Life catches you by surprise if you let it. On a warm Sunday morning in Florida I find myself at a temple surrounded by so many Indian families and their kids all scuttling about. Some kids are learning hindi here at the ashram, some are learning dance, and yet some are attending philosophy lessons. Preparations are in full swing for their delayed Diwali celebrations and everybody has work to do. I like such intrusions into my usually busy days.. I had no phone, no laptop to kill time with and nothing to do.
I figure I might as well roam around and take in some spiritual vibes. I pray at the temple and again feel that awkward misplaced sense of being mixed with a comforting thought of god being around. There’s a Gita class that’s about to begin and I’m curious enough to sit un-conspicuously at the back. Now I have always been skeptical about Gita.. almost to the extent of refuting it. I can safely blame this on dad cause he would invariably resort to the adage “Everything is maya” during all of our debates. No further discussion is possible when a man of 50 states a thought like that. To a practical thought process its jarring to know that everything around is an illusion that really has no point :P. However, having never read the book myself I shall not pretend to own any opinions on it. To cut down the long tirade, I entered the class and sat through a discourse on 2 verses in the Gita.
Here’s the first one:
Na budhibhedam janayegyaanaam karmsanginaam|
joshayet-sarvkarmani vidvanyuktaha samacharan||
“Let no wise-man unsettle the minds of the ignorant people, who are attached to action; he should engage them all in actions, himself fulfilling them with devotion”
Tough luck guys, I was about to disclose the meaning of life to you… but looks like i should just let it be. (However, I can let you know that it is indeed very close to 42). This verse and the next ones all dealt with the need to act. Isn’t that a nice thought? You must act, and only in carrying out your actions can you achieve what you seek.
“Do not fear going ahead slowly, only fear standing still.” Keep the wheels moving all the time, said the explanation in the book. The wise should not slap on their knowledge onto the ignorant and disrupt their routine and activity. The worst thing that a wise man could do would be to create confusion and hamper the ignorant men’s stride. I wonder how they define being wise and ignorant.. but i guess for the sake of explaining the concept the book makes a black-and-white distinction in characters. In working on your jobs and responsibilities of day to day lie your answers.. whatever the question be. This is a thought very similar to Candide, by Voltaire. I recommend this book to anyone who’s wondered if the purpose of life is carry out mundane activities everyday.
Someone’s said it quite elegantly… “Keep walking”.
Verse Two: 3.25
Saktaha karmanyavidvaamso yatha kurvanti bharat|
“As the ignorant men act from attachment to action, oh Bharata, so should the wise men act without attachment, wishing the welfare of the world.”
This took me a while to translate into something understandable. I was a lil suspicious as talks of attachment to worldly things was being explained, and was half afraid that the ‘everything-is-maya’ routine might spring up on me. It didn’t, and i’m not too sure i understand what’s said by being attached anyway. The take home point seemed to be to work without dwelling on the results and work only to be part of the greater designs in the world.
That was about how long I sat there and for most parts of it i’m glad I did. It made me realise that the Gita would be an interesting read at this point and also that 5 yrs of Sanskrit in school has done me no good whatsoever. Maybe i’ll pick up a copy from our library and peruse through a quote or two to see what more it has to offer. Maybe i’ll find the true meaning of life. Sadly, I cant share that knowledge with you guys.. but I might write again about the experience.
Also try: “Move it.” https://revathy.wordpress.com/2007/01/20/move-it/