is concocted and confusing, depicting the plight of the states of minds. Education is for information, livelihood, money and status. The real pulse of ‘knowledge’ is missing, which perhaps gives the yardstick of how the enlightened leaders are ‘running’ the world. Everything and everyone seems to be in hurry, to be racing for nothing.
The Bhagavad Gita as beacon
In such distressing circumstances, when humanity has lost its taste for the Higher and is not able to manage even the average life, the Bhagavad Gita proposes the rightful way to living a truly balanced life even for an average man. It presents the solution for all the above mentioned complications of human life within the purview of its five topics – Ishvara (Krishna), Jiva (the living entity), Prakriti (the three modes of material nature), Karma (action and reaction) and Kala (time). Whereas Ishvara and Jiva are completely spiritual in nature, Prakriti, Karma and Kala are strong forces of the material world. The Jiva may be caught in the quagmire of these forces; however, Ishvara despite being the Ultimate Doer has nothing to do with it.
The Bhagavad Gita explains in detail all the equations, permutations and combinations among all these five components. For solution to any problem, one can see the missing link among all these five elements, Ishvara being the centripetal force. The only requirement is to read the Bhagavad Gita with the correct perspective. The real mystical fact, however, is, to get the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita one needs the mercy of the Lord and the spiritual master. Without it, a soul cannot touch or understand the dynamics of these five topics. And, to have the mercy of the Lord one must believe in the Lord.
So, the requirement is to create an atmosphere of faith and trust in the Lord. The Lord’s words will automatically reveal themselves to the blessed or to whoever on whom the Lord decides to shower His causeless mercy. This presentation of correct life and lifestyle can happen only through disciples who lead an enlightened life and understand scriptures in the right spirit.
In the current situation, the understanding of the above mentioned five topics may give a person a balance between spiritual and material spheres and a better understanding of every problem. The Bhagavad Gita is a stepping stone to Self-Realization. The first lesson for an individual in the divine text is that one is soul and not this body. The primary thing that the text does is to break the identification of experiences related to the body. The entire Bhagavad Gita revolves around the existence and journey of a soul in relation to matter, relationships with other living entities and every aspect that affects a soul. For the modern super materialistic, before God Realization, this realization of being a soul is imperative. It is only after this that one can expect humanity to head in the right direction. In other words, reading and understanding the Bhagavad Gita is a preparation for heading in the right direction. This is because before one chooses the direction, one needs to know who s/he is, what is his/her purpose of life, what is expected of him/her as a human being and to add more – to clear the cloud of doubts in the mind.
One may think that it is high philosophy. However, according to age, it suits everyone – children, youth and adults; gender – it is for even transgenders because it does not identify with body; caste is no bar because nowhere the text mentions the word ‘Hindu’; class – class is an identification of material opulence and this knowledge is way above it. So, while one reads the Divine Text, one has to be certainly aware about the dynamics between the speaker, listener and the reader. Speaker is none other than the Lord Himself. So, everything in the Text is Him, the listener is none other than His great Disciple Arjuna who presents the right mood and intention with which it is supposed to be heard and the readers are many like all of us swimming in different material situations and varied spiritual standards. So, the Bhagavad Gita is not a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna; it is a deep seated communication between the Lord and the reader through Arjuna. It demands surrender, focus, respect, love and seriousness.
The Chapterization: Bhagavad Gita As It Is
A mundane reader would perhaps find the chapters a repeat during the first read. However, on further serious reading it is a super-intelligent progression of thought chapter after chapter. The first chapter (Arjuna Vishadha Yoga/Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra) describes the state of distress and delusion of Arjuna – questions and emotions that stir a living entity and the scene of the battlefield. The second chapter (Sankhya Yoga/Contents of the Gita Summarized) gives the entire summary of the following chapters. So, if one reads the second chapter very carefully one is sure to get the gist of life. If one goes to chapter three (Karma Yoga), there would be no stone left unturned about different types of works, tips on leadership and all about lust (material desires). The fourth chapter (Jnana Karma Sannyasa Yoga/Transcendental Knowledge) gives all the details about the transfer of divine knowledge, about advent of the Lord, action/ inaction/reaction, structure of the society (varnashrama), process of attaining transcendental knowledge and difference between different types of yoga systems. Chapter five describes the complete knowledge about how a Yogi attains Him (Karma Sannyasa Yoga/ Karma Yoga-Action in Krishna Consciousness). Good for a person interested in psychology, Chapter six titled Dhyana Yoga (Sankhya Yoga) gives complete information on mind/mental activities/control of mind, habits of people, birth, death, rebirth and spiritual progress.
Jnana Vijnana Yoga/Knowledge of the Absolute is chapter seven. It gives the supreme knowledge of the science of God. The Lord declares the magnanimity of His personality in totality. Students and researchers will surely find this interesting if they are really inquisitive about Higher questions. Chapter Eight -the Aksharbrahma Yoga/Attaining the Supreme chalks the clear path for attaining the Lord and also clarifies who can attain the Lord, how and the importance of devotional service. Chapter nine – Raja Vidya Raja Guhyam/The Most Confidential Knowledge is a further extension of the previous chapter suggesting Arjuna the supremacy of devotional service to the rest. Continuing on the lines of the previous two chapters, chapter ten (Vibhuti Vidya Raja Guhya Yoga/ The Opulence of the Absolute) is a signature of the Lord describing His complete opulence. This knowledge from chapters eight to ten is followed by the Lord’s Universal Form (Vishwarupa Darshan Yoga/the Universal Form) in chapter eleven where Arjuna sees through his special eyes the most special and bewildering form of the Lord- His entirety – the whole gamut of spiritual and material existence. Chapter twelve is entirely devoted to describing the bhakti marg (Bhakti Yoga/Devotional Service). The chapter describes in detail the qualities of a devotee and souls who are very dear to Him.
Someone who wants to understand how the entire universe functions and is scientific and a researcher must surely visit chapter thirteen that gives the chemistry between nature, enjoyer and the entire consciousness (Kshetra, Kshetragna Vibhaga Yoga/Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness). A psychologist must read and understand in depth about the various natures of living entities in chapter fourteen (Guna Traya Vibhag Yoga/The Three Modes of Material Nature) that describes the three modes of material nature – the functionality of the world as we see it – goodness, passion and ignorance. Chapter fifteen is perhaps for those who have understood the science described in the previous chapters. This chapter called Akshara Purushottama Yoga/The Yoga of the Supreme Person describes the weird tree (upside down) and the representations of its various parts and inspires one on how to go beyond it to attain the Lord. People working in the education industry trying to inculcate good value system in children must read chapter sixteen (Daivasura Sampad Vibhag Yoga/The Divine and Demoniac Natures) that defines and lines all the values that are required to be a good human being. If one wants to understand the difference between God and demigods and different types of faith, s/he can find the answer in chapter seventeen (Shraddha Traya Vibhag Yoga/the Divisions of Faith). Chapter eighteen – Moksha Sannyasa Yoga/The Perfection of Renunciation is a complete perfect conclusion giving the definition, objective of renunciation and why and how one must execute one’s duty – completely a practical proposition for practical people of the modern world.
Things to remember and learn
There are many learnings in the Bhagavad Gita owing to its Divinity. To identify a few out of them would include:
- We are souls, not bodies: This philosophy is so strong that it has the capacity to even heal a victim of rape. Needless to say, this can slow down the mad race to comfort our bodies through luxury, cosmetics, so-called lifestyle etc. When we identify with bodies, we have to look for Ishvara and the correct Prakriti elements (Goodness/Passion/Ignorance) in our lives.
- Every problem has a solution: The Lord seated as Paramatma guides a soul. If one fails to listen to Him, the problem persists. If one follows the directions mentioned in Bhagavad Gita, solution exists.
- We are not doers: Often modern people are under the impression that they have created great things forgetting that their intelligence comes from Him. The real doer is Him. So, for every act of ours, we ought to thank Him.
- Leaders must be truly God conscious: Education, Economy, Politics, Life & Lifestyle, and above all of these, happiness of people depends on the way leaders run the society. God conscious leaders will lead the society to happiness; those bereft of it will lead the society to mundane work, stress and unhappiness.
- Our true nature is to be happy: Happiness is just limited to being a concept today. So, for being happy, we have to touch the Lord every day. We must read the Bhagavad Gita everyday as it is a direction from the Lord. Finding new pearls of wisdom in it must become a habit, lest bear the utter confusion around.
By Malini Devi Dasi