Gita through one Sloka

Swami Sivananda in his commentary has prescribed the one Sloka 78 of Chapter 18 of Bhagawad Gita as एकश्लोकी गीता. He has also compiled a सप्तश्लोकी गीता with seven Slokas from Gita. One can read, understand and ponder over.

I shall like to provide the first one here:

एकश्लोकी गीता

यत्र योगेश्वरः कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनुर्धरः ।

तत्र श्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्ध्रुवा नीतिर्मतिर्मम ॥

Wherever is Krishna, the Lord of Yoga, wherever is Partha, the archer, there are prosperity (श्री), victory or success(विजय),happiness and sound policy(भूति);this is my conviction.

It is Sanjaya, the charioteer of Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Kuru with special power of seeing the Mahabharata battle in every audio and visual detail bestowed by Vyasa, who is giving his last opinion after the completion of the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna expecting from the old king to make stop the devastating forthcoming battle of Mahabharata at last. But it didn’t happen.

However, Vyasa wishes to give expression of a deeper significance through this verse- expounding an unquestionable truth.

Krishna in Gita everywhere represented the Self, the Atman.He can be invoked within heart of each one of us, if we try for the Atman through the prescribed exercises for Self-realisation. We all are like Arjun-Partha Dhanurdharah who represents “the confused, mortal human being , with all innumerable emotional weaknesses and fears”. Just after seeing the huge army of his own close relatives, Arjuna hesitated to use his talent to destroy and defeat them, though the whole lot of them are on wrong side of dharma, and laid down his arms and decided for not taking the right route to fight the wrong ones, reclined to impotent idleness. But then Krishna by answering all his queries and convincingly explaining the need to fight made him take up arms.

We all can win the battle that we face in life every time by invoking the Ataman, the Krishna in us.Once reinforced with spiritual understanding ,we can exert and put the required endeavours, to tame life and master prosperity.No power on the earth can stop us from success.

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Bhagawad Gita is as secular as Yoga

I wish one day the minorities in India accept it. Every educated Indian or for that matter every educated person world over must try to read, understand and practise the clear prescriptions for self improvement provided in plenty in Bhagawad Gita. For integrating the country, every educated Indian must keep a book in their home and go through whenever, they find it fit. However, I suggest the younger generation to accept it as a guide for better peaceful life. With the availability of the book in every language and for all in different fields of activities such as a manager or a student, it is so much easy.

Gandhi wrote,”When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day”.

Interestingly, Bhagawad Gita starts with the first word ‘dharma’ in the first Sloka of chapter 1 and ends with the word ‘mum’ as the last word in the last sloka of the last chapter 18, making together ‘mum dharma’(my dharma).Gita has 700 (701) Slokas. For the benefits of those who intend to read, understand and practise Gita, I may suggest that they should not be afraid of the total number of Slokas.They can focus on Chapter 2 and Chapter 18 that provide very simple summary of the whole of Bhagawad Gita.I have tried to select some Slokas from different chapters for myself that provide me with all the qualities that as a good human being I must try to imbibe in me and practise in living. I keep on writing about that. A collection of the same will certainly be helpful in building a rational personality for successful life.

Anyone going through my write up can ask me questions on my mail irsharma@gmail.com.)

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Gandhi,Caste and Democracy

With vote bank politics, smaller parties led by the caste leaders are trying to exploit the situation against the interest of the country just for their vested interests.Heads of these parties are demanding more of their candidates from the major parties such as BJP with threat of abandoning the alliances. Over the years such casteist political parties that are family owned mostly, are growing in number. This is dangerous for a strong democracy with majority of either of the largest parties getting difficult. This is one major reason that the caste system in Hindus must end. It is creating heart burns and conflicts and misunderstanding among the people of different castes. Our father of nation, Mahatma Gandhi was dead against the caste system among Hindus. Dr. Ramachandra Guha has mentioned Gandhi’s view in his latest book, Gandhi. “Sometime in 1945, in Bombay , answering to a question about whether caste was ‘consistent with democracy and democratic organisations’, Gandhi replied:’I do not need to refer to my past writings to say what I believe today, because only what I believe today counts. I wish to say that the caste system as it exists to-day in Hinduism is an anachronism.It is one of those ugly things which will certainly hinder the growth of true religion.It must go if both Hinduism and India are to live and grow……The way to do (this)is for all Hindus to become their own scavengers, and treat the so- called hereditary Bhangis as their own brothers.’ Unfortunately, Nehru never came out in forthright manner on the caste system in Hindus. Nehru rather loved to be called Panditji, or Pandit Nehru. As a result, today Rahul Gandhi with Parsi father and Cristian mother declares himself Brahmin to allure Brahmin voters and Hindus. Can some rules by EC discourage the casteist political parties? Castes were a very late introduction in Hinduism and with reservations based on castes by birth, it is becoming a menace for the unity and amity of this country.All Hindu intellectuals and religious leaders must sit together and find a way out to end it.Perhaps the best way for ending it will come with right education, migrations for jobs and urbanisation.

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Gandhi and Congress Party

What Gandhi wanted Congress to do after independence? When Modi in an address talked about the wish of Mahatma Gandhi to wind up Congress, I took it as political statement. But while I am finishing the latest voluminous book of Ramachandra Guha, ‘Gandhi-the years that changed the world 1914-1948, I found the mention of the Gandhi’s view on page 879.

“ On 29 January (1948), he (Gandhi) drafted a short note arguing that the Congress itself should be disbanded, since it had ‘outlived its use’ as ‘a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine’. It must keep itself ‘out of unhealthy competition with political parties and communal bodies’.

Other parties could contest elections and run governments, but the Congress, argued Gandhi, should now become a Lok Sevak Sangh (Society for the Service of the People).The workers of this new organization( habitual khadi wearers of course) should focus on rural reconstruction, on making India’s villages ‘self-contained and self-supporting through their agriculture and handicrafts’. They should ‘educate the village folk in sanitation and hygiene’ and enrol them for voting in local, state and national election…..However, he had not yet shown it to Nehru and Patel…”

And on 30 January 1948, Gandhi got killed by Godse..We missed the chance of knowing the views of Nehru or Patel. I wish the new president of Congress thinks over the views of Gandhi and revives Congress Sevak Dal and emphasises on providing the basic services to the rural India.

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Gandhi and Gita

Gandhiji’s first introduction to Gita was in England through two English brothers. Gandhi at that time was studying law. The brothers read Gita regularly and asked Gandhi to join in. Perhaps they thought that they may get to know the text in Sanskrit better. But Gandhi felt sad, because of his lack of Sanskrit knowledge. He read English version by Sir Edwin Arnold as recommended by his English friends, and was captivated for life by Gita’s message.

Gandhi had included 19 concluding slokas from Chapter 2 on स्थितप्रज्ञ (one with steady insight) in Ashram Bhajanawali to be read in his regular prayers in morning.As it appeared Gandhi practised the teachings of Gita in his own way too in day to day life.The two books that I am going through these days are ‘Gandhi- the years that changed the world’ by Ramachandra Guha and ‘Bhagavad Gita for daily living in 3 Volumes by Eknath Easwaran. Both talk about the influences of the Bhagawad Gita on Mahatma Gandhi.Eknath Easwaran has extensively referred to Mahatma Gandhi views and how it matched with the philosophical teachings preached by Bhagawad Gita. Gandhi has written a commentary on Gita too. He used to teach Gita to some like Manu Gandhi.

For last few months I am trying to understand the teachings of Bhagawad Gita through different commentaries. I am of view that all senior citizens can spend some time every day on serious study of Bhagawad Gita with help of one of the best commentary of it. The edition of Gita for children must be a compulsory reading book for every students in all countries. And Gita being a very secular book must be read by every citizen of Indian. One can shun the doubt with the Sloka 21 from Chapter 7:

यो यो यां यां तनुं भक्तः श्रद्धयार्चितुमिच्छति ।

तस्य तस्याचलां श्रद्धां तामेव विदधाम्यहम्‌ ॥

Whatsoever form any desires to worship with faith-that(same) faith of his I make (firm and) unflinching.At least all the legislators of the country must undertake a mandatory study of Gita. It will certainly make their lives better and help them serving the nation better.Let Congress because of its nearness with Gandhiji and BJP because of its claim for Hinduism must take it up the study of Gita immediately and seriously.

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Gandhi Changed The Course of Post Independent India

I am just completing the latest voluminous book of Ramchandra Guha, ‘Gandhi, the years that changed the world 1914-1948 (933 pages), a very comprehensively documented narration of the time.I am quoting here from the book a controversial issue that is as alive today as it was then.Why did Gandhi selected Jawaharlal Nehru as his sole heir?

“Maulana Azad had served as Congress President from 1940 to 1946.In the last week of June 1946,the Cabinet Mission departed for England, having failed to bring about a resolution of the dispute between the Congress and the Muslim League.Another way would have to be found to take the transfer of power from British to Indian hands forward.A new president of Congress was to be selected in place of Azad.

Twelve of the fifteen secretaries of the provincial Congress committiees nominated Vallabhbhai Patel, in acknowledgement of his role in building and rebuilding the party. But Gandhi himself wanted Jawaharlal Nehru. In the event, his will prevailed, and the working committee nominated and selected Nehru.

Why did Gandhi choose Jawaharlal Nehru over Vallabhbhai Patel?

First, Gandhi knew that, with independence imminent, the person who became Congress president in 1946 would most likely become the prime minister of a free India.Second,for at least a decade now, Gandhi had regarded Nehru as his political heir. In statements both private and public, he made this choice clear.”

Some questions naturally comes up in my mind in context of the incidents mentioned in the book: Was Gandhi right in his pushing Jawaharlal Nehru without agreeing with the majority? But for his schooling in England and exposure to international politics, others like Patel,Rajaji,Rajendra Prasad were equally strong candidates with great scholarship. But Gandhi had special soft corner for Jawaharlal though the both had strong difference of opinion on economic policy and renewal of India in post independent India with Jawaharlal. In the CWC meeting in Poona,Nehru and Gandhi had a long argument on the subject. Gandhi believed that the village must be placed at the centre of of India’s economic renewal. Nehru insisted on modern heavy industries.When Nehru didn’t communicate with Gandhi after Poona argumentative tussle, Gandhi observed,’I have said that you are my heir. It is only proper that I should at least understand my heir and my heir in turn should understand me. I shall be then at peace.’

Interesting, the book has mention of Motilal Nehru promoting his son Jawaharlal Nehru (page 249), “Gandhi spent six weeks in Nandidurg, from 20 April to 5 June 1927for rest…..In Nandi, Gandhi received a letter from Motilal Nehru suggesting that his son Jawaharlal be made the next Congress president. The father had always had large ambitions for his son….” Gandhi wrote to Motilal a reply why he would not do that. But it seems the affluence of Motilal and the European living style and culture at home perhaps influenced the decision. It was because of Gandhi that other very contender of Jawaharlal in every respect, Subhash Bose had to leave Congress.History proved that Motilal Nehru initiated the laying of the foundation of Nehru Dynasty and the country had to bear with fifty five years of its reign. Jawaharlal never encouraged any of his younger colleagues to be become strong enough to take the top office. But Gandhi’s decision changed the course of the history of India. (more to be continued after completing the book in a week time)

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On Bhagawad Gita

The Right Opportunity: The retirement age during my time was 58 years. I took another job after that and worked there for two years before I underwent an open heart surgery. I decided thereafter based on a very sane advice from a doctor to lead a retired life. Though allured on number of occasions, I didn’t take any job. But as usual my personal weaknesses-lust, anger,greed,ego (काम, क्रोध, लोभ, अहंकार) remained with me. As the ageing advanced and I got nearer to the teachings of Bhagawad Gita, I, like many started thinking about practising some of the desired qualities in a good human being to make myself happier. Perhaps once we are above 65-70 years of age,it should be easier, though really in right sense it is not. One will have to work hard. As most of us have done away with our material responsibilities of our life, perhaps we can try to develop ourselves spiritually and live as per scripture. While Ashram concept of Vanprasth and then Snayas living philosophy can be practised to have detached peaceful living, we can try to change ourselves from Rajshik to Satvik approaches in living as advised in at least three chapters of Bhagawad Gita.According to Gita, everything including human beings in the universe is a combination of the three Gunas-Sattva (law), Rajas(energy), and Tamas(inertia)-in varying proportions. One can transform Tamas to Rajas to sattva with constant concentration.One can try to increase the proportion of Sattva. Each of us can choose to move on the upward path that leads to abiding joy and will be divine.It will be time taking but with no other better work for self improvement, why should not we try that.

I quote from Bhagawad Gita Chapter 16 that is called दैवासुरसंपद्विभागयोगो:

‘Be fearless and pure;never waver in your

determination or your dedication to the spiritual

life. Give freely. Be self-controlled, sincere, truthful,

loving, and full of the desire to serve.Realize the

Truth of the scriptures;learn to be detached and

to take joy in renunciation.1.

Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but compassionate and gentle;show good will to all.2

Cultivate vigorous,patience,will,purity;avoid malice and pride..Then, Arjuna, you will achieve your divine destiny.3 (Translation by Eknath Easwaran)

अभयं सत्त्वसंशुद्धिर्ज्ञानयोगव्यवस्थितिः।

दानं दमश्च यज्ञश्च स्वाध्यायस्तप आर्जवम्‌॥१॥

अहिंसा सत्यमक्रोधस्त्यागः शान्तिरपैशुनम्‌।

दया भूतेष्वलोलुप्त्वं मार्दवं ह्रीरचापलम्‌॥२॥

तेजः क्षमा धृतिः शौचमद्रोहोनातिमानिता।

भवन्ति सम्पदं दैवीमभिजातस्य भारत॥३॥

With still years to go before the last breath, we can try to concentrate to be a better human being, a Satvik and if possible help to improve the conditions around us.

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