By Ved Prakash Saxena
Chapter 2 of Gītā presents the persona of an ideal person designated as ‘sthitpraggya’. Practicing any particular religion is no prerequisite to elevating oneself to become sthitpraggya. Any Muslim can rise to the level of a sthitpraggya and become, thereby, a better Muslim and any Christian can become a sthitpraggya and a better Christian for that without compromising any tenet of their respective faith. Gītā’s ‘dharma’ or religion, if it must be so translated, is the only true religion of mankind. It shows the way to elevate oneself from the level of a self-centred beast to the supreme level of Brahma or God who cares for all beings without attachment, discrimination, or any expectations in return. The hallowed portals of Gītā’s religion are open to all humans and not restricted to any particular section of mankind. Even the most wicked people may enter and be transformed into virtuous people in no time (Sloka 9.32). Adoption of Gītā’s ‘dharma’ provides for the peaceful coexistence of all beings despite their outward differences of a myriad kind, and diverse faiths. In fact, it is the subtle influence of Gītā’s ‘dharma’ on Hindu psyche that has allowed all the different faiths, even the most inimical ones, to flourish unhampered in India. And, this liberal influence is eloquently reflected in the peaceful and non-violent way Hindus take recourse to protest against any affront to their beliefs, Gods, sacred symbols, etc.
Gītā’s ‘dharma’ is manifested in living in the service of others without harbouring expectations of any reward, and setting examples of righteous action for others to follow. Gītā’s lofty message of ‘sarvabhutahitey ratāh’ is to gain one’s happiness in making others happy and in relieving the suffering of others through selfless action to the best of one’s ability. Could there be any precept more secular, more humanitarian, more universal, and more conducive to inter-faith harmony than this? Gītā’s sublime teachings transcend the boundaries of cultural and geographical divisions and encompass the whole mankind. They elevate man to the stature of a world citizen. Gītā’s teachings are even more relevant today than ever when religious fundamentalism is rearing its ugly head all over the world. They come forth as balm to the troubled humankind vivisected by different religions.
Today, with so much at hand for a comfortable living, nobody is happy and at peace with either themselves or with others. People are living a stressed life and, the higher the level of material comfort, the higher is the level of mental stress. It is only the Gītā’s ‘dharma’ that shows the way to live a peaceful, relaxed, and stress-free life. Gītā’s teachings are directed towards bringing about a change in our outlook on self and others, freeing ourselves from delusion by inner transformation, and taking our consciousness to higher and still higher levels through selfless action, that is, nishkām karmayōga. Gītā wakes up every one to realize that he is not an isolated individual but a vital component of the human community and, as such, it is his prime duty to perform his duty-bound actions to keep the community harmoniously integrated by going beyond the narrow confines and concerns of ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’. Religions are all communal and divisive of people; Gītā’s ‘dharma’ – the true religion of mankind – is secular and unifies people. It may also be noted and keenly realized that religion can be (and is often) used for extra-religious ends; ‘dharma’ can never be used for any non-dhārmik (immoral) purpose. A mix of religion and politics makes a toxic cocktail that kills social order and generates turmoil; ‘dharma’- infused politics is a sure cure for all social ills and brings about social cohesion.
In my Gītā commentary in Hindi, ‘Shrimadbhagwad Gītā : Jiwan Path Pradipika’, I had raised the demand for the first time in 2014 that Gītā be declared as the National Book of India. Declaring Gītā, the epitome of real secularism and inter-faith harmony, as the National Book of India will go a long way towards making the world free of strife and conflict of all kinds. Any opposition to this demand on the ground that Gītā’s teachings are venerated by Hindus is as absurd and silly as denouncing the cardinal virtue of Truth for the reason that Hindus venerate Truth and deify it as ‘Satya Nārāyan’, or discarding the sublime virtue of contentment only because Hindus have deified it as Santoshī Mātā.
I implore all right thinking people to join me in my call for declaring Gītā as the National Book of India which will restore its lost glory as ‘Jagadguru’.
घर घर गीता, सस्वर गीता | हर उर गीता, सुमधुर गीता ||