My Gita: Takeaways from the EBG Class

After attending the Gita classes every Sunday, I was keen to bring the classes to the FS community. Thus, took the birth of “Essence of Bhagvad Gita” (EBG)  as a life classes offering for the academic year 2017-18. The response to these classes was highly encouraging, around 50 people signed up for the workshop. This tells me that we all are looking for answers to our problems: these problems need not be big. But there is a sense of “Everything is not OK, I am not OK” that one carries deep inside. Maybe, Gita has the answers is what Guruji says. So we were all on board.


The subject matter of the Gita is in fact self growth and self discovery. In that sense, the Bhagvad Gita is probably the most ancient “self help” book out there. This revelation itself is dramatic for one who previously thought that the Gita is a Hindu text. Our class has devout Hindus, devout Muslims, atheists, agnostics, skeptics and everyone else who falls in this spectrum and since we all hang on to every word on the class, its clear that the Gita has very little to do with religion or Hinduism.


Coming back to the EBG, one of the first things that was discussed was about who is a person who has made it. The answer : A person who is at home being herself. I then definitely don’t seem to have made it. In fact, I am a classic “insecure overachiever” , I sometimes completely identify with the “imposter syndrome” . Guruji then explained how self esteem was closely related to this feeling of having made it. Self esteem in turns stems from how many desires of mine are accomplished. Thus, as long as my sense of self esteem/ worth/ success is directly proportional  to my never-ending list of desires, I would never really “make it”. Hence, there is a need to redefine “success”. How exactly?  


Turns out that the most well known shloka of the Gita has this answer. “Karmanye va adhikar te, ma faleshu kadachan”: I have full control over my actions (only). I can choose to do , not do or do differently. At no point do I determine the results of the action. The results are “taken care of”. By whom/ what? The laws. My success then depends on how well I handle the results. If I can be more or less the same person, or in other words, take whatever situations that life throws at me with equanimity and sangfroid (Hello, Grade 12 :)) , then as per the Gita, I qualify as a “success”. Good enough. But hey, I am a person given to  worry, anxiety and panic. I dont think I can take results with stability and composure. This is where the concept of “Prasada Buddhi” comes in. Prasada buddhi is the contribution of Swami Dayanand Saraswati to the teaching tradition or “Sampradaya” . If I take the results in my life as “prasada”, then there is some acceptance of the “phala” just like a diabetic also accepts a laddoo as  prasad.Rather, I am happy to take this “prasada”. Probably, this “acceptance of results as they are” concept of the Gita  is spoken colloquially as “everything happens for a reason”, “this is all part of the plan”


My second AHA moment was my acceptance of “ishwar” as the way the Shastras have defined it. I have been an agnostic since I understood this term. Our “western” education does have a lot to do with this. As a “modern, 21st century” woman, I  was naturally skeptical about God and the role that He/ she plays in my life. The idea that “all that is here is intelligently put together, is one conscious being” which one can call “ishwar” , that this “ishwar” is not partial towards anyone in particular, that by doing my duty with dharma is a sort of worship or reverence to this “Ishwar”, that when I mentally weigh the pros and cons/ rights and wrongs of an action in my head is a manifestation of “ishwar” : all these are extremely powerful and  liberating thoughts. By this definition of Ishwar, science, order, evolution all fit in well. To my understanding so far, there is no conflict between science and the idea of “god” as defined by Shastras. Prayer, yoga and meditation also then find their due place in this definition. The idea of “prayer/ pooja” and “meditation” as a physical / mental act of connecting with this “Ishvar” is also powerful.  This is what is the difference between “preaching” and “teaching”. In the spirit of inquiry, when I know the “why” of things, I find it more palatable and real.  I would like this definition of “ishvar” to be more accessible to my generation and also future generations. Acceptance of this vision of “ishvar” and hence “prasadabuddhi” and hence “accepting success and failure with composure” and achieving emotional growth this way: This knowledge/ belief system is surely a way that needs to be handed down further and not lost.  


Something that I assimilated in one of the earlier EBG classes was about the 2 dreaded emotions: anger and fear.  That anger happens, it is not a product of one’s will and happens because of a certain background established that anger is an emotion that cannot necessarily be controlled. It demands expression. My responsibility and “sankalp” as a mature adult is to release this anger in a safe way and not victimize anyone in my anger. I have been working on this for some months now with some level of success. Anger still comes but Gita class learning also comes to the surface soon after that and I am able to process the emotion of anger in a better way.  Fear is the other emotion. Saying “I welcome fear. I am not afraid of fear” is a “sankalp” i wish to take on to live, love and lead fearlessly.


I am sure Krishna has many more things to tell me over the shoulders of Arjuna over the next few chapters and I look forward to continuing my commitment of lifelong learning with Vedanta/ Gita.


Shree Gurubhyo Namah!

One comment

  • ‘A person who is at home being herself.’ For an Engineer/MBA with a fun-poking Atheist around, giving in to the study of Vedanta and openly accepting its lesson and bringing it to the notice of your employees, would I think mean that you are at home being yourself – at the most basic level. For other things (‘insecure over-achiever’ included) I guess, the process is gradual, even for people who preach the Vedanta.

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