Bhagavad Gita as a Philosophical Guide

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The Bhagavad Gita, one of the most important scripture of Hinduism, is part of Bhisnu Purva of the Mahabharata, considered to be the greatest spiritual books the world has ever known. It is written in Sanskrit and has been translated into virtually every language. The Gita shows path to the lost, the ignorant, answer to the confused and wisdom to all.

 

The primary purpose of the Bhagavad- Gita is to illuminate all of humanity the realization of the true nature of divinity; for the highest spiritual conception and the greatest material perfection is to attain love of God. It is a book conveying lessons of philosophy, religion and ethics, it teaches every human being the art of living, the way of life. According to William Von Humboldt, the Gita is ‘the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue’.

 

Although, it is a scripture of Hinduism it is acceptable to all religions of the world because its teachings are very practical and universal. It teaches us how to live with things, beings and experiences that we come across in our daily life. If we really understand what is taught, we will be able to use it. It gives us the knowledge which has practical fruitfulness in our daily life. It is said in the Gita as ‘Jnatva Sastravidhanoktam Karma Kartumiharhasi’, which means ‘Having understood what is stated in the scriptures, act accordingly.’

 

If we do not act according to our knowledge and understanding, there is a danger that our knowledge and understanding will start changing, coloured by our actions. So, Mahatma Gandhi calls it ‘the Universal Mother, whose door is wide open to anyone who knocks’. By the teaching of Bhagavad Gita, we can know our self and duty, the real nature of the worldly pleasure and pain or any other emotional activity. It also helps find the path by which one can transcend from it and get the highest moral path and truth. It guide us for a good and a spiritual life. So, Lokamanya Tilak calls it the most luminous and priceless gem which gives peace to afflicted souls and makes us masters of spiritual wisdom.

 

As a philosophical guide, ‘The Bhagavad Gita’ plays an important role in society. A philosophical guide is like a spiritual magnifying glass, enabling us to discern the external and internal elements that cloud our vision and bring error in our understanding. What we find in the works of philosophical masters are living truths which speak of mundane problems as well as spiritual needs of our day. Persons who grow spiritually are able to interpret and transmit master pieces in words and tones that resonate with the minds and hearts of that very being.

 

The Bhagavad Gita is the discourse between Lord Krishna and Arjun before the start of the Kurushetra war. It is the guidance of Lord Krishna that helped Arjuna change his perspective about life and his life path. Though the Gita is thousands of years old the knowledge inherent in its verses makes it a timeless guide to everyone. It is the light of life and saves humanity from darkness of ignorance and suffering. It can help us gain a deep insight into the how’s and why’s of life. And, assimilating the teachings of the Gita will encourage the habit of self-inquiry and guide us towards adopting a pragmatic approach or practical usefulness to life.

 

In general, people are bounded by the affection of abstract things in the world. In this, binding people cannot find out the spiritual truth in their life. But, our philosophical guide or philosophical masterpiece shows how human beings can free themselves from the valueless affection. In the time of Kurushetra War, Shri Krishna said to Arjuna- “Everything stands for God and you see only God and expecting Him everywhere and in everything, you lack the (inner) birth.” Like Arjuna, we are tempted to throw up our hands, claiming that all struggle is senseless, we cannot hope to make any discernible difference in this vast conflagration. It is at this critical point within our experience when God makes clear to us that He is present everywhere in our lives and His Divine plan is an utmost importance for every human being or for entire mankind. Through this, Krishna reveals Himself as the Divine, one who controls all human history, past and present, the Godhead in whom all persons live and move and have their being. As the Supreme Creator of the Universe, He discloses Himself, when tyranny threatens to undermine humankind.

 

The Divine made human also reveals himself as the higher consciousness within us. He makes it clear to us that human life is the purpose of discovering our inner Divine soul and progressively identifying with our higher being. The first lesson as we must learn is in our struggle for the betterment of humankind, we are not to have an egoistic involvement in the fruits of our labour. Our responsibility is to carry out what we are assigned to do according to our lights and gifts, in such a manner that have the best chance for success. But, it is not for us to complain when our actions do not result in immediate or discernible differences as it is equally counterproductive to become puffed up with personal pride whom our struggle prevails. Acting that concerns with God’s overall plan as best we understand it, we are to work for the preservation and betterment of humankind, not our own self-satisfaction and conceit.

In Gita, Shri Krishna says to Arjuna, “You must act, according to your right, there is no way to escape your moral dilemma through pretending to exist on a higher plan of scholastic or religious detachment.”  We should do our work without worrying about its results. When we work for getting a result from a particular action, we can’t really be our best in it. So, just doing our work without really thinking about its result should be our motive.

The teaching of Gita is that humankind must remain in the world of human endeavour and struggle while continually developing a more comprehensive understanding of and unity with the higher consciousness with the God. True seekers do not struggle for humankind’s evolution for the purpose of gaining the personal reward for realisation of their higher consciousness, they surrender their actions to the Supreme Being, thereby becoming a part of His Divine plan for the universe. Even while working to achieve unity with the Highest Being or the Supreme Reality, we gain the understanding that we are actually not the actual ‘doer’ of our own actions, that our very lives are an expression of the higher being.

 

We attain such higher understanding of our participation in higher being by achieving a transcendent perspective that allows us to view our lives and the whole panorama of human existence from a more than personal view point.

 

Though, the Bhagavad Gita is a holy book it shows a high philosophy for all, for every nation, for every race, and for every man and woman, whatever be their spiritual level and capacity.  It is called the philosophical Guide or philosophical treatise of life because the path or way that is found in the Bhagavad Gita is the path of moderate, medium, golden path through which all can realize their inner nature. It is a formula to attained ultimate freedom, knowledge and bliss. Its uniqueness is that it rises above temporal questions and reveals the dynamic way by which one may achieve perfection of the self or self-realisation. There is not a single verse in the whole composition that is concerned with sustenance of physical life.

 

A verse in the Bhagavad Gita says, “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. The power of God is with you at all times; through the activities of mind, senses, breathing, and emotions; and is constantly doing all the work using you as a mere instrument. A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.”

 

Author is a Research Scholar, Centre for Studies in Philosophy, Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh, Assam.