The Bhagavad Gita: A Message on How To Live a Fulfilling Life
The truth is, we as humans have no idea what we are doing. We live each day as if the next day is guaranteed. However, we do not know what is guaranteed. We do not know what comes after this life, if anything. We as humans also look for guidance from a higher power to tell us what is right and what is wrong. There are many things in life that give us hope, that guide us, and remind us to live every day to the fullest. “The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Dhammapada are among the earliest and most universal messages like these, sent to inform us that there is more to life than the everyday experience of our senses” (Easwaran 8). Just like these texts can be used for answers and for guidance, the Bhagavad Gita was also the answer to Arjuna’s struggles and helped to guide him with his inner battle. The Bhagavad has many strengths and weaknesses, however I believe that it is a good guide regarding how to live a satisfying human life.
In life, humans face difficult decisions and battles every single day. If only there was something or someone to guide us in the right direction. Arjuna was just that lucky. He had to face the very difficult decision of following his dharma or battling his family members. Luckily, Arjuna had Krishna by his side to guide him in the right direction. However, Arjuna did not always see things the way that Krishna did. In the eyes of Arjuna, it would have been better for him to walk away from the war and become a renunciate than to kill his own family members and win the war. If he had left society and did not engage in his social dharma, then everything would have started to fall apart. Completing dharma is what keeps the social fabric together and strong. This is Arjuna’s struggle and internal battle. He has the option to fulfill his dharma and win the war because of his Kshatriyas caste, but there is a huge cost of winning that war. He would have to kill members of his own family in order to win. Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s internal battle is interesting. He tells him that there is no real difference between right and wrong. He advises Arjuna to listen to his dharma, in this case it is to fight and win the battle. Krishna also states that there is nothing wrong with killing anyone if nobody really dies. “You were never born; you will never die. You have never changed; you can never change. Unborn, eternal, immutable, immemorial, you do not die when the body dies” (2:19). Reading this today, it is an interesting statement and piece of advice. For someone who is not familiar with Hinduism and the idea of reincarnation, Krishna’s words would be shocking to read. However, Krishna does have a point. If Arjuna “kills” his family members, they will just come back as someone or something else. Their soul is eternal and can never die. This idea can sort of relate back to Christianity. There is the idea that when a person dies, only their body dies and their soul lives. This is very similar to reincarnation, except that the soul does not inhabit another body. It lives on through memory.
In today’s society, there are people who are very selfish. They would rather live for themselves and their wants and needs than to live for a higher power or something greater. “There are ignorant people who speak flowery words and take delight in the letter of the law, saying that there is nothing else. Their hearts are full of selfish desires, Arjuna. Their idea of heaven is their own enjoyment, and the aim of all their activities is pleasure and power” (2:42-44). This statement is very powerful because there are people in the world who do live their lives like this. These people are not wise and are afraid of pursuing a spiritual path. They would have to give up their own world in order to find peace, and maybe that is why they are so ignorant in the first place. Ultimately, knowledge is greater than action. If people live only for their own satisfaction, then they will face spiritual misery. When selfish actions are taken, it simply adds to the karma that must be worked out in the next life. Samsara is finally achieved when selfless actions are taken. Essentially what Krishna is telling Arjuna is to live for others and not just himself. It may seem that Arjuna is living for others because he does not want to kill his family. However, he is not; he is living for himself. He does not want to live with the guilt of killing his family. However, if he fulfills his dharma of being a warrior and rightfully fighting against Duryodhana for the kingdom, he is in fact living for others and not himself. By winning the battle, he will restore the good in the kingdom. This brings up the idea of good or bad, right or wrong. According to Krishna, there is no such thing as good or bad, there is only what he sees and nothing more. Actions should be completed in order to serve a higher power.
Krishna is a perfect example of someone who is not driven by his needs and in turn is a good model for people to follow after. “Never forget this, Arjuna: no one who is devoted to me will ever come to harm” (9:31). Every person must learn to life their life selflessly and forget their ego. A person should take action with awareness. They should be selfless and not take actions that only please their ego. They must also live for the divine or a higher power. Once this is done, he/she is released from karma. “Now he reveals that wisdom is the goal of selfless action: knowing is the fruit of doing. The goal of all karma yoga or yajna is liberation and spiritual wisdom. The fire of spiritual awareness burns to ashes even a great heap of karma; thus true knowledge is the greatest purifier of the soul” (114).
Krishna gives Arjuna a lot of good advice throughout the Bhagavad Gita, however, this is the most powerful statement. “Be fearless and pure; never waver in your determination or your dedication to the spiritual life. Give freely. Be self-controlled, sincere, truthful, loving, and full of the desire to serve. Realize the truth of the scriptures; learn to be detached and to take joy in renunciation. Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all. Cultivate vigor, patience, will, purity; avoid malice and pride. Then, Arjuna, you will achieve your divine destiny” (16:1-3). This statement can be applied to today’s society. Most people have an addiction to lust and other fleeting pleasures. The painful truth is, is that they are living their life from craving to craving without any higher idea or purpose. Every day these people fall further and further into these tendencies until they change their karma. If more people followed by the wise words of Krishna, then maybe the world would be a better place to live in than it is now.
In life, people wonder about their days aimlessly doing whatever they want to please themselves. Most people are selfish and are not living for a greater good. The Bhagavad Gita is a great guide of advice on how to live a happy, satisfying life that will benefit humans in the end. The Bhagavad has many strengths and weaknesses, however I believe that it is a good guide regarding how to live a satisfying human life.
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