One of my posts had to be about a book sooner or later, a voracious reader cannot but help herself. Books for me have been my friends, teachers, philosophers and guides. I love the written word and wouldn’t know where to turn to if I lost them, my faithful companions.
Why ‘My Gita’? I grew up listening to the stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata retold by my loving Grandmother and then by TV series. The Gita is a name I grew up with, my Grandmother would give us advice saying this is written in the Gita and so forth but its contents were somehow obscure and continued to be a mystery to me. I have picked up ‘The Gita’ translated into English by various writers many times and tried to read it not getting beyond a few pages before leaving it. I could not relate to the language or the writer’s viewpoint in most cases. Probably because I was not looking to read the Gita to ‘find God’ but to understand the wisdom that I felt it had to offer. My search ended when a friend suggested that we read ‘My Gita’ by Devdutt Pattanaik for one of our Book Club reads.
I thought that maybe this way I would endure to read the Gita and tick it off my bucket list. Endure I did not, for I was hooked to the writing style immediately. He begins by explaining for calling it ‘My Gita’ and I discovered that he put into words exactly why I wanted to read it for so long. I too wanted to approach it like Arjuna, with curiosity, to understand. In my Grandmother’s tone as she spoke of the Gita I could always detect a note of self-realization which I found in Devdutt’s explanation “Krishna speaks of brahma-nirvana as an expansion of the mind.” He then explores the history of the Gita, even though you may feel that you know it I urge you not to skip over this portion there surely will be information you would have not known earlier.
Some of the truths that I have understood from the reading of ‘My Gita’ are that God lives in all of us, “that helps us cope with our own fears that disconnect us from society.” When we understand this we do not look for comfort from materialism thus we do not cling to them out of moha and when we learn to let go we attain moksha. “The God of Hinduism is no judge. Hence Krishna gives no commandments in the Gita.” A benevolent God that understands rather than judges, guides rather than moralizes. Standing on judgment on others and situations only limits us by obstructing our worldview. Being judgmental does not let the mind expand, how often we let our prejudices cloud our vision limiting our own spiritual growth. When we are blinded by moha living in fear and insecurity like the blind king. The fear of validation, the fear of not knowing our purpose on earth makes us derive our value from the property that we possess, the designations that we hold. Blindness on Dhritarashtra’s part is not so much physical blindness or “absence of sight as the absence of empathy.” The Devas and Asuras continue to struggle and fight as opposing forces rather than living in harmony as Vishnu intended them to in order to achieve the potential that we are capable of. These two opposing forces are within each one of us and when we do not reconcile them we only disrupt our own equilibrium, “The heroes of one plot turn out to be villains of other plots.”
“Rebirth takes away the sense of urgency and the quest for perfection.” This was probably the most important learning for me. We go through our childhood competing, striving to be the best. When there is only one lifetime to be concerned about the thought of achievement becomes paramount. The Hindu theory of rebirth makes the rat race irrelevant, why then do we make ourselves miserable trying to over achieve?
Having read ‘My Gita’ I have not understood it in its entirety but then I’m not supposed to “It is only in modern times, with a printed book in hand, that we want to read The Gita cover to cover, chapter by chapter, verse to verse and hope to work our way through to a climax of resolutions in one go. When we attempt to do so, we are disappointed.” The Gita was never supposed to be read in one sitting, it was supposed to be read again and again, it was to be understood part by part and that is the learning I have taken from “My Gita.’ I will read it many more times and discover myself in the process.
to be continued…