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मंगलवार, 18 सितंबर 2018

Geeta and Lord Krishna

Dharma (The Principle) and Karma (The Righteous Path) – Meaning of Krishna’s Discourse in Gita
(मेरे लेख को मेरे प्रिय क्लाइंट व मित्र अमेरिका निवासी डॉक्टर संदीप कॉल द्वारा अंग्रेजी में अनुवाद किया गया..)

(My beloved readers, your opinion are very valuable to me)

     What is Dharma? If I were to quote Lord Krishna’s, the (divine) answer is:"कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन.....मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि "
 (Karmaṇyēvādhikārastē Mā
Phalēṣhu Kadāchana.....Mā Karma Phala Hētur Bhūrmā Tē Saṅgō̕Satva Karmaṇi)”
For the uninitiated, the literal translation is:
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.
Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to ‘no’ action.”
Bhagwat Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 47.
This is the most popular verses of Srimad Bhagwat Gita. It is the basis for many commentaries, from time
immemorial, and has been used to explain the relation between ‘Human Actions’ (Karma) and ‘Religion’
(Dharma) by many treatise (literary compositions) and write-ups. This phrase, proposed in most literary
works of the world, is the best saying there is in any treatise. It is also the best verse delivered by Lord
Vasudev Krishna, who is an exemplary character in the entire Bhagwat Gita. My learned people have
expressed the importance of this verse from time to time, but the irony is that these people have failed,
in their attempt, to convey its deeper meaning to the society at large.
This verse contains the entire jist of Bhagwat Gita. Like a bee which sucks up the entire nectar of the
flower without having to contribute to the laborious nurturing or blossoming of that flower, likewise a
person can get to truth in life if he/she attemptsto understand the meaning behind this verse. One doesn’t
need to do the laborious task of reading or understanding any other book after that. From present
perspective, this verse is the best guide for attaining peace (both for the individual and society at large) in
this world. If one were to go back in time, to the times of Epic Mahabharata and to the final deciding stage
around Kurukshetra battlefield where all the great characters had congregated, we would find everyone
‘dispensing their righteous duties’ (Dharma). Going down the list of these important characters, one
would find the following great people: ‘Ganga Putra Bheeshma’ – the central character of this Epic, who
waged war for 10 long days out of total 18 days (remember this is going back in time some 5000 years and
thus was considered to be a big battle) and was sworn to his righteous duty (Dharma) of protecting the
boundaries of the ‘Kuru’ kingdom, by being the most loyal and dutiful servant to the king sitting on the
throne of ‘Kuru’ dynasty; ‘Mrityunjaya Karna’, who was exemplary proponent of being sworn to the duties
(Dharma) of friendship; ‘Acharya Dronacharya’ who was duty (Dharma) bound by the oath of allegiance
to his lord benefactor (‘Kuru’ king and Bheeshma); ‘Gandhari Putra Duryodhana’, who swore to the
righteous duty (Dharma) of keeping the inviolability of the kingdom of ‘Kuru’ and not to accede any part
of that kingdom howsoever small, even as miniscule in size as the tip of a needle; ‘Shalya’, who was duty
(Dharma) bound by his pledge to the ‘Kuru’ king to fight for him in the battlefield, even if it meant he had
to face his own cousins in battle; ‘Shakuni’ who was duty (Dharma) bound out of shear love for his cousin
How can one criticize the righteous intent of the duties (Dharma) of these people? Each of the above
individuals were fully convinced of the righteousness in their subconscious mind. Take for example
Duryodhana. If Lord Krishna was convinced that Duryodhana was a vicious (Adharmee) person, then why
would he have ask his ‘Narayani Army’ to show allegiance to Duryodhana, instead of himself?
       In reali।ty Adharma (Viciousness) has no definition. Its physical existence is hard to explain because a person can acquiesce to the status quo (remain silent), not raise a voice by inaction, or prefer to remain in dark and
still commit the vicious act (Adharma). As opposed to this doing the most vicious act, which is very  prominent like killing a person to have an illegal gain of his possessions/kingdom, in itself is blatant Adharma. Actually viciousness (Adharma) is present everywhere like darkness. Just as absence of light
defines omnipresent darkness, Adharma is also omnipresent and will happen everywhere and at any time.
This can also be explained in terms of a physical entity like the Sun. We can see Sun because it shines light on us and not because it annihilates darkness. The crux of the matter is that Sun cannot dispel darkness forever. Absence of Sun leads to darkness and that is unassailable truth (Dharma). The Sun does not
attempt to establish light. It is already there and as long as it is present darkness will always vanish. Said
in a converse sense, it is the sacred duty of the Sun to shine light in the universe. As long as there is sunshine, darkness is without identity. So, if I were to say in a straightforward manner, it is the duty (Dharma) of Sun to walk down this path, without fail, where it shines light to dispel darkness constantly.
     Drawing a parallel here, establishment of righteousness and the duties associated with it (Dharma), spells
end of viciousness or inaction (Adharma). The problem arises when an individual decides to forego his
duty to go down the righteous path and enforce his own rules and interpretation of those person’s duties
(Dharma). In a similar manner, the other individual has likewise thoughts of renouncing his righteous
duties and starts to enforce his personal version of duties and by going down some unjustified path thus
straying off course. It was not the intent of Lord Krishna to prove Duryodhana wrong. He did not consider
Bheeshma, Dronacharya, or Karna as vicious (Adharmee) persons either. I will emphasize again, he
allowed his ‘Narayani Army’ to fight for ‘Kuru’ cause, which each of these above individuals firmly believed
in being the righteous cause and trying to defend. Since Lord Krishna was of ‘Yadava’ lineage, he allowed
his ‘Yadava’ generals to form their own opinion, about the righteous (Dharma) path down which they
were willing to travel. Some of them were of the opinion that they did not have any enmity with ‘Kurus’
(Kauravs) as these generals perceived them as a stronger adversary. Any wrong move on the part of these
generals would be detrimental for their kingdom, Dwarka, in the future. Hastinapur, the capital city of the
‘Kurus’ would impose trade bans which would have adverse effect on newly formed kingdom’s (Dwarka)
economy and well-being of its people. Hence they were more inclined to fight the war from the side of the ‘Kurus’. Lord Krishna, being king of Dwarka, respected the opinion of these generals and considered obeying their opinion as his Dharma (righteous path). Although he was divine, and probably knew the ultimate truth from wrong, but still he gave these generals the right to independent thinking (fulfilled his
own Dharma in the process) and inspired them down paths they thought to be their righteous paths.
        But Lord Krishna’s righteous (Dharma) path was different from that of the ‘Yadavas’. He did not try to impose his thinking of what was right (again, he was divine would have known the outcome, right from wrong) and prove to his generals to relinquish their paths. What he did was to establish his own Dharma, made it known what side he would take in the battle, and then acted (Action – Karma) on it. In this way
he gave a shining example of establishing what was right or wrong (Dharma) and then, based on thatopinion, acted (Action – Karma) on it. This is the overarching message and the central idea of Srimad Bhagwat Gita and as explained in the verse appearing at the top of this work.
           This is easier said than done. Although Lord Krishna tries to strictly follow the righteous path (Dharma)
but in fact he side tracks a lot as well, as is apparent in Gita. According to him:
“   "परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम्‌ ,,,धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे "...(Yada Yada He Dharmasy Glaani
Bhavati Bhaarat, Abhyutthaanam Adharmasy Tadaatmaanan Srjaamyaham)”
The literal translation of the above verse is:
“Whenever there is decay of righteousness, O Bharata, and there is exaltation of unrighteousness, then I
myself will come forth”
The part which says “exaltation of unrighteousness……I come forth” and “decay of righteousness……I
come forth” needs some attention. The obvious question that needs to be understood is “to come forth
and do what?” The answer is equally simple – “reestablishment of righteousness.” To put it in simple form,
the Lord says that he will show up again and again if the world is headed towards decay of Dharma. Again
“what/who benefits as a result?” The Lord’s reply – “It is righteousness (Dharma) and for that I act by
walking down path of righteousness (Karma).” The most important thing here is that he never mentions
any destruction (He never talks about destruction of viciousness/injustice or that the world should
maintain the status quo by inaction). The emphasis is always on action and in reconstruction of Dharma
(righteous path). Adharma (viciousness/injustice) vanishes on its own as a result. Or conversely it can be
said, one need not fight Adharma (viciousness/injustice) to rekindle Dharma, just as mere presence of Sun
dispels all darkness. Thus the jist is that the person has to follow the path of Dharma (do his Karma) by
walking down the righteous path and viciousness disappears on its own. No action or inaction is never an
option. But in reality, we attempt to destroy the viciousness of other people and in the process abandon
our own Dharma. This is where the real problem lies. The end result of these effects is chaos and
disturbance/upheaval. These results collectively manifest themselves in family, society and country in
some form or the other. Again if one delves slightly deeper into the problem, the real cause of all this
upheaval and chaos is the prerogative of other people, who decide what is right and correct (usually they
think that their religion is the most pure) from wrong and exhaust all their energies in enforcing their will.
Looking back, what can be said along the lines of Lords discourse, is that one does not need or make an
effort to prove other person’s Dharma (Karma) to be wrong. What needs to done here is to make a whole
hearted effort to reestablish Dharma which automatically dispels Adharma. This is the person’s right and
duty (Karma path). If the person is on a lookout of light then darkness will disappear on its own. Darkness
will lose its identity on its own.
Continuing on this discourse, the Lord says:
“पररत्रािाय सािभनां धवनाशाय च दुष्कृ तार् , िर्मसंस्थापनाथामय सम्भवाधर् युगे युगे (Paritranaya Sadhunam
Vinashay Cha Dushkritam, Dharmasangsthapanarthay Sambhabami Yuge Yuge)”
The literal translation of the above verse is:
“For the protection of the good (sadhus), for the destruction of evil-doers, for the sake of firmly
establishing righteousness, I am born again from age to age”.
From above we can see that the Lord is emphasizing the importance of Sadhus (followers of the righteous
path). What is the meaning of “धवनाशाय च दुष्कृ तार् ” in context of “पररत्रािाय सािभनां”? Its symbolic meaning 4
is that the protection of these Sadhus that will automatically result in phasing out of evil-doers. Any effort
to eradicate these evil-doers is a useless exercise. Just as mixing of rice in a bowl of milk automatically
results in the making of ‘Kheer’ (rice pudding), likewise no concerted effort is needed to eradicate the evil-
doers. He add further that this would happen over and over again and in all ages and for it he (the Lord)
takes birth in ‘His mortal form’ again and again. Again, to summarize, the reason for the Lord to take birth
on this mortal world is to reestablish Dharma. He never talks about the destruction of Adharma
(viciousness/injustice). His birth, during the time of Gita/Mahabharata, did not happen to kill ‘Kansa’ but
happened to repay the debt of ‘Devki’. So my dear readers, the reality is that this repayment automatically
ensured the beheading of ‘Kansa’ and no special effort was needed by Him against ‘Kansa’. His mere
presence ensured that and such righteous actions (presence of the Lord) would happen over and over
again, and across all ages/eons.
Again, what is the significance of “संर्वाधर् युगेयुगे”? A similar example can be given by relating the tale of
‘Hiraṇyakaśyapa’ (It happened in one of the previous births of the Lord and in a different age – story of
Lord Vishnu and his fourth avatar/incarnation). When the Lord says His birth will happen over and over
again, one has to go deeper into the meaning behind those words. He says, “If I were the opponent of
Hiraṇyakaśyapa’s path of righteousness, who was constantly opposing me, then I accorded him all the
independence to think along those lines. I had no problem with that. If this was the source of my
discomfort then I would have killed Hiraṇyakaśyapa a long time back. My ‘Narasingha Avatar’ came into
being after much waiting. My purpose of being born during those times (of Prahlad and Hiraṇyakaśyapa)
was to protect Prahlad’s Dharma and in protecting him, I was following my Dharma. For following my
Dharma, I had to follow the path of righteousness (Karma), and Hiraṇyakaśyapa’s beheading was the
automatic result of that Karma”.
He again told Arjuna that he would see this pattern (evidence) repeat itself over and over again and across
all eons. “I did not consider challenging the trickery of Indra as my Dharma (during the times of Ramayana).
My Dharma was atonement of the curse with which ‘Ahilya’ was suffering. I followed my Dharma (‘Ahilya’
was relieved of the curse by doing seva to Lord Rama – story of Lord Vishnu and his seventh
avatar/incarnation). Similarly, I did not have any personal enmity against Bali nor I had the persona that
could identify me as an enemy of anybody. I helped Sugriva, instead of Bali, because I considered
protecting Sugriva as my Dharma. It ended up killing Bali. Conversely, if finding Sita was of greater
importance to me than my Dharma, then I would have certainly asked for Bali’s help, which would have
considerably eased my problems. But I did not do so. Also I did not consider, the course which Bali took,
as incorrect. As per his thinking and according to tribal tradition sexual intercourse with younger brother’s
wife was not surprising or something to be ashamed of. But in my Dharma, wife of younger brother is
considered as one’s own daughter. She is accorded this status and any violator of it will be held
accountable for it. Even if it implied that I needed to kill Bali. All I did was walked down the path of
righteousness (Karma) to reestablish Dharma.”
So, my dear readers, what is the central idea of the Lord’s discourse here? Firstly, one has to identify what
is the path of righteousness (Dharma). This implies real objectives/ principles and does not necessarily
mean any religious connotations. It is quite likely that at times Dharma will have a religious foundation or
in the broadest sense one’s principles might be in direct conflict with other person’s thinking. But this is
not implied here. People’s thinking can be in conflict, but not Dharma. This is acceptable outcome and is
true across all religions. Secondly, one needs to be aware of righteous path (Karma) associated with that
Dharma (principle). The Lord adds “It is the responsibility of the individual to walk down this path to 5
reestablish Dharma. It is path of peace, even if it means that peace can only be attained at the end of a
great war. It does not imply that one has to oppose the religion of other person either.” One has to take
the symbolic meaning of war into cognizance here, which can be treated as an activity/action rather than
seeking any reward (victory). It is to be considered as a simple halt along a long journey. Lord Krishna
further says, “Hey Kuntinandan, this war is not being fought to prove that the adversary’s Dharma
(righteousness) is in the wrong but is being fought with a higher aim of reestablishment of our Dharma
(righteousness). The adversaries in this war are also people like us and in fact are a part of me as well. The
only difference is their Dharma (righteousness) is different than yours and mine. There is no consensus
between us and as a result they feel responsible to go down their own path, which they consider as right.
You don’t have to prove them wrong but your higher aim here is to follow your Dharma and to reestablish
it. What is ultimate right or wrong is inconsequential as of now. Your responsibility is to do your Karma
and that is the real reason that you and your adversaries are at the opposite ends of this battlefield.”
“You need not worry about the outcome of this war (the fruits of your labor). That is instilled deep into
the future and is in the purview of nature. Nature also complies with its Dharma. It does not stop any
individual from committing any injustice or any wrong. It will not call you Adharmee. All it does is follow
its own Dharma which is to preserve itself for the greater good of all living beings that depend on it for
survival. It is this compliance of Dharma, which it needs to protect, that it has to show its ugly side in the
form of deluges, storms or earthquakes from time to time. You cannot blame it for this. It is just following
down the righteous path as per its own thinking. There is no distinction between what is its own or what
is not. Whatever comes in the way of that deluge, gets annihilated by that storm and gets an equitable
treatment. You cannot restrained it at that time. But then protecting yourself from destruction is your
own responsibility and hence you’re Dharma. Thus in the end, what I want to say is, you remain true to
Nature and it’s Dharma. That would in turn be your Dharma.”
Here, these days, we find that in our home, in our family, in our society and indeed in our nation, we are
not following our Dharma. Instead, we oppose other person and this happens to be the version of Dharma
we like to follow during the present times. We feel it is our responsibility to impede and be a thorn in the
path of others whereas in reality it should be the other way around. One should let flowers be strewn on
those people’s path. This should be the case. That is the overarching message given by Gita and by Lord
Krishna. This is the real righteous path (Karma) to follow Dharma. It will lead to happiness of both
individual and society.
As always, please do comment, even if you agree or disagree with this article. Waiting for your valuable opinion
of the article.
The Original Hindi version of this article appears here: .

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