RELEVANCE OF BHAGAVAD GITA IN MODERN LIFE
Hantha Bhagyam Jananam! – How lucky we are to be born in a place surrounded by many scriptures, great Acharyas and Gurus to explain the scriptures and make us understand the real meaning of life and the Truth behind the various forms. Bhagavad Gita is one among such scriptures and Bhagavan Krishna was a great acharya. It is a common misunderstanding that Bhagavad Gita is a religious text. It is a complete spiritual text which explains about the Atman and the mentality of a person in distress and the ways to escape from suffering. It explains about the intricacies of the mind, source of the mind, to deal with the mind in times of suffering and distress and to connect the mind with Atman. Bhagavad Gita is the essence of the Upanisads. It is the essence of Advaita philosophy. It gives guidance to deal with our own emotions. It gives a clear idea that the problems and worries are the result of the mismanagement of our own mind and does not depend on the external situations or other persons. One cannot change the world, but one has the capacity to change his own mind. Bhagavad Gita has the power to transform the mind. Problems, worries, depression and so on are very much part of the modern life. Gita gives strength to the mind and shows us that the life we consider as real is not the truth and the Truth is something more than that. In no time or era in the history of the universe has Gita been irrelevant to the world, because in Gita the Reality is explained by the teaching of Bhagavan Krishna to Arjuna. There always exist people who have the same mentality like Arjuna, Duryodhana, Dhrithrashtra and so on. The names may change but the nature of the characters will be similar and such characters are present even in today’s life. This sloka from the second chapter of Gita really strengthens the depressed mind, “Yield no impotence, O partha! It does not befit thee. Cast off this mean weakness of heart! Stand up, O parantapa”(2, 3). Violence, cruelty, frustration, destruction are the result of a non-content and weak mind. Attachment leads to anger and it gradually leads to violence and cruelty. Frustration is the result of the lack of understanding of our own mind. While pointing faults on others we surpass our own faults. Bhagavad Gita helps us to find our own weakness and to come out of that weakness through spirituality.
More than five thousand years back Bhagavan Krishna explained the complexities of the mind and ways to deal with it, the Truth behind the various forms to Arjuna in the form of Bhagavad Gita. The verses are in the ancient language, Sanskrit and the comments written by various Acharyas help one to understand Gita clearly. Sri Adi Sankaracharya wrote the commentary for Bhagavad Gita at the age of sixteen.
Different experiences like relationships, money, fame, success, failure and so on appears and disappears at various stages in life leaving a strong impression in us. The memories in the form of impressions shape our life. The mind is affected by these impressions. We react to the external world based on these impressions. We never see the truth which is covered by these impressions. Baghavan Krishna guides us through Gita to explore the truth by non-identifying with these impressions. The guidance given in Gita helps us to build a mental proof against the experiences in life and so the mind will not be affected by the experiences. If the mind is affected, then it loses the strength and it fails to understand the reality. Reality is more precious than the experiences. Gita helps the mind to remain like a drop of water on the lotus leaf, neither attached nor detached to life. In modern times, there is lack of tolerance and forbearance, fear, insecurity, justifying the mistakes and so on. Negative aspects are given more importance than improving the positive aspects of life. Life is the interaction between different minds. If the mind is not pure, then life will be in trouble. It affects the various kinds of relationship we maintain in life. Mind is limited; if the Atman identifies with the limited mind it will not know its true infinite nature. Gita shows the difference between the relative reality and the Absolute Reality.
Knowledge about the relative world can give material comforts, but only the knowledge about the absolute can give peace of mind. Professional excellence, talent, excellent skills and wealth cannot make a person complete. The mentality of the person is very important to adjust in this world; else the life will be a frustrated life.
One of the most important sloka of Gita is about the action to be performed without the expectation of the result. “Thy right is to work only, but never to its friuts; let the fruit of action be not thy motive, nor let thy attachment be to inaction” (2, 47). If the motive is result alone, then it will definitely deviate one from the action, and the result will be failure. Therefore, the work has to be performed for the sake of work and not for the result.
Repeated thoughts become the habit and in due course it becomes the behaviour. The mind reacts to situations according to its inherent impressions. Meditation as explained in Gita helps one to observe the impressions (that is to observe the mind) rather than to react to the impressions. It helps to create a distance between the observer (Atman) and the experiencer (mind). Suppose, if an incident happens exactly opposite to the accumulated impressions, then the mind cannot accommodate the situation and it will react violently or in a negative way. The mind circling inside the emotions, attachment, attraction, and possessiveness fails to see the Atman, its source. The external objects, the mind, the intellect, the body are all relative to the Absolute, which is the Atman. Meditation helps a person to be an observer and react to situations intelligently and accordingly.
Bhagavad Gita makes us understand that the source, which is the Supreme Brahman, is non-dual and it exists in all. This source cannot be divided. The division is our assumption. Brahman means the Ultimate. It is worshiped as God by all. That non-dual Supreme Brahman is called by different names. The difference one see in God is also an assumption. Spirituality is freedom and it is not bondage to God. Spirituality is freedom from all bondages. Spirituality makes one realize the infinity in himself. Devotion to God must be to realize this vastness, which is the very existence.
At present our success depends on showing the world about our achievements. Little attention is paid on self satisfaction of job. Our success and failure depends on how others react to our work. One is hesitant to pave his path due to fear for the result, criticism, non-acceptance from the society and so on. We feel more convenient to follow the path paved by others. This leads to competition, jealousy and hatred. To thread our own path needs mental strength. In reality, a successful person is a person who does not care for failure or success and he works to enjoy his work. Success and failure are both connected to past impressions and ego. Life is full of experiences. The experiences become relevant when it touches the mind or ego. Insult, disrespect, criticism, loss of wealth and similar negative aspects are considered as failure. These are all mere happenings one has to cross at different stages in life. When such happenings are considered as failure, it weakens that person. The incapability to face failure is the cause for the majority of the problems in life. “The Supreme Self of him, who is self-controlled and peaceful, is balanced in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, as also in honour and dishonour” (6, 7).
Bhagavad Gita gives clarity to life. Our intellect is always engaged in planning and decision making. Mind is engaged in imagination. Through the mind and intellect one connects to the outside world. One must train the mind to engage in worldly activities and at the same time must be able to withdraw the mind inwards whenever needed (just like a tortoise). If the mind is not trained by meditation it refuses to withdraw; as a result of this one continues to live in sufferings or select some other path of assumed enjoyment like taking drugs, taking alcohol etc. At present the mind survives by external hopes. If the hopes are destroyed, then it is difficult for the mind to survive. It collapses and takes adverse decisions like suicide; murder the person who destroyed his hopes, take revenge on the people who is responsible for his condition and so on. What we have assumed as truth is not the real truth. Truth is beyond hopes and imaginations. When one realizes this he is free from all worries and miseries. Our mainstream education does not give guidance to survive in times of difficulties and depression. It only gives knowledge about the external factors in life. This education can earn a person material wealth and comforts but not peace of mind. Bhagavad Gita helps the seeker to search the real treasure inside him. If one studies Bhagavad Gita along with their mainstream education, then definitely it helps to transform him as an able and courageous person and he can help many others to reach that state.