From Critical Thinking lessons to lessons from The Gita!

My recent transgression from theism to almost agnosticism (and definite ‘anti-ritualistic’ attitude) made me want to take up the Gita classes as a challenge – having avoided ‘such things’ all my adult life, and not for lack of opportunities, mind you. Perhaps the tag of a “well-read Tamil Mami (aunty)”, somehow didn’t seem as appealing as the notion of a “happening facilitator of Literature”.

But, as it happens, our beliefs are often turned on their heads in life. My perception of The Gita classes turned out to be one such case. What I presumed would actually be antithetical to all I could possibly grasp from other life classes, especially the Critical Thinking classes (and would, therefore, mangle the inner recesses of my brain) turned out was not as asymmetrical in nature – especially since it was delivered with a reasonable dose of logic and a sort of ‘take it or leave it’ mantra. What I believed would be lectures and explanations turned out to be as emphatically related to life as were the Critical thinking classes.

Of course, there was teething trouble. How does a grown person who has never been taught Sanskrit in her life adopt with open arms the embarrassing task of chanting out verses – and end up with the humiliation of being unable to pronounce words? But I guess that got covered because everyone else was also mumbling the words wrong! So with some attempts at trying to decipher words and still others to make a connect with what I had heard during pujas in my growing days, I started my Gita journey – significant or not, is a post for another day.

The lessons brought me to terms with a few interesting ideas – one of them being that the Gita is a blueprint, a sort of plan, to help one lead their life. Now how can an incredible sounding book, allegedly written by the Elephant-God, dictated by an Omniscient Narrative perspective of a Sage, with one character being the Divine image and the other his cousin, make any sense in the current world? What kind of a blueprint was it going to give me? Of course, those questions still persist. But that does not negate the internal debate and discussions that have begun in my head (in addition to those that we had around the table).

From learning about cognitive biases (CT) to moving on to recognizing more basic things about my existence (BG), the transition seemed almost seamless. From something spiritual and therefore unreachable, the Gita and its lessons seemed to turn into something tangible. With resounding clarity, a few facts that I learnt during Life/Love/Integrity and CT classes were brought back to fore.

Penned here are a few interesting things that I have learnt from these lessons:

  1. Emotional maturity – my happiness or dissatisfaction is dependent on my own mind.
  2. Success or lack of it depends on our attitude to it – if we think of it as ‘Prasada’, coming from the altar of ‘Eeshwara’ our attitude to success and failure may change.
  3. A truth happens to be two orders of reality – what is the truth and what is our projection of it.
  4. We all play various roles in life – problems that occur in those roles are not problems of the Basic person (who is different from/more than each of these roles that one plays).
  5. One is already innately composed – what one needs to find is cause for ‘Ashanti’.
  6. Projection is always on a person, not a thing – when we hit our foot against the table we don’t get angry at the table, but when someone stamps our feet we are angry at the person. This was a significant learning for me – because I learnt how to take a pause to avoid projecting anger at people.
  7. When you manage your ‘to be done’, you adhere to Dharma. The knower-doer dichotomy results when you digress from Dharma, which would imply that your mind innately knows what is the right thing to do.
  8. And finally, what all of the life classes have taught me – Advice is an insult to people’s intelligence.

So Tamil Mami or not, whether I will remember these verses or not, and even if I am unable to pronounce the words correctly – at least there is no ‘pravachan’. I am free to decide what to take and what to discard. So, I guess, that works well for me.



  • Vardan Lalitkumar Kabra

    Your prose is actually poetic – in 3 ways:

    – in the fluid transition that you’ve made about learning about life from Critical Thinking to Bhagwad Gita classes &
    – in the sublime manner in which you have distilled your learnings from this class
    – in the self-deprecating yet secure manner in which you have accepted both your limitations which also portrays your growth as a human being (if I may say so) 🙂

  • Ayman Shabbir Shaikhmahmud

    First of all, it was so easy to read this post, thanks for making it so interesting. I was wary too about this claim about giving a blueprint of living our life. My question was, this is my life, how can anyone else have the blueprint to it? But the answers I got are believable so I am going with the flow!

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