Let’s start with a verse from Bhagavad Gita (chapter 1, verse 30)
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते।
न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः।।1.30।।
My Gaandeeva bow is slipping from my hands, my skin is burning, my mind is whirling all over and my mind is unsteady
When Arjuna stood in the battlefield’s mid, his mind whirled with perplexity, since he foresaw immeasurable destruction. All the attempts to avert this tragedy had failed. On one side, fine men risked their lives to maintain peace, others were flaming the fires. It pained some at the onset of destruction while others were excited to do the blood-letting.
He himself was eager for battle the previous night. However, when faced with reality, his mind was confused. His resolve was shaken, and his confidence broken in anticipation of an unknown, tumultuous future. It was in this all chaotic situation that Krishna stepped in with Bhagvad Gita. Many tenets of philosophy were discussed and debated upon. However, if we could summarize these teachings, it was all about knowing the truth and performing one’s duty with a stable mind.
Cut it to the current day, the second wave of Covid-19 is wreaking havoc in India and we are at a war. How is Bhagavad Gita relevant in this situation? Here are a few thoughts:
Only the right knowledge and attitude can save you
Your words seem wise but you are talking like fools ~ Bhagavad Gita 2.11
Like Arjuna, we too are mired with perplexities today. Hence, the future course of action and consequences are hazy. However, what can we do? It is important to have the correct and helpful information. The news should improve your grasp on reality and should not resort to extremes. It should not be all flowery nor should it lead to fear-mongering.
Take care of your actions
Perform your duty and leave the results to me ~ Bhagavad Gita 2.47
As you may be hearing pundits say, “Try not to get sick”. In these times, only your actions are under your control. It’s your choice whether to wear a mask or to abandon it. It is your call if get vaccinated or fall to rumours.
Having said that, masks and vaccines do not guarantee safety. However, they can surely reduce your chances of getting infected and resultant death.
Choose your leaders wisely
For, whatever a great man does, that very thing other men also do ~ Bhagavad Gita 3.21
Every calamity brings in a great social transformation, in the aftermath. In a warlike situation, every man is for himself. However, it is the leadership that leads society into crisis.
In a democracy, a leader reflects the masses. Hence, it is of utmost importance that we choose our leaders wisely, keeping aside our personal biases and agendas.
Be Atma Nirbhar
A man must elevate himself… ~ Bhagavad Gita 6.5
We know that every human being is for himself these days. It is important to understand that your intellect and wisdom will help you rather than any external force. Again, wear masks, get your vaccine shots and keep your sanitisers handy. Exercise and eat healthy.
Devotion has great strength
Surrender yourself to me, I will take care of you ~ Bhagavad Gita 18.66
Overthinking and panic won’t help anyone. The greatest asset in a crisis is a calm mind. Hence, to calm the whirlwind in your mind, devotion and prayers are an effective way. As Adi Shankaracharya says:
Bhaja Govindam, moodha mate.
Remember Govinda(or any god you like), you fool.
All the above arguments hold true if you live through the pandemic. Hence, the basic tenets of Bhagavad Gita always hold true, i.e. right knowledge and right actions. Remember the basic tenet of Indian ethos i.e. Your life is your Karma. You may blame all the leaders and bureaucrats, but ultimately, your life is your responsibility. So, stay safe, stay healthy.
Also read: Importance of scriptures like Bhagavad Gita: the story of a Leaky bucket
P.C. Cover image here.