As a law student, I come across many case studies dealing with conflict of interests among persons. All the disputes arise from either personal vengeance and revenge against another person or greed for wealth & property, so much so that human loses regard even for his near & dear ones, his closest family members and blood relations. These cases give me an insight into basic human psychology – what factors shape human behaviour and mindset, how man perceives threat and reacts according to his perception, how vulnerable man becomes on the thought of losing something, how different human beings perceive and respond to the same situation differently, and so on. It also reminds me of a phrase from Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya’s composition ‘Bhaja Govindam’ which translates as, “So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.” This basic human tendency which Adi Shankaracharya observed ages ago, stands true even today, which shows that the fundamental human characteristics never change. As social engineers, we have interactions with humans and thus get exposed to varied perspectives, thought processes, beliefs and instincts of people forming the society. We also get to examine the conscious and subconscious intent, motive, fears and deep desires of people, either in manifested or unmanifested form.
After studying these cases closely, I have felt that the root cause of all the conflicting interests, disputes, enmity, hatred and toxicity is ‘avidya’ or ‘ignorance’. When man considers this world to be permanent and gets deeply engrossed in worldly virtues, he lives in a state of blissful ignorance. He creates his mental, physical, emotional, social dependence on materialistic things, which are temporary in their virtue. Man becomes vulnerable when he forgets that he is too temporary to have permanent problems in life, and that temporary things cannot give permanent happiness. That’s where Bhagavad Gita has a role to play.
Bhagavad Gita is not merely a scripture but a book of life, which has answers to all the questions which we seek throughout our life. Our struggle in life mainly deals with three aspects – human’s conflict with another human (Adhibhautika), human’s conflict with nature (Adhidaivika), human’s conflict with self (Adhyatmika) – and Bhagavad Gita deals with all these challenges and provides solutions to overcome them. The Kurukshetra in Mahabharata is symbolic of the battlefield of our life, the characters of this great epic are symbolic of the dynamic human tendencies & temperaments, and the Mahabharata represents the battle of life! When we take the role of Arjuna, our life becomes ‘Kurukshetra’, when we take the role of Duryodhana, our life becomes ‘Rannkshetra’, and when we come in the role of Shri Krishna, the same life becomes ‘Dharmakshetra’ – it all depends upon how we perceive life and the choices we make. We don’t see things as it is, we see things as we are. At times we become blind like Dhritarashtra, at times we develop an inflexible point of view like Bhishma Pitamah, at times we knowingly choose the wrong path like Duryodhana, at times we renounce righteousness for the sake of our attachment like Karna, at times we are placed in a dilemma like Arjuna. But when we seek the advice of Shri Krishna and follow his guidance, we rise above all the problems and emerge victorious in the battle of life. And this is why Bhagavad Gita stands relevant even today and applicable universally.
Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and various other scriptures are a treasure trove for us which have been preserved by generations since time immemorial. They give direction to our life and help us decipher ‘how to live life’. The wisdom of these scriptures transcend place and time. At any place, in any era, these teachings are aptly relevant because they catalyze the process of attainment of true knowledge and thus elevate human consciousness.
Human mind is very powerful, what it can conceive it can also achieve. But when that mind works in the negative direction, it leads to immense destruction. So channelizing that mind in the positive direction is very essential for the well-being of society and peaceful co-existence of all creatures in the world. Spirituality makes us realize that other than our true nature (aatma), everything is temporary. True happiness and bliss lies not in materialistic pleasures but in knowing oneself and the purpose of life. When we rise above worldly pleasures and seek divine knowledge, we get to know the master plan, the bigger picture of life, the absolute reality. We realize that neither our achievements nor our failures are permanent, so there should be no arrogance of achievements and no worries for failures. We then stop comparing ourselves with others because everyone has a different journey, and when comparisons end, all the associated feelings of jealousy, insecurity, competition, ego, greed come to an end. We become focused towards our own actions and shun negative, wrong acts.
I again quote Adi Shankaracharya’s excellent composition ‘Bhaja Govindam’, wherein he urges man to give up his thirst to amass wealth and devote his mind to thoughts to the real; and to be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless truth. This universal consciousness when imbibed by the society as a whole, ends duality and conflict of interests among people. The root cause of all disputes is wealth and property, because of which people spend half of their lives as labourers and the rest half as watchmen, forgetting the fact that they will go empty-handed. History has made it evident time and again that a rich man fears his own son, this is the way of wealth everywhere, it makes even the closest people disloyal and treacherous. One should reflect at all times that wealth is not welfare, truly there is no joy in it. Permanent bliss lies in true knowledge and wisdom, it is a treasure which no one can steal from you and the treasure which forms a part of your ‘chitta’, your deep memory, the unconscious mind, and it transcends lifespans. Wisdom is one such thing which accompanies you even after death to your next life, all other things are perishable and are carried only till the grave. Once we are able to discern between ‘nitya’ and ‘anitya’, we will get complete clarity as to what we have to do in life and what we have to refrain from doing.
All religions deliver the same teachings in different forms, spirituality is the common factor of all these teachings which opens our ‘trinetra’ or ‘aagya chakra’ and helps us see the bigger picture of life, i.e. absolute reality and universal consciousness. Spirituality transcends religions, faiths, beliefs, ideologies, ways of worship, cultural identities, and unites everyone under one umbrella. When people will rise above these limited identities and come to experience one consciousness in every creature, the world will become a better place to live in where law will have no relevance, laws will be replaced by self-regulation and people will become mindful and conscious of their actions. Such a world can be created by efforts on part of every individual, because little drops of water make a mighty ocean.