Why bother about the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ ?

Why bother about the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ ?

Celebrated on Shukla Ekadashi, 11th day of the waxing moon of Margashirsha month (November-December) in the Hindu calendar, Gita Jayanti (birthday of ‘Bhagavad Gita’) is the day when Sri Krishna himself revealed teachings to Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra (currently in Haryana, India).  The Bhagavad Gita (consisting of 700 Sanskrit verses) occurring in the middle of Mahabharata is written by Ved Vyasa, narrated by Sanjaya to King Dhritarashtra after the events had transpired.

On the eve of Gita Jayanti (birthday of ‘Bhagavad Gita’) let us examine an interesting question: 

If the teachings were for Arjuna, how does it concern me? Why bother?

Arjuna, an accomplished warrior and a Pandava is all set to fight the battle, after all attempts at reconciliation had failed between the Pandavas and Kauravas, with Krishna agreeing to be his charioteer. At the onset of the war, while facing the opposing army and at the prospect of killing his grandfather, Bhishma and his teacher Dronacharya, Arjuna is overcome with compassion and sorrow. He declares himself as a shishya, a student worthy of being taught and asks Krishna  for that, which will help him to know what his Dharma is and for Sreyas – that which is the absolute good for everyone in all situations, in all places, at all times – moksha, in other words.

Arjuna’s problem while topical, triggered by his thoughts about the futility of the battle actually taps into a more fundamental problem of human conflict and sorrow. Bhagavan as Sri Krishna does not give him a quick fix mantra nor technique nor a pep talk on strategy and management nor psychotherapy nor dismisses him. Bhagavan teaches Arjuna, brahmavidya and yogashastra because the problem of human sorrow is not a psychological problem. It is a spiritual problem of taking oneself to be a finite human being, subject to wanting all the time.

The human mind is also like a battlefield of conflict. Conflict arises when a choice has to be made in every given situation – choice about what to do, what to not do, what to go towards, what to avoid. Arjuna’s problem is really our problem as we struggle with inadequacy and seeking fulfillment despite the choices we make. Bhagavan teaches the solution to this problem. The teaching of the Bhagavad Gita begins with the assurance and a bold assertion that there is no cause for grief. All grief and sorrow is experienced because of taking oneself to be finite, limited and a wanting person. This is a mistaken notion which can be corrected only with the knowledge that one is the adequacy and fullness that one seeks, in other words brahmavidya. When one discovers oneself to be an adequate, complete being then happiness is spontaneous, and doing what is to be done in every situation is undertaken without any conflict. 

The Bhagavad Gita also teaches karma yoga, which is recognition of choice with respect to only action, developing effectiveness in action which is in accordance with dharma while offering all actions as offerings to Bhagavan and receiving the results as grace. The knowledge of Yoga shastra specifically, Karma yoga helps one to discover objectivity, equanimity and a contemplative mind that is prepared to receive brahmavidya. At the end of the Gita, Arjuna says:

 ‘My confusion is gone. I have gained the knowledge that I am full and complete and ready to do what is to be done’.  

As long as human beings exist the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita will continue to be relevant, significant and applicable as much as it was for Arjuna. The complete blessing of Bhagavan is available to everyone in the form of Bhagavad Gita.

Now, where did I keep my copy of the Bhagavad Gita? 

Om Tat Sat

~ Swamini Brahmaprajnananda teaches Bhagavad Gita, Sanskrit and Vedic chanting in Mumbai. She is a disciple of H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Brahmavidananda