The most important thing in life is to do our karma keeping in mind our responsibility at any given time without bothering about the outcome. Life and death are like stations where we pause and reboot to carry on with the eternal journey, till we find the final destination that comes with moksha or liberation from rebirth, says NITA AGARWAL
The Bhagavad Gita, the holy book revered by most Indians and many people around the globe is considered a manual of right living and right thinking to help us realise our potential and purpose of this birth. In the Gita, we learn the ill-effects of greed, power and arrogance.
The Gita begins with the word Dharma and ends with the word Mum, which means “My Dharma”. The Gita teaches each individual to understand one’s own dharma so that one can live in tune with the inner self. Living in sync with our own nature is like living by dharma. Here, we should not confuse nature as likes and dislikes, but our “True Self”. The Gita has 700 shlokas and deals with Bhakti, Karma and Gyan Yog.
Most of us refer to chapter 2 of the Gita, while discussing its teachings. However, the stage for dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun is set in chapter 1 by explaining in subtle ways the mental state of both Duryodhan and Arjun on the battlefield. If Duryodhan is guided by fear and arrogance, Arjun is grief-stricken and delusional.
Chapter 1 describes the mistakes most humans make and how conflicts develop because of I, Me and Mine (all possessions and relations in this birth). The Kauravas and the Pandavas were cousins, but enmity developed between them because the Kauravas didn’t give the Pandavas their share of the kingdom.
Dhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravs was blind by birth and his wife Ghandaari blindfolded herself to support her husband. But she too became blind to the follies of her husband and sons. This is what we humans do even today. Out of love, we try to overlook the mistakes of our loved ones. Most do it out of fear of losing the loved one.
People who try to point out the mistakes are not treated as friends. We humans love people who support us in every way even if we are going the wrong way. This is the reason values have continued to fall in human society. We overlook the wrongs in trying to be nice and kind. Our greed for power and money makes us blind to our own mistakes.
We love to have sycophants as friends and family. Correcting the mistakes becomes more and more difficult if not addressed at the right time. By birth, we are conditioned to believe in my family, my community, my caste, my religion, my region, and finally my country, so much that we often land in conflict with people outside all this. We have developed numerous reasons to stay divided and in conflict.
Arjun, a great warrior and a wise man loses his composure when he faces the truth of a war with family elders and cousins, to get his rightful share of the kingdom. At the last minute before the war, he feels that death of loved ones will make the victory useless and that a better option would be to leave the war and live peacefully in exile.
This is often the dilemma of most of us when we face a crisis that involves our loved ones. We lose our mental and physical composure and we look for reasons to run away from the crisis. It’s like preparing for an exam but developing cold feet at the last minute. We have to appear for the exam as that is what we prepared for, yet we try to avoid it.
Can we assume that Arjun would have never regretted it had he run away from the battlefield? In that moment of weakness, Arjun may have thought of valid, idealistic reasons for not fighting the war with his own family, but he could not have pretended that he never wanted the war. So assuming that he did quit the battle, being a very brave warrior, we have every reason to believe that he would have regretted losing his nerve at the last minute.
Taking the learning from the Gita, we can decide that when all efforts of reconciliation prove fruitless and the other person, who could be a close friend or near relative, is a repeated offender, then taking an idealistic stand may not be the right choice. Avoiding a decision, however harsh it may seem, is like running away from our own Dharma.
As Arjun was a prince and a warrior, it was his duty to fight the war that was forced upon him and his brothers by the greedy and uncaring Kauravas. Duryodhan was a cruel and arrogant prince and he was not fit to be coronated as the king.
From the Gita we learn that idealism doesn’t really serve humanity in the long run. Turning a blind eye to wrongs is like supporting injustice. I know many people may differ with my view, but I feel letting the devil prosper is no way to save humanity. We need the right balance of idealism and pragmatism to have a good thriving society. Empathy is important, but taking decisions emotionally or sympathetically may not be best if it prevents us from seeing the larger picture and achieving the larger good.
How to face undesirable situations and happenings in life and the way to remain sane and in control of our emotions and intellect in crisis is what Lord Krishna teaches Arjun.
The most important thing in life is to do our karma keeping in mind our responsibility at any given time without bothering about the outcome. Our focus should be on the present moment of the journey and not really on the goal, because the future is unknown and unpredictable. Life and death are like stations where we pause and reboot to carry on with the eternal journey, till we find the final destination that comes with moksha or liberation from rebirth.
Nita Agarwal is an ex-Table Tennis State player, qualified teacher, self-taught budding painter, a successful blogger, who writes about her observations of life and people; and most importantly, a working housewife.