Recently a controversy has arisen out of a judgement given by the Allahabad High Court judge, justice S.N. Srivastava while giving a verdict on a writ petition filed on behalf of Gopal Thakur Mandir of Varanasi. While giving the ruling on the writ petition, justice Srivastava said, ? Gita is a dharma shastra of India and it may be considered as the National Religious Book or ?Rashtriya dharma shastra?. According to him, since we have a recognised national flag and a national anthem, we should have a rashtriya dharma shastra and Srimad Bhagvad Gita can only take its place. In support of his argument he said, ?The Gita inspired our national struggle of freedom and all walks of our life.? He quoted Article 51-A of Indian constitution and added in his order that ?It is the duty of every citizen of India, irrespective of caste, creed or religion to follow the dharma propounded by the Bhagvad Gita.?
Before making any comment on his verdict, let us know,
What does Article 51-A of our constitution describe?
It mentions about fundamental duties of every citizen of India ; to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspires the national struggle for freedom; to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; to value and preserve the rich heritage of the composite culture; to have compassion for living creatures and to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavor and achievement etc.
Now let us see how far Gita complies with the main theme of Article 51-A of our constitution. There is no doubt that Gita had great role to inspire the national leaders to move for struggle for Independence. It was the source of inspiration to the struggling masses who sacrificed their lives in the name of our country. National leaders like Rishi Arobindo, Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Shahid Bhagat Singh, Vir Savarkar and a band of young Indians took Gita in their hands and jumped on to the freedom movement and strirred the British imperialism till the foreign rulers left our soil.
The patriots took inspiration from Gita, followed the path shown by the Lord and plunged in to the freedom movement and vowed to free the Dharti Mata from the chain of sufferings. The popular guideline says, ?Wherever there is Krishna, there is the righteousness and wherever there is righteousness, there is victory (Jatha Krishna tatha Dharma, jatha Dharma tatha jay)?.
Now the question is that what are the other factors and noble ideas lying in the Gita which can inspire us to become perfect human being and achieve the best of our Selfhood? Let us discuss them one by one:-
Srimad Bhagvad Gita or simply Gita explains to us what is right and what is wrong; what is justice and what is injustice and all other factors of Dharma by virtue of which ordinary men can be Godmen (Amritasya Putra). Gita is the Yoga Shastra or the scripture of communion. Yoga teaches us about union with the supreme God or Parambrahma and according to our spiritual belief, Krishna is the supreme God.
Lord Krishna taught us through Gita how can we overcome the earthly sufferings, elevate ourselves from the hallucinations or illusions (Maya), achieve the best qualities of human life and attain the eternal bliss.
Gita teaches us about Karma yoga (principle of action) and Jnana yoga (principle of knowledge) and gives a common formula to everybody (6/5) – which means that one should uplift himself by one'sown self; let him not degrade himself, the self (Atma) alone is the enemy of the Self (Gita 6/5). In other words it is said that we can be our best friends and we can be our worst enemies.
But how we can be our best friends? Gita tells us the mystery of achieving it.
First, we shall have to be true yogi, that is, a person who is united with the God in all respects, pure in heart, master of his self, has controlled his senses, whose self has become the self of all beings, is not attached though engaged in work (Gita 5 / 7).
In Karma yoga, God never tells us to give up doing work. Because, as soon the cult or tradition of doing work will cease, the creation will be destroyed. In (Gita 3/22) Karma Yoga, God says that He has nothing to do, nor to achieve anything in this universe, still He does his job, otherwise the rhythm of creation will be disturbed. If people follow the inactive God, they will cease doing any work and as a result, there will be destruction all over. Therefore, God also does his work.
This is, of course, a very pragmatic approach for creation of new avenues in the domain of human being or to say in the universe.
Gita is the Upanishad, a highest form of philosophy established on Jnana Yoga.
In Gita (Ch. 14), there is the very interesting Doctrine of Triguna or Tri-Virtue Theory. Virtues are?Satta, Raja and Tama. Human nature, their food, living style, actions and everything have been classified according to the Triguna doctrine. Lord Krishna gave us the new definition of caste system based on Triguna. According to this theory, there are only four castes?Brahmin, Khatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. When there is maximum Satta virtue in a person and less of others, he is a Brahmin; when Raja is more in a person and less of others, he is a Khatriya; when there is the combination of Raja and Tama, he is a Vaisya and when there is more of Tama in a person, he is a Sudra. By birth, we are all Sudra but our motto should be to become Brahmins. The popular version says, ?Janmana jayate Sudra, sanskarat Dwija uchyate? which means that everybody takes birth as Sudra , but by virtue of teachings and reforms, can become Brahmin. That means, the son of Brahmin may not be Brahmin or the son of Khatriya may not be Khatriya etc. The caste system based on Gita does not give approval of hereditary or traditional norms of caste classification.
Sudra can be elevated to Vaisya, Vaisya can be elevated to Khatriya and Khatriya can be elevated to Brahmin and they are interchangeable. For example, Rishi Viswamitra was born in a family of Khatriya but he could become a good Brahmin, whereas though born of Brahmin parents, Dronacharya took the profession of a Khatriya .
Similarly, Satyakam was born as a Sudra but he could prove himself to be a perfect Brahmin. Swami Vivekananda advocated that everybody should try to become perfect Brahmin not by religion but by virtue. There is similar mention in the Buddhist scripture, Dhammapada. According to Gita (14/18) persons with Satta Guna abodes to the upper berth above the heaven, Rajas rest at heaven or below to it, and Tamas at hell or below it.
Division of caste on the basis of Triguna or Tri-virtues is very progressive system to build a true secular society. Not only Hindus, but Christians, Muslims, Sikhs-all can be classified as Brahmin, Khatriya, Vaisya and Sudra.
In Gita, God said not to be confined within the cult of Triguna, but one needs to transcend Triguna and to rise above the domain of Triguna, to become a free man untouched by the influence of three virtues or Triguna. Trigunateet persons, who have superseded the reign of Triguna, get their berth with the supreme lord at the Vaikunthalok. This is, of course, very difficult task but possible if he is successful in establishing his union with the supreme God. But how?
Gita is the best guideline for him. For that, God has set the conception of Sthitapragyan, where the mind and soul are full of bliss, free from any bondage and devoid of any ego.
In this stage, (Gita 2/70) it is described that while in the stage of Sthitapragyan, he gets only peace and has no desires, in him all desires enter like waters into the sea, which is motionless though ever being filled.
In Gita, there are universal teachings. For example, in Gita (2/66), it is said that without balance of mind, there is neither intelligence nor concentration; without concentration, no peace can be achieved and without peace, how can there be happiness?
In Gita, there is commitment of forgiveness by the God. He commits to his devotees saying that once they surrender to the will of God, they will be forgiven of their sins.
Of course, after getting the grace of God, no one can commit any sin. (Gita 18/66)
There is great hope for us when God says, ?He, who thinks for the welfare of the others, can never fall into misery? Gita (6/ 40). Gita also recommends about the welfare of the society.
There is spirit of socialism in Gita. God declares that who cooks for himself only and does not think for others, he is selfish and eats only the sin and not the food. (3/13), he should be punished.
In this version of Gita, there is the reflection of fraternity, extension of love to others, sharing of well and woe to others and joining hands to a greater society.
The spirit of socialism and welfare moved Mahatma Gandhi. He always kept this sacred book with him, German philosophers Maxmuller and Sophenhour, the British philosopher Bertrand Russel and the American scientist-philosopher Einstien were fans of Gita. According to them, it is the unique book on this earth ever composed. According to the veteran philosopher Ralph Waldo Trine, Gita is the book of philosophy which has explained the finer qualities of human being and the complete logical base by means of which one can attain the eternal peace of sublimation. Alfred B. Nobel, when discovered the fatal Dynamite and saw the extent of destruction caused by it, he was very worried. At that time he got a copy of the English version of the Gita, read it thoroughly for several times and commented saying that he would not have discovered the TNT Dynamite, if he had gone through the Gita earlier. Later on, he founded the Nobel prize to promote peace.
At the end of Gita, we get Bhakti Yoga, where there is mention of the devotion to God and the complete surrender of the devotee to the will of God, when he says,?Karisye Bachanang Taba? (Gita 18/ 73)
In exchange (Gita 9/31), God says, ?My devotees are never ruined, I protect them from all dangers.? Devotion is the last word of Godhood. Ordinary man can be Godman or son of God when he becomes God'sbeloved one. At this stage of passion, emotion and love for God, the two are virtually identified as one, the devotee losses all earthly attachments and enjoys the spiritual ecstasy. In him, there is no ego, no anger, no jealousy and no stir. Everything is full of eternal bliss and divinity. He cannot hate others, cannot speak ill of others, cannot think bad of others and he sees everything alike.
Gita is not only a holy book meant only for a particular sect or community but it is the universal sacred book. Anybody, irrespective of caste, creed or religion can follow the teachings of Gita and elevate himself into a nobleman.
Gita was not written even for the Hindus?Gita was uttered by the Vedic or Sanatani God Sri Krishna. At that time, there was no religion in the name of Hindu. There was Vedic religion and the scripture was the Veda, propounded by the Aryan sages. Lord Krishna invoked Gita three thousand years B.C. when there was neither Hindu, nor Christian, nor Muslim, nor any other sect. The Vedic Aryans used to worship Rama, Krishna and other incarnations of Lord Vishnu and His other two of the trio forms, that is, Lord Brahma and Lord Maheswara. Krishna who himself was Vishnu or Narayana took birth as human being. He, himself is the supreme God who came down to earth for our salvation.
By the by, at around 300 B.C., emperor Alexander of Greece invaded north India. His soldiers could not utter the name ?Sind?, the river of north India. They used to call it as ?Hind? and the Aryan residents of either side of Sind river were called as Hindu. Later on, by the process of Aryanisation throughout the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere, we became identified as Hindu. In the later years came Christian, Muslim, Sikh and other religions.
Gita is not only the holy book for the Hindus, it can be followed by any person belonging to any caste, creed or religion. Gita preaches the noble lessons to us. It is the man making scripture by which one can attain peace and happiness. Gita teaches us to love all and not to hate others. It also teaches us to achieve the power of patience and tolerance. The love as recommended in Gita is extended to entire human society and to all creatures.
From Gita only, we can find the universal formula to establish global peace.
(The writer can be contacted at 16/23, W.E.A, 1st Floor, Karol Bagh, New Delhi -110005.)