Wednesday, 6 April 2005

What Gita Speaks to us-II

Gita has some wise words for the Humanity. Lets have a look at them…

When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me stories at night. One of them I still remember. It was of a lazy donkey and an alert dog of a farmer in a village. The dog was the favorite of the farmer because he worked hard and the donkey was jealous of him. The donkey thought that if he does the job of the dog he too would become the favorite of the farmer. Opportunity knocked on the door one dark night when a thief entered the farmer’s house. The dog was sleeping and the donkey started braying at the top of his voice. Dhenchu..dhenchu…this irritated the farmer to his wits end and he took out his big stick and beat the donkey black and blue. My mother said “Jiska kaam usi ko saje aur kare to danda baje” which means, “A particular duty suits to him whose it is, if somebody else does it gets stick”.
Sri Krishna says this to Arjuna “One’s own duty, though devoid of merit, is preferable to the duty of another well performed. Even death in the performance of one’s own duty brings blessedness; another duty is fraught with fear.”(ChapterIII-39)

When I was in school in class ninth I read the beautiful Dohas of Kabir, which I still remember. One of the Dohas read like this-

Tinka kabhu na nindiye jo payan tar hoye
Kabhu udi akhin pade pid ghaneri hoye

It means that kindly don’t condemn the petty things, which are below your feet; once they fall into your eyes will cause excruciating pain.
Reverberations of this are found in Gita when Sri Krishna says to Arjuna “the wise look with the same eye on a Brahman endowed with learning and culture, a cow, an elephant, dog and a pariah too. (ChapterV-18)

Gita encourages one to believe in oneself, have faith and convictions in oneself. It says “one should lift oneself by one’s own efforts and should not degrade oneself; for one’s own self is one’s friend and one’s own self is one’s enemy. (ChapterVI-5). One cannot forget those revolutionary words “ Khudi ko kar buland itna…”

Shakespeare expressed through his great work Hamlet the eternal dilemma “To be or not to be that is the question?” A dejected Arjuna, at the battlefield, facing the enemies who were cousins, guru or old friends, asks a far deeper question “to fight or not to fight”(ChapterII-6) and Sri Krishna reveals the Supreme Secret contained in whole Gita to clear his doubts. Gita is one of the greatest pieces on motivational literature. Krishna says “there is nothing in all the three worlds for Me to do, nor is there anything worth attaining unattained by Me, yet I continue to work. Should I not engage in action, scrupulously at any time, great harm would come to the world; for Arjuna, men follow My way in all matters. (ChIII-22-23).

Recently I saw this Movie “Judgment at Nuremberg” which carries a great message that “ one is oneself responsible for one’s own action”. Gita too carries a very profound message. I wish the Judges at Nuremberg trial had a look at this book during conducting trials. Gita says, “ Man is bound by his own action except when it is performed for the sake of sacrifice.” (ChIII-9). This could have solved some of the dilemmas, which the movie throws about the sacrifice of individuals for their countries during the trials. It’s very interesting that not a single of the convict of the Nuremberg trials served a very long sentence because Germans thought they had done their best to serve the country.

Gita gives us a hierarchical structure of greatness, which can be useful to us as the hierarchical theory of human motivation given by Maslow helps us understand what motivates us.


Self- Actualization.............................. Self

Esteem Needs..................................... Intellect

Belongingness (Love) Needs .............Mind

Safety Needs ........................................Senses

Physiological Needs............................. Body

Here is a close comparison can be made between the two. Today we give so much importance to pleasing the body, senses and intellect but largely ignore the Self, which is the greatest of all. A human being after satisfying physiological, safety, love and esteem needs moves towards self actualization according to Maslow, in the same way we should realize the greater entities than mind and intellect as suggested by Gita and move on in life. A civilization, which is heavily biased towards the worship of body& senses, or mind & intellect, is not a complete one. It has to go beyond intellect towards the Self and its realization or actualization.


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