Layman Reads Bhagawad Gita Part – 1

-Satyanarayanan V,
Associate Vice President of a reputed IT Company, India.
The Law of Satisfying Needs

From the time I returned to India five years ago after a long stint abroad and started gaining expertise in the ‘Art of Driving in India’, FM Radio has been a constant companion to me. The Mental Lightness that it provides is crucial to succeed in the art that is being perfected! Very recently, an advertisement about a new restaurant caught my attention. It is about a family of three (father, mother and child) going for a drive, when the hungry kid queries her mom if she should wait all the way till their destination, to eat something. The blame for lack of preparedness promptly gets shifted by the mother on to the father who then assures of a quality restaurant pretty close to their location on the highway.

Though unlikely to encounter this predicament (for the simple reason that my wife ensures that we are suitably stocked during our long drives), what was interesting to me was what I could refer as ‘The Law of Satisfying Needs’ which could be simply stated as : “Until needs are satisfied, Restlessness prevails”. This very much holds good for physical needs such as hunger or thirst of any living organism, which is what may have prompted Swami Vivekananda to declare that to talk of God to a hungry man is blasphemy.

Does this law equally apply for needs other than physical such as mental (an intense question) or spiritual? Four hundred odd years ago, the falling of an apple made a young boy in England restless to know the reason why the apple fell. A hundred and twenty five years ago, a young man in Bengal was restless to know if God could be seen. I am not sure how many people, no matter of what age would turn restless for satisfying such mental or spiritual needs. The answer to the above question then touches various shades of gray viz. for some people yes, at some times yes etc, compelling a small amendment to the law stated above : “Until needs are satisfied, Restlessness (proportional to the type of need) prevails”. In simpler terms, Physical needs create higher restlessness than mental or spiritual. However, where restlessness arises for tackling such mental and spiritual needs, we can expect a new chapter in mankind’s history as in the case of Issac Newton or Vivekananda.

We take a step back and see when does a mental need arise. It has to possibly stem from the thousands of thoughts that fleet through our mind everyday. We realize that it is very rare for even one of them to blossom as a question that could be termed as a mental need. Crossing the first round and getting established itself as a question does not end the story, for quite often such a ‘question’ is swept aside by multitudes of those face-less, shape-less thoughts or immediate physical needs which predominate with force and fury. It is common knowledge that when plants are tender, they need to be safeguarded from cattle grazing by means of fencing. If we offer protection to our ‘question’ from getting buried or lost, then we can have a survivor to the third round which is about search for answers, authorities and references for the ‘question’. In the current trend, it is all too tempting that  a Googling would suffice (it is quite interesting to see that a company’s name has lent itself to a new verb). While googling and wiki-search are powerful for a wide range of questions, our ‘question’ in focus which can probably be something like ‘What is the right step for me in this context?’ needs a different level of introspection and a higher level of authority to provide the right answer.

When we are in search of an answer for a puzzle or a problem, we do tend to look up in the skyward direction. There is a feeling that what we look for could be impregnated somewhere in the vastness of sky. Many stars twinkle at us invitingly as if they are willing to lead us to what we are looking for. And then at some point of time, the stars recede from our sight, not because they have gone farther away, but because the Sun has risen majestically. In terms of Astronomy, the Sun is not the largest Star, but it is the nearest and provides the energy that almost meets all of Earth’s need.

In a manner that is similar, our quest for answers turns our vision to look back into the vastness of time where Gems of wisdom glisten like the twinkling Stars in the vastness of Space, vying with each other to help us, to guide us and to elevate us. Pampered by the choices that are lined up and aplenty, we do the easiest ……… of not listening to any of them! The reason being that we get into intellectual debates, comparative studies and feature evaluation. It is at this time, a mellifluous flute music becomes audible, catches our attention and takes our breath away. The music slowly overpowers the noise of all our internal debates and the silenced mind is all too eager to know who the player is. As we strain our eyes to catch a distant glimpse of the magnificent flautist, a fascinating sequence unfolds before us dramatically

He is such that none has any clue
His hue is such an intense blue

He is adept at breaking the curd pot
His act invites complaints from all a lot

He sucks the poison out of the milk feed
His musical instrument is made of reed

He dances  on a poisonous snake’s hood
His dance with cowherdesses is too good

He lifts the mountain on His finger tip
His advent ensures, evil takes huge dip

When things finally settle down, he is seen to be seated as a charioteer conversing with the warrior on the chariot who is very restless. The conversation reveals that both have many names and we choose one for each, the restless warrior as Arjuna and the magnificent charioteer as Krishna. In the vastness of time, the Song Celestial (the equivalent of a Sun rise  in the vastness of space) has risen – not the largest, but the nearest to a man’s heart, radiant with energy and holding an answer for the question “What should I do now?”

(To be continued….)

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