[The following are the two discourses sent by Gandhiji to members of his
Ashram at Sabarmati, from Yerawada Jail]
I run to my Mother Gita whenever I find myself in difficulties, and up
to now she has never failed to comfort me. It is possible that those,
who are getting comfort from the Gita, may get greater help, and see something
altogether new, if they come to know the way in which I understand it
from day to day.
This day I feel like giving a summary of the twelfth
chapter. It is Bhaktiyoga - realization of God through devotion. At the
time of marriage we ask the bridal couple to learn this chapter by heart
and meditate upon it, as one of the life sacrifices to be performed. Without
devotion, action and knowledge are cold and dry, and may even become shackles.
So, with the heart full of love, let us approach this meditation on the
Arjuna asks of the Lord: ?Which is the better of
the two, the devotee who worships the Manifest or the one who worships
the Unmanifest?? The Lord says in reply: ?Those who meditate
on the Manifest in full faith, and lose themselves in me, those faithful
ones are My devotees. But those who worship the Unmanifest, and who, in
order to do so, restrain all their senses, look upon and serve all alike,
regarding none as high or low, those also realize Me.?
So it cannot be affirmed that one is superior to the
other. But it may be counted as impossible for an embodied being fully
to comprehend and adore the Unmanifest. The unmanifest is attributeless,
and is beyond the reach of human vision. Therefore all embodied beings,
consciously or unconsciously, are devotees of the Manifest.
?So,? saith the Lord, ?let thy mind be
merged in My Universal Body, which has form. Offer thy all at His feet.
But if thou cannot do this, practise the restraint of the passions of
thy mind. By observing yama and niyama with the help of pranayama, asana
and other practices, bring the mind under control. If thou canst not do
thus, then perform all thy works with this in mind: that whatever work
thou undertakest, that thou dost for My sake.
Thus thy worldly infatuations and attachments will fade
away, and gradually thou wilt become stainless and pure. The fountain
of love will rise in thee. But if thou canst not do even this, then renounce
the fruit of all thy actions; yearn no more after the fruits of thy work.
Ever do that work which falls to thy lot. Man cannot be master over the
fruits of his work. The fruit of work appears only after causes have combined
to form it. Therefore be thou only the instrument. Do not regard as superior
or inferior any of these four methods which I have shown unto thee. Whatever,
in them, is suitable for thee, that make thou use of in thy practice of
?It seems that the path of hearing, meditating and
comprehending, may be easier than the path of yama, niyama, pranayama
and asana, to which I have referred; easier than that may be concentration
and worship; and again easier than concentration may be renunciation of
the fruits of works. The same method cannot be equally easy for every
one; some may have to turn for help to all these methods. They are certainly
intermixed or in any case thou wishest to be a devotee. Achieve that goal
by whatever method thou canst.
My part is simply to tell thee whom to count a true
devotee. A devotee hates no one; bears no grudge against any one; befriends
all creatures; is merciful to all. To accomplish this he eliminates all
personal attachments; his ego is dissolved and he becomes as nothing;
for him grief and happiness are one; he forgives those who trespass against
himself, as he hungers for forgiveness from the world for his own faults;
he dwells in contentment; he is firm in his good resolves; he surrenders
to Me his mind, his intellect, his all.
He never causes in other beings trouble or fear, himself
knowing no trouble or fear through others. My devotee is free from joy
and sorrow, pleasure and pain. He has no desires, he is pure, skilful
and wise. He has renounced all ambitious undertakings. He stands by his
resolves, renouncing their good or bad fruit; he remains unconcerned.
Such a one knows not enemies or friends, is beyond honour or disgrace.
?In peace and silence, contented with whatever may
come his way, he lives inwardly as if alone, and always remains calm no
matter what may be going on around him. One who lives in this manner,
full of faith, he is My ?beloved devotee.?
The Gita is a small portion of the Mahabharat. The Mahabharat is considered
to be a historical work but, for us, both the Mahabharat and the Ramayan
are not historical works, but religious works, or rather, if we call them
histories, they are the histories of the soul. And it is not the description
of what happened thousands of years ago, but it is the picture of what
is going on in every human breast today. In both the Ramayan and the Mahabharat
there is the description of the battle that is daily going on between
the Gods and the Demons, between Ram and Ravan.
The dialogue in the Gita between Shri Krishna and Arjun
is one such description. Sanjay, before the blind Dhritarashtra, recites
that dialogue. Gita means ?sung?. Here the word Upanishad is
understood, so the complete meaning is, an ?Upanishad that is sung.?
Upanishad means knowledge - instruction. Thus the Gita means the teachings
of Shri Krishna to Arjun. We should read the Gita with the realization
that the Inward Seer, Lord Krishna, is ever present in our breasts, and
that, whenever we, becoming as Arjuna in his desire for knowledge, turn
to Him, He is ever ready to shelter us. We are asleep, the Inward Seer
is always awake. He is awaiting the wakening of desire for knowledge in
us. We do not know how to ask. We are not even inclined to ask.
Therefore we daily contemplate a book like the Gita.
We wish to create in ourselves a desire for religious knowledge - a desire
to learn spiritual enquiry, while meditating on it. Whenever under stress
we hasten to the Gita for relief and obtain consolation, it is at once
for us a Teacher - a Mother. And we must have faith that with our head
in her lap we shall always remain safe. The Gita shall unravel all our
spiritual tangles. Those who will meditate on the Gita in this way will
derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day. There is not a single
spiritual tangle which the Gita cannot unravel. It is a different thing,
if, on account of our insufficient faith, we do not know how to read and
understand it. We daily recite the Gita in order that our faith may continually
increase and that we may be ever wakeful. I am giving here the substance
of what meanings I have obtained, and am still obtaining, from such meditations
of the Gita, for the help of the inmates of the Ashram.
When the Pandavs and the Kauravs, with their armies,
stand on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, then Duryodhan, the leader of
the Kauravs, describes to the teacher Drona the principal warriors of
both sides. As both the armies prepare for the battle, their conches are
blown, and Lord Shri Krishna, who is Arjuna?s charioteer, drives
up their chariot between the two armies.
On seeing this Arjuna becomes agitated, and says to Shri
Krishna: ?How can I fight these men? Had they been other persons
I would have fought with them forthwith. But these are my people, mine
own! Where is the difference between the Kauravs and the Pandavs? They
are first cousins. We were brought up together. Drona can hardly be called
the teacher of the Kauravas alone. It was he who taught us all the sciences.
Bhishma is the head of our whole family. How can there be a fight with
True the Kauravas are murderous; they have done many
evil deeds, many inequities; they have deprived the Pandavas of their
land; they have insulted a great and faithful woman like Draupadi. All
this is their fault indeed, but what good can come of killing them? They
are without understanding. Why should I behave like them? I at least have
I can discriminate between good and evil; so I must
know that to fight one?s relatives is sinful. What does it matter
that they have swallowed up the family share of the Pandavas? Let them
kill us. How can we raise our hands against them? Oh Krishna! I will not
fight these relatives of mine.? So saying Arjuna collapses in his
In this way, the first chapter closes. It is called Arjun-vishada-yoga.
Vishada means distress. We have to experience such distress as Arjun experienced.
Knowledge cannot be obtained without spiritual anguish and thirst for
knowledge. What good can religious discourses be to a man who does not
feel in his mind even so much as a desire to know what is good and what
The battle-field of Kurukshetra is only by the way;
the true Kurukshetra is our body. It is at once the Kurukshetra and Dharmakshetra.
If we regard it as and make it, the abode of God, it is the Dharmakshetra.
In this battlefield lies one battle or another always before us, and most
of such battles arise out of the ideas, ?this is mine, this is thine.?
Such battles arise out of the difference between ?my people and thy
Hence the Lord will later on tell Arjun that the root
of all irreligion is attachment and aversion. Believe a thing to be ?mine?,
and attachment is created for it. Believe a thing to be ?not mine?,
and aversion is created - enmity is created. The Gita and all the other
religious books of the world proclaim to us that the difference between
mine and thine should be forgotten. That is to say attachment and aversion
should be relinquished. It is one thing to say this, and it is another
thing to act according to it. The Gita teaches us to act according to