Two small children with bloodied faces and vacant eyes sat on a table in a dingy room, too shocked to even cry. They had just become orphans and they did not know it. There would be no mother anymore to fuss over them, no father to demand from. It had not yet dawned on them that death had abruptly snatched away everything of value at the very onset of life. Their future now was loveless foster care, insensitivity and neglect. A child cannot be truly cared for by anyone except his parents for such is the compelling impulse of the word ‘mine’.
To the eye not cultured by knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita, it is a tragic chronicle of two unfortunate children cursed to lifelong misery due the derailment of a train in Kanpur on a November morning in 2016. Many questions like why innocent kids should deserve such a sordid predicament arise in the social mindscape and lie unanswered in the dusty annals of forgotten history.
The Bhagavad-Gita provides a different perspective of the situation.
Some souls in their eternal journey whilst on a brief sojourn on earth were brought together to a specific context of time and space for their karma had fructified and so the nature of things so transformed that the train they had confidently boarded fell off the tracks beyond all expectations, destroying or maiming their bodies leaving behind deep scars on the minds of those other souls who thought themselves by the quirk of destiny to be their family members.
The Gita speaks of the living being as a soul, unborn and deathless. Occupying a body made of perishable matter, the soul is forced to experience a life of struggle and pain – something alien to his blissful nature.
Our planet is a tiny speck in the vast region of space called as the material world. Everything here is constituted of eight material elements, five gross and three subtle. The properties of substances, the complex emotional states and the ability to probe reality are all effects of the material energy. This energy works to produce continuous transformations under the irrepressible force of time. Be it body, thought, feeling, idea or action all that springs to existence in the material world grows, stays, dwindles and eventually perishes. This is duet of the material energy and time.
All living beings are subject to yet another law – the law of Karma. The human form enjoys far greater freedom than any other species on earth to understand and utilise the natural environment. Yet, the freedom comes with an onus to honour and perpetuate the delicate balance of nature. When that responsibility is neglected, all species and the earth itself suffer. Hence, human existence is subjected to the law of karma that awards or punishes the respect or disrespect of the intricate structure of material life. Actions of human beings are judged as pious or impious. The basis is the set of principles revealed in the dharma shastras.
Human society is disturbed when these principles are not properly observed. Modern civilization with serious anomalies in every sphere of life bears testament to this fact. There is paucity of resources, irregularity in natural supplies and a proliferation of natural and man-made disasters. It is a karmic consequence of disobedience to the laws of karma.
The entire scheme of material existence with the powerful influences of material nature, time and karma perfectly functions under the supreme control of the omniscient, all-powerful, Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. He is therefore the most important subject of the Gita. Thus the five subjects of the Gita are – Isvara (the supreme controller), jiva (the living entity), prakriti (material nature), kala (time) and karma.
Yet, the Gita speaks of another dimension of existence free of the debilitating limitations imposed on the jiva by prakriti, kala and karma. Lord Krishna urges the human being to sincerely adopt the path of yoga and strive to attain His eternal and blissful supreme spiritual abode. To live a life that leads to rebirth is considered a failure of the human form.
The core message of Bhagavad-Gita is the message of Yoga and more specifically Bhakti Yoga. In the initial stages, Yoga is meant to purify the eternal soul captivated in a bodily concept of life. The innumerable bodily demands keep the soul riveted to material existence and prevent him from appreciating his divine nature. By practicing the principles of Yoga that the Lord enunciates in the Bhagavad-Gita, the soul, gradually freed from material influence, is able to revive his original spiritual nature of pure devotion to Lord Krishna. This is the perfection of Yoga.
The sublime knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita should be received in parampara. One should therefore learn it under the guidance of an authorised Guru. This alone can lead one to spiritual life. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is such an Acharya who gave to the world authentic parampara understanding in his commentary ‘Bhagavad-Gita As It Is’. It is the world’s most widely distributed edition of the Gita. Due to its unswerving adherence to the true spirit of the Lord’s teachings, it has created powerful transformations in the lives of millions worldwide.
With all its incessant upheavals the material world is but a transient journey. Conducted under the powerful principles of Bhakti Yoga, material life leads to ultimate spiritual liberation. The conduit to blissful spiritual existence that the material world has built within it is revealed in the Bhagavad-Gita. The Bhagavad-Gita is thus a gift of unfathomable value. It is the only way the embodied soul can attain the state beyond suffering.