Let us have a few remarks about the uniqueness of the teachings of the Gita. In the Gita Shastra the first personal pronoun used by Shri Krishna indicates the all-pervasive Lord of the universe; but also “Shri Krishna is verily the Lord Himself”. The word T in the Gita Shastra used by the Lord means “I, the Lord of the universe”. Let it be understood by every student of the Gita that the God spoken of in the Gita is the Lord omniscient and omnipotent and the support of all.
We have no quarrel with those who think that the teachings of the Gita are most spiritual and yet doubt the historicity of Shri Krishna; as long as they practise the teachings, they will have emancipation from sin and sorrow. We must remember that in the Gita the Lord says: “By My unmanifest form, I pervade the whole universe; all beings, the movable and the immovable, exist in Me, are supported by Me, but I am not supported by them” (Gita IX, v. 4). This is not the expression of a man only, but of the Lord Himself. The teachings of the Gita are not meant for a particular section of society. It is a universal gospel which includes each and every human being of any age, any clime, any religion, any faith. The Gita is an attempt to awaken the natural cognitive faculty of man and to engage him in his proper duty. Without much difficulty in its pages every enquirer will find his natural duty and also the path which leads to supreme illumination. It is the one who is endowed with supreme faith who will obtain the full benefit of the teachings of the Gita.
Although the Gita was given on the field of Kurukshetra, its teachings are universal. They are truly called Brahmavidya, divine knowledge. It is not only the gospel of the release of the soul from all sufferings and ignorance, but it is the way to perfection of life in the world.
The Gita is said to contain a summary of all the Shastras. It is in brief the highest teachings of Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta and so forth. As all the rivers finally empty themselves into the same sea, so all the great teachings of the great Shastras lead to the same end, and this end is beautifully and adequately expressed in the teachings of the Gita Shastra.
The Gita Shastra is also used as a sacred Mantra, and many people read it keeping in view the metre, the Deity presiding over it, its seed and purpose, but we do not think it necessary to enlarge upon this particular point here.
In many of the holy texts, the Gita is referred to as a mother, and indeed it is like a compassionate mother and a lover of human beings. A verse by one of the great Rishis says that the Gita is the milk of the cow of all the Holy Scriptures, brought forth by the Lord Himself.
Without an active devotion in the form of love and service of humanity dedicated to Shri Krishna it is not easy to understand the real secret of the teachings of the Gita.
The Holy Gita is not the classic of a particular religion, creed, sect or school of thought. It is not exclusively a book of devotion nor a purely metaphysical treatise. It is a grand synthesis of the whole spiritual knowledge; it covers all the phases of spiritual life.
The systems which it ignores and labels as erroneous are materialism, scepticism, atheism, cynicism and hedonism. The method of the Gita is not dialectical: it does not reason; it states the spiritual truth with absolute certainty and conviction. To answer objections raised against its teachings is left to the greatest and Holy Commentator Shri Shankaracharya and his immediate disciple Ananda Giri. What is left unexplained by these two great philosophers is supplemented by Madhusudana Sarasvati and Shankarananda. It is neither a book of pure asceticism and renunciation nor of pure Karma Yoga, as imagined by Mr. Tilak. Being the perfect Scripture of the world, it has a message for all.
The basis of the Gita is the non-dualistic philosophy of the Upanishads. Since the dawn of creation there have been two paths, the mundane and the ultra-spiritual, leading to the same goal—realisation of absolute bliss and freedom. Both paths are treated in the Gita. Several words are used in the Gita to denote the purpose and goal of spiritual life. For instance, in Chapter II, the goal is called the state of “one established in wisdom”. It is also called the “divine state” and also the “acquisition of the same status as that of God.” The word Nirvana, an expression adopted by Buddhism, is also used in the Gita. The conception of the goal is universal. The goal is truly catholic, and nowhere is any reference made to any particular religion. It is a truly divine document, because the Teacher, Shri Krishna, spoken of as the Blessed Lord, is the Lord omniscient and omnipotent himself in the self-revealed human form. He is not an Indian ‘god’, for He says: “I am born in every age.”
The promise of the Gita is, as stated above, spiritual peace, infinite and all-embracing, including material happiness— pushti; true and lasting benefit—shreyas ; spiritual knowledge —-jnanam. The first requisite is the conduct of the mumukshu consistent with the dictates of morality called shilam.
The highest illustration of spiritual perfection as taught in the Gita is the Teacher of the Gita, who came—to quote His own words—“to destroy unrighteousness and to protect the righteous.” Sansaric life in its highest form finds expression in the personality of the Teacher. He says: “The follower of the Gita becomes what I am.”
There are three themes which are dealt with in the Gita. They are the three ancient paths: the path of Karma or action,
the path of Bhakti or devotion, and the path of Jnanam or knowledge. Mere action is nowhere recommended. Action must be inspired by divine knowledge, executed with love and devotion. Karma Yoga means living and working for the Lord. The universe is His sport, and each and every human being or superhuman being must be a conscious, detached and voluntary worker for the Lord, to effect a continuation of the world process. If everyone were to adopt a monastic life the world process would be threatened with suspension. One of the chief causes of the fall of Buddhism in India was the Hinayana doctrine that only a monk could obtain release. As a lion cannot be made a vegetarian, so everyone cannot adopt a monastic life. Yet this kind of life is not condemned by the Gita.
At the age of fifty every householder in India is expected to retire from business and devote himself to study and meditation. The realisation of the goal depends entirely on the acquisition of the knowledge of truth. The first two paths are subsidiary to it. Though the Jivan-mukta is no longer subject to any particular mode of life, yet the tendency of the Gita is towards selfless philanthropic life.
The Gita insists on the acceptance of a Guru, that is, one who knows the Scriptures, has experimented in the Truth in his fife successfully and has received the mandate to teach, not from a church or secular organisation but from a God- realised Mahatma himself. The teachings of the Gita follow the thought expressed by Aijuna in Chapter II, v. 7: “I am Thy disciple. Teach me what Thou considerest good for me.” The Lord Himself offers to teach through the personality of the Guru.
The Gita enjoins dedication of the total personality to the spiritual mode of fife. He who is not a friend and well-wisher of every living being cannot be a follower of the Gita. Respect for all religions is strictly enjoined, and every Saint is regarded as worthy of reverence.
The Gita recommends pilgrimage, daily devotion, but no confession or sale of the Grace of God. There is no popery in the teachings of the Gita, and no distinction of sex is observed. There is a close resemblance between the teachings of the Gita and the Holy Bible. The Bible of Mahayana Buddhism, Saddharma-pundarika Sutra, the Sutra of the Gospel of the Lotus Law, has a striking similarity to the Gita.