Isn’t learning Gita from book or Internet is enough?

Isn’t learning Gita from book or Internet is more than enough, given that there are elaborate commentaries and various versions of Gita available?

If we go by the google search or the dictionary meaning, we would get into trouble. For eg; in Gita, the word “buddhi” is used as intelligence, knowledge and a means of knowledge. Atma is used with reference to body, some other places mind, some other places jiva and in other places as Atma (Self) itself. So we need an Acharya. He can explain what it actually means. An Acharya is important in connecting various parts of Gita and putting it in right perspective. Guru is a must.

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Arjuna was very cultured and intelligent. He had studied all Dharma Sastras. Sri Krishna was just removing the clouds of his mind so that the sun shine will be visible. Arjuna raises so many questions, Sri Krishna answers all of them. While reading, many of us don’t even understand the question itself; forget about the answer of Sri Krishna. In fact at the end of the chapter Arjuna declares that he is doubt free and will execute his duty efficiently. After studying Gita usually we don’t even come to that level.

When there are questions about Gita, the Acharya can help us in properly understanding the question. Actually, the Acharya is trying to explain that which can’t be understood by the body, mind or intellect – which is beyond our recognition. There are hundreds of Mahatmas who have experienced this truth – in every century there have been many Mahatmas who have declared this truth to the world.

A Guru who has seen more than what we could, will be able to correct our vision. A Guru who has seen the truth will be able to do that. With faith in the Acharya, we could try to follow the path shown by him/her. For example, in order to show the moon, the Acharya will point his finger towards the white light at night. The child may not understand what he is pointing to, but the Acharya  will remove all his doubts and take his gaze towards the goal. Similarly, Gita and Sastras are pointers to this truth and we have to go beyond the words by tuning to the Guru. Every Acharya explains in his own style, which is his own freedom, but Gita remains the same. Gita supplies the message to everyone – child, parents, sanyasins or anyone for that matter.

In the study of Gita, the enquiry should be ignited. When enquiry comes, Guru will be there to guide.

Do we pass or get job by learning Gita?

NO. A job is not assured even after graduating, doing post-graduation and so on. The purpose of learning Gita is not to get a job.  Only if you study you will get marks.  Only if you pass you will be placed on job. In that process even if you fail or you get one or two marks less than you expected, you will not commit suicide if you have the wisdom of Gita.

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The benefit of learning Gita is how to do the job properly and efficiently in a relaxed way. All with a smile. Then success shall be yours.

 

 

 

Gita is for the old and dead. Not for us

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This is another misconception people usually have about Gita. First of all, let us look at whom was Gita told to – Arjuna. Arjuna who wanted to achieve something in life, for which he had been preparing all along his life. Gita was given to him and not for an old person. Gita was given to a person who wanted to achieve something in life and was ready to act for it. So, it is not for the old. Upon learning Gita properly, we will understand that it is extremely useful in our day to day life.

Gita is not an old Sanskrit text that you need to by-heart and read. It is a set of values, principles and instructions which when followed, one becomes successful in life.

You may have great dreams and passion in life that you want to achieve. In the process you would have to face many difficulties. People who supported you might turn against you. The friends might turn as enemies. You might lose all your wealth or meet with an accident, even worse lose your  health completely. In life, when these situations arise, how will we pursue your goal? What are the things to keep in mind to still pursue that passion? These are the subjects of discussion in Gita.

Old man Drutarashtra also heard Gita, nothing happened to him. His sorrow was not removed. For Arjuna, he could remove the sorrow and ultimately became victorious.

You argue it’s for the dead? NO way. They cant hear anything, they are dead. It will not help them at all. Gita is for the one who is living, not for the dead.  Spiritual knowledge is only for the living. Whatever you cannot achieve when you are alive, you cannot achieve after your death. Sastras is very clear on that.

When our breath stops, and desire remains, that is Death….
When our desires stops  and breath remains, that is Moksha” !!!

Why should we learn Gita which is an old textbook?

Bhagavad Gita  is not a textbook. Even though it is printed and published by Sage Vyasa, it deals with the eternal values one must have in life – certain do’s and don’ts. It is an instruction manual for all human beings. It teaches us how to deal with the objects of the world and people, its nature and limitations.

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When we buy a new machine, we always get an instruction manual which describes what all it can do, how to operate it, under what conditions it will operate in an effective way, etc. If we do not follow these instructions, it can even damage the machine. Similarly, Gita is the manual for living. Human body and mind are the apparatus given to us. We must know what is mind and what is body and we should also know how to operate them to utilize it in the most effective way to reach the highest in life. Gita teaches us how to live in this world which is filled with challenges and diametrically opposite situations of life like  victory – failure, loss – gain, pain – pleasure, birth – death. In such a situation, how do we live peacefully and lead a happy life? Gita deals with this subject.

Gita is not old. It’s fresh. By learning Gita, we will be able to handle all the situations of life in a better way. Face and handle them – all with a smile.

How to be Happy in life; Gita is the way

Human beings want to be happy as long as they are alive. Even after death we want to be happy. Gita deals with the subject of what is happiness, how to remain happy even in the midst of challenging situations. Like we use google maps (gps) to reach a destination, if we have Gita Practising System (GPS) we will be able to reach the destination easily. Gita is like a road map of happiness.

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Arjuna was not happy in doing his duty as a warrior. He realised that even if he gets the kingdom without any enemy and without any borders, or even the kingship of heavens, that will not make him happy. Irrespective of the preparations for the war all throughout his life he realises that it is not the goal of his life. That was his question. “How can we be happy killing my own people? (कथम् सुखिनः स्याम माधव ?)  Oh Lord please show me the path to permanent happiness. I seek your help. Please guide me” (यत् निश्चितं श्रेयः स्यात्, तत् मे ब्रूहि । अहं ते शिष्यः । त्वं प्रपन्नं मां शाधि ।).

Arjuna understood that by his action he was neither happy then nor will he be happy in the future. In the past also the Pandavas had had only sufferings. So how to be happy was his question. Hence Sri Krishna’s answer is in those lines. The answer to finding permanent happiness is the Bhagavad Gita.

What is the proof of Mahabharata? Is it not just a story?

Q: Some people tell that Gita and Mahabharata happened only in the minds of people. Is there any conclusive scientific evidence for these events?

A: Vyasa wrote Mahabharata. Existence of Vyasa is a proof for the existence of Mahabharata. Ramayana and Mahabharata are “Itihasam” – iti iha asam – which means, it happened like that. Unlike Puranas, which were stories, the former are historical. Characters in Itihasa lived and walked on this earth. But the most of characters in Puranas are imaginative.

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All the places mentioned in Mahabharata still exists in the same name or similar name. There many other stories from various places which mention about Mahabharata and the places and incidents. Recently Archeological Survey of India have excavated the city of Dwaraka. Indraprasth, Kurushetra, etc still exist with the same names.

The description of all the Akshonis, weapons used, where it happened, when it happened is completely available and is proved through scientific evidences.
Apart from all these, in Mahabharata, there are mention of specific astrological signs. With Indian astronomical calculations we can trace back the exact dates of when it happened.

Though there are variety of research results about the exact dates, every study has come to the conclusion that Mahabharata happened about 5000 years ago, Ramayana about 8000 years and Upanishads were discovered about 10,000 years.

Sri Krishna shares his profile

In Gita, Sri Krishna tells that only by believing in me can one attain eternal peace. Doesn’t this mean Sri Krishna is not acknowledging that other forms of worship are meaningless? Does it also mean that worshiping other forms will incur sin – as suggested in other religious texts?

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Sri Krishna was not referring to his physical form, when he says “me”. In Chapter 4 Krishna talks about himself; his profile – “I am unborn, I do not undergo changes, I am the Lord of all beings, but controlling the nature I manifest wherever I want through my own power, to uplift the dharma.” That is the description on his profile. Hence when Sri Krishna says ‘ME’, he is not referring to his physical form, but the God principle.

अजोऽपि सन्नव्ययात्मा भूतानामीश्वरोऽपि सन् । प्रकृतिं स्वामधिष्ठाय सम्भवाम्यात्ममायया ॥

Even after telling the whole Bhagvad Gita, Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to think, reflect upon the ideas and decide and act according to what he feels right. It is totally left to Arjuna to decide. Where can you find such freedom of thought and choices?
All our sastras are discussions between the teacher and student. These are no commandments.

Worshipping any form is not meaningless. In Chapter 4, once again Sri Krishna tells that worshiping any form is worshipping me (me = lord of all beings). We worship the Lord through the medium of stone, metal, clay or any other materials. We are not worshipping the stone, we are worshipping the Lord. We see the divine in them. Every being in this world is nothing but divine. Hence we worship everything. There are temples even for ants, lizards, snakes, plants, trees, rivers, land, mountains, sea, fire, air, and even space! almost everything. We worship children, parents, teachers, husbands, wives.. the list is endless. Everything need to be worshiped and respected and is in line with what Sri Krishna told. Seeing any form we can connect to the divine. In short, by worshipping any form we will reach the divine – because only divine exists. According to Sanatana Dharma Creation and the Creator are not two, but one.
Worship happens when love and respect both exists. When we worship, we earn merit – there is no sin. When we worship our parents, teachers and Guru, we earn the merit.

Sin is not a concept that is properly understood in our context. It has different connotation in other religious systems. According to Gita, we are results of our own karma.

Gita transmission: the bandwidth and connectivity were very high

Q: How could have Sri Krishna told 700 verses of Gita on the Battlefield, making Arjuna understand all the secrets of life? When people spent years and years studying Gita, how could Sri Krishna possibly convey the entire meaning of Gita in the battle field?

A: Arjuna was a learned person, with knowledge of many Sastras. Currently, he was deluded — not able to decide what is right and what is wrong. Sri Krishna might have inspired Arjuna through few words and that would have been enough to convey the ideas. All the ideas in Gita are taken from Upanishads / Vedas. It is all combined and conveyed to Arjuna in a way he could understand.

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During that time of Gita, Arjuna and Krishna were in a totally different dimension. You could say that “the bandwidth and connectivity were very high.” Between a disciple and Guru, the connection should be like that. It was in total Love. That Love can transcend time. Later after the war when Arjuna asked Sri Krishna to repeat the Gita again, Sri Krishna says that he was in a different mood at that time, and he is not now, so he can’t repeat.

When one sits with his/her girlfriend or boyfriend, hours seem to pass in seconds!. In Love one transcends time. Arjuna’s devotion to Sri Krishna could have made it possible for Sri Krishna to convey entire Gita to Arjuna. But, the question should be whether Gita is helpful to our life. We need only to be interested in the ideas discussed here.

 

Note: The original Mahabharata, as written by Jaya had 24,000 slokas and later expanded to 1,24,000.

Live according what conscience says, not what mind says

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Arjuna had Krishna to show him his Dharma. What hope do we have in our moments of confusion?

Sri Krishna should not be confused as just a person. It is the discriminative power (the pure intellect or the conscience) within us. We need to awaken that. You must know how to tune to Krishna. Then we can listen to that “Gita” specifically made for you by “your Krishna”. Follow that Gita. By learning Bhagavad Gita, we will know what is mind and what is conscience and will be able to live not according what mind says, but according to what conscience (mana: sakshi) says.

There are many versions of Gita available. Which is the correct one?

Q: There are many versions of Gita available. Which one is the correct one? How do we learn Gita in the right way?

All versions are correct. Gita is for all – each one sees it differently.  Each one looks at Gita with his own eyes, mind and vasanas. They understand it according to their capacities.

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Gita remains the same though different people have written commentaries on Gita. Every one is right. If you like one commentary read it,  but don’t stop there. Create that enquiry mind until it gives the ultimate answer till no more doubt remains in you. Whichever Gita you read / follow, the importance should be given to this enquiry lead mind. Question every aspect till you are clear.

Gita remains as it is, pure. It is like a river. Some poets sit and write about the river, some uses it for irrigation, some uses to wash cloths, some take bath in it, some drink it, there are people who spit and abuse the sanctity of the river. Similarly, Gita is the same. You can take whatever from Gita accordingly. Gita is taught to children, householders, sanyasins etc.  As we grow, as our awareness grows, we experience different realms of Gita, though the words are the same.

Many have written commentaries according to the needs and situation of the society at those time. You reflect and meditate upon it – over time you will understand. Acharyas like Madhva, Ramanuja and Sankara have written commentaries upon Gita. They had their own agenda, but Sri Krishna’s words remains the same. Listening directly from Sri Krishna, Arjuna didnt accepted whatever Krishna said,  Arjuna never stopped questioning Krishna. Unless he is convinced, he was never ready to accept. Similar, enquiry mind should be there. Ask questions with the mind to know. Invoke the attitude of enquiry within and not to get carried away with commentaries.

Most of us do not know Sanskrit and hence need to depend on someone who translated it to English. It should be noted that it is not enough just to understand Sanskrit to translate. We need to understand the context, setting, the society, language constraints in order to get the correct meaning.

Max Muller learned Sanskrit and wrote commentaries on Vedas without even visiting India. How could he possibly understand the culture, society prevailing in India at that time? And hence his perspectives are not reflective of the truth. One word used in one sloka, might be used in another sloka with a different meaning. Word is the same, but the meaning is different according to the context. A google translation cannot give you the correct import of the slokas.  Hence, whichever Gita you read, the importance should be given to an enquiry lead mind and learn it from a Master who can explain you the diff contexts.