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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
We have an assortment of literature on the subject of our dharma. Though it is our dharma, invariably people speak of it as our religion. Actually Hinduism is not a religion at all. Even the Supreme Court has adjudicated that Hinduism is a way of life and not a religion at all.
A way of life will always be evolved by the human mind and pursued or adhered to by the same human mind. In religion, everything depends upon the concept of God and our relationship with him and also what we want from him. In all religious concepts, one important fact is there - that God is invisible and he is at an infinite distance. All our prayers, ceremonies and what not, addressed to God are addressed to an infinitely distant God who is invisible. Now these two factors make all our prayers indecisive in the matter of producing the result or the outcome whereas the way of life that our dharma is, is not so at all. Why? It is a lifestyle that we have evolved. Because we have evolved it, it should become practical and relevant to us at every point of time. Because we are the primary factor, the Adhisṭāna, the substratum for everything just like a building is constructed over a piece of stable land over the earth, our way of life is also evolved on our own personality, its potentials and possibilities. This is the fundamental difference.
Though it is our way of life, dharma, people generally consider that ours also is just a religion. Why? Vedas are the primary and the ultimate source or means of proof for us. And the Vedas begin with the prayers and hymns addressed to a variety of Gods and Goddesses, the superhuman powers. So clearly it has a religious overtone to begin with.
Then it is followed by fire sacrifices. We call them ceremonies done with the help of fire. These ceremonies also have a religious overtone. Because it is to propitiate X, Y or Z. But this is not the ultimate phase. Vedas or the 'Veda' word itself means a source of knowledge, to know is the meaning of vidhi, the root. So it is only the knowledge part of Vedas that becomes relevant, useful and authoritative for us. If you consider in this manner, then the evolution of prayers, later on ceremonies, has been outlived and we resort to something like mento-intellectual exercises. That is the third phase. When all the external involvements were shunned and people were given to a kind of retreating attitude within the body, automatically everything became clear and the truths were revealed. We have thus the Upanishads to climax and crown the Vedic way of living and thinking.
If you judge the Vedas on the basis of the Vedas themselves and the ultimate pronouncements, we have to agree that the Vedas are not religious and they are not ceremonial in nature. Every aspect of Vedic life is meant to reform, refine, attune, sharpen and brighten our own external and internal faculties. The external faculties are the five senses with which we perceive the world objects. The internal faculties are primarily the mind and the intelligence.
Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita says: The entire nature has eight constituents. Five are the panchabhūtās which are categorized as matter and energy. Then the three are inside the human body identified as mind, intelligence and ego. (Bhagavad Gita 7.4)
So you can understand how important are the mind, intelligence and ego and these three are traceable only in the human being in a developed form.
So our Hindu Dharma which is a way of life clearly focuses on reforming, refining, attuning, brightening and enlightening our own personality at different levels. This is the way of life that we have. When you look at it in this manner, it becomes a great cultural, self-disciplining and self-reforming and refining practice and pursuit. This is what is recorded in our Prasthāna trayam.
The Prasthāna itself has got the meaning - ‘A voyage’; it is a kind of a yātra. Whenever you make a yātra you have a certain destination to reach. Prasthāna trayam also has a destination to reach. What is that destination? The ultimate object of human life, the goal of human life and attaining it. This is what Prasthāna trayam is and is for. The word 'traya' means three. What are the three items of Prasthāna trayam? First the Upanishads, then the Brahma Sutras, third, the Bhagavat Gita. The Brahma Sutras in about 556 or 560 aphorisms present the Upanishadic truths and declarations and findings in a cogent and consistent manner. It is considered to be a rational thesis in the form of aphorisms.
Bhagavat Gita forming part of Mahabharatam gives a commentary on the Upanishadic thoughts and Krishna makes a reference to Brahma Sutras also there. These three are considered to be the constituents of Prasthana thrayam. The Upanishads - immortal and beginningless, Brahma Sutras of a later period, and Bhagavat Gita - about 5100 and odd years age. It is this Bhagavat Gita that I have been discussing in Trichur for the past seventeen years; this year included eighteen years. It was a great fortune for all concerned to have been able to discuss in an unfailing sequential manner all the eighteen chapters of Bhagavat Gita and conclude the discussion yesterday.
Though Bhagavad Geeta is also considered to be a sacrosanct scripture, understand that it was written by somebody. When the Prasthāna trayam is before you, you cannot doubt its authorship. Unless somebody has written it, it will not be available. It is not enough if it was written. Not only it was written, it was studied, it was pursued, it was perfected and those people who were able to do so, they also imparted it, discussed it with the others. Can we imagine in every generation, at least there were a few people to listen to the whole Vedas and the allied scriptures? At least a few, because those days teaching was from mouth to ear, not from hand to the eyes. Nothing was written; so they learned it. If in one generation, a small number of people were not there to show interest in learning, imbibing and pursuing the whole Vedic literature, I think it would have been broken. So when I talk to people, I want to tell them that, I want to remind you, enlighten you about one fact - You belong to a lineage in which numberless generations showed equal interest in this cultural treasure and they imbibed. That is why we have got it now. What do you think of this bequest? If in any one generation, people were lacking, the whole Vedas would have been lost. But still we still have them. What do you think of it? Can there be a memorial, a monument created by humanity which can live for millennia and millennia?
All the substances extracted from the earth which we make use of to construct monuments and memorials; they are subject to decay and extinction. But this has not become extinct over the past countless millennia. It is only because of the fidelity of our people, the tenacity of our people, the loyalty and allegiance of our people. It is such a section that was constantly present in the Gita Tattva Sameeksha for the past seventeen plus eighteen years. I would like you to evaluate this.
Now, Bhagavat Gita is part of Mahabharata. Mahabharata itself is the second of the two epics that we have. The epics are written in a very literary manner and also conforming to the laws and processes and rules and procedures of history. Any epic is taken up only to drive home to humanity, the readers, the fourfold goal of human life - dharma, artha, kāma and moksha. Ramayana is meant for it. Mahabharata is all the more meant for it.
You will find the excellence and the distinction of the author or the composer. Take for instance Bhagavat Gita. It starts with an enquiry from Dhritarashtra to Sanjaya. Why Sanjaya? Sanjaya was a narrator. He was supposed to narrate the whole events of the war with all the details and references necessary. He went to the battlefield stopping his narration to Dhritarashtra. And because the war began, he got involved there and on the tenth day when Bhishma fell from the chariot, he was totally unnerved. Such a great celibate Bhishma with invincible power born out of austerity on the one hand and warring skill on the other, how could he be subdued like this? So he was unnerved. He runs to Dhritarashtra to break the news. Dhritarashtra heard it and he was equally unnerved. He makes a number of observations.
Dharmāt adharmo balavān samprāpa iti mē matiḥ (Mahabharata)
"Bhishma! And Pandavas made him fall? On the one hand it indicates the defeat of Bheeshma. On the other hand, it indicates the cruelty, inexcusable cruelty of Pandavas. What am I to understand? Dharma has lost its way. Adharma is hoisted now." At the same time he said, "I cannot attribute wrong motives to Pandavas. My children are wicked but Pandavas are not. How could Pandavas commit this kind of an act? Did they not have some doubts, misgivings? Certainly the misgivings should have assailed their mind. What would have happened then? I can only say Krishna was there in the chariot and Arjuna hit Bhishma. So Arjuna’s mind if at all had produced some doubts and difficulties, Krishna was there to clarify, enlighten and inspire. Therefore Sanjaya, I want you tell me, was there any Dharmic exchange in the battlefield before the war exchange began? If there was, narrate it to me in detail. At present, I have practically lost my mind. I won’t be able to listen to you patiently, to the narration of the further sequences that took place there. Therefore let me also hear as Pandava heard from Krishna and get the clarity and courage so that I shall be able to listen to your narration." This is the way it begins.
And the same Sanjaya concludes it, as an observer and hearer of the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna and at the end Sanjaya says, ‘It was a great dialogue, I remember it with relish, I cherish it. It was a very personal and secret dialogue. In spite of it, I was able to hear it. I also had an occasion to see the Viśwaroopa of Krishna. I remember these with a lot of sense of wonder and a sense of fulfillment. Great is the conversation. Great is Krishna - the Yogacharya, the Yogeśwara and great is Arjuna with bow and arrow ready in his hand. Wherever these two people are there, wherever there is spiritual wisdom, its mastery, its dissemination and wherever there are people like Arjuna with the kshātra valour to fight against corruption, nepotism, decline etc., when both are together, there will be justice, propriety, peace, expansion and welfare.’
Just see how the scripture had been written! It presents Dhritarashtra, it presents Sanjaya, then it narrates the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna and finally concludes saying that Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra his own response after listening to the conversation.
So apart from the merit and excellence of the conversation, the hearer also is convinced about its relevance and eternal utility. And he is narrating it to Dhritarashtra so that Dhritarashtra also will be similarly inspired, appeased and enlightened. What further proof do you want? This is the compact way, comprehensive way in which all our scriptures are written, such a beautiful and compulsive narration.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.