Conclusions (Part 10)

This article is part 125 of 131 in the series Jīvana-dharma-yoga

udāracaritānām tu vasudhaiva kuṭumbakam ||
bāndhavā viṣṇubhaktāśca svadeśo bhuvanatrayam ||

This is the opinion of the Gītā. When contact with foreign nations is inevitable and even necessary, can we be indifferent to them? Even if we are indifferent to them, will they be indifferent towards us? Suppose an old lady, dressed in a ritually pure garment, sitting in the courtyard near the tulasī plant, shouts out aloud - “Don’t touch me. Don’t pollute me!”, will the children of the house listen? Won’t the ball in their game eventually fall on her? Will she not be touched when the kids are running around in a game of catch? It is not possible only for the people of India to be ritually pure in today’s world. We have to live with the world.

Opposition is even more difficult. There are more among us who desire modern civilisation than those who don’t. Who does not want daily shaves, bed coffee, biscuits, wrist watches, cars, trains, telegraphs, or photographs? Even svāmīs in maṭhas will not mind them. In any case, why should anybody say ’no’ to them? When modern civilisation has assimilated so well into our daily life, how can we even oppose it?

Imitation? This is already happening not just in external articles such as clothing fashions, tables, and chairs but also with social formalities. Ninety people out of a hundred desire to emulate Europeans in the matter of even thought and emotions. This is more among the educated class. It is extreme in urban women. Applying lipstick and nail polish; and not applying turmeric and kuṅkuma to the forehead etc., It is natural for those lower in society to imitate those in higher strata. Those in power in the Indian government are trying their best for India to be like Russia, America, Germany, and Japan in the matter of industry, factories, business and economic systems. Whether such a thing will come to pass is a different matter. But the intent to imitate exists. If such imitation continues for tens of years, the uniqueness known as Bhāratīyatā (belonging to Bhārata) will be eroded and in the hotchpotch that the world is, the country of the Gītā might be extinguished.

What is civilization? It is a unique manifestation of the collective qualities and tendencies of a people. When a population nurtures and nourishes its natural qualities, strengths, wealth, and circumstances in such a way that the world is helped by it and is not negatively impacted, and refines its life in tandem with the world, such a refined lifestyle is known as civilisation. Prakṛti distributes myriad qualities and strengths among different nations and races of the world causing diversity in civilisation. Because of this diversity, one nation becomes necessary for another and is hence considered valuable. Thus this innate uniqueness in each nation is helpful for world welfare. There is a certain gift that India can render to the world. If India, in trying to become like other countries, loses this uniqueness, it becomes incapable of giving the world its gift. If India, without being enamoured of modern civilisation and becoming a blind follower of the westerners, continues to protect and enhance its spiritual uniqueness by all means possible, it will become worthy in the eyes of the world.

Let us now look at the differences in character between Indian and Western civilisations. 

  1. Western civilisation is founded on physical scientific hypotheses that depend upon direct sense perception. Bhāratīya civilization is founded on the principles of the self, which are subtle but physically imperceptible truths.
  2. For the westerner, the principal purpose of life is worldly pleasure. Worship of the divine is but an instrument towards it. For the Bhāratīya, worship of the divine is the summum bonum. Worldly pleasure is an occasional and temporary encouragement towards the main goal.
  3. The westerner values the supra worldly based on the perspective of the physical world. The Bhāratīya on the other hand values the present world from the vantage of the world beyond.

Thus the dissimilarity between the two civilisations is fundamental. Even so, dissimilarity does not have to turn into opposition. Milk and honey are different. But they are not rivals. They can help one another; it is better if they do. Intra personal differences are similar. Similar is the difference between countries.

There is no civilisation that is complete and perfect on all counts. There may be an exuberance of a particular quality in a civilisation, while being deficient in another. It is for this reason that world civilisations need one another. This is the benefit from diversity; that it encourages symbiosis.

Every civilisation is a different form of human progress. Humans belonging to every nation, every era, every jāti and every class strive again and again to better their situation owing to their innate impulses. These impulses are the seedlings of the energies of consciousness and bliss that are latent in the self. Much like seedlings growing into different trees conditioned by soil quality, wind, and seasonal changes, the seedling of impulse assumes different forms in different nations. Therefore, while we cannot find fault with other civilisations, we cannot blindly follow them either. Just as with human beings, every civilisation has in it elements of daivī and āsurī qualities. Hence it is our duty to examine every civilisation and analyse the daivī and āsurī qualities in it. Whatever quality turns the jīva towards paramātmā is considered daivī, while the quality that turns the jīva away from paramātmā is āsurī. We have seen this explained in detail in the sixteenth chapter. For the devotee of the Gītā, daivī qualities, in whatever civilisation they may be, are to be imbibed. At the same time, āsurī qualities, wherever they may be, are to be discarded. This maxim has to be employed apropos modern civilisation. All human civilisations are complementary to one another; implying that every civilisation has some element of daivī qualities in it. We do not have to demur in accepting laudable qualities from Western civilisation such as an enthusiasm for scientific research, fearlessly searching for the truth, and the enthusiasm to make one’s life comfortable to the extent possible. Our only suitable reaction towards modern civilisation is to engage with it while being watchfully discerning about its acceptable and non-acceptable aspects. Our only guiding light there is the remembrance of Brahma and the self.

maṅgalaṃ bhagavadgītā-tātparyaṃ dharma-vistaraṃ |
maṅgalaṃ kṛṣṇa-māhātmya-smaraṇaṃ pāvanaṃ jayaṃ ||

Auspicious is the essence of the Bhagavadgītā, a treatise on dharma!
Auspicious is the holy remembrance of Śrīkṛṣṇa’s greatness, that is victory itself!

hariśaraṇatè bhogecchā
parimiti taratamavivekamuddiṣṭagaḻòḻ ||
pariniṣṭhè niyatakarmadi
nirahaṃkṛti nijahitāpti parahitakṛtiyòḻ ||

Surrender to Hari, limiting desire for pleasure,
discernment of better and best in one’s pursuits,
being established in one’s obligatory duty,
egolessness, achieving one’s welfare through others’ welfare

śraddāḻutè jīvanadòḻ
yuddhotsuka-dhairyam-ahita-vāhini-yidiròḻ
nirdvaṃdvatè phalagatiyòḻ
hārdatè saṃsṛṣṭa-loka-sahabhāgitèyòḻ ||

Exhibiting śraddhā towards life,
Courage and enthusiasm for battle in front of the enemy army,
Equanimity towards the fruits of activity,
A hearty co-existence with creation,

ī daśa-dharmā-bhyasanakè
sādhakamappèlla vṛttiviṣayaṃ grāhyaṃ |
bādhakamèllaṃ tyājyaṃ
śodhana-bodhana-gaḻiṃdè pauruṣabhāgyaṃ ||

All those objects and states helping
the practice of these ten dharmas are to be accepted.
All those that distract (from these ten dharmas) are to be discarded.
Through analysis and knowledge is achieved human fortune.

naradaivaṃ gurudaivaṃ
paradaivaṃ viśvadhara-parātpara-daivaṃ |
paramātma mahādaivaṃ
śaraṇaṃ śrīkṛṣṇadaivamasmaddaivaṃ ||

The human deity, the guru deity,
the supreme deity, the world sustaining deity, the deity that is higher than the highest,
the supreme-self, great deity
Surrender to the deity, śrīkṛṣṇa, who is our deity.

śrīmat-parabrahma-śakti svayaṃ-vyakti tāṃ prakṛtiyadariṃdè viśvajātaṃ
viśvad-antaryāmitèyin-ātmanènisi viśva-prabhutèyiṃ brahman-īśan-ènikuṃ
brahma-prakṛti-vimiśraṇamè viśva-samaṣṭi-yātma-tanu-miśraṇaṃ vyaṣṭi-jīvaṃ
ātmavaṃ brahmakaṃ dehavaṃ viśvakkam anugòḻisè jīvigadu paramaśubhadaṃ ||

Prakṛti is the self-expression of Supreme Brahma. From her was created the universe.
Brahma is known as ātmā as the inner controller, and as Īśvara as the lord of the world,
The mix of Brahma and prakṛti is samaṣṭi - the entire collective universe.
The combination of ātmā and the body is vyaṣṭi - the individual jīva.
Harmonising the ātmā with Brahma and the body with the universe is auspicious for the jīva

jīvi-yant-èsagalāgadavòl-adanattalittal
dhāvanta baḍiyipā prakṛti-mohagaḻè māyè |
māyèyā svarṇapāśava pariyuvasiyè dharmaṃ
svīyadharmadè jīvi paḍèguṃ parātmapadavaṃ ||

The net of prakṛti and delusion that restrains a jīva
From moving here and there is māyā.
dharma is the golden sword that cuts the golden snare of māyā.
Following one’s own dharma, the jīva attains the abode of the Supreme self

brahma-tatprakṛti-dāṃpatyada prajè loka
mavara śiśu jīvam-ubhayāṃśa-miśraṃ
brāhmika cidānandam-ihud-antarātmadòḻ
dehendriyaṃgaḻòḻ prakṛti-tantraṃ
idu jīvadòḻ viṣam-adariṃ bhavabhramaṇè
yadaròḻe brahma-māyā-vilāsaṃ ||

The world is the offspring of Brahma and prakṛti.
Their child is the jīva with aspects of both.
While Brāhmic consciousness and bliss exist in its inner self.
the body and sense organs manifest the mechanism of prakṛti.
This is poison in the jīva, from which ensues this world-delusion,
in which happens the cosmic play of Brahma and māyā

aṃtaś-cidaṃśam-ānanda-dòḍagūḍè tanu
malava nīguva jīvaniyati dharmaṃ
cidacit-sukhāsukhaṃ jīvaracanè-yòḻagihavu
loka-rucigaḻ-ananta-sukhanidhigè karèva dūtar
jagavan-olagisu dharmadin-ahudu bandha-mokṣaṃ
nija-vivekadin jīvaṃ paḍèvud-ātmahitamaṃ ||

When the element of inner consciousness attains bliss.
dharma is the practice of the jīva that destroys bodily impurity.
Sentience and insentience, pleasure and sorrow, contained in the jīva,
are the messengers taking worldly-tastes to the infinite treasure of bliss.
Please the world with dharma to beget bondage and mokṣa.
With true discernment, the jīva attains self-welfare.

|| iti śam ||

To be continued...

The present series is a modern English translation of DVG’s Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award-winning work, Bhagavad-gītā-tātparya or Jīvana-dharma-yoga. The translators wish to express their thanks to Śatāvadhāni R Ganesh for his valuable feedback and to Hari Ravikumar for his astute edits.

Author(s)

About:

Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.

Translator(s)

About:

Engineer. Lapsed blogger. Abiding interest in Sanskrit, religion, and philosophy. A wannabe jack-of-all.

About:

Mother of two. Engineer. Worshiper of Indian music, poetry, and art.

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Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...

Bharatilochana

ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...