Mahabharata and Ramayana are the two great epics of India. ‘Srimad Bhagwat Geeta’ is a part of Mahabharata – the 25th to 42nd chapters of Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata. In the entire Bhagwat Geeta, there are seven hundred stanzas and 18 chapters. The aim of Lord Krishna’s preaching was to pull out Arjuna from his dejection and despondency. In short, Krishna explains to Arjuna the principles of Reincarnation followed by Immorality. Immorality can be obtained by Karma. Stress is on Detachment and Equanimity. For achieving detachment or renunciation, Knowledge and intellect play an important role.
A Summary Of Bhagvat Gita
Justice Shanker Dayal Khare (Retd), Allahabad, 28.10.1975
We seek happiness. We desire that happiness we sometimes feel may last for ever. Do we succeed? Do we get peace of mind?
Gita throws light on these subjects. We may find its philosophy interesting and useful. There is no harm in giving exercise to our minds in the same manner as we give yogic exercises to our bodies.
Philosophy is simple: – ‘Rely on (your own) Laws and Traditions. Keep on doing deeds as you have been doing them. Do your deeds without hesitation and with complete devotion towards God, and achieve what is generally achieved by such deeds.
Detachment is the doorway to self-realization and to have control over restless mind. If you want peace of mind try not to feel elated with the feeling that you are the doer of the deeds. Dedicate the results of all your deeds to God. Then you should not have any attachment towards the results of your deeds.
In that manner you should reach beyond the scope of the three qualities – (saintly, worldly lethargic).
Have complete faith in the Creator and He will help you in establishing such faith in Himself.
I shall feel happy if some people, like me, find this summary useful.
After both the parties had drawn themselves up in battle array, Arjun, accompanied by Lord Krishna, went to the battle field to see those who have come to oppose the Pandavas (party with just cause) and to support Kaurvas (party with an unjust cause). For Arjun it was most disheartening to see that even his own kith and kin, and very near relations were supporting the unjust cause and opposing the just cause. Was it proper for him to fight all those people, who had come to oppose him? Arjun, in retrospect, said, “NO”. He observed that in such circumstances it was better to be killed than be the killer. The situation being very confusing Arjun asked for the advice of Lord Krishna.
PROCESS OF REASONING
Arjun was advised to put up a fight, because –
- Being a member of the fighting community it was his duty to fight for the right cause. In such a fight death secured Heaven and survival the pleasures of this world.
- It was foolish to think of destroying others in the process. Soul is indestructible. None of the five elements (fire, air, water, earth or sky) is capable of destroying it. Body is, no doubt, destructible. This body, however, does not retain its original form or shape even during one life time. It keeps on changing from childhood to young age and from young age to old age. Death merely changes the form of the body.
- People regard you invincible. You shall fall in their estimates in case you refuse to fight. They shall call you a coward. That shall be worse than death.
- Why worry about the result of the fight? How can the result of any deed be controlled? It is always the best to do a deed and leave the result of the deed to God. That is a well recognized method (of doing deeds without feeling attached to them). It is par excellent. The practice of this method shall lead one to detachment and to the attainment of Salvation. Such deeds bear no fruits, piety or sin
Arjun asked: – “Can a person firmly established in this method of doing deeds be spotted out?”
Lord Krishna replied: – “Yes! Such a person is always fully satisfied with his own soul. Pleasure nor pain, good luck nor bad luck, can ever perturb him. He withdraws his senses from all objects of pleasure and is without any feeling of attachment, fear and anger. Control over mind and practice lead to such a state. Such person devotes himself fully towards God.”
PROCESS OF DEEDS
Arjun asked again: – “When acquisition of wisdom is supreme why should one do deeds, the results of some of which might be dreadful?”
Lord Krishna replied: – The universe and the deeds were created at one and the same time. Everything has to be achieved through deeds. One’s quality determines the nature of one’s deeds. One’s existence even for a moment, is not possible without doing deeds.
One should do only the natural and the prescribed deeds, that should keep him free from the feeling of attachment and envy.
Arjun thereupon asked: – When people do deeds perforce (according their quality) why should those deeds saddle them with sins?”
Lord Krishna replied: – Attachment and envy, born of worldly quality, lead people to partake in sin. Attachment has its abode in senses, mind and intellect. Attachment, with the help of all these three, eclipses wisdom. Senses are strong, mind is stronger and the intellect is strongest of the three. Soul is even more powerful than intellect.
Concentrating on soul, taking the help of one’s intellect and controlling one’s mind and senses, one can destroy ATTACHMENT, which is the supreme enemy.
“I had told about this method (of doing deeds without any feeling of attachment towards them) to Sun when the Universe started. Sun passed on that knowledge to some of his descendants. However for a very long time that method had been forgotten. The same method is repeats to you, my devotee.”
Arjun asked how Lord Krishna could be there at the time the universe started. The reply of Lord Krishna was: –
“God and soul have always existed. God, however, revealed himself only in each era to give relief to the pious minded and destroy the evil-minded. The apparent birth and deeds of God Almighty are most unusual.
Four classifications have been made for the doers of all sorts of deeds. The scriptures (Vedas) contain a description of different kinds of deeds. The attainment of True Knowledge is the ultimate aim of all such deeds. True knowledge can be attained only by devotion service and honest questioning. Those who have already acquired true knowledge must guide others. True knowledge is like a huge ball of fire. It destroys the feeling of attachment and burns out all sins, which are merely the results of attachment. The soul which has acquired True Knowledge gets absolute peace and qualifies for God realization.
After being free from the feeling of attachment and envy, one should remain content with whatever comes in stride. Happiness or unhappiness, or attainment or nonattainmentof his objects should not stir him in the least.Ultimately he is bound to get absolute peace.
OF DOING DEEDS WITHOUT ATTACHMENT
Asked Arjun: – Which of the two is better – the Process of Reasoning or the Process of Deeds?”
The reply was: – Both are equally good and lead to the same result. However the Process of Deeds may be said to be the better of the two. True Knowledge can also be acquired by means of Deeds done without any feeling of attachment. When a person has full control over his mind and body, when his soul has become pure and when he is totally bereft of ego and remains unattached while doing deeds, he can not be bound down to the fruits of his deeds and can never commit any sin. He attains peace.
The doer of deeds without any feeling of attachment keeps on doing deeds for the purification of his soul, but all the time his senses, mind, body and intellect remain free from attachment.
One must consider everybody alike and remain moderate inhabit and behavior. He must remain firm in his belief and strive hard to attain True Knowledge.
The attainment of salvation leads to unending peace and happiness. The quest for worldly pleasures is futile. Worldly pleasures are innumerable, perishable and in themselves sourses of unhappiness. Only those persons can attain peace who are free from the feeling of attachment and envy and who have control over their senses, mind, body and intellect.
UPLIFTING OF SOUL
Lord Krishna said: – A person who does deeds without any feeling of attachment is both a Renouncer and a Doer of Deeds. A person, who has control over his senses, mind, body and intellect has no real interest in preserving or amassing wealth. His continuous effort is only to uplift the Soul.
For purification of Soul practice has to be done in a proper manner. Everything (eating, sleeping. Rest) should be done in moderation. One’s state of mind should be that of a lamp kept at a place where there is no breeze. One must always have faith in his belief and should never feel bored. He is bound to discern the existence of the Supreme Being in all the objects.”
Arjun observed: – “It is not easy to control one’s mind. To attain mastery in such practice must, therefore, be very very difficult”.
The reply was: – “Yes! That is so. But by constant practice one may master it.”
Asked Arjuna: – “That being a long and drawn out process, will not a person engaged in such practice get lost and annihilated in the same manner as a cloud, which disintegrates into nothing?”
Lord Krishna replied: – “No. Each stage reached by constant practice, remains secure. One starts from that stage in the next birth.”
“The acquisition of no other knowledge can be compared to the attainment of Divine Knowledge. It is something grand. One should know what God is.
Every person has two components – the body and the soul. The body is made up of eight elements (earth, water, air, sky, fire, mind, intellect and ego). The other component, which gives life to the system is different.
God is the Creator and the Destroyer of the entire universe. God is present in all the objects. Even the feelings, which beget the three qualities (Saintly, worldly and lethargic) are created by God. A grand illusion is the result of the interplay of these qualities. No one can escape that illusion unless he worships God continuously. One, whose wisdom is eclipsed by illusion, does not worship God.
Four kinds of people worship God. These are of: –
- People in quest of worldly objects,
- People anxious to avert unhappy events,
- People desirous of knowing God, and
- People whose every deed is dedicated to God.
Out of them the fourth class is the best.
People desirous of getting rid of the pangs of rebirth and death must depend only on God.Their faith in Him must be firm.Such a person is not likely to forget God even at the time of his death.
COMMUNION WITH GOD
“A person, who can manage to remember God even at the time of his death, attain salvation. What one thinks during the last moments of his life, determines his status after death. A person, who can restrain his senses from drifting towards the objects of pleasure, who stations his mind firmly in his heart, and his life force in his forehead, who remains firmly established in such practice, thinks of God only and, at the time of his death pronounce His name (OM) is bound to attain Salvation.
The doer of deeds with feeling of attachment towards them can go upto heaven only. He returns to earth after the effect of his pious deeds is over. But one who attains Salvation is not born again. The stage of salvation can be reached only by continuous practice and devotion.
What is time? One day of Supreme Being is equivalent to one thousand eras. Similarly one night of the Supreme Being is also equal to one thousand eras. The Universe was created when the day of the Supreme Being started. It shall get annihilated when the night of Supreme Being starts. The process shall keep on repeating. The Supreme Being alone is undestructable.
There are two clear-cut paths – one leading to God and other leading to ancestors. A doer of deeds, without any feeling of attachment, takes the first path and does not come back to earth. A doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment takes to the second path and comes back to the earth.
A person, who fully knows all this, does not get attached to the results of his deeds. He continuously exercises his mind for the attainment of God. The attainment of this True Knowledge is far Superior to the knowledge of the Sacred Scripts and the doing of penance and charity.”
SUPREME FAITH… MOST SACRED
“The Supreme faith is the king of all other faiths. It is most sacred, very pure, very nice, consistent with everybody’s code of conduct, easy to follow, good for all times and capable of yielding quick results.
The entire universe is full of the Supreme Being in the same manner as ice is full of water. However, neither the Supreme Being is stationed in worldly objects nor are the worldly objects stationed in the Supreme Being.
The Supreme Being is the creator of all worldly objects. It holds them and feeds them. But the Supreme Being is not Stationed in them. To affirm that all the objects are stationed in the Supreme Being is tantamount to affirming that air is stationed in the sky.
The grand illusion, which is the creation of the inter-ply of the three qualities (saintly, worldly and lethargic), coupled with the Grace of God create all worldly objects.
Foolish people, relying on vain hopes, indulging in vain deeds, and attaining vain knowledge, acquire the quality of the demons. They feel attracted by those qualities and adopt them. But saintly people, being of saintly quality, do not do so. On the other hand they worship God with full faith and devotion – either with the feeling of oneness with God, or with a variety of other feelins, such as of master and servant or of the lover and the beloved.
The doer of deeds with a feeling of attachment towards the deeds worships god of his choice and attains his object soon. He can even reach heaven. Ultimately he must return to earth. One worshipping god with full faith attains Salvation. God helps him in establishing his faith in Him.
Faith and continuous devotion turn one into perfect saint. Even a worst sinner may hope to become a saint.”
“God is the creator of all and, therefore, no one can know about the origin of God. It was as a result of a resolve of God that the seven Rishis, the four Sankads and the fourteen Manus, all who control this world, were created. Even the feelings such as wisdom, forgiveness, happiness, power of control over senses and contentment have been created by God.
It is only with the help of one’s own soul stationed in his own heart that he may realize God. God is the beginning, the middle and the end of all. One may realize God by looking at things that are remarkable, full of glory and full of power. All such objects have been created by a fragment of God’s glory. The grand illusion created by him holds the entire universe.
Thus one may reaize the glory of God by thinking of Varun amongst the sons of Aditya, of Sun amongst astrologers, of Shanker amongst the eleven Rudras, of fire amongst the eight Vasus, of sea amongst water, of king amongst men and so on.
The act of continuously repeating the name of God is the king of all the deeds.
Asked Arjun: – Is it possible that I may see you in your true form with all your power, grace and Glory?”
The reply was: – “Yes. But not with the mortal eyes. You can see Me with the divine eyes bestowed by Me.”
The Form then revealed to Arjun had many faces and many eyes. It consisted of a variety of strange forms, all dressed in divine apparels, fully decorated and armed with all sorts of weapons. The entire form looked strange and Limitless. All over it was divine perfume. The brilliance of one thousand suns put together could hardly equal its brilliance. All parts of the universe could be seen in that Form. The Supreme Being, the Rishis and the divine serpants were also in that Form. One could neither see nor perceive its beginning, its middle and its end. Arjun described it thus: –
“I cannot see its beginning, its middle or its end. Eyes are like Sun and Moon. Mouths are like burning fires. It contains the Earth, the Heaven, the intervening sky and all the directions. Everybody is getting afraid after seeing this Limitless Form. It has many facets, is very bright and touches the sky. All that can be seen around is annihilation. All the known warriors are seen entering its fierce mouths and getting perished therein. Who are you?” asked Arjun.
The reply was: – “I am Time (the destroyer) and am here to annihilate this world. All these warriors are bound to be killed. Be the means, attain victory and rule your kingdom.”
Arjun told Lord Krishna that like others he too had lost his bearings and was not finding peace and solace. He requested him to show his Chaturbhuj (Human with four hands) Form.
Lord Krishna revealed to him his Chaturbhuj Form also and told him that none had seen it before and none of two forms could be seen by Penance, Charity, practice or knowledge of scriptures.
Arjun asked: – “What is better … worship of the abstract or the worship of God after ascribing him a Form?”
The reply was: – “The first is more advanced form of meditation andtherefore, more difficult. People, who themselves have forms, find it easier to worship God after ascribing to Him a Form. Otherwise both the methods are correct.
There is yet another method which is simpler and easier. Have perfect faith in God, devote yourself to God and dedicate all your deeds to God. Very soon you will be relieved from this turmoil of the sea of death.
Try to have perfect devotion with the aid of Mind and intellect. Mind should be applied towards devotion by continuous practice. If that process is difficult try to do all your deeds for the sake of God only. If you find that process also difficult try to feel no attachment towards the results of the deeds. That, by itself, will result in the attainment of peace.
Do not think ill of others. Have love for others without regard of personal gain. There should be no ego. Happiness and unhappiness should be considered alike. Try to forgive even your enemy. Be content. Have control over senses, mind and body.Have absolute faith in God and fully devote your mind and intellect to Him.
Do not stir commotion in others. Do not permit others to stir any commotion in you. Be free from ambition and grief. Do not take sides. Complete the work for which you are destined.
Avoid feeling exceedingly happy about anything. Avoid feeling envious. Have no desire. Never repent. Leave the fruits… good or bad … of all your deeds to God.
Remain steady whether you be among friends or amongst enemies. Regard honour or dishonor alike. Have no craving for heat or cold, happiness or unhappiness. Be free from attachment. Regard praise and abuse alike. Remain content. Have a steady mind. That should be your code of conduct.”
BODY AND SOUL…. DIFFERENCE
“So many questions crop up. What are you? Are you the body or are you the soul? Is your body part of something bigger, brighter and better? Why has it been separated from bigger body? Where in lies the salvation of soul?
What is body? What is soul? How body and soul get together? What is the cause of rebirth?
True knowledge is to know the answers of these questions. The body consists of five elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky), ego plus intellect plus the illusion created by the interplay of the three qualities (Saintly. Worldly and Lethargic), plus ten organs (skin, smell, taste, speech, ears, eyes, hands, feet, genital organs and anus), plus the feelings (desire, jealousy, happiness, unhappiness, awareness and aim), plus rest of the body. The forms may be different, but these component parts in each body are the same.
It is the Supreme Being, who puts life into the body. The Supreme Being has no beginning and no end and is beyond the scope of three qualities and the ten senses enumerated above. But He knows their working. The Supreme Being is all pervading but without any (feeling of) attachment. It is all pervading like the sky or the rays of the sun.
Life is created when the Supreme Being comes into contact with body. The part of the Supreme Being that enters body, gets attached to the body by means of the three qualities (saintly, worldly, Lethargic) to which it has become firmly attached.
The Supreme Being is beyond the scope and the influence of the aforesaid three qualities. The separate flame of life (soul) in order to be one with the Supreme Being, has to attain similar status – it has also to reach beyond the scope of three qualities. Then only the Salvation is possible.
DIVISION INTO THREE QUALITIES
“What is your aim?” True wisdom or right course of action? If that be so follow the course of saintly quality and all that it implies. It will lead you to contentment and wisdom. After death you shall attain Heaven and coming back to this earth you shall be born in good family.
In case your aim is to attain worldly objects follow the course of ‘Worldly’ quality and attain all it implies. It will create greed in you, make you work hard for the attainment of your objects. Take you through the illusion of success and ultimately leave you unhappy. After death you eill be born amongst the people of the same quality.
In case you cannot raise yourself beyond useless efforts and seek lethargic or idle pleasure, follow the course of ‘Lethargic’ quality and all that it implies. If you die in that stage, you may be born low, even as an insect or a cattle.
By making effort you can change over from one quality to another. Suppress ‘worldly’ quality and ‘Lethargic quality in yourself and you will attain ‘Saintly’ quality in abundance. Similarly if you suppress the ‘saintly” quality and the ‘Lethargic’ quality in yourself, you will get the ‘worldly quality in abundance. Suppress both the ‘saintly’ quality and the ‘worldly’ quality in yourself and much of what would be left in you would be the ‘Lethargic’ quality.
If your aim is to achieve Supreme Nectar, Supreme righteousness and the everlasting Bliss, try to be one with God. For that you have got to leave the feeling of attachment behind and go beyond the ambit of the three qualities. One need not hate or despise any of these three qualities. However, to be one with God and attain everlasting Bliss, one has just to leave them behind.
TO BE ONE WITH THE SUPREME BEING
“If you have a look at the tree of life, you will find everything tipsy tarvy. The roots are above and the branches are below. Down below, the growth is luxurious and it spreads in all directions. But there is no firmness in the branches.
The root is the Supreme Being. The branches, spreading downwards, are watered by the three qualities and their growth reaches all directions.
The main branches are of saintly people, of worldly people and of Lethargic people, Desire, attachment and ego keep the people of each branch fastened to their own branch, and its subsidiary growths. The directions of these growths is determined by the deeds of the people. Mind and senses are the feeders of these branches.
One should never forget his main root and keep on thinking what is best for him. He should prune all the unnecessary growths. For that the only weapon available is the feeling of non attachment. After having finished the pruning you shall be able to concentrate on the main root.
Soul is eternal. Body is perishable. God alone is worth knowing. Take the help of scriptures, purify yourself and make further effort. It is only then that you can attain True Knowledge. Without purifying oneself it is not possible to attain True Knowledge. Effort otherwise is useless.
After one has got away from the unrealities of life and become one with the Supreme Being, there can be no rebirth.”
NATURE …DIVINE AND DEMONLIKE
“One should always act according to Laws and Traditions, and take their guidance, otherwise nothing shall be achieved. The feelings of attachment, greed and anger are tree doors that lead to Hell. Avoid them.
The saintly nature consists of :- (1) Fearlessness, (2) Cleanliness of mind and body, (3) Devotion towards God, (4) Acquisition of true knowledge, (5) Suppression of the senses, (6) Study of scriptures, (7) Recitation of God’s name, (8) Taking pain in following one’s own code of conduct, (9) Simplicity of mind, inner self and senses, (10)Non-violence in all its forms, (11) Speaking Truth in a pleasant manner, (12) Absense of anger, (13) Non attachment, (14) Peace of mind, (15) Not speaking ill of others, (16) Kindness towards all, (17) Forgiveness, (18) Patience, (19) Lack of ego and (20) Feeling ashamed while doing something against Laws or Traditions.
The demon-like nature manifests itself in (1) the show off, (2) pride, (3) ego, (4) anger, (5) harsh words, (6) lack of knowledge and (7) falsehood.
People having the nature of demons think that there is no one on whom they can rely, that the world is without any Truth and without any Supreme Being, that the main object of life is to enjoy, and it is because men and women get together that children are born. The acquisition of wealth is their main aim and they are unmindful of the means, which may be fair or foul. They remain very attached towards the results of their deeds. They remain tied down to the ropes of vain hopes. They seek happiness but in its place they get worry and restlessness. They feel that they are strong and shall be able to subjugate their enemies. They consider themselves superior to others. They act even against Laws and traditions. They are sinful and cruel towards others. They are the cause of their own degradation and go down towards dirty Hell.
Saintly Nature leads to Salvation and demon like nature to bondage.
THREE KINDS OF FAITH
Arjun asked, “Why is it that one should act according to Laws and Traditions? Is perfect faith and devotion not quite enough? What is the quality of a person having perfect faith and devotion?
Lord Krishna replied: – Perfect faith (confidence) or devotion (sincerity) is a must for the achievement of any object…be it for this world or for the next. It is better if it is of saintly quality. The quality of a person determines also the nature of his faith and devotion. A saintly person, while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct, follows Laws and Traditions.
Food habits and deeds of persons of three different qualities are of three different kinds. A saintly person will eat person will eat saintly food, do saintly deeds, penance and charity and have saintly faith and devotion. A worldly quality will eat worldly food, do worldly deeds, penance and charity, and have worldly faith and devotion. A person of Lethargic quality will prefer food creating lethargy, do lethargic deeds, penance and charity and lethargic faith and devotion. Thus the faith and devotion of persons of each class will differ materially from the faith and devotion of other two classes. In each sphere a member of any particular class will follow the pattern of his own quality.
The Supreme Being is called by three names. When a good deed is started in His name, He is called “Om”. When one dedicates his deeds to God, he calls Him by the name “Tat”. In ultimate analysis, the name of the Supreme Being is “Sat” (Truth).
SALVATION BY RENUNCIATION
“There need not be renunciation of deeds. It is enough if renunciation is of the feeling (1) that one himself is the door of the deeds and (2) of attachment towards the results of the deeds. This latter kind of renunciation is excellent and most desirable.
Penance and Charity, being good acts, need not be given up. Such acts, if done in a saintly manner, purify the inner self. Other deeds may have defects. But they too need not be given up. It is enough if the feeling of attachment towards the results of those deeds is given up. And renounced. There after those deeds become non-deeds and yield no result – nether piety nor sin.
Even the renunciation of the feeling of attachment towards the results of the deeds is of three kinds. Similarly the deeds, the doer, the intellect, the aim and the happiness are of three kinds each.
If doing a saintly deed, there is no pride in the doer, and there is no wish for the results of the deeds. It is done without any feeling of attachment and without any anger.
The effect of these three qualities on the Society has been to divide it into four classes – the intelligentsia, the warrior class, the traders and the doers of rough work. The work of each class is different, but in itself, it is neither good nor bad. Any person, to whatever classification, he belongs, may attain salvation while doing deeds according to his own code of conduct. The method, which shall have to be adopted, is to convert deeds into non-deeds by giving up the feeling of attachment towards the results of his deeds. When that stage is reached, the deed of that person will turn into a big zero resulting for him neither in piety nor in sin.
As long as one confines himself to deeds strictly in accordance with his own code of conduct, he cannot commit any sin. However, if he tries to deeds according to the code of conduct meant for others, all that he will experience is fear. One should follow well his own code of conduct. That is the easiest method of achieving salvation.
Remain unattached and thereby convert all your deeds into non deeds, acquire pure wisdom, lead quiet and healthy life, eat light food, be the master of your mind, body and speech, give up anger, control the inner-self and devote yourself to God. Give up pride, reliance on body force, ego, desire and anger. Thus, even while doing all sorts of deeds according to your own code of conduct, you shall attain inner peace and ultimately salvation.”
Closing the sermon, Lord Krishna asked: – “Have you got rid of your false notions? You will not be able to rise above your inherent quality because of these false notions. You are of warrior class and that quality of yours will assert itself and lead you to war.
Listen to my teachings once again. Think of me alone. Have faith only in Me. Have respect for Me always. I love you, I promise that ultimately you shall attain salvation.”
Arjun replied: – “All my false notions are gone. I have become wise. I shall act as directed by you.”
Note 1 – Karma Yog leads to Yoga Budhhi (True intellect) and Yoga Budhhi to Sankhya Budhhi (Salvation). Karma Yog includes in itself – (1) Balanced mind (Samatva Budhhi), (2) Path of righteousness (Sva-dharma Buddhi), (3) Devotion (Samarpan Budhhi), work not to satisfy ones own ego or anybody else’s, (4) Detatchment (Asang Budhhi) and (5) Whatever comes, accept it (Prasaad Buddhi).
Note 2 – Gita prescribes for ‘action’/’deed’ combined with intellect. There are choices before human beings – take action with developed mind/intellect or action with weak mind, bridled with desire, based on emotion, impulse, hatred, greed and selfishness. It quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontent. Intellect needs to be developed to make mind rational. A mind governed by intellect makes a person calm and content.
Note 3 – Dr. K. V. Swaminathan, an eminent Scientist, Engineer, Technocrat engaged in Technology transfer and above all a man well-versed in the knowledge of the Holy book of Hindus, ‘Bhagwat Gita’ has analyzed and synthesized Gita in just 37 verses. These are grouped in three parts.
A set of nine principles can be chosen, each explaining a principle to be learnt from Gita, are put in the pack of 27 stanzas selected from the 573 stanzas from Gita. These nine principles are inherent in Hindu philosophy. The foundation is laid for doing one’s duty. In each segment, the three stanzas selected come from different chapters of Gita. The principle in the first stanza of each segment is reinforced by the following two stanzas –
- Recognition of the greatness
It tells that senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. It tells : Knowledge is better than ‘abhyas’ (practice) meditation is better than knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation because peace immediately follows.
The first part consists of 7 stanzas, which he called ‘Sapta Sloka Bhagwad Gita’. These are the first stanzas of Dhritrashtra (pronounces only one stanza in the entire Gita of 700 stanzas), Sanjaya, Arjun and Lord Krishna together with the last stanzas of Lord Krishna, Arjuna and Sanjaya.
These seven stanzas briefly states : Dritrashtra asks Sanjay to report what is happening at the battle field; Sanjay immediately starts reporting; Arjuna asks to place his chariot in the middle of the battlefield and on seeing those arrayed Arjuna is choked with emotion and refuses to fight; Lord Krishna admonishes him for his feebleness and advises him in great length about his duties; Lord then asks him whether he has understood what he had advised him. Arjuna responds that he has recovered from his delusion and is now ready to fight; ans Sanjay concludes predicting victory where Lord Krishna will be there.
The principal lessons to be learnt from Bhagwad Gita and come out of delusion are a set of nine principles as following –
- Principle of non-duality – The ‘Creator’ (God) and the ‘Creation (every living thing in this world) is an integral part of the same ‘Parmatma’/God/Creator, therefore inter-linked.
- Reincarnation – (described in stanzas – 22nd of II Chapter, 43rd of VI Chapter 19th of VII Chapter) After several births and deaths of body, one can reach a state of immortality. A person is reborn depending on his deeds of previous birth.
- Immortality/Salvation – (Stanza 9 of Chapter IV, Stanza 13 of Chapter VIII and Stanza 12 of Chapter XIII) The final objective of all humans is to reach to the state of ‘Moksha’ or immortality – getting free from the cycle of multiple rebirths and deaths. In order to reach that status, one should do one’s duties.
- Karma – (Stanza 47 of II Chapter, 11 of V chapter and 47 of XVII Chapter) This is perhaps the centre piece of Bhagwat Gita. Everyone has a role to play in ones life as per one’s karmas and destiny. One must know truth about action, inaction and wrong action. Actions should be free from desire.While performing one’s duty/action, one should develop detachment – indicating, one should not bother for fruits of Action.
- Detachment – (Stanza 62 of Chapter II, Stanza 19 of Chapter III, and Stanza 22 of Chapter V) – Association with sense object breeds attachment, attachment begets desire and desire covers knowledge by passion and generates anger. Men are mislead or indulge themselves in wrong actions when their knowledge is covered by ignorance. By conquering mind, one can do his duties. Therefore he should constantly use his mind and intellect and keep himself free from desires or expect fruits of action.
- Equanimity – (Stanza 14 of Chapter II, Stanza 22 of Chapter IV and Stanza 7 of chapter IV) Contact of senses with objects create feelings like cold and heat, pain or pleasures. These feelings are temporary in nature. By conquering the Mind One should try to be equanimous by overcoming the influence of the “pair of opposites” like heat or cold; pleasure or pain and honor or dishonor. A person who is satisfied with what naturally comes by, can remain cool to success and failure of his action. A self-controlled person can overcome and remain unaffected by all pairs of opposites – pain and pleasure; or praise ridicule.
- Knowledge – (Stanza 42 of Chapter III, Stanza 35 of of Chapter IV and Stanza 16 of Chapter V) Desire is the enemy. It covers mind with passion. Passion is seated in sense organs, mind and even intellect. Therefore, one should first contrl the senses and all sinful passions. As per Gita, senses are superior to the body, mind is superior to the senses and knowledge or intellect is superior to the mind. (Stanza 42 of Chapter III)
- Renunciation – (Stanza 21 of Chapter IV, Stanza 13 of Chapter V and Stanza 12 of Chapter XII) Normally people worship God wishing for rewards. One should not seek fruits for actions. Wise persons know truth about action, inaction and wrong action. They conquer their minds and do not care for material objects, pleasures and desires. They do their duties and do not seek fruits for their actions. Gita tells: knowledge is better than abhyas (practice), meditation is better than knowledge and renunciation of the fruits of action is still better than meditation as peace immediately follows such renunciation. (Stanza 12 of Chapter XII)
- Four stages in life – For living life fully and fruitfully and aging gracefully, everyone one has to pass through four stages of life and perform different duties in different stages of life – before marriage learning; married life raising a family as householder; delegation of authority to next generation and spending time in contemplation; and after fulfilling familial liabilities, complete detachment and renunciation of worldly pleasures. Detachment frees an individual from the fear of birth and death.
- Tolerance and acceptance/interdependence – Hindu philosophy values interdependence, acceptance and tolerance as – (a) It accepts that there are different paths leading to God and be humane; (b)It gives complete liberty to worship any god or goddess of their choice, as well as use their own methods of worship; (c)It does not impose its own codes of conduct on other faiths; (d) It is liberal enough to see atheism as a legitimate pursuit.
- Avatars – The Supreme power visits earth from time to time in some form to make human-beings free from evil and tend them follow virtue. So far, according to Hindu mythology human evolution began with Matsyavatar (fish), then to Kurma (tortoise));Varaha (wild boar); Narsimha (half animal half mam); Vamana (dwarf); Parushrama with axe (tool); Rama the Maryadapurusha; Krishna the playful and serious avatar; and ninth, Budha the enlightened one. It is now expecting 10th avatar in the form of Kalki, a genetically supreme bionic man. (Quoted from ‘Know your religion through its philosophy by Prakash Shesh, the Speaking tree, TOI, p. 20)
On the occasion of birth-anniversary, we pay homage to Lal Bahadur Shastri, who not only understood the value of the invaluable services of our farmers and armed forces, but also appreciated it – farmers who work hard to feed about one and a half crore people of India, and our soldiers who without caring for their sleep and comforts defend our country from external aggression. Today every Indian feels proud for the surgical operation done by Indian army on 29th September in POK to destroy terrorists’ training centres. No doubt, the health, wealth and prosperity of the nation depends on their efficient performance.
The ideals and sacrifices of India’s Second Prime Minister, (1964-1966) Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri, has set an example for today’s political leaders, as to how through simplicity, modesty, firmness and commitment to the cause of the poor and downtrodden, they can identify themselves with the common-men, Jawans (soldiers) and Kisans (farmers) of India.
Feeling of being not treated fairly in Armed Forces – In recent past, a feeling in armed forces is growing that they are being treated unfairly by the authorities. The nation does not pay due regards to the sacrifices, they make for the safety and security of the nation and peaceful living of the people of India– they give up their today, so that others could sleep peacefully throughout the nation. Armed forces, while living in remote areas continuously take care of the safety and security of the nation from external aggression, and help the people at the times of natural disasters or internal aggression.
The Armed Forces feel hurt, not so much about the monetary benefits, but because of status of Armed forces in the hierarchy of service and command, vis-a-vis other civilian government services. Over the last 15-20 years, it has slowly declined in stature and relative importance and positioning vis-à-vis other government services. Civil services due to their proximity to political powers have put armed forces under total subservience of political and civil authorities and left them in cold.
Position of Farmers – Also, drought and debt continue to claim lives of a number of farmers in India. The administration has not been able to reach to farmers and find solutions for their genuine problems. Consequent to untimely and sudden demise of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, Shastriji with his quality leadership and the nation confronted with many critical issues like food shortage, rising prices, language riots and the mounting threats of aggression from China and Pakistan. At that time, Lal Bahadur Shastri, then the Prime Minister of India had taken many challenging decisions and dealt effectively during that crucial hour of Indian history. It would have unnerved even a seasoned leader. His good governance and efficient leadership enabled India to undergo a smooth transition, consolidating on the gains of freedom even further.
An Exemplary National Leader, Lal Bahadur Shastri
After the sad demise of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Prime Minister of India on June 9, 1964. At that time nobody thought that Shastriji would prove to be a tower of strength, an astute politician and a man gifted with rare qualities of head and heart. People were skeptical about his being a worthy successor of Pt. Nehru as the Prime Minister of India. Some had the feeling that he was simple and too modest a person and, as such, he would be eclipsed by the Congress Party’s Syndicate. But soon they were disillusioned when K. Kamraj, the then Congress President, went all out to get him elected as the leader of the Congress Party and the Prime Minister of India.
It was not long before when the people realized that his modesty was due to the traditional Indian refinement and not a symptom of lack of firmness or courage. He believed that Prime Minister’s own functions and responsibilities could not be shared by others and in no case by persons outside the government, however high and mighty they be in the party hierarchy. It was not in his blood to be any Tom Dick and Harry’s satellite or henchman. He proved to the world that he was not a prisoner of indecisiveness and could act on his own, however, formidable the task might be.
Even as Prime Minister, he kept himself away from the bed of roses. From the very inception, he was confronted with ticklish problems. He inherited the legacy of thorny issues like food shortage, rising prices, language riots and last but not the least the mounting threats of aggression from China and Pakistan. He took many challenging decisions, which otherwise would have unnerved even seasoned leaders. He won the hearts of his countrymen by virtue of his humble yet firm handling of national problems. His transparent honesty, unimpeachable integrity, love with the masses and unassuming identification with progressive ideas and forces endeared him to all and sundry.
Shastriji was sure that the finances of the country could be improved only its economy was planned in a more rational and scientific manner. He accorded high priority to agriculture. But he attached equal importance to industry. In his view, the improved agriculture and industry alone could take the country on the road to prosperity.
He believed that the shattered confidence of the people could be restored through the welfare schemes and the Five-Year Plans yielding concrete and immediate results for the well-being of common-men. In this context Shastriji said, “The strain that have shown up in the recent months cannot be ignored. I believe that first task is to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical to the millions. I have, therefore, suggest that planning should be geared up to face these primary needs, at the same time as we pursue other goals.”
Shastriji established Food-grains Trading Corporation to purchase grains within the country at remunerative prices and to distribute it equitably. An Agricultural Price Commission was set up to fix a reasonable margin of price to be enforced at wholesalers and retailers’ level with due consideration to the cost involved in processing, storage and transport etc. Implementation of Minor Irrigation Programs received special attention and the Chief Ministers of States were directed to improve the output of crops. Various steps were taken to bring about coordination of administrative activities at different levels e.g. Central, State, District, Block and Village. Coordination Committees were set up both at Cabinet and Secretariat levels in the States for discussion to expedite the development programs relating to the departments of Agriculture, Irrigation, Revenue, Animal Husbandry, Cooperation, Community Development, Panchayats etc.
Shastriji gave a number of slogans, namely “Self-Reliance”, “Grow More Food”, “Miss a meal”, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan” etc., to boost the morale of the peasants and jawaans in particular and the people of the country in general. He appealed to the nation to lend a hand in solving the problem of food shortage. All-out efforts were made to hasten self-sufficiency in food. Steps were also taken to control prices of essential commodities. He made available to the common man, the essential goods at fair price shops. Successful programs were instituted to control the sky-rocking prices and unearth the vast quantities of black money.
Shastriji laid great emphasis on administrative reforms. A campaign was launched to curb the evil of corruption and mal-practices. He took deterrent action against black-marketers, hoarders, and foreign exchange racketeers. He accepted most of the recommendations of the ‘Santhanam Committee’ to make an end of the corrupt practices on war footing. He drew a code of conduct for the Ministers, according to which they had to disclose to the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers in the state, their assets and liabilities every year. It also laid down ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for raising funds by the political parties.
Within twenty four hours of the Das Commission’s adverse report against Pratap Singh Kairon, the then the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shastriji took drastic action and asked him to resign his post. It was a remarkable feat of smooth-sailing with which the succession question in the Punjab was handled by him and Comrade Ram Kishan was made Chief Minister of Punjab.
The firm action he took in the case of Sri T.T. Krishmachari proved to be the hit that whenever necessity arose. Shastriji was capable of taking very harsh decisions without fear or favour. He accepted Mr. Krishmachary’s resignation after Mundra episode and without loss of time, he appointed his successor.
The fierce language riots in the South were a threat to the unity and integrity of the country. The handling of the grave situation called for statesmanship, imagination and determination. The Government has to make sure that any measure taken to pacify South did not have repercussions elsewhere in the country. As a sequel to the disturbances in the South, the Prime Minister convened a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the States; and with the emerging consensus, it was decided to introduce Hindi for official purposes without displacing English until people in non-Hindi speaking areas were willing for a change-over. The language crisis thus blew over without much ado.
Shastriji’s participation in the Non-Aligned Summit held in Cairo was his first big international event. It was a resounding success. His 5-Point Peace Plan presented at this Conference was not only received with enthusiasm from all concerned at his historic conference, but also formed in a large measure the basis of the final resolution passed on the ‘International Peace’. It brought him laurals and recognition as a protagonist of world peace and peaceful co-existence.
His displayed wisdom, grit and determination against the Pakistan infiltration in the Rann of Kutch and Jammu and Kashmir. He repelled the attacks by force of arms and led India to victory in the battle-field. A ceasefire was brought about with the good offices of the British Government.
Pakistan, after sometime, again intruded into the Indian Territory in a more planned manner than ever before. Shastriji once again picked up the gauntlet. Throughout the three week war with Pakistan, he continued fighting and did not look back. His cool composure and unambiguous strong language of his statements and broadcasts to the nation from time to time boosted up the morale of the brave Indian soldiers against Pakistan’s wanton aggression. In this context, Shastriji said, “India’s faith in peace is unshakeable. With us, it is a matter principle and not of expediency. But adherence to peace does not mean that we should not take up arms to defend ourselves when attacked. Let us not slacken our efforts and activities. We must remain alert and vigilant. All the people of India should be ready and determined to defend the Motherland in any emergency with all their hearts and all their might. … when freedom is threatened and territorial integrity is endangered, there is only one duty, the duty to meet the challenge with all our might.”
Shastriji’s rejection of the “Three-day” Chinese ultimatum was equally irrevocable. It called the Peking’s bluff and their ultimatum and their ultimatum fizzled out. After the crisis was over, Shastriji’s addressing the nation inter alia observed, If the experience of the recent past hold any lesson for us all, it is that we must endeavor to be as self-reliant as possible. In the ultimate analysis, it is the strength of the nation itself which matters more and which is our best safeguard.”
In January, 1966, when Shastriji, as Prime Minister of India, went to Tashkent to hold talks with President Ayub of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of USSR, there he played his cards well as an astute negotiator. And after in-depth discussion and exchange of views with the other two stalwarts, he signed the historic, ‘Tashkent Declaration’. It was sheer irony of fate that he did not live to enjoy the fruits of his pyrrhic victory over Pakistan.
There is no doubt that Shastriji as Prime Minister of India in his brief tenure of 18 months, not only brought about unity in the country but also put it on the road of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. He left to his heirs a richer legacy than he himself had inherited. His sagacious and Herculean efforts earned respect for him and for his country.
(This post was published in Saga of Lal Bahadur Shastri, pp. 222 to 224 in 1987 under the title ‘Dharti Ka Lal, released by then the Prime Minister Sri Rajiv Gandhi)
- Development Administration
- Wisdom/Enlightenment and empowerment
- Rights and duties
- Role of Bureaucracy in good governance
- India – Unity in Diversity
- Fusion of many cultures in India
- Theory of biological Evolution
- Dalit Assertion, A Journey from ‘Shudras’to Outcastes, to’Panchamas’ and to ‘Dalits’
- Untouchables (“Dalits” of modern India) in Ancient India
- Happiness in life
- Census operations
- Good Governance