Quote 6: The central ideas of the Geeta briefly stated

Astrophysicist Sir James Jeans aptly said:” The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine”: I would say: the universe is an expression of thought, and its grammar is kriya (action). I intend to summarize what I have considered the core ideas of the Bhagavad-Gita. These ideas have shaped our worldview that reveals itself in our ethics, and our attitudes towards life and the universe. They have shaped our assumptions about ‘property’ and all other things which matter in our life.

The central idea of the Bhagavad-Gita was expressed in an oft-quoted shloka (Ch. II. 47) where Krishna counsels Arjuna to act without expectations of the fruits of actions. He tells Arjuna that he could never exist without action. Krishna told Arjuna precisely what modern science has shown. Whether it is an atom or a galaxy, the process of being and becoming is just an ‘action’(kriya) and nothing else. I would try to state some of the fundamental principles of the Bhagavad-Gita, thus:

(i) One should acquire right competence to understand and evaluate (through viveka, wisdom) the needs of the changing moments of one’s life to acquire the right vision of one’s duty ( kartavya-karma) [see the Bhagavad-Gita Chapt. II. 47] to be done from moments to moments in one’s life;

(ii) One must not allow oneself to go under the spell of the negative feelings of attachment, lust, anger, and greed;

(iii) One’s perception of duty is determined by one’s traits ( gunas) which are the product of one’s own actions, whether in this life, or the earlier life cycles;

(iv) One is competent to evolve in the trajectories of the gunas evolving first towards the sattwaguna, and then towards transcendence of gunas in moksha (total liberation from life cycle) [see the Bhagavad-Gita Chapt. XIV];

(v) In the trajectory of life, one tends to take to the path that accords with one’s traits (guna), but it is possible to evolve treading any of the three paths (the paths of action, of knowledge, and devotion) of which the path of action is the easiest for the humans, though all the paths can go in synchrony, enriching each other, leading to the common goal in life;

(vi) One should discharge duties for the weal of all (sarvamangal); and

(vii) One must realize that what matters most is the attitude (the state of mind) with which acts are done.

One should work with the point of view which is subh (good) for all. The ‘Utilitarians’ prescribed a flawed objective for polity and political economy. Its chief proponent, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), called it “the greatest happiness of the greatest number”. Nehru noted, with great perspicacity, what we consider its basic flaw. “This view-point was not quite the same as the earlier democratic doctrine of equal rights of everybody. The greatest happiness of the greatest number might conceivably require the sacrifice or unhappiness of smaller number”. Our Constitution strikes a different note. It comes close to what Krishna said in the Bhagavad-Gita.

 Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 20 at pp. 265-266


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