The Song Divine
It’s not the first time that I sought its guidance. Time and again the Gita has helped me find my way while groping in the darkness. I firmly believe in destiny and the philosophy that every day in your life was meant to be just the way it has turned out to be. The plan of your life was already written.
About 8 years ago, I had a severe depression attack. It took me at least three months to understand that what I was constantly feeling was something more than just a mood swing. After all, it lasted for months together. That’s when I opened up to the Gita. I started reading a very simple version with English translation of the Sanskrit slokas. Believe it or not, I found solutions to all my troubles, fears and problems. I even listened to Gita discourse, which helped me connect with the scripture even better. My parents pleasantly wondered why their 16 year old was turning so spiritual. But they supported me by not interfering or asking any questions about it.
As I look back, I now know I had that entire experience to prepare for the next chapter of my life when I left home and shifted to another city, almost 2000 kms away. Years passed and I kept going back to Gita with all my problems and never was I turned away disappointed. The same slokas held bigger meaning, applicable to situations in varied contexts.
Last few months were disturbing personally. It was almost as if someone else had taken over me. I am usually very happy-go-lucky, always trying to see the brighter side, consistently saying something funny and keeping myself and others around me entertained. But you know, it can all crumble down in seconds. Most of the times, it’s your own thoughts and assumptions that ruin things for you. As expected, I ran back to Gita. This time, a more detailed version of the book that I picked up on impulse from Iskon.
Here are a few eternal lessons that I try to live by. Often I need to revise them, because life can sometimes seem like a hallucination that makes you forget your wisdom.
- Detach. That’s my first learning. Detach from actions, detach from this physical body which is nothing but a carrier of your soul. Perform actions without an attachment. By doing so, man reaches the Supreme. While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment, lust develops, and from lust anger arises. Attachment is the cause of pain, misery, disappointments and anger.
The Gita emphasises again and again that one should cultivate an attitude of non-attachment or detachment. It urges repeatedly that one should live in the world like the lotus-leaf, which is unaffected by water. He who acts placing all actions in the Eternal, abandoning attachment, is as unaffected by sin as a lotus-leaf by water—Padmapatramivambhasa.
- Karma, although believed to be, is not eternal. It is true that we are suffering or enjoying the results of our activities from time immemorial.
But did you know that we can change the results of our karma by action?
This change depends on our knowledge and its perfection. Which activities can relieve us from bad karma? That’s what the Bhagwad-Gita explains. The power of action is such that it can free you from the cycle of birth and death. It can give you the supreme enlightenment.
- Stability. My third biggest learning is to not get bogged down by failure and also not get blinded by success. Always maintaining a calm in the mind, and being free from the entanglement of the opposites such as happiness and sadness, heat and cold, etc makes us free. Such a person has stability in mind.
Gita draws the comparison between the state of mind and the seasons. Just as we experience summer and winter but continue to live, without paying it much attention, we should not let happiness and sadness affect us. They are not permanent but inevitable. It is our perception that makes us miserable or happy. “One must learn to tolerate them without getting disturbed.”
There are many more teachings that have helped me free myself from a lot of misery-illusions. I have also observed that the meaning of these lessons changes as per the individual’s perception and situation, but they are applicable to everyone’s life, every single day.