These days when we are forced to lock up at homes, we are watching ‘Mahabharat’ or ‘Ramayana.’ Mahabharat is the longest epic in the whole wide world, so I wonder, what is the central message of this great epic?
The central character of Mahabharat is Lord Krishna and the central message of Lord Krishna is contained in the world-famous ‘Bhagwad Gita.’ Consequently, I come to the meaning of Bhagwad Gita and will try to interpret it in a simple manner.
The story starts in the middle of a war. Justice Oliver Holmes has rightly pointed out “Life, in one form or another is always a battle.” It is one thing to utter sweet phrases under the ivory tower and it is quite another to think under fire when vital interests are at stake.
Bhagwad Gita is clearly thinking under fire. Arjuna, the protagonist like us normal human beings, gets confused about his duty before the beginning of the great war. He was a great warrior so fighting was not a problem on his end. His problem was whether it is right to start a fight with his near and dear ones. Therefore, the utmost clarity of fundamental values is at stake.
Lord Krishna asked Arjuna the first basic question, “In these difficult times, where did you get these depressive thoughts from? (Kutastva ka Smalam, idam visame samupasthitam) and then Lord Krishna teaches him the true art of living.
The first thing one has to understand is to find out- what is my duty towards others? What is the best way to perform that duty? And how should I feel after fulfilling my duty?
Bhagwad Gita provides excellent answers to these fundamental questions and in the process reveals the secrets of living an honourable and fulfilling life.
As far as our duty is concerned, it depends upon the context. Since Arjuna was a warrior and fighting for a just cause, his duty was to fight the war as efficiently as possible. Lord Krishna puts it succinctly in one phrase, do your work efficiently, (Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam).
How does one do one’s duty effectively?
Lord Krishna replies that “focus on your duty and not on the results, treat victory and defeat in the same manner, focus on winning and don’t be paralysed by the fear of losing.” For this purpose, your passion should be guided by reason (pragya) and your reason should be guided by God. Therefore, subordinate your reasons and passions to the will of God.
What is the will of God? How do we identify it?
By the will of God, Lord Krishna means understanding the laws of nature because the entire world revolves around the forces of nature. If we understand it in the present context of corona virus, it translates to paying full attention to the requirements of nature while paying adequate homages to the God within us.
Gandhiji explained the meaning of this phrase beautifully- “God made the law of action and retired from the scene. Now, the law of action is operative.”
In these troubled times, people wonder- Where is God? What does he want from us?
Gita provides the answer that any disease is a law of nature and it should be treated as per the requirements of the physical nature of things. For example, by testing, isolating and prevention, God has no role in it. God is neutral after making nature. Do your duty by taking care of yourself and your family.
The final word Lord Krishna says is that after performing your duty, one shouldn’t worry much.
“Do your level best and don’t worry about the rest” is the way to go and meaningful relaxation.