Your Guide to the Bhagavad Gita

The launching of Babooram Mahadoo’s book Bhagavad Gita- Message of Heroism, on 14th March at the MGI, by the President of the Republic, Mr Rajkeswar Purryag, is an invitation to delve into the ocean of Vedic philosophy to and collect the pearls of wisdom which have come down to us in the form of the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna.

First of all, let us express our debt of gratitude to the author for having been the first Mauritian to have ever attempted such a daunting task. This is the fruit of his labour which has taken him seven long years of comparative study of various classical texts on the Gita before presenting them to us in a digestible and simple language, accessible to the average Mauritian. It is clearly a book of meditation, as described by Yvan Martial. One of its great merits is that it brings to us within the covers of one volume the essence of Vedic and Vedantic learning, enhanced by the interpretations and commentaries of great Vedic scholars in Indian philosophy. This book can be acclaimed as the Mauritian guide to the Bhagavadgita.

After all, one does not write on the Gita unless one is really driven by a powerful divine inspiration to go forward. And that inspiration came to Babooram in the shape of a request by his guru, the late Swami Harihar Maharaj Saraswati, while the author was serving the country as the Mauritian High Commissioner in London.

If we randomly pick out any of the 700 verses from the 18 chapters of the Gita, we cannot fail to come into direct contact with the word of God exhorting us to lift ourselves to great spiritual heights by our own self-effort. We can apprehend the words of Lord Krishna to Arjuna as relevant to humanity on all occasions in all circumstances of his life.

In other words, like the Vedas and the Upanishads, the verses are of universal application. The message is addressed to humanity at large. As a book of philosophy, it teaches us how to live a noble life and how to fulfil our life’s mission on earth. It is the classical guide on how to live the ideal life in order to overcome all our obstacles, however difficult they may appear, by turning them into challenges and victories. This is dramatically illustrated by the example of Arjuna, the hero of the Mahabarata who, overcome by dejection, throws down his weapons, and refuses to fight the battle for truth and justice over unrighteousness.

It takes Lord Krishna eighteen days on the battlefi9eld of Kurukshetra to expound the virtues of Vedic wisdom in order to inject the spirit of heroism back into Arjuna. And as the dialogue ranges over the divine objects of man’s purpose in life, one gets immersed in the secrets of creation of the universe, of life until one can rise to become a great Yogi, a superman, someone who has achieved self-mastery.

To illustrate my point, I will just pick out a verse at random: “To work alone thou hast the right, but never to its fruits thereof. Be thou neither actuated by the fruits of action, nor be thou attached to inaction.” (Chapter ii, verse 47).

The meaning is crystal clear. One should take delight in the performance of action for its own sake. Those who take work as a pleasure, a challenge, and who dedicate themselves to achieve excellence in the performance of their duties without bothering for the results, whether success or failure, victory or defeat are the true Karma Yogis. No doubt, among other verses, this one must have fired the imagination of great men like Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Mahatma Gandhi and nearer home, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. Those great souls worked selflessly by applying their intelligence and talents, their heart and mind, at the cost of personal sacrifice in the performance of great action for the benefit of others, for their countries and for humanity at large.

Lord Krishna reminds us that one should not bother about the results of action. The point is that one should do one’s best at all times to achieve excellence in whatever job one undertakes in life. Do it with pleasure, love and devotion. Do it with dedication. Do it as your life’s mission, as the will of God. Work as if you are doing a divine assignment. Success or failure does not depend on you. What matters is the fulfilment of action which is strongly backed by intelligence and knowledge.

Above all, do it with the right spirit, that is, positive thinking, hard work, perseverance and the firm determination to turn all difficulties into challenges and opportunities. In the end, you will have achieved the spirit of detachment, of not longing and desiring things for yourself alone. You will have mastered your ego-centredness. You will emerge as a hero.

 


* Published in print edition on 21 March 2014

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