The readers of the Harijan know what the Gita means to me. I have always
regarded the learning by heart of such books as the Gita a very desirable
thing. But I was never able to learn all the chapters of the Gita by heart
myself though I made several attempts at it. I know I am very stupid at
memorizing. So whenever I meet any one who knows the Gita by heart, he or
she commands my respect.
I have already met two such during the Tamilnad tour - a gentleman at Madura
and a lady at Devakotta. The gentlement at Madura is a merchant unknown
to fame; and the lady is Parvatibai, a daughter of the late Justice Sadashiva
Iyer, who during his lifetime instituted an annual prize for the person
who could best recite the Gita from memory.
I would like, however, the reciters to realize that the mere recitation
is not an end in itself. It should be an aid to the contemplation and assimilation
of the meaning and the message of the Gita. By patience even a parrot can
be taught to recite it by heart. But he would be no wiser for the recitation.
The reciter of the Gita should be what its author expects him to be - a
yogi in its broad sense. It demands from its votaries balance in every thought,
word and deed and a perfect correspondence between the three. He whose speech
and action do not accord with his thoughts is a humbug or a hypocrite.
2) The Gita Ideal
I am a devotee of the Gita and a firm believe in the inexorable law of
karma. Even the least little tripping or stumbling is not without its
cause and I have wondered why one who has tried to follow the Gita in
thought, word and deed should have any ailment. The doctors have assured
me that this trouble of high blood-pressure is entirely the result of
mental strain and worry.
If that is true, it is likely that I have been unnecessarily worrying
myself, unnecessarily fretting and secretly harbouring passions like anger,
lust, etc. The fact that any event or incident should disturb my mental
equilibrium, in spite of my serious efforts, means not that the Gita ideal
is defective but that my devotion to it is defective. The Gita ideal is
true for all time, my understanding of it and observance of it is full