The Bhagwad Gita is a key to all worries and anxieties which was spoken by Lord Krishna in the battle of Kuruksehtra- Mahabharata. Bhagwad Gita shows practical and real life applications of ways to cope with daily stressors humans face in their day to day life. The Gita is basically a conversation between Arjuna, who succumbs to dejection when he realizes he has to fight his kinsmen, and Lord Krishna, who helps him cope with this dilemma and stress. The Bhagavad Gita is much more than a religious or philosophical text: it’s 700+ verses offer insight into every aspect of life and are universally relevant. There is a great need to understand the principles of the Bhagwad Gita and its application in day to day life as an effective tool for management and coping of stress. One of the greatest contributions of India to the world is Holy Gita which is considered to be one of the first revelations from God. The Bhagwad Gita is a doctrine of universal truth. The Bhagwad Gita deals with the most sacred metaphysical science. The Bhagwad Gita an ancient Hindu holy scripture is meant for people of every section and age.The Bhagwad Gita needs no introduction and is equally respected in Eastern and Western culture. As the Bhagwad Gita deals with human day to day worries, anxieties and inhibitions which people face time to time in everyday life situations Therefore, it is equally effective for people of any gender, race, religion or culture. The Bhagwad Gita is the essence of the Vedas and Upanishads. It is brahmavidya and also a shastra of yoga.It teaches three things: Brahma -Vidyayam Yoga- sastre srikrishnaarjuna-samvade. It means Theory, Practice, and Realization. The understanding of theory, practice and realization may lead an individual to cope with day to day stressors of life.
Gita Jayanti Special
Lets concentrate on some of the curated verses, which describe the reactions of Arjuna to stress and explain how Lord Krishna encourages him to develop and use positive coping skills. This will help in learning how to cope with illness if diagnosed.
Accepting the reality: positive coping
Lord Krishna, while describing the immortality of the soul, sings verses which help us understand how to tackle illness. There is no better example of motivation to perform the right action, in an unbiased manner, than these slokas by Lord Krishna, which precede the description of sthipradhnya. The first step, he states, is equanimity coupled with acceptance of reality.
Yogastha kurukarmani, sangamtyaktva dhananjaya (2:48).
This acceptance allows us to handle the various conflicting positive and negative emotions, thoughts, and information that we are exposed to when illness is diagnosed. Moreover, finally, we are able to choose the right ones, in an unbiased manner, reaching the state of yoga
Lord Krishna also cautions Arjuna against misplaced anger (or blame), in one of the most important slokas of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita. Anger is one of the most important negative emotions. Anger against medication, lifestyle modification, health check-ups, or health-care provider detracts the person with illness from the right path required for illness management. Such a person can never be happy and successful. Hence, it is important for the health-care provider to build a relation of trust and pacify the patient, for his own benefit.
“From anger arises infatuation; from infatuation, confusion of memory; from confusion of memory, loss of reason; and from loss of reason one goes to complete ruin.”
krodhat bhavati sammoha, sammohat smritivibhramaha, smruti bhranshat buddhinashi, buddhinashat pranashyati, nachabhava yatah shantir, shantasya kutaha sukham (2:63)
“…how can there be happiness for one lacking peace of mind?” (2:66)
Focus on action
Lord Krishna supports action, rather than grief or depression, as a means of coping with a stressful situation. Multiple slokas of the Gita reinforce this message, which is equally relevant for persons with illness.
“…stand up, Arjuna, determined to fight”
tasmad uttishtha kaunteya, yuddhaya kritanischayaha. 2:37
Lord Krishna emphatically calls for maintenance of physical health through activity and exercise. He clearly states that one cannot even maintain his body without physical exercise. This is an apt reminder for people to remain physically active so as to prevent disease (the need of the hour), as well as for lifestyle disorder patients to view exercise as an important part of disease management.
“Desisting from action, you cannot even maintain your body”
Niyatam kuru karmatwam, karmajayo hrukarmanaha 3:8
The middle path: moderation
The Bhagavad Gita contains explicit instructions for self-control and self-discipline. After having been diagnosed with any disorder, people react in different manners. Some begin extreme diets, while others continue unhealthy lifestyles. What is correctly advised is eating a balanced diet at appropriate times. The Master elaborates the same in a very articulate manner, in the slokas below, the importance of right diet and sleep.
“…this yoga is neither for him who overeats, nor for him who observer a complete fast; it is neither for him who is given to too much sleep, nor even for him who is ceaselessly awake.”
Natyas natas ‘to yogo’ sni, nachaukanta manashnataha, nachati swapna prashilasya jagrate, jagrato naiva charjunaha. 6:16
“Yoga is accomplished only by him who is regulated in diet and recreation, regulated in performing actions, and regulated in sleep and wakefulness.”
Yukta hara viharasya, yukta cheshtasya karmasu, yukta swapnava bodhasya, yogo bhavati dukhaha 6:17.
Disease does not mean sacrificing all enjoyment in life. The Gita calls for discipline and moderation in all spheres of life, as a means of healthy living. This call is reinforced in the definition of Sattvikta (balance) that it provides for various thoughts and actions.
Faith and Respect
The Bhagavad Gita goes on to discuss various facets of action and inaction. This discussion provides relevant insight and guidance, for situations where the person with disease feels that treatment is not proceeding as per his wishes.
Indriyasyendriya sarthe, raga dwesha vyasthetau, tayorna vachama gachhe tau hrasya paripanthanau 3:34
Action is mandatory in life. If faced with illness, it becomes imperative on our part to fight it. To do so, we need to understand our challenges and their solutions. The Gita is a clear call to all of us to act in the face of adverse situations.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Psychology)