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“Decoding The Bhagavad Gita”

If we step back from the flow of life and reflect upon it, we will be able
to notice existence. Everyone is living with different contexts while
majority living with the “average everydayness”. This majority lives
unaware of their actual surrounding and becomes a part of different
herds running with different ideologies in different directions. The
reality of existence is intriguing. Who are we? What is our purpose of
living? What is this world? Why is it burdened with difficulties? What is
its origin? Why are we caught in the intense struggle of survival? The
Gita speaks to persons whose thoughts have arrived at this stage of
reflection – the stage of questioning existence. It enlightens them to
some intense answers to the fundamental questions of life. The Gita
which is within the Mahabharata emerges in literature in the post
Buddhist period and becomes an important document. Here wisdom is
being given in the middle of battlefield. The Gita which we overhear is
one which is narrated by a man with no authority but infinite sight
(Sanjaya) to a man with no sight but full authority (Dhritarashtra).

There is a difference between Ontology (as things really are),

Epistemology (how we make sense of things) and Phenomenology (how
we experience things) which makes truth complicated. We wonder
which one of it is “the truth”. Every guru in the country believes their
truth is the truth and their followers insist it is so. It is like bollywood
fans who refuse to believe any communal activity done by bollywood
stars. We have interpretations and don’t know what the truth is. Focus
should be on ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’. “My Truth” is whatever I
experience, whatever makes sense to me, the way I think the world is
and your truth is the way you experience the world. Truth is
somewhere between the two of us. If we cannot figure out the truth
between us we go to the third party and give power to it due to which
it becomes judge and decides what is right and what is wrong and that
becomes problematic. We have been spellbound by the notion of
objectivity and of ontology that there is something out there and only
someone speaking Sanskrit will tell us about it. This is the recipe of
exploitation which one should not subscribe to. One should find their
truth and listen to different people’s truth.

Imagination helps us create concepts, which filter our sensory inputs

and impact our emotional experience. Thus, we can imagine a rock or
river to be a deity and so condition ourselves to feel joyful whenever
we encounter that rock or river. Our emotional experiences can also
inform and shape our concepts. When a rock or river gives us joy in
some way, we declare it must be a deity. Concepts therefore help us
rationalize emotions; emotions help us rationalize concepts. It is a two
way process. The distinguishing of the imaginary from the real
overlooks the fact that humans are humans because of the ability to
imagine. All the things that we value-justice, equality, free speech,
human rights- are concepts churned out of imagination like the ideas
such as god, heaven, hell, rebirth and immortality. These are essentially
creations of humans, by humans, for humans. They are artificial
constructions and not any natural phenomenon. They have no
independent existence outside humans. Successful people in the world
today who think of god only in bad times and forget about god in good
times, for them God is all about their fortune, not everybody’s fortune.
They do not believe in the God living within. We mistrust fellow
humans and so yearn for something beyond humanity, someone who
comforts us, indulges our hungers, our insecurities and our
inadequacies without judgement. Two thousand years ago, The Gita
introduced Hinduism to the concept of bhagavan. Arjuna needs an
anchor, a support, someone to lean on, the comforting hand of God.
And so Krishna introduces himself as god: the invisible beyond the
visible. The Gita plays a key role in the shift. In the pre-Gita period, god
was a concept and in the post-Gita period, god becomes a character in
human affairs. Life is not simple, gods are not simple. If everything is
simple, what’s the point of living life. In everything, there is something
to discover, something to define, something to search and there are no
clear answers.

The world has no beginning, no end, no value, no purpose. All meaning

is created by humans, individually and collectively: the boundaries we
establish and fight over. Devdutt Pattnaik in his “My Gita” states that
“The world into which we are born is imagined as a stage full of actors
but with no script, no director. Everyone assumes they are the hero,
but discover they are not the protagonists of the play. We are forced to
play certain roles and speak certain dialogues. But we revolt. We want
our own script to be performed and our own dialogues to be heard. So
we negotiate with fellow actors. Some succeed in getting heard with
some people while some fail. We cling to our scripts, submit to other
people’s script, speak dialogues we do not want to, only to stay
relevant and connected to the larger narrative, or at least to a subplot.
Heroes emerge. Villains emerge. Heroes of one plot turn out to be the
villains of other plots. Eventually, all leave the stage but the play
continues. Who knows what is actually going on?” Animals fight
because of the survival of their body, Humans fight as the survival of
their identity depends on it. Clinging is comforting. Insecurity fuels
desire(kama) for more, and so acquiring more becomes the purpose of
life. We get angry when we don’t get them, get attached(moha) to
them, become intoxicated with pride(mada) because we possess things,
feel jealous of those who have more and insecure around those who
have less(matsarya). The idea of rebirth reminds us that the world
existed before us and the world will exist after us. Many people have
sought to change the world and make it better, even perfect, but while
changes do take place technologically, no real change takes place
psychologically- people are still jealous, angry, ambitious, greedy and
heartbroken. While the West valorizes social transformation, The Gita
focuses on individual psychological expansion.


Shrimad Bhagavad Gita

Devdutt Pattanaik’s “My Gita”

Lecture on “My Gita” by Devdutt Pattanaik at The Hindu-Lit for Life

2016 on 15 January 2016.


Submitted By – Yatin Batra

Course- M.A Comparative Indian Literature, 1st year .

Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies

University of Delhi

Phone No. – 9650450990