By Gaurav Rastogi
Yada Yada, desi style In Chapter 4, Krishna describes the lineal tradition by which the secret knowledge has been passed along. Arjuna protests the logical error in this statement (see opening lines of the previous blog entry). In reply, Krishna describes the concept of multiple births, and why he keeps coming back. whenever there is a decline of dharma, bhaarata, an ascendency of adharma, then myself I manifest for the deliverance of the good and for the destruction of the sinners in order to establish dharma, I come from age to age Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it! This verse is exciting for three reasons: – Prophecy of a messiah. Hindus are not messiah seeking in the same way as Judaic people seem to be. This verse hints that even amongst the sons of Bharata (i.e. desis at large), there is a small glimmer of hope that a messiah will come by occasionally to sort out the mess. – Complexity science. The verse accurately describes the world as being in the “edge of chaos” which is a delicate dance between complete order and complete chaos. The dance of Shiva (Nataraja) is another widely used desi metaphor to describe the divine dance between order and chaos. – Monetary Policy. The same concept – of a redeeming deity in times of peril– is called the “Greenspan Put”, where the Federal Reserve Chairman is expected to come in to bail out the investors in times when the market becomes chaotic. All roads lead to sacrifice The second half of chapter 4 describes the many ways one can offer sacrifice. We already read about offering one’s work as sacrifice – which is the recommended way to get karma stains to dissolve. Other means of sacrifice include, but not limited to, in-breathing, out-breathing as well as curbing eating habits. Know all the varieties of sacrifice and be free. Here’s another formula: devotion to wisdom > sacrifice of wealth. Faith Good, Doubt Bad Linked to this section there are a couple of verses stating that faith is good, doubt is bad. That sounds a little like Animal Farm’s “two legs good, four legs bad” principle (follow the link to read more about Animal Farm and how ideologies can be manipulated by people in positions of power). Like in Animal Farm, where the propaganda changes to “four legs good, two legs better”, modern scientists talk about how having “rational doubt is good, and having blind faith is bad”. What should we follow in our own lives – faith or reason? Two ways to liberation, both equal Arjuna opens chapter 5 with his question about which path to liberation is right for him – (1) sannyasa (renunciation of karma), or (2) yoga. Krishna answers that doing either brings the benefits of both paths. However, sannyasa is difficult to attain without yoga since, if the senses are restrained through yoga, wisdom comes quickly. The chapter then repeats the theme of detached action. Then, as quickly as it began, the chapter closes. Thanks for your patience with the long delay. Please keep the comments coming. I know the ratings for the previous chapter were high, but I don’t rejoice or despair, since that would defy the basic principle of the Gita. I write because it’s my duty, and I won’t attach myself to your feedback! Gaurav Rastogi is blogging his thoughts as he reads the Bhagvad Gita for the first time. He is 35, lives in the Bay Area, curiously religious but not a Sanskrit scholar.
And I read it because I love it! Look at that last paragraph! “I want your comments, but I won’t say I look forward to them. I’ll take my water-drops-on-lotus-leaf stance, but I’ll check WNI every few seconds to get to the comments section as they appear.” Apt ending to a brilliant interpretation.
Thanks Geeta. The previous chapter’s debate led to another blogger commenting on the meaning of varna. Here’s the entry…