[Advaita-l] Geeta Navaneetam-1
kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 23 09:15:09 EDT 2018
Wrote this when I was doing a two-day camp at Chinmaya Mission In Washington DC a few years ago and might have posted this before. For those who have not seen and interested, posting it again. ------------
Gita Navaneetam – 1
With Prostrations to my mother, father and to my teachers. The title Geeta Navaneetam is actually coined by my father who composed in Telugu Poetry - Geeta Navaneetam - based on Vishishtadvaita doctrine expounded by Shree Ramanuja in his Sree Bhasya. Interestingly he composed when my parents were visiting us in the United States during the summer of 1984. He could spend his time that way when we were all busy with our mundane activities.
Bhagavad Gita occupies a unique place in the pursuit of truth, the truth that transcends time and space – sanaatana dharma. The student of Gita is a man of action, Nara, and the teacher is the Lord of the Universe, Narayana, and the teaching is in the midst of a battlefield. The dramatization of the setup is unique, and symbolizes the relevance of Gita to resolve eternal conflict – the fundamental human problem - conflict of do-s versus don'ts, conflict of duty versus attachments, conflict of right versus wrong or conflict of dharma versus adharma. Unlike in the Upanishads where the contemplative teaching normally takes place in the quietude of serene Himalayan environment, Gitopadesha starts in the middle of two armies that are ready to fight. The teaching in the battlefield is a dramatization of the war within and war without. The teaching starts before the first arrow was shot and when the student loses his objectivity because of his attachments. The attachments cloud his vision of right from wrong. This was true for Arjuna and this is true for all of us. The teaching is needed to face the war squarely with a right attitude. Arjuna represents the man of action, who feels responsible to uplift dharma, who has gone through life’s struggles and tribulations, and who is ready to fight for justice. As a kshatriya prince, it was ingrained in him that he should uphold dharma at any cost.
The dramatization of Bhagavad Gita set-up indicates that dhaarmic action or an action to uphold the righteousness forms a basis for the evolution of the mind and for its purification before one retires for contemplation on the higher nature. Krishna not only provides a methodology of how to act but also with what attitude one should act, along with the secret of success in any pursuit. In addition, He also teaches the essence of the human goal in all our pursuits, and how to acquire that state. Thus, Gita is not only a yoga shaastra but also contains the Brahma vidya. Typical of all Hindu scriptures, the teaching is done in the form of a dialogue, samvAda, between the teacher and the taught – KrishnArjuna samvAda. The student is encouraged to ask questions to clarify his understanding.
The teaching is not sectarian or provincial; it is addressed to all human beings transcending gender, caste, creed, or nationality, who are struggling to experience their divine nature, the universal oneness of their soul while facing the continuous onslaught of vicissitudes that life provides. It is the teaching that synthesizes the unity than glorifies the diversity, that unifies than discriminates, that invites than imposes, like a mother who steers the child to a greater happiness with discipline and love. It evokes bhakti or love for the highest, out of fulfillment than out of emptiness, with love-divine filled with compassion and sacrifice than the love of greed, of demanding or of begging.
Gita echoes the teaching of eternal by a universal teacher who proclaims the teaching from eons, which was sung by sages and saints of the yore – ‘RishhibiH bahudA gItaM’. Krishna himself declares that He himself taught this knowledge eons ago to Vivaswan, and now He is teaching again purely out of love to Arjuna and thus to humankind. Gita is a quintessence of Upanishads milked by Lord Krishna himself for the benefit of humanity - sarvOpanishhadO gaavO dhOgdhA gOpAla nandanaH. It does not deal with a philosophy of academic interest, but deals with Brahma vidya, about the knowledge of eternal reality along with the science of dynamic application to gain that knowledge, yoga shAstra. The love or devotion is rational and not sentimental, and it is universal with fullness as it is all-inclusive and not narrow-mindedness with exclusions. It proclaims:
yO yO yAm yAm tanum bhaktaH shraddayArchitumicchati|
tasya tasya calAm shraddhAm tameva vividhAmyaham||7-21
“Whoever, whoever he may be he who, and whatever, whatever form he worships Me, the universal principle, with full devotion, in that and in that form alone I give him the unshakable faith. It emphasizes the formless form of the ever-existent truth, which includes all forms while excluding none. Hence, any form is as good as any other form. That form that captivates one’s mind and that takes one beyond the form is an ideal form for him. Furthermore, Krishna declares that in whatever way one worships that form he blesses them in that way, “ye yathaa maam prapadyante taam stathaiva bhajaamyaham”. Thus, devotion to the universal principle knows no bounds, no norms to be followed, no methodology, no rules and regulations, not even specific forms to be used. Krishna declares:
patram pushpam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktyaa prayatcchati|
tadam bhaktyupahRitam ashnaami prayataatmanaH||
Whoever offers me with full devotion, a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even some water, with the pure heart without any demand, without any beggary, I receive it with love. It is not a transactional love. It is the love of adoration thanking for whatever that has been given. Man is blessed with an impeccable body to transact with the world outside, a beautiful mind to feel emotions of the heart and a contemplative intellect to think conceptually and learn – what more can one ask for. The love for the divine depicted in Gita is an unadulterated pure love. It is a longing of the soul for the supreme reality to become one with it, without any expectations, without any fear, without any reservations. The culmination of the love is the complete surrender to the supreme, where there are no more divisions or no more distinctions of any kind, where all the notions of jiiva including the separateness from the Lord are dissolved in that pure love. Pure love demands identity without any exclusions, evolving from sAdRisyam to sAmIpyam to sAyujyam – vision and admiration of the Lord, closer acquaintance with the Lord and ultimately to become one with the Lord.
To be continued.
(This write up was based on the study of many texts by many sages)
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list