(Last Updated on : 30/09/2009)
Bhagavad Gita, the fundamental text in Hinduism was described and recited in the context of battle of Kurukshetra
, during the rule of Kauravas
and Pandavas in Hastinapur
. The legendary line-up to such a battle amongst the blood-tied kin is describes movingly in Mahabharata
. Lord Krishna
had taken up central role in the ongoing battle. However, prior to its commencement, Arjuna
, the man in limelight throughout the epic poem, had gone into a phase of depression. His primary worrying element was that he was compelled to combat against his brothers and revered teachers and fathers. In much despondent and desperate word he had urged his charioteer, Lord Krishna to make him understand such a cruel rule of the world. It was then that Krishna had revealed his true intention of coming to the physical world and demonstrating his exact self. Lord Shri Krishna had in one such several contexts explained to Arjuna the meaning of self-control, later taken within Bhagavad Gita as gospel. Krishna expressed, "He who acts because it is his duty, not thinking of the consequences, is really spiritual and a true ascetic; and not he who merely observes rituals or who shuns all action."
Krishna exclaimed to Arjuna that renunciation is in fact what is termed as Right Action. No one can become spiritual who has not abdicated all desire. For the sage who seeks the sublimities of spiritual meditation, practice is the only method; and when he has attained them, he must uphold himself there by continual self-control. When a man abdicates even the thought of initiating action, when he is not occupied in sense-objects or any consequences which may flow from his acts, then in truth he comprehends spirituality. Krishna states that the saint can be allowed to seek liberation by the help of his highest Self and should also be seen that he never demeans his own Self. For, that Self is the saint's only companion; yet, it can also stand as his adversary. Self-control advocated by Bhagavad Gita recommends that to that man who has conquered his lower nature by Its help, the Self is a friend; but to him who has not accomplished so, It is an extreme adversary. The Self of him who is self-disciplined and has achieved peace, is uniformly unmoved by heat or cold, pleasure or pain, honour or dishonour. He who craves nothing but wisdom and spiritual perceptivity, who has subjugated his senses and who looks with the same vision upon a lump of earth, a stone or fine gold, is the literal saint.
Self-control in Bhagavad Gita speaks that a real saint is that individual, who ponders impartially upon all, lover, friend, or foe; indifferent, hostile; unknown or relative; virtuous or sinful. Krishna licences a student of spirituality to try ceaselessly to concentrate his mind; to let him live in seclusion, very much alone, with mind and personality curbed, liberated from desire and without possessions. After the student chosen a holy place, he can sit in a firm posture on a seat, neither too high nor too low, and covered with a grass mat, a deerskin and a cloth.
After he has thus seated, with his mind concentrated and its functions controlled, and senses governed, he needs to practise meditation for the purification of his lower nature. The student needs also to hold his body, head and neck erect, stationary and steady; he needs to look fixedly at the tip of his nose, turning neither to the right nor to the left. With peace within his heart and fearing nothing, observing the vow of celibacy, with mind controlled and fixed on Krishna, the student of spirituality must loose himself in contemplation of Him. In this process, while keeping his mind always in communion with Krishna and his thoughts mastered, he is bound to attain that Peace which is His, which will lead him to liberation at long last.
However, Krishna warns Arjuna that meditation is not for him who eats voraciously, nor for him who eats nothing at all; nor for him who is too much addicted to sleep, nor for him who is always awake. Meditation is for him who determines his food and diversions, who is balanced in action, in sleep and waking; such balance is bound to dispel all unhappiness. When the mind, wholly controlled, is centred in the Self and liberated from all earthly desires, then can only the man be called truly spiritual. Self-control by Bhagavad Gita defines that a wise man who has conquered his mind and is enwrapped in the Self is just like a lamp that does not flicker, because it stands sheltered from every wind. In such a state, where the whole nature is perceived in the light of the Self, where the man abides within his Self and is gratified, there, its functions confined by its union with the Divine, the mind finds rest.
"When he enjoys the Bliss which passes sense and which only the Pure Intellect can grasp, when he comes to rest within his own highest Self, never again will he stray from reality." Finding the case, he cognises that there is no possession so precious. And when once established there, no catastrophe can perturb him.
This inner severance from the affliction of misery is termed as spirituality. It needs to be practised with determination, and with a heart which is unrelentingly un-depressed. Abdicating every desire which imagination can gestate, curbing the senses at every point by the power of mind; little by little, by the help of his reason contained by courageousness, he can actually achieve peace; and, fastening his mind on the Self, must not think about any other thing. When the capricious and vacillating mind would want to wander, it needs to be restrained and brought again to its loyalty to the Self. By self control in Bhagavad Gita, Supreme Bliss is the lot of the sage, whose mind achieves Peace, whose passions sink down, who is without sin and who becomes one with the Absolute. Hence, liberated from sin, resting always in the Eternal, the saint relishes the Bliss without much exertion, which flows from realisation of the Infinite. He who experiences the wholeness of life, perceives his own Self amongst every being and every being within his own Self and looks towards everything with an impartial eye; he who sees Lord Krishna in everything and everything in the Lord, he shall never be abandoned by Him, nor shall he lose Him.
The sage who cognises the wholeness of life and who worships Him in all beings, lives eternally within Him, whatever may be his lot. Krishna makes Arjuna understand that he is the perfect saint who, self-taught by the likeness within himself, "perceives the same Self everywhere, whether the outer form be pleasurable or painful." Arjuna during this time exclaimed that he could not perceive how can one achieve such a state of equanimity which Krishna had just revealed to him, owing to the tremendous fidgetiness of his mind. Quite sensibly, Arjuna's mind was fickle and chaotic, stubborn and strong, and highly troublesome as the wind is uncontrollable. Lord Shri Krishna smiled and answered that "Doubtless, O Mighty One! The mind is fickle and exceedingly difficult to restrain, but, O son of Kunti! With practice and renunciation it can be done." The path of self control in Bhagavad Gita affirms that it is not possible to attain Self-Realisation if a man does not know how to master over himself; but for him who, endeavouring by proper means, learns such art of mastery, it is possible. Arjuna then questioned back, enquiring about those beings who fail to master themselves, whose mind falls from spiritual contemplation, who attains no perfection, but only retains his faith. Having failed in both, that individual is absolutely without hope, like a split cloud without any kind of support, lost on the spiritual road. Arjuna was pretty confident that his worthy Lord was competent enough to solve this doubt once and for all. He believed that leaving Lord Krishna there was none knowledgeable to do so.
Shri Krishna addressed his beloved child that there is actually no end for him, either in this world or in the next. No malevolent fate awaits him who strides the path of righteousness. Having reached the worlds where the virtuous reside and having remained there for umpteen years, he who has slid by from the path of spirituality, will be born again in the family of the pure, munificent and prosperous. Or, going by the path of self control recited by Bhagavad Gita, he may be born in the family of the wise sages; though a birth like this is, indeed, extremely hard to obtain. After being born in the present life, the experience acquired in his former life will revive and with its help he will endeavour towards perfection more willingly than before. Unconsciously he will go back to the patterns of his old life; hence, he who tries to realise spiritual consciousness is certainly greater to one who only talks about it. After many lives have passed over, the student of spirituality who earnestly strives and whose silts are absolved, achieves perfection and reaches the Supreme. The wise man is superior to the austere and to the scholar and to the man of action; therefore Arjuna is advised to become a wise man just like his master had described. "I look upon him as the best of mystics who, full of faith, worshippeth Me and abideth in Me."