Guiding Light: The Divine Song

Guiding Light: The Divine Song

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Friday, December 22, 2023, 08:43 PM IST
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We often find ourselves in a little bit of quandary in the modern world, as we navigate ambiguities and are faced with making decisions. Decisions that can sometimes challenge our principles, feeling conflicted because sticking to them may mean that we are up against our friends and even our families. It is in such difficult situations that the Divine Song, or the Bhagavad Gita, comes into its own, containing 18 chapters of wisdom spoken by Lord Krishna himself, and covering almost everything that still plagues us today, as it did our ancestors back then. And as we celebrate over 5000 years of its existence, we look at some life lessons from this invaluable text.

Stay true to your Dharma

After patiently listening to Arjuna lament in Ch 1, in Ch 2, Sri Krishna exhorts him to fulfil his duty, rather than find excuses to run away from it. Now for those who jump to the conclusion that this amounts to war mongering, let it be known that Arjuna was a warrior, and the frame of reference was therefore a battlefield, and his Dharma, his innate nature was to stand up and protect the rights of his people. When we are faced with a challenge, we must stay true to our own dharma and persist to the best of our ability, rather than abandon the mission because it is just too hard.

Act without identification or attachment

Our accumulated propensities mean that we will be forced to act to exhaust our Karma. In Ch 3, Sri Krishna explains that it is the 3 material modes of nature (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) that spur action, but through our ignorance, attachment to the results of action, and the false identification with this mortal body and personality, we assume a sense of doership, burdening ourselves with the outcome of action. When we realise this, and act whilst remaining focused on a higher cause, we become free from the entrapment of creating further karma, and this unlocks a greater degree of free-will in our lives.

Moderation is key

We are often swayed by temptations, oscillating between extremes. In Ch 6, Sri Krishna explains that those who eat or sleep too much or too little, will not be able to establish their minds in Yoga, or the divine union, which is one of the paths to transcend our human limitations. Discipline and moderation in everyday life, aid discipline of the mind, which is much more difficult to inculcate, but is vital for making any meaningful progress on the spiritual path.

The triumph of the Gita is its recognition that not everyone is alike, and its manifestation in the form of a dialogue, meandering through the paths of action, knowledge, devotion and meditation, affording the modern seeker the choice to pick one that works for them.

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