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The Beginning PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

Dhritrashtra said: O Sanjay, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu so desirous of battle do after assembling in the Dharmakshetra and Kurukshetra

Gita has a simple beginning. Simplicity is the hallmark of Gita. There is great depth in Gita, but it is obtained and attained by simple conversations. No conditions are attached. No high sounding sermons appear. The book starts with a simple question, a simple request, and a simple desire.

 


Dhritrastra is the King of Hastinapur. He is blind and has one hundred sons who are in a battlefield about to start a war with the five cousin brothers, the Pandavas. Sanjay is his assistant who has special powers of being able to see what is happening in the battlefield. He is a commentatator, a reporter to the King. And the King asks Sanjay as to what is happening in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Kruksetra happens to be Dharmic places like what Varanasi and Mathura are today.

Let us understand a few details about Sanjay. He was endowed with the powers of being able see what was happening in the battlefield. He is similar to what a television or a radio station is today. If you look into the developments in the time of Ramayana and Mahabharata, it appears that the talents and developments were individualized. Sanjay got this gift, partly by his ability and partly from blessings of Vyasa. Similarly, Arjuna acquired certain special weapons unique to him and Karna had ones unique to him. Individuals who were perceived to be able to use them judiciously were allowed to obtain weapons of mass destructions. It did sometimes fall in wrong hands and that created problems. This happened in case of Ravana in the time of Ramayana. The developments were more human and the man had to work for it to get there; unlike today when most developments are mechanical. There is television and radios but there is no Sanjay. There is nothing wrong with machines but there is something wrong in loosing the individual developments. Coming back to Sanjay, this was a gift he had.

The simplicity of the beginning of Gita can be better appreciated if we examine the beginnings of some other similar Shashtras. Let us see the beginning of Brahmasutra by Badnarayan. The first sutra says:

 

Athato Brahma Jigysa
Now the longing of the Brahma

The first sutra puts a condition. Further reading of the book is good only for those who are longing for the knowledge of Brahma.

The beginning to Patanjali Yog Sutra is also similar. The first sutra says:

Atha Yoganushashnam
Now the discipline of Yoga.

Patanjali puts this condition in the beginning of his book. You have to have the discipline of Yoga (whatever that may be) before you go any further.

Upanishads do not have pre conditions but they do start with sutras that need a deep intellect, devotion and desire to know the depths of spiritualism. For example let us see the following verse:

Aum, may my speech be rooted in my mind, and my mind rooted in my speech……

Profound indeed.
Gita on the other hand is so basic, yet so practical. It is as simple as this. The cricket team of India goes to England and the match is about to start. What does an average Indian do? He switches on the television or starts his radio. He wants to find out what is going on. If instead of cricket commentary, Gita flows; he watches it with his total interest. Gita does not start flowing suddenly. The toss is made. Gavaskar makes evaluations as to who might win. Suddenly Sachin Tendulkar falls into a dilemma and then the Gita flows. Sachin does not even know that something is flowing. In the process he is totally transformed and refreshed. And at the end Sachin plays and makes a triple century. He is not afraid to loose, not afraid to be out. He is not worried about the outcome; he is totally focused in the game, plays each ball with total commitment and stays not out in the end. The team wins; let us say victory falls in the lap of the team. Who can deny watching something like this?

This is not exactly what happened in Gita, but the events are very close. A simple beginning, little twists and the story continues.

I cannot over-emphasize the simple beginning of Gita. This simple beginning has caused great problems to various commentators. They try to find special hidden meaning in the first shloka. Osho, my Guru, says that all shashtras start with questions from blind men, Dhritrashtra being blind. I can understand his stand. He was a Guru and to a Guru everyone else is blind. They have to show the light. But that does not mean that the sutra has that meaning. Prabhupad brings his utter Bhakti in this sutra. The Godhead Lord Krishna is present and hence Dhritrastra knew that the Kauravas would be defeated. It is easy to understand his stand but that is not there in the shloka either. Radhakrishnan, a philosopher, takes it a little further. The whole world is Dharmakhsetra. This sounds like the entire world is a Stage. Gandhi denied the whole existence of Mahabharata ever happening. He describes the first shloka as a war not between Kauravas and Pandavas but between Dharma and Adharma. He is a moral leader with Ahimsa (non-violence) as his prime message. He could not conceive of Krishna leading anyone into a war. Everyone you read has imposed his own views on this shloka. A Bhakta has put his bhakti, a philosopher has hanged his philosophy, a moralist has denied the war and a Guru has put his compassion.

But the shloka is simple. What is happening in the battlefield? This is the question that the King is desirous to know about. He asks Sanjay, what my sons and the sons of Pandu, both so desirous of war are doing in the Kurukshetra the place which is also a Dharmakshetra. The war is between his sons and the sons of his brother. It is very intimate. It is very personal. It is very intense.

Suppose there was no cricket game for two thousand years. The people at that time read about the game and its celebrities. How will they react? A philosopher will perhaps say that this is all made up. Wickets represent the holy trinity. The bat is your weapon to defend against all the attacks of desires and the further you hit your desires the more you score. If you score a hundred you get a seat in the heaven.

I have taken great pains to elaborate this point of simplicity. The reason is that I would like to see and understand Gita from the base line. I want to approach Gita from a seekers point of view, from the viewpoint of Arjuna if I can. So far it has been approached and commented upon by Gurus, Bhaktas, philosophers, intellectuals, moralists and so on. What is a seekers approach then? To be honest I do not know. I will go with the flow. I am not writing on the Gita. Every time I sit to write, something flows. I guess that is a seekers’ approach.

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