Bhagavad Gita – Brahmavidya and Yogashashtra (Blog 7)

Theoretical and practical aspects of the existence cannot be separated from each other. They are inseparable and integral parts of the same reality.

Being the most authoritative source of metaphysics and also the ethics, Bhagavad Gita has covered comprehensively both of these realms of human life. On the one hand, it deals with the changeless reality behind all creation, on the other it has examined the ever changing phenomena of the physical world.

Gita has contemplated upon the ultimate reality and its reflection on various beings not for the sake of gaining some abstract knowledge about the universe but with the aim of bringing better understanding of the human nature. Such understanding is then used as an instrument for bringing betterment in individual behaviour and consequent improvement in the society as a whole.

Gita has given the mankind not only that philosophy which gives us a vision of the truth but also the ways and means by which that truth can be realised. It has provided us not only with a theoretical interpretation of the meaning and purpose of life but has also explained as to how can that purpose be achieved. It has also suggested practical solutions to innumerable human problems.

As brahmavidya, Gita has delved deep into the metaphysical concepts such as the soul, the Supersoul and liberation of the embodied soul. At the same time, as yogashashtra, it has described various practical ways of attaining that liberation. It is, thus, both – the science of knowing the reality and the art of achieving unity with that reality.

Gita has not only revealed that man is an integral part of the Divine but has also prescribed various techniques by which he can remain always aware of his unity with the Supreme. Such awareness is not only intellectual but also experiential.

In Gita God is not a distant spectator, but a constant companion. He is sakha, an intimate friend who is with us at all times (Shloka 11.42). He is also the philosopher and the guide. There is continous sharing of thoughts between God and the man. The dialogue continues until one’s delusion is destroyed and doubts are dispelled (Shloka 18.73).

Teachings of Gita not only help one in understanding as to what is true good for him in the given circumstances but can also guide him as to how that good can be attained.

Gita has described different paths traversing which one can realise his true nature. These paths are gyan yoga or the way of knowledge, bhakti yoga or the way of love and devotion ; and karma yoga or the way of action. These paths of liberation of the soul are individually and collectively known as yoga.

Knowledge, devotion and action though different functions of the human mind are not exclusive to each other. Similarly gyan yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yoga are not exclusive to each other. These paths of self-realisation are, in fact, complementary and supplementary to one another. Depending upon one’s nature and circumstances, one can choose to focus better on any one or more of these means of liberation.

Gita has boldly proclaimed that true renunciation is best exhibited not in withdrawal from the world but in performance of one’s duty diligently and in a detached manner.

Apart from these three means of self-realisation, Gita has also talked about dhyana yoga or the way of meditation and sam- buddhi yoga or the equanimity of mind.

Gita has taught that one can himself, through his mind, elevate or degrade himself in life ; for the mind can be one’s best friend or the worst enemy (Shloka 6.5). If the mind is controlled, everything else gets automatically taken care of. Gita has not only identified the weaknesses of human mind such as lust, anger, greed, arrogance, hypocrisy and fear but has also analysed as to why do these arise and how can these afflictions be managed. For this purpose, it has also prescribed various techniques of controlling the mind.

Gita has cautioned that none of yogas is meant for a man of extreme behaviour. Excessive indulgence in or total abstinence from activities like eating, sleeping or recreation can prove to be only a hinderance on the path of self-realisation (Shlokas 6.16 and 6.17).

To acquire spiritual wisdom, one must stabilise the mind and purify the heart. One can attain serenity of mind only when he develops an attitude of glad acceptance. He dedicates all his actions to the God as an offering and accepts the results as His blessing.

Thus, leading a balanced, dedicated and devoted life is the mantra given by Bhagavan Krishna to the mankind. Accordingly, Gita calls for a change not in this or that aspect of one’s thinking or behaviour ; but the very attitude towards life.

In short, Gita teaches how one can struggle in the world of fierce competition and still continue to live blissfully in the Supreme Self.

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