The message of the Bhagavad Gita
The holy Bhagavad Gita teaches us an important aspect of being human – the call of duty. When Arjuna (the warrior) gets deluded and overcome by emotions, Krishna (Godhead) by his side, guides him towards his dharma or purpose or duty. When Arjuna seems to be confused and seeks refuge in Krishna, the first thing that Krishna asks him is, ‘Will you be able to digest the knowledge that I’m about to give you?’ and the teary-eyed Arjuna submits. And then Krishna embarks on sharing the most influential story that perhaps is the innermost secret to the conduct of mankind. According to Krishna, we are made of five elements viz. sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. These in Sanskrit are called the ‘PanchaBhutas’. If we are just these, then what are we yearning for? The Earth below our feet? Or the Skies above? Every one of us is made of these 5 elements. We are these off-springs of the Earth and to it, we shall return back one day.
Arjuna is deluded because of his attachments. To whom? His relatives, his friends, his gurus, and all others whom he admires. Seeing them all as enemies on the battlefield, Arjuna simply can’t lift up his bow against these luminaries. And the first lesson that Krishna gives Arjuna is that all of these people assembled here are made of the same elements as Arjuna, so why grieve for a piece of Earth? The problem is not the elements but the emotions that grapple Arjuna which causes a blurred vision through which he cannot see properly. He is so overcome by emotions that his response makes him freeze. (there are just 3 responses – flight, flight or freeze) In order for Arjuna to see clearly, Krishna has to teach him the ultimate truth – duty is above sentiments. Despite having taught the truth to Arjuna, he still flounders and says that he wants to see the form of the ultimate truth and Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna.
From Karma (Action) Yoga to Bhakti (Devotion) Yoga and from Bhakti Yoga to Jnana (Knowledge) Yoga – these are the steps of realizing God. Krishna says that he has come as ‘Time’, the destroyer of worlds. Even if Arjuna were to desist picking up his weapon, he would still smite them all. So, he says to Arjuna, ‘Renounce your desires and see your duty clearly.’ ‘Pick up that weapon and fight.’ Some people say that if Krishna is God himself, why is he encouraging Arjuna to kill the people on the battlefield? The answer lies in the expression ‘Ahimsa Paramodharma’, which means Non-violence is the biggest dharma, which Krishna ascribes to. But things have gotten out of hand. The evil has multiplied and people have become adharmic (which means violators) and despite giving many chances for them to reform themselves, they keep repeating their evil ways. After a critical point, punishment only seems to be the salvation for the evil people.
God himself is full of Karuna (mercy) but there is a limit to everything. If we keep professing the wrong principles, we are not only walking the wrong path but also not allowing the righteous to follow their dharma. The good Lord gives many a chance to the people on the wrong path to redeem themselves. Krishna also mentions about a person whom he gave 100 chances to forgive his evil actions, but on the 101st time, he was given a punishment. That seems to be the only way that the person would attain salvation. Sometimes dhand (punishment) is itself the biggest daya (mercy). Duty doesn’t mean something pre-determined. If you are a singer then sing, if you are a writer then write and if you are a soldier then fight. Never step back from your duty. That is the highest wisdom that will dawn on you. For Arjuna, the path of Karma Yoga was his awakening. Others may get awakened on bhakti or jnana marga (way). So, Krishna’s message to all those who are seeking liberation is to tread the path of duty and they will never go wrong.
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