The Bhagvad Gita- a practical guide to living

The Bhagvad Gita is a very wise work. The entire battlefield waited with bated breath as Krishna convinced Arjuna to do his duty. We too, most need philosophy in the midst of dilemmas. I’m reading Jaya- an illustrated retelling of the Mahabharat, by Devdutt Pattanaik. He has explained the Gita beautifully in a few pages there.

How do we relate to the world?

Shree Krishna talks about how the external world is like the flesh. Why? Both are transient and change constantly. My favorite shloka from the Gita (Chapter 2, Verse 22) is also that, which talks about the body is like clothes (transient) covering the soul (permanent).

vāsānsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛihṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śharīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇānya
nyāni sanyāti navāni dehī

“As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.”


Inertia (tamas), agitation (rajas) and sattva (harmony) are the three states the world shuttles between. As do our emotions, I feel.

Shree Krishna then links the two, talking about how these 3 changes in state- tamas, rajas and sattva impact our egos. If we are good with the direction of change, we follow, otherwise we struggle against change, wanting to restore the equilibrium. So for example, if our world is in tamas and we want sattva, we will try to take action to bring that about.

Why we feel unhappy

Naturally, we can’t have our way always. When we don’t get what we want, like a child, our ego gets angry. It tries to bend our body to its will. This is what makes us unhappy. Maybe we should stop getting upset if we’re losing the battle of the bulge!

This thought expands in Shree Krishna’s explanation of karma. Imagine all these actions and reactions adding up. What you get then is the law of karma- what you sow is what you reap. Accepting the current moment as the result of your past actions, not fighting it, is the only way to break the cycle of karma (samsara).


How to break the cycle of karma

Shree Krishna then explains further how we can conquer our ego. We should analyse why we want to take an action, rather than being impulsive. What emotion is in the rider’s seat? Is it anger? Why are we angry?

We should not just leave faith at the temple, but have faith every minute in the fact that there is a logic to the workings of the universe that may not always be immediately apparent to us. Acting accordingly, empathizing with others, is what separates us from animals.

Bhagvad Gita- the Song of God is well named. We need to listen to this song, become it, so that we too are in harmony with ourselves and the universe, just like musical notes are with a song. More on the Bhagvad Gita here.


I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.

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