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karmayoga

A

Pragmatic

Approach

What shall be the message to be extracted from Gita for common men who are engulfed in worldly affairs ? Gita profusely speaks about ecstatic mystical experiences of difficult order. It is not possible for everyone to have self-realisation or God realisation. Therefore the various paths described by the Gita at length dividing its chapters into three main streams of knowledge, action and devotion remain theoretical in nature for most of us. There are very few who can

claim to have achieved the state of superconsciousness called Brahmisthiti .

Hundreds of thousands of readers are impressed by the greatness of Gita-philosophy. But they are unable to practise its teachings since they have no capacity to rise above their mundain limits. Various interpretations rendered on Gita by great spiritual masters, no doubt, provide valuable guidance to humanity. But in modern times when science and technology have taken the control of everything, pragmatic approach to Gita-philosophy will provide another dimension to its social relevance. Admitting that the Gita is a gospel, it can also be used for wordly purposes to build up a sound and healthy social order. Outwordly it may look nonspiritual materialistic approach but in reality it would become an applied philosophy, the application of spiritual ideas to pragmatic use.

It may appear as some kind of compromise with the idealistic position that Bhagvad Gita presents. Majority of the people including the author (renderer) of this version belong to the category who admiringly accept the greatness of the Gita but are unable to follow its spiritual tenets to its logical conclusions . It is beyond their capacity to practise. It does not mean that Gita’s idealistic position is an impossible proposition. Gita - philosophy has been severly tested time and again and great many people have testified to its validity. The pragmatic approach without any compromise with the basic tenets of Bhagvad-Gita will serve the interests of majority of people who always remain outside the domain of spiritualism.

Gita stands as a culminating point in the evolution of spritual thoughts in india and it has become a parenial source of philosophical ideas thus developed for the benefit of entire humanity. Whatever has been said earlier by Vedas and Upanishads, by Sankhya of sage Kapil and Yoga of sage Patanjali has found its way in Gita in a finer and better way. As a revolt against the heaven - seeking materialism of sacrificial rituals of the vedas the path of knowledge propounded by Sankhya and the path of contemplation propounded by Yoga flourished and the idealogy of renunciation had its sway over the indian mind. In order to arrest this trend of otherwordliness and bring balance of approach Gita stressed the importance of action thoroughly analysing its mechanism which underlines the spirit of renunciation in wider sense. However Gita’s theory of action is not easy to follow. The individual needs power from within to imbibe Gita’s approach to life according to which ultimate goal should be freedom of the soul, i.e. Mukti or Moksha . But majority of men in todays’ world of economic domination created by science and technology do not subscribe to this view. Influenced by worldly affairs leading to wordly pleasures and happiness they prefer to be slaves of clouded vision.

This state of mind is totally different from that of Arjuna whose mental dilemna prompted Lord Krishna to deliver this immortal song of philosophical wisdom. Even Arjuna, at later stage confessed that Gita-philosophy faded away from his memory and he needs revision of the same. Lord Krishna, too, expressed his inability to recall it since it was revealed through the divinely unique mystical state of his mind. The fact remains that Arjuna also had his own limitations in practising Gita in day to day life. For every commentator Gita remained as unsolved riddle though each one attempted his own interpretation born out of his personal encounter with the Ultimate Reality. The mystical experience must have been the same for everyone but interpretations differ due to their diverse intellectual capacities , different educational settings, varied tastes and wordly limitations.

In understanding the supreme ends of life in the prevalent socio-economic scenario all over the world one can avail the guidance from Gita. Lord declares, "whenever the evil truimphs over the good, hold of righteousness declines, I manifest myself to establish the kingdom of truth." Today’s world is full of tragedies mostly facing the problems of decadence through violence, cruelty, unemployment , over - population, exploitation of the nature, distruction of natural resources, environmental degradation, hunger, ignorance, hatred, quarrels, deaths etc. etc.

In what way Gita can come to our rescue in such a turmoil ? Keeping its metaphysical and spiritual conclusions aside for the exclusive benefit of the spiritual aspirants who will always be small in number the remaining vast population all over the world can have a plunge into its nectarlike thoughts about life and all that is related to life to correct man-made ills of modern century. In his pursuit of happiness the modern man remains discontented in today’s world of consumerist culture built upon the philosophy of self - aggrandizement. All the social ills witnessed today are arisen out of mindless pursuits of selfish material gains.

The Bhagvadgita shows us the way to distroy these evils and inspires us to lead a happy and peaceful life. According to scholars Gita laid down the foundation of India’s ethics, sociology, polity and arts. Gita’s ethical teachings if followed in true spirit has an intrinsic strength to cure all our ills. Certain concepts philosophically developed by the Gita can be applied to our life on behavioural plane.

The fundamental doctrine of unity in all diversity, the same eternal principle manifesting itself in animate and inanimate is a matter of mystical experience and remains out of reach of the majority of people. But its connotation that all are equal gives sufficient strength to unite all. The feeling of all-alike, the sense of empathy will make you feel happy when others are happy and unhappy when others are unhappy. Gita calls him a perfect man when one identifies oneself with others in pleasure and pain alike. In today’s world this feeling is totally lost creating barriers among living as well as nonliving beings many times resulting into killings and destructions. Gita’s fundamental doctrine of oneness of the universe has been already proved on physical plane by the unified field theory of quantum physics in modern times. The mankind can easily adopt this as an unifying force to curb the devisive tendencies so immensly growing today. "One who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me is a man of wisdom" thus says the Gita for sustainance of all. Social tensions arising out of greed and hatred can be instantly defused if such a universal approach based on Gita philosophy of monism is practised in our day to day life sincerely and gracefully.

Another concept developed by Gita is that of Swadharma , one’s own rightful duty. According to Gita everybody is born with certain tendency and capacity to perform a particular job in this world. According to these jobs the performers are classified into four groups. Gita explains the concept of Chaturvarna four - cast  system based on this natural classification. Discarding the rigidity and gradation of the system, which developed in the later age, Gita stresses the importance of doing one’s own duty cast upon him by his nature and ability, sincerely and perfectly. The absence of this duty-consciousness is the real cause behind many ills of the present times. Gita’s emphasis on doing one’s own duty unmistakenly and skillfully will serve as a boon to modern world of wayward tendencies. "Let everywhere shine the sun of dutyconsciousness so that everyone’s desires are fulfilled". Thus prayed the great saints. If this is followed religiously by everyone, world would be freed from proverty. Every one has different tendencies and capacities and accordingly his duties are differenciated. Gita has spoken this highest truth for the benefit of mankind . But due to human failures we fail in recognising our duty and go on performing something else unbecoming of us. One has to do his own rightful duty then he is free from all sins.

The threefold modes called Triguna is a unique concept that Bhagvatgita has unfolded in details. devoting one full chapter for it. Sattva rajas and tamas, the three material forces known as gunas are the constituent elements of Prakriti, the creative power of Brahman which by permutation and combination creates this universe of physical and psychological variety. Every individual is also made of these three gunas in different proportion with one guna predominating. Sattva makes him pure and shining, rajas makes him passionate and active and tamas makes him ingnorant and sluggish. For self - realisation the aspirant has to cross over the barriers or influences of these three gunas. However this guna-transcendence is a very difficult task, rarely possible for selected few. The transformation from tamas to rajas and rajas to sattva however can be achieved by the individual by adhering to right conduct. The transcendence is difficult but transformation is possible. Therefore every one should try to reach the pure state of sattva thereby spreading happiness and knowledge everywhere because sattva guna develops great virtues like duty - consciousness, modesty, tenderliness, contentment , faith, tolerance , compassion, reasoning etc. wheras rajoguna increasing develops vices like hatred, enmity, jealousy, pride , arrogance, greed etc. The tamoguna increasing develops into disharmony, fear, miserliness, ignorance, foolishness, cheating and faithlessness etc. Gita pleads for sattvaguna increasing which ultimately leads the person to higher realms.

Consciously or unconsciously man embarks upon his life-journey through the channels of pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat and many other pairs of opposites. They are inescapable. It is natural for everyone to run after happiness and to avoid sorrow. When one’s ambitions desiring enjoyment and power are not fulfilled he becomes pessimist and leads a life of frustration. Gita advises us to renounce all selfish desires and work making all life a sacrifice offered with true devotion to God. But for ordinary men it is quite impossible to work without desiring fruits. It is the motivating force behind their actions and whatever advances the mankind has achived in physical and psychological fields is partly due to this motivating factor. The actions, only when they become selfcentred, conservrative and for trivial selfish gains, they bring catastrophe.

Therefore Gita’s emphasis on raising a sattva - dominated character with controlled passonate actions of rajoguna and laziness of tamoguna is adequate enough to guide men of worldly passions to lead a life of virtues which is so essential in modern times of deteriorated conditions. Man should learn the act of balancing all dualities by acquiring equanimity of mind that will give him strength to accept pleasure & pain, gain & loss and victory and defeat as an integral part of human life. The four categories of devottees recognised by Lord Krishna in 7th chapter also includes devottees in sorrows, and devottees desiring comforts alongwith devottees who are seekers of knowledge and those who are reached the highest wisdom. Barring a few who are knowledge - seekers and who are enlightened ones the world - weary and happiness-seekers are in overwhelming numbers in this world. This overwhelming numbers need attention and Gita has accepted them with open arms provided they are in the worship of god in their limited capacity.

The mind is considered to be the eleventh organ that functions in between ten organs of knowing and doing on one side and the intellect to the other. It receives the impressions from the senses and carries them to the intellect that distinguishes the sense-objects and classifies them. Gita says, "Feelings of heat and cold, pleasure and pain, are caused by the contact of the senses with their objects. They come and they go never lasting long." Not knowing this men get attached to pleasure and hanker after it unmindfull of its consequences. Starting point in the process of selfrealisation therefore is the control of the mind which is exceedingly difficult exercise in life. Gita suggests many methods to achieve it but the simplest one suggested is to do one’s own duty sincerely and effectively without falling prey to rage and lust. Spiritual discipline therefore starts with purification of mind which otherwise is also very essential to lead a life of peace and happiness. With good deeds and thoughts the mind gets purified. Today’s socio-economic and socio-political life has become abundantly currupt due to overwhelming impact of greed and anger. Purified society can only be built by purified actions and thoughts of the purified souls. Rebirth or no rebirth one should try to contribute in building a healthy society.

Bhagvadgita’s ethics is universal in nature and needs to be applied to any situation in life. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about Gita so early as 1925, "When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I find a verse here and verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies - and my life has been full of external tragedies and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of the Bhagvadgita." Throughout the centuries the Bhagvadgita has guided the humanity individually and collectively in the times of upheavals. Today’s world all over and especially in india, the very land of its creation, the socio-economic and socio-political life has become full of misdeeds and curupt practices due to all round curruption everywhere irrespective of unprecedented material progress achived by the everflourishing science and technology. The most tragic part of our currupt life is that the abnormality of curruption has been converted into normality and people accept it as ideal living. Right and wrong, moral and immoral, proper and improper all these terms have lost their meanings and the acquisition of limitless selfish gains and benefits has become the only aim in life for most of the people especially for those so called leaders who have illegally and immorally earned money, name and prestige in the society. Earlier they enjoyed respectability till they were convicted for their wrong deeds but now a days evenafter conviction they enjoy social status and power . As described by the Gita in fourth chapter the present time the men of demoniac character are ruining the mankind. So as promised by Lord Krishna the God has to manifest in a new incarnation to kill these devils and establish the rule of righteousness. Nobody knows when that day will dawn. Till then we have the nectarlike teachings of Bhagvadgita to save us from self-destruction. The ethical principles enumerated herebefore if brought in practice by every individual the downfall can be arrested. Realisation or no realisation, rebirth or no rebirth, salvation or no - salvation our efforts should be to purify the disturbed social ethos by applying these principles in our day to day life irrespective of its great philosophy of spiritual and metaphysical discipline of extraordinary height.

 

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