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.

gita teaching

 

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.

Dharma changes according to SITA

In the Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna on performing his Dharma as a warrior and not take on somebody else’s Dharma. But is it really that inflexible? I may be a peace loving person now, but tomorrow I may see great injustice being done and I may take up the duty of a Kshatriya to find a solution. Doesn’t ones Dharma at a point of time depend on one’s mental state and inclinations?

dharma

Dharma is an interesting concept. It is dynamic. Dharma changes according to SITA – Space, Individual, Time & Awareness. So what is dharma today for you may not be dharma for someone else, or it may turn out to be adharma tomorrow for you.
Each one of us have not just one dharma (except the param dharma – supreme dharma – that is self-realization).

As a child, parent, employee, neighbor, driver, traveller, pedestrian, human, National, etc we have so many dharma to play in life. All these dharma are important.
As a brother one has the dharma to protect your sisters. If your conscience (“manasakshi”) tells that it is your duty to protect someone in distress, you must act accordingly. Every action has a result – it will have it’s own consequences. Good action will have good results, bad action will have bad results. One of the question we need to ask ourselves when we do our dharma is – “are our action selfless?”. As a Karmayogi, one need to offer all the results unto Him.

As a wife, mother, daughter, self – a lady can have multiple things to do, but what is the right dharma? Be with husband, help child to learn, take care of ailing mother or go to ashram? More often than not, life is not in black and white. We need to awaken viveka (discrimination) to decide our own dharma at a particular time and place. What is your primary dharma and secondary dharma? When there is a conflict leaving the secondary, follow primary dharma.

Don’t take victory to your head or defeat to your heart

Nowadays lots of management and self-help ‘gurus’ talk about using the Gita as inspiration to find success in business, office, personal life etc. Does the Gita tell us how to deal with defeat as well?

victory

The lessons from Bhagvad Gita teach us how to handle not just defeat but victory too. Not to take victory to your head or defeat to your heart. Beyond that it helps us to learn how to handle the opposites of life – hot/cold, victory/defeat, gain/loss, ups/downs. All these are temporary, they come and go. It teaches us to learn the world, nature of objects, relationships etc. And finally, in all these situations, how to live without loosing balance – he alone can be successful. If we can smile in defeat, there is a chance for victory.

Do you have sorrow? If so, you need Gita

13. Gita is a religious textbook, just like Bible is for Christianity and Quran for Islam. So, why should I, being a non-Hindu even read it?

geeta-updesh

Gita is not just a religious textbook. It is a manual on how to live life happily. Just like we get manual when we buy a device, Gita is the manual for human beings. For an electronic device, unless we follow the manual it might get burnt or get damaged. For maximum output and best result one must follow the manual. Similarly, we have to follow these instructions of Gita to lead a happy life. Whether God exists or not is not the question. Do you have sorrow? If so, you need this. Gita is teaching us how to get rid of the sorrow permanently. In LIfe any situations can arise at any time. All that we have valued all throughout life could leave us, we may fail in exams, we will falter in life, or fall sick and our businesses may fail in a moment. When we understand this, we will be prepared and be unaffected by it.

Other texts are applicable to certain section of society, age group, race, gender, space and certain time etc. But Gita is applicable irrespective of time and space. Gita is incomparable with any other books – it is not a religious text, but a Universal manual on how to live a happy life.

Can one be an atheist and still benefit from the Gita’s message?

Yes. it is only sufficient to believe in oneself.

The word “atheist” is generally used to say that you don’t believe in God. But what is the idea of God in your mind? Where is he? Is he there in temple? is He is the stone? Or is he residing high up in the clouds? God is He or She or Both or None? People are not clear about the idea of God. Even the so-called believers don’t have right understanding about God. It is interesting to note that even atheists are considered and given a representation in Vedas (referred to as Charavakas).

rameswaram

Bhagavad Gita is not talking about God in temple or resides in heaven. Gita specifies that God is inside you and me and the purpose is to realize this God, the very nature of our Self, which is nothing but pure consciousness and happiness. Sanatana Dharma propounds this truth. That same God lives in everyone, you and me. It is not separate from you. Believe or not, without him we can’t even disbelieve him. So, it is only sufficient to believe in oneself.

Meaning of Saha Navavatu – English meaning and Sanskrit lyrics, Indian concept of education

What is the meaning of the Shanti Manta: Sahanavavtu ? Can you explain the meaning and its applications?

guru-shishya


सह नाववतु। सह नौ भुनक्तु।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु
मा विद्विषावहै।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Saha NaAvavatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu |
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai |
Tejasvi NaAvadheetam-Astu
Maa Vidvishaavahai |
Om Shaanti: Shaanti: Shaanti: ||

अन्वय:- ॐ सह नौ अवतु | सह नौ भुनक्तु। वीर्यं सह करवावहै। नौ अधीतम् तेजस्वि अस्तु | मा विद्विषावहै ||

Meaning:
Om=Supreme Lord;
avatu=may the Lord protect, nau=both of us; saha=together;
bhunaktu= may the Lord nourish; nau=both of us; saha=together;
karavāvahai= let both of us perform; vīryam= valorous actions; saha=together;
adhitam= learning; nau= of both of us; astu= may be; tejaswi = bright;
vidvishavahai=let both of us hate each other; mā= not;
Om Shanthi:= peace Shanthi:= peace Shanthi:= peace

Om, May the lord protect us both (the Teacher and the Student); May the Lord nourish us both; Let both of us perform valorous actions together; The learning of both of us may be bright; Let us not hate each other. Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

Why was a battlefield chosen as the stage for giving this message?

Q: Why was a battlefield chosen as the stage for giving this message? Why not, say a classroom, or a quiet serene place which will be more conducive for teaching?

This is the greatness of Veda Vyasa Maharshi.

The generally prevalent idea is that spirituality is a matter to be thought of during retired life in a secluded forest, in an environment of complete silence. But it is not so and way beyond that. In order to live life dynamically and achieve the highest success in life, Spiritual understanding is essential. So in order to drive this idea Vyasa beautifully portrays the story of Mahabharata and in the middle of the battle field where is full of tension, fear, hatred, anger, uncertainty and noisy situation. Arjuna is confused, depressed and dejected. Sri Krishna is giving the message and inspired Arjuna to act enthusiastically. That message is Gita. One need to understand this. This is what spirituality is all about – keeping the mind balanced, face all challenges of life with a smile. Only when the mind is calm and quiet you can take the right decision. Some of the most difficult places to practice the lessons of spirituality are when we are in difficult situations, such as a war, busy market place, exam hall etc. It is difficult to practice our dharma with complete happiness even in these situations.

 

gita-updesha2

In the war, Arjuna was only a representative of mankind. When we face such difficult circumstances, we become like Arjuna. For e.g., we have prepared for final exam sacrificing everything. Upon hearing the 1st bell, you instantly start to get fear, followed by shivering and sweating. And upon receiving the question paper, your pen slips away from your hand, you see bad omens, lips are dry and sticking together, feeling thirsty, darkness covers your vision and getting dizzy. We starts thinking why should i write this exam? I dont have the ability to win this,  caught up in fear, anxiety or excitement. We are thrown, helplessly into the Arjuna Mind condition, i.e., “vishada” a state of depression!! Then a Bhagavan is needed to give Gita teaching us how to handle body and mind, focus on the goal correctly and tune mind properly to solve the problem at hand. In fact, everyone goes through Arjuna state of mind (i.e., the 1st chapter Vishada yoga, the Yoga of Depression! ). We can observe that many educated people get depressed due to various reasons. When expectations break, lose girlfriend, a friend gets better marks or job, wife earns more and innumerable reasons. But the problem is we never get to the 2nd chapter – Samkhya Yoga – the leaning or knowledge from life’s experiences. So we need a Guru, guide and friend who can help us to take us to the 2nd chapter of life.

We can even say that Arjuna represents the modern youth. We are endowed with everything, but fail to live up to the situation. We want to do good, but fail to do so.

Even in the sorrow, there is a chance of new life. Gita teaches us how to effectively use our sorrow to rise and go ahead with our dharma.

Sri Krishna bended the rules of war to defeat the enemy?

Q: There are many occasions when Krishna advocates for bending the rules of war to defeat the enemy? Should he not practice what he preaches?

About the rules of the war, in the olden times the rules of the war were well defined. Some of the rules were that war cannot be continued after the sunset, a person should not to be attacked if he is on a chariot or unarmed. In the evening all of them used to take bath in the same lake!. The lake is still there in Kurushetra. Its called Brahmasaraovar.

sarovar

Kauravas broke the law first in case of Abhimanyu. 16 people attacked and killed him from behind, while he was unarmed. From the 4th day onwards, war was no more dharmically fought. As such when one party breaks the rules of the war, the other party will be forced to do the same.

Some of the last verses in Mahabharata asks the question: “Why are you not following dharma? You can enjoy artha and kama through a life based on dharma.”

Krishna was not a Sannyasi then how is he qualified to give spiritual advice?

Q: Krishna was not a Sannyasi or a brahmachari, then how is he qualified to give spiritual advice?

It is interesting that the householder Krishna advises a householder Arjuna on how to lead a life towards real Sannyasa. Sannyas is not running away from life, but living your life fully dedicated to the society in a spirit of detachment.Live with complete happiness in spite of all obstacles you may have to face in life is real Sannyas. Krishna lived a life that was embodiment of what he preached.

krishna-teach

When we take the examples from Sri Krishna’s life, we can see that he had to face multitude of hurdles even in his childhood. Six of his siblings were thrashed to death by his own uncle. Sri Krishna was born in the jail and was attacked by demons many times. But even during all these, he lived fully established in happiness. Not allowing any of these external circumstances and hurdles to affect his equipoise. Finally, towards the end of the Mahabharata, his whole family fought and killed each other. Even while leaving his mortal frame, Sri Krishna had a smile and was completely happy. Therefore, his life is a perfect role-play of the greatest ideals that he had preached.

Does the Bhagavad Gita advocate for war?

The war described in Mahabharata was fought in righteousness.
The rightful kingdom of Pandavas were denied to them by Kauravas. They asked for half of the kingdom, but denied. Then they asked for 5 villages, then reduced the demand to 5 house in that kingdom. But even that was denied by Kauravas. Before the war, Sri Krishna went to the Kauravas as peace messenger, but Duryodhana was not willing to accept even the smallest of their demands. Duryodhana said they will not even give an inch of land to Pandavas.

gita-updesha

Apart from these, the Mahabharata war was in the making for a long time than this. War started when even when they were young, Bhima was attacked. The enmity was long standing.

A point to note is that king Dritarashtra was partial and did not correct his children when they were involved in adharma. Instead his attachment to his sons overpowered his discriminative power.

Finally, there was no option other than war.

When the war started, Arjuna, upon seeing relatives, he is unable to perform his duty as a warrior. Arjuna was respected and feared by enemies too. They had very high respect for his abilities as a warriors. But, though Arjuna, as a warrior was supposed to fight for dharma, he was not able to do so.

A nice way to understand this is through a simple example. He came to fight (his dharma), but didn’t want to fight seeing his relatives and he wanted to take sanyasa (which was not his dharma). Sri Krishna cleared the confusion and asked to do his duty. Since Arjuna was a warrior and his duty was to fight against adharma, he fought the war.

This is equally applicable to any other profession and person too. We many a times prepare to do our dharma, but seeing the enormity of task or the hurdles we try to run away from them to take up someone else’s dharma. This is the confusion that Sri Krishna clears through Bhagvad Gita.

Gita is not talking about war. Interestingly, never in the history has anyone gone for war after reading Bhagvad Gita, rather it has inspired millions to stick to a life based on dharma.