The book “The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age” by Richa Tilokani presents the essence of one of the world’s most sacred texts in a simple and easy-to-understand manner.
The Bhagavad Gita comprises 700 Sanskrit shlokas translated into English, which inspire one to seek and understand the profound truths of life through the ancient principles of Karma Yoga (the art of work), Gyan Yoga (the art of knowledge) and Bhakti Yoga (the art of devotion). These eternal principles help to live life to the fullest, so that one can work better, think better and live better by tapping into higher consciousness, accessing the spiritual dimension and nurturing the pure self.
The book describes how one can imbibe the all-encompassing wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita to attain unending joy, peace and success.
Read an excerpt from the book below.
Arjuna is explaining why he does not want to wage war against the Kauravas:
“What is the use of a kingdom or happiness in life, when whom we desire to enjoy it, will be killed in the battlefield? Even though they wish to kill me, what good will it serve me to kill them? O Madhusudana (killer of demon Madhu), when brothers, fathers, grandfathers, friends, uncles, teachers and other relatives are standing in front of me, why should I want to kill them, even though they want to kill me? I am not prepared to fight them even if I get all the three worlds, let alone this kingdom. What pleasure will I get from killing these people? We will be awash with sin if we kill these people. It is not right for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What will we gain, Krishna and how will we be able to live after doing it? Although their hearts are full of greed, I see no point in fighting with our friends and family. I will end up destroying my full family and that will be a sin.”
Arjuna had been challenged by the Kauravas, so he could not refuse to fight as it was his duty to defend. But he was able to foresee the war’s end and was thus not inclined to engage in it, as it would result in mass casualties.
“If I destroy the dynasty, the entire family and its traditions will disappear. The rest of the family will be consumed by adharma. The women of the society will also be affected, and the natural balance will be disturbed. It will certainly make life difficult for families and communities. The ancestors of the family will be affected, if no offering is made to them. This will lead to the destruction of the community and disrupt many welfare projects on which people are dependent. If irresponsible people take charge of society (because the elders have been vanquished in war), then there will be chaos all around. Our culture and the right way of living will be destroyed. Krishna, I have heard that the people whose traditions are destroyed live in hell. Is it not strange that we are ready to commit such a sinful act? Just for our own personal happiness, we are ready to kill our family members. In the past, many sinful people have attacked their own families and their names lie tarnished in history.”
At this point, filled with moral dilemma, he lays down his bow, Gandiva, and tells Lord Krishna that rather than killing his family members, it is better if he dies. Arjuna is now ready to receive knowledge from Him—the answers to his questions, and the sermons of ‘duty to uphold the dharma through selfless action’.
Relevance of Teachings to Modern Life
Why does one face worries and sorrows in life?
The Bhagavad Gita says that Arjuna is full of sorrow, at a time when he should have been fighting the war. He represents the common man who is full of unhappiness, dilemmas and worries at most times. Arjuna faces many difficult questions on the battlefield and these are similar to the problems people face on the battlefield called life. Most of us do not know what to do and are not sure what is right or wrong. Many of us are very clear when we begin, but midway we lose focus due to conflicting emotions. We are influenced by moh which is attachment, krodh which is anger, and shok which is regret. These emotions make us weak and drive us in to taking wrong actions. They suppress our rational thought process and then we justify the wrongs we do to get what we think we want.
This happens to people who are too attached to the material world, which is almost everyone in the modern day and age.
In our heart of hearts, we all want to do the right thing. But it’s not easy when we often do not know what it is. It’s not something we can just Google and find out. Who is the right person to tell us what we should do in the face of problems and how we should handle worries/grief? It’s Him, of course. His teachings in the Gita are applicable to our daily life and are designed to solve our problems. Most of our problems come from wrong thinking due to ignorance and they can be solved easily.
Powerful Tools to Empower the Mind
- Understand the cause of sorrow
- Approach a knowledgeable person for advice
- Manage anger, attachment and regret
Excerpted with permission from The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita: Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age, Richa Tilokani, Hay House India. Read more about the book here and buy it here.