Layman Reads Bhagawad Gita Part – 2



V. Satyanarayanan
Associate Vice President of a reputed IT Company, India.
What should I do now?

In the previous article, we had seen how restlessness predominates our personality till needs are met. It is usually difficult to sustain the restlessness for a mental (or a spiritual) need, but if it could be, the resultant energy surge would have a phenomenal impact on the society. “What should I do now?” – This was the question with which we had signed off earlier and now we resume by contemplating on the same. We will keep tuning and reconnecting to the Krishna – Arjuna conversation channel as often as possible!
First of all, when does this question arise in us? Obviously when we are confronted with a situation where there are multiple options leading to conflicting results. Also, we come across situations where there are seemingly no options yet we are compelled to act. We would not be off the mark, if we feel that these two situations alone do not constitute our life. What happens rest of the time? We keep chugging along doing the only thing that has to be done though deeming it as monotonous. And somewhere at some time the sheer burden of drudgery and mechanical repetition of life events suddenly spark the thought, “Am I meant for only this?” and leads further to the same question “What should I do know?”. All in all, we can see that Krishna’s counsel is going to be relevant and applicable to us more often than what we possibly thought before!
We will now delve into each of the above three situations one by one and see how Krishna would expect us to handle them. Let us begin with the classic dilemma which erupted for Arjuna and engulfed him – Two (or more) options with conflicting results and the difficulty in making a choice. While so many verses in Bhagavad Gita may hold answer to this scenario, let us assimilate the path expounded by Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The first word in Gita (Chapter 1 Verse 1) is Dharma and the last word in Gita (Chapter 18 Verse 78) is Mama. When combined, we get the essence of Gita as ‘Mama Dharma’ or ‘My Dharma’. Though this approach seems to be baffling, Swami Vivekananda who used to read books ultra fast, has said that by reading the beginning and end of a sentence, paragraph or page, we can get the essence of the sentence, paragraph or page respectively and he used to practice this approach. Any reduction of syllabus before a study or an exam will be received with joy by the concerned students. From 700 verses  and some 10000 plus words (assuming an average of 15 per verse) in the Gita, if the idea could be grasped by simply two words, we are delighted, but then our next challenge begins!
We saw ‘Mama’ getting translated as ‘My’. If we are asked a query on who is being referred to by the word ‘My’, we would not bat an eye lid and our instantaneous response would be to connect ‘My’ with ‘I’ – who was born so and so, of this gender, belonging to such and such society, nation and time-period, having certain affinities, statuses and possessions. The reason for this is obvious – right from birth we are told and we have been reasserting a zillion times that ‘I means the body’ and any ‘me’ or ‘my’ is associated with our body. Obviously, any contrarian view would come as a shocker, yet this is what we are going to be exposed to as a major theme in Krishna’s conversation. But this is a subject by itself, profound in depth and intense in nature demanding exclusive attention and so let us reserve a later occasion for a deep-dive. For the time being, let us permit ourselves the privilege of clinging on to a thought process very familiar to us and so we will be keeping the same meaning for ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘My’.
Moving to the second word Dharma, we find a wide range of definitions and interpretations which include ‘Righteousness’, ‘One that contains, supports or upholds’, ‘nature of an object’, ‘intrinsic nature’, ‘principle’, ‘duty’, ‘morally upright’ etc. Along with ‘Gains’ (Artha), ‘Desire’ (Kama) and ‘Liberation’ (Moksha), ‘Dharma’ also forms the four goals of human life. Each one of these meanings stand in their own merit though differing in context. It is by employment of the context, that we will now be selecting ‘Principle’ or ‘Ideal’ as a suitable word that would go along with ‘My’.
Now what could be our principle or ideal – Mama Dharma? It could stem from our gender (Purusha or Sthri dharma), nation (Desa dharma), society (Kula dharma), religion (Matha dharma), stage of life (Varnashrama dharma), time-period (Yuga dharma) or even a situation of danger or calamity (Aapath dharma) or war (Yuddha dharma). It is easy to see that subscription to so many categories simultaneously is going to lead to a dilemma or a conflict more often than not. We need to keep reprioritizing some principle or the other at different points not necessarily based on the same set of rules. This is back-to-square-one with multiple options and conflicting results! So what could be the way forward? We understand from Krishna [3-34] that adherence to one’s own dharma (Svadharma) is far more effective than an alien one (Paradharma). While raging debates could be held on what is own dharma, it could safely be associated with the innate nature of a person.
In this context, it is worth noting that Swami Chinmayananda exhorts youth to search for and find an ideal which would give them motivation for self-sacrifice and dynamic action. Citing the examples of Mohandas, Narendra and Siddhartha, he points out that it was the identification of an ideal and the earnest pursuit of the same which magnificently unfolded their personalities to Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Gautama Buddha respectively. In his words, “Without an ideal to hook yourself on, the depth of possibilities in you cannot be unearthed. An ideal is necessary”. These examples reveal that the energy emanating from them could positively influence and benefit millions of lives and at the same time not holding a grudge against anyone. An outlook going far beyond one’s own welfare blended with non-negativity, form the hallmark of their personalities which holds us a clue as we embark in search of our ideal.
We can therefore conclude that identifying an ideal closely associated with our innate nature and moulding our life around that is going to help us in a big way when we are confronted with “multiple options contrasting results”.
What thoughts Krishna is going to offer on the other two questions? Let us hold till we meet again!
(To be continued)

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