Monday, Oct 07, 2013.
SAYINGS ON THE BHAGAVAD GEETA :
Dr Annie Besant
Among the priceless teachings that may be found in the great Hindu poem of the Mahabharata, there is none so rare and precious as this "The Lord's Song." Since it fell from the divine lips of Sri Krishna on the field of battle, and stilled the surging emotions of the disciple and friend, how many troubled hearts has it quietened and strengthened, how many weary souls has it led to Him! It is meant to lift the aspirant from the lower levels of renunciation, where objects are renounced, to the loftier heights where desires are dead, and where the Yogi dwells in calm and ceaseless contemplation while his body and mind are actively employed in discharging the duties that fall to his lot in life. That the spiritual man need not be a recluse, that union with divine life may be achieved and maintained in the midst of worldly affairs, that the obstacles to that union lie, not outside us, but within us, such is the central lesson of the Bhagavad Geeta.
It is a scripture of Yoga; now Yoga is literally union; and it means harmony with the Divine law, the becoming one with the Divine life, by the subdual of all outward-going energies. To reach this, balance must be gained, as also equilibrium, so that self, joined to the Self, shall not be affected by pleasure or pain, desire or aversion, or any of the "pairs of opposites" between which untrained selves swing backwards and forwards. Moderation is therefore the key-note of the Geeta and the harmonising of all the constituents of man, till they vibrate in perfect attunement with the One, the Supreme Self. This is the aim the disciple is to set before him. He must learn not to be attracted by the attractive nor repelled by the repellant, but must see both as manifestations of the Lord, so that they may be lessons for his guidance, not fetters for his bondage. In the midst of turmoil, he must rest in the Lord of Peace, discharging every duty to the fullest, not because he seeks the results of his actions, but because it is his duty to perform them. His heart is an altar, love to his Lord, the flame burning upon it, all his acts, physical and mental, are sacrifices offered on the altar, and once offered, he has with them no further concern.
As though to make the lesson more impressive, it was given on a field of battle. Arjuna, the warrior-prince, was to vindicate his brother's title, to destroy an usurper who was oppressing the land; it was his duty as prince, as warrior, to fight for the deliverance of his nation and to restore order and peace. To make the contest more bitter, loved comrades and friends stood on both sides, wringing his heart with personal anguish, and making the conflict of duties as well as physical strife. Could he slay those to whom he owed love and duty, and trample on ties of kindred? To break family ties was a sin; to leave the people in cruel bondage was a sin; where was the right way? Justice must be done, else law would be disregarded; but how slay without sin? The answer is the burden of the book. Have no personal interest in the event; carry out the duty imposed by the position in life, realise that Isvara, at once Lord and Law, is the doer, working out the mighty evolution that ends in Bliss and Peace; be identified with Him by devotion, and then perform duty as duty, fighting without passion or desire, without anger or hatred; thus activity forges no bonds, Yoga is accomplished, and the soul is free.
Such is the obvious teaching of this sacred book. But as all the acts of an Avatara are symbolical, we may pass from the outer to the inner planes, and see in the fight of Kurukshetra, the battle-field of the soul, and in the sons of Dhritarashtra, enemies it meets in its progress; Arjuna becomes the type of struggling soul of the disciple, and Shri Krishna is the Logos of the soul. Thus, the teaching of the ancient battle-field gives guidance in all later days, and trains the aspiring soul in treading the steep and thorny path that leads to peace. To all such souls in the East and the West come these divine lessons; for the path is one, though it has many names, and all souls seek the same goal, though they may not realise their unity.