Gita Ji’s appeal to India’s Youth

I D Soni
The Gita is the Ganges of light, a River of radiance running from Eternity to Time! The Gita has attracted attention in the West, not without reason. In a letter of Emerson, recently published, he says, “The Bhagvad Gita is an empire of thought”. Emerson was a good student of Gita. He was fond, too, of Hafiz. He was a lover of Eastern Culture. Emerson realised the greatness of the Gita
The testimony of this fact was also supported by another great man, Shri Maeterlinck. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature many years ago. He speaks of the Mahabharata (of which the Gita is a portion) as the “Bible of Humanity”. Of the Gita, too, it may be truly said that it is a “Bible of Humanity”.
India has thrown up three great Acharyas. And all the three have written commentaries on the Gita as a Supernatural Scripture. It can also be interpreted as a human document. To every one of us the human is also divine. The Bhagavad Gita is, thus, a remarkable document. Human and most Wonderful.
Let us, therefore, not think that the Gita is our monopoly. The Gita was sung in India, but for the Race of Man. We truly revere the Gita when we say to ourselves, “The Gita is meant for humanity, and, therefore, we shall live the life of the Gita in order to serve the humanity”. It is imperative on our part to make the Gita the song of our life. Do not say some thousands of years ago the Master sang the Gita in Kurukshetra: but breathe out this aspiration, “Master! Re-sing the song in our daily life”. Then will we be true sons and daughters of India. For every one who lives daily the song of the Gita is a builder of the coming temple of Liberty, the temple of Humanity. “Liberation” is the master word of the Gita; and to know the Gita is to know that there is no true liberty without an aspiration for inner liberation.
Gita teaches us, not to stop with memorising the Gita or reciting its ‘slokas’ everyday: but to live the Gita in daily life, to translate the message of the Gita in deeds of daily living. The Gita is first and foremost a dynamic scripture, a scripture of action and life. Numerous enlightening discourses and beautiful reflections on the Gita which every writer described as the “Universal Scripture and the Bible of Humanity” enable us to realize that the Gita is not only for the philosophers and scholars, but a holy book of life for ordinary mortals. It is not the kind of book one reads once and puts down at the end of reading. It takes time, perhaps a lifetime to understand and assimilate it. It is not as simple as it appears to be. We have to go into the depths of every ‘Sloka’. We have to adopt a different approach to reading the Gita. It is not just another book of non-fiction or even another sacred scripture. It is a life guide.
Its message is not meant for India only, but for all humanity. It has so much to teach the world – especially those of us who are the sons and daughters of this excited, agitated, stressed age. The message of the Gita is the message of courage, heroism, and Atma Shakti. The Gita teaches us that weakness is a sin, while shakti is a spiritual virtue. The Gita inspires us to victory – moral and spiritual in the battle of life.
Some people generally ask: What is use of studying the Bhagavad Gita? What is its relevance in the modern life? What value does it add to life? Let us examine some misconceptions which lead people to think that the Gita is for retired, older people. That is not true; the Gita helps us live with wisdom and composure with the hope that many may take advantage of the timeless teachings that can transform our lives. The Gita makes us explore important and fundamental questions such as the real nature of ‘I’ and the nature of Universe. Finding answers is connected to our giving meaning and direction to our lives, gaining true satisfaction and contentment that we are all seeking.
Another misconception is that once we become spiritual, we have to be detached. The reality is that the Gita is not asking us to be detached. Infact, physical detachment from the world is impossible as we live in interconnected world where actions of one affect the other. Even emotional detachment is not desirable. We are meant to show love, care and concern for our children, parents, society and humanity; we cannot be indifferent to life. The Gita shows us how to free our emotions of love and care from jealousy, envy and control, so they flow without distortion and encompass the whole of humanity.
Another misapprehension is that the study of the Gita requires us to disregard our material accomplishments. That is not true either. The Gita teaches us to be alive to realities of existence, covering a very big picture about the nature of Lord, the supreme. It throws light on how to live our daily life by managing our desires, making appropriate choices, and dealing with difficult situations and emotions. By being exposed to the Gita’s teachings from a “Young age”, one can become dynamic and alive to reality of existence, be responsible and contribute to society without being overwhelmed or defeated by the challenges of life.
The Gita must not be studied merely as a text-book. The true study of the Gita was along the Path of Life. And every interpretation of the Gita must relate the Master’s teaching to the problems and perplexities of modern life. He who treads the Path of life aright must, according to the teaching of the Gita, keep clear of the sin of separateness. Separateness is the one sin of spiritual life. Let us not separate ‘Karma’ from ‘sanyasa’, action from renunciation, said Sri Krishna to Arjuna – Life works through forms. The spirit works through matter. And he who separates one from the other falls away from the Path. Work is necessary: for work discipline and purified life. But work must be done in a spirit of non attachment to forms. He who understood this was the true Sanyasi, the man of true renunciation.
The fifth chapter of the Gita relates to two paths, the paths of knowledge and of Action. And according to the teaching of the Master, he who trod one path aright, received the fruits of both. The fruit of the path of knowledge was illumination. And the fruit of the path of Action was purification. The man who worked on, doing service, bearing the burden of others, toiling day after day without a single thought of reward, without a single desire for social approbation, was being purified from within.
The Gita’s appeal to India’s Youth:-
Revolt against religion is rising. Is this revolt irrational? Is there not, in atheistic communism itself, a breath of the spirit? Alas! The heart of the modern world is lonely: and on the nations, alike East and West, sits a heavy burden of having turned their faces away from God.
The Gita claims to be a dialogue, a communion of souls, between Krishna and Arjuna. Beautiful is this book not only in the music of its words but, also, in its thought and its vision. This inner beauty of the Gita has ravished the minds and hearts of many lands: the Gita has been translated into more than forty languages. Whence cometh its power, if not from some great fountain of spiritual life? This fountain flows from the heart of a Holy One, who has, through the centuries of India’s history, a symbol of eternal youth.
The Gita is not a book in abstract philosophy; the Gita has personal appeal to the heart of the youth in particular. Again and again, rises in the Teaching of the Master the moving, thrilling note: “Come unto Me! Kindle the Light! And the Light is within you”. There is, firstly, the light of the body. Keep the body pure and strong and it will radiate light. One who kindles the light must purify himself from the lower self of desires. It is an appeal of the Gita to the youth who have become the victim of a cult of pleasure. They confound love and sensation and not a few find fault with ideals of morality.
There is, secondly, the light of the mind. Reflection, the power of understanding, is what the Indian youth need today. As to balked and ungratified. They must cultivate larger minds in themselves. Gita says to them, “Be thou a seeker of truth. Truth, not traditional”! “Seek ye the Truth, said Jesus, and Truth will make you free from dogmas, creeds hatred and animosity”. Grow in the spirit of Truth, Humility, simplicity and Meditation”, says Gita to young men and women.
Thirdly, there is the light of the heart. It is the light of sympathy and service. He who has the light lives not for himself alone. He lives for others. Life, according to the teaching of the Gita, is sympathy, compassion, and service. The Gita, therefore, appeals the youth to make their heart as a love divine.
It is in this personal appeal in the Gita – its call to soul, which lingers in the hearts of youth. They must understand that why the great German scholar, Schlegel, on reading the Gita, was so thrilled as to say: “The Gita is the deepest and sublimest book in literature”. Schlegel felt, as I have felt again and again, that “it is blessed to have lived to study this book”, and to try everyday to translate it into life and commune with its central Mystery. I am quite sanguine if the youth of today communes with the Lord, his face becomes new and sanctified. He (the youth) can see the meaning of life, and the meaning of renunciation, and the meaning of the joy that cometh to him who hath learnt to renounce.
The Gita requests the youth to rise above the “ego” to the atman. The “ego” has enormously increased in youth, the self-assertion and self-sufficiency: the self-assertive impulse is aggressive, and what is aggressive divides, goes on dividing. The Gita says that its ideal is integration, not aggression: and the law of integration is willing renunciation, is self-abnegation, is abdication of the ego, is sympathy and sacrifice. In this renunciation, as the Gita rightly saith, and after the Gita, the world-poet Goethe, is the secret of wisdom.
Youth crossed his childhood: Youth is yet to come of age: and a fuller manifestation of the wisdom awaith him. The modern fight against religions is not against God, not against the Eternal Religion but against anthropomorphic conceptions of God and also against some of the traditions and conceptions which have enveloped religion. Only youth can help to come out of this “dark era” after studying the Gita in the right spirit and sincere perspective.