The Gita, Religion and Dharma

Lord Krishna instructing the Bhagavad Gita to ...

I’m into the Bhagavat Gita.

There was a realization, like always; which led to it. It was not a time-specific realization or for that matter an event-triggered realization. It was a rather general realization, something that I had thought over more than once earlier. It involved religion. During the recent Assam riots, I was having one of those ‘me’ moments during which I got to thinking about religion, faith whatever you wish to term it; more specifically I was thinking about Islam.

Here’s a question for you: ‘What do you call a person, who doesn’t have much knowledge regarding a subject and yet, he decides to get into a debate involving it; gets into condemning it; gets into trashing it?

‘Ignorance’ is one of the terms that pops up; ‘foolish’ is another word, this one an adjective for the particular person. It was in these moments I decided, ‘Okay! I’m going to try and educate myself before I go on a bashing spree; I realized it’s better not to be a foolish/ignorant person’. In that moment I also decided before venturing into other faiths I should perhaps get some idea about my religion firsthand.

I couldn’t have read the Vedas, or the Upanishads! (Sanskrit/pure Hindi coupled with the time I could afford to devote tilted the decision away from them) Frankly, these great books hadn’t even been in contention back then, it was the Gita all the way. I had remembered the Gita from my childhood memories, involving my grandma reciting the shlokas (verses), day in and out! Of course, I hadn’t cared for the text much back then; all of my concern was centered on the colorful illustrations, featuring the Lord and other prime characters of the Mahabharata!

There was another reason; the Gita was perhaps the only text I could get my hands on without generating much of a fuss from father’s side. And boy, did that go as planned! Father threw a bit of a fit that day! His point, ‘you’re not in your old age that you’re getting into the Gita and mukti and stuff like that’; which I might add was in a way, justified. I though had not bought the Gita for that purpose; I considered it to be a teacher regarding living life in a better manner.

I’m into the Bhagavad Gita.

All that I’ve managed is the introduction part of the Gita. Till date, a few myths have been done away with, a few interesting concepts have popped up. The Gita is a commentary by the Godhead, Krsna; he taught it to Arjuna; and from him it has been passed through generations. Also Krsna is not meant as another God, he’s just a reference for the eternal, omnipresent, all existent God. The Gita is not a Hindu text, Hinduism came later; Hinduism, like Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. is a religion, a faith, and it can be changed. There is a lot of other concepts like karma, etc. which might be the topic of further discussions but this particular post concerns ‘sanatana dharma’!

Sanatana-Dharma

I quote, “Sanatana Dharma refers, as stated previously, to the eternal occupation of the living entity”. Sanatana signifies eternity, sanatana-dharma refers to the eternal occupation of the living entity. Every religion in human history has a beginning; each can be traced to a founder, a time during which it gained exposure.

I quote again, “The English word religion is a little different from sanatana-dharma. Religion conveys the idea of faith, and faith may change”. By its mere definition, sanatana is different from religion. Religion signifies faith, and faith may change. A Hindu may convert into a Muslim, Christian, Jain or so on. Sanatana Dharma is related to each individual in spite of his allegiance to any particular faith/religion. It refers to that one activity that is common to all; serving others. Take a second and think about it.

The one thing common to all humanity; rendering services; whether it’s the mother serving his child or vice-versa; or it be an employee serving his employer, the examples are numerous. Why do we fight then? Why are mosques demolished, bodies burnt, nations subjugated? All in good faith, huh!? 😀

India is a great nation, a multi-cultural nation. I remember what my history teacher used to say, ‘Before British Raj, there used to be peace and brotherhood between Hindu and Muslims; there was sanatana-dharma. Yes, Hindus had their Gods, Muslims their; but faiths were respected; ideas were respected.’ Divide and Rule ended up being more than just an excellent administrative move!

We are all allowed to have faiths, celebrate occasions but I guess our dharma has its own importance, eh?

Oh and I would like to end this post with the following lines,

“Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna; Krsna Krsna Hare Hare!

Hare Raam, Hare Raam; Raam Raam Hare Hare!”

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