THE BHAGAVAD GEETA: SUPREME KRISHNA'S ETERNAL REVELATION
In the Bhagavad-Gita lies the locus of hope for humanity suffering from the ills of modernization. The contemporary echo is full of fire and furry, which has compelled people to take shelter under the tree of knowledge. Lord Krishna, who was the fountainhead of knowledge, had anticipated well in advance the vacuum which was going to become part of lives of future generations. And thus essence of Vedanta with all its glory attained its pinnacle with manifestation of the Bhagavad-Gita- the Song Celestial. In present age when loud-mouthed supporters of false values, primarily unleashed by globalization, have gained prominence, the luster of Lord’s words remains intact. One of the reasons for Impersonal Brahman gaining individuality is to reinforce our faith in higher ideals. Jayadeva in Gita Govinda makes no concession while showering praises upon this most adorable Lord:
Lord of all the stars that cluster
In the sky, swiftest and slowest,
Lord of highest, Lord of lowest-
Manifests himself to mortals.
Before throwing light on problems tearing a part our social fabric which could unmistakably be attributed to parochialism and chauvinism environing our society, I would first like to unfold the Bhagavad-Gita’s mesmerizing attributes. Being storehouse of dictums on subjects ranging from room philosophy to psychology, from economics to sociology and from rules of conduct to sequence of events leading to origin of the world, it’s abundantly clear why it has come to be prized possession of not only the Hindus but of all men wishing to interpret life in a scientific way. One needs not to be Einstein to understand that Gita lays out a blueprint for the growth of human beings. The Bhagavad-Gita forms part of Prasthana-traya scriptures, an assemblage of three scriptures that play a decisive role in chiseling perceptions of Hinduism to make them relevant to times, the Brahma Sutras and the Upanishads being the other two.
During Mahabharata age, a period whose exact determination is bone of contention among modern day scholars but it is vaguely supposed to be the beginning of Kaliyuga, the most enlightening exposition of the Hindus came into existence on the earthly plan. The cosmic price of Kauravas haughtiness eventually turned out to be their total elimination at the hands of Pandavas. Obviously, pre-war scenario has become too intellectually challenging and emotionally nerve- wrecking for Arjuna, the most adorable companion of Madhusudana. On the other hand, for Krishna this nightmarish situation instead of sounding death knell prepared ground for emergence of life-giving philosophy, the panacea for phobias of future generations. He was not only a great statesman but a terrific visionary as well. He didn’t take much time to realize that come a time when moral and spiritual dilemmas are going to spell doom for human beings residing on this planet, especially for souls dealing in virtues. There has to be a standard manual which can be referred to at times of mayhem so that its negative influences are effectively counteracted. Ultimately, the charioteer Krishna transformed himself into the Divine Master who is really interested in upliftment of human consciousness. What he delivered was not something new but it being quagmire of hope continues to delight us till today. Gita’s relevance could be gauged from the fact that each generation produces a wide range of commentaries penned by people not confined to the arena of religion alone. The commentaries of Saint Gyaneshwar, Adi Shankaracharya, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada represent characteristics of their ‘Kala’ in a distinguished manner, unfolding the gems hidden in it more or less at par with mindset of those around. This also explains why Ramcharita Manas enjoys overwhelming support of the masses. Goswami Tulsidas was more interested in expanding the cause of Lord Rama than display of his intellectual superiority or, for that matter, exhibition of knowledge of scriptures.
The Bhagavad-Gita is a treatise on metaphysical aspects of Vedas but it is still able to strikes emotional chord with average reader. Keeping in mind the needs of the common man, Krishna wisely infused it with unputdownable practical teachings orbiting around themes of the Upanishads. Its appealing rationality and its universality, the two important facts largely responsible for its iconic status, says Swami Ranganathananda of Rama Krishna Math are enough to term it as a perennial Manava Dharma Sastra. Krishna immediately felt the conscience of Arjuna, when he raised doubt over the impossibility of gaining total control over mind by exclaiming that ‘cancalam hi manah Krsna’. He didn’t subject Arjun to a humiliating scenario for showing lack of subtlety. Instead, Kesava supported his contention and told him to attain it ‘with suitable practice and detachment’. Being governed by suspicion and confusion when Arjuna inquires about the fate of unsuccessful aspirants, he could have easily lost his temper over Arjuna’s futile curiosity. On the contrary, in order to keep aspirants on the right track he states in chapter Six that ‘a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil’. Unlike pseudo-intellectuals of present age, who nearly dissipate the understanding power of their followers with bombardment of perverse observations, Krishna chooses to boost up the confidence of Arjuna with air of optimism whenever it sinks to unwanted level. Look at the ideas churned out by the so-called progressive literature; it’s either too wayward or too complex that it defies the reader to take it seriously.
The Bhagavad-Gita contains the ABC of an integrated life. All it aims at is channelization of human desires in a dignified manner. Since it’s apparently impossible to transcend Lord’s maya-mama maya durtyaya, the lord instructs his followers to lend their ears to his proclamations with faith to be established in perfect union with ‘Great Self’, something, which occurs when one, rises above bondage created by three modes of material nature, namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. What has come to become intrisinic feature of present class of men and women is that they have adopted a cynical attitude towards anything associated with ancient order of things. So, sterile discussions and stupid intellectual pursuits create a permanent gulf between them and the ‘Ultimate Truth’. That is precisely why Krishna in chapter Seven confesses that ‘All these devotees (read Artah, jijnasuh, artha-arthi and jnani) are undoubtedly magnanimous souls, but he who is situated in knowledge of me I consider him to be just like my own self’. In other words, he is referring to a balanced approach. Why are we so depressed and frustrated today? Because demonical desires can never be fulfilled through balanced means. When we try to accomplish these goals we end up as dissatisfied souls, which invariably leads to irreparable damage. What Krishna wants to convey is that heart and mind should have a striking harmony between them. Swami Vivekanand once observed that he prefers heart over head. Anyway, it’s essential for development of human self that intellectual fervour remains in league with embodiments of heart.
We exhibit wide range of temperaments. A set of beliefs liked by one person may be quite appalling to the other person. Against this background it would be un-ethical and suicidal to impose upon the mass a particular kind of ideology. The Bhagavad-Gita believes that variation in means is since qua non-for survival of human beings. That establishes the fact that our beloved Lord was a psychologist par excellence. So, Karma- yoga was prescribed for those whom earth-shattering endeavors were close to heart; Bhakti-Yoga came to be associated with people having a developed heart faculty while Jnana-Yoga got identified with men dealing in intellectual tantrums. Generally, they run parallel to each other with one of them gaining pre-dominance as the major modus operandi. In post-modern age when complexities have become part and parcel of our lives, an intimate communion with what Lord has expressed in the Eighteen chapters could catapult life to highest realm of self-realization. When a loyal devotee depicts even an iota of virtues mentioned in these chapters (for instance doing devotional service with mind and intelligence fixed on his divine form), he is assured by Krishna to find a permanent place in His abode. For such souls Krishna says, ‘I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death’. Sadly, each Yuga has its own share of blockheads, who flaunt their absurd perceptions in the name of revolutionary isms. Then, there are ‘False-Gods’, who try to downplay the importance of Sruti’s declarations. Krishna has something in store for them as well when he warns them of meeting with deadly fate-atha cet tvam ahankaran na srosyasi vinanksyasi.
Finally, let us remain whole- heartedly in the line of His teachings so that glory of Lord becomes our own. And, when someone like Arjuna gets a glimpse of it, he would like Arjuna be moved to express that ‘No one is equal to you, nor can anyone be one with you. How then could there be anyone greater than you within the three worlds, O Lord of immeasurable power?’