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  Message of Gita

First Discourse


[The following are the two discourses sent by Gandhiji to members of his Ashram at Sabarmati, from Yerawada Jail]

First Discourse

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 Gita.

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 devotion.

?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.?

Second Discourse

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 him?

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 some knowledge.

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 chariot.

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 is bad.

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 people?.

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 it also.

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