The most important foundational concept of the Gita is Equanimity. Equanimity with respect to what happens to you and equanimity with respect to the objects and beings in the Universe around you.
The second important foundational concept of the Gita is the Transience of everything. The technical way of saying this is everything is mAyA.
These two concepts are the factors which, according to the Gita, impinge on our daily living. The answer is ‘Advaitic Living’. What is advaitic living? That is the Gita.
One way of looking at it quickly is to concentrate on one of the key shlokas, namely Shloka 27 of chapter 9.
The shloka number 27 is a key shloka. It is a spiritual recipe for daily living, that includes the secular living also. In fact the shloka contains the essence of the entire Gita. My monumental example of why this is so is my father whom I observed for around 25 years of my life and saw him live this advaitic living right before my eyes:
“Whatever you do, whatever you consume or experience, whatever you offer to deities (through Fire or otherwise), whatever you give away or renounce, whatever you perform (with or without an end in view) -- do all this in dedication to Me” – says the Lord.
I have said elsewhere that Shloka No.55 of Ch. 11 contains, as per the commentary of Sankara himself, the essence of the entire Gita. We shall see below the parallelism of the two shlokas.
Shloka No.55 of 11th chapter says: “ Be engaged in actions dedicated to Me, Have Me as your ultimate goal, Devote your whole to Me, Avoid all attachment, Develop an attitude of ‘No Hate’ to any being – He (who behaves this way) will reach Me”.
Whatever you do, - ‘yat karoShi’ - do it in dedication to Him. In other words all your engagement in actions must be in dedication to Him. This is karma yoga. ‘I am not the doer’ is the ideal attitude to which we should move gradually and steadily by doing every action as a ‘yajna’ in dedication.
Whatever you consume or experience, - ‘yad-ashnAsi’ - dedicate it to Him. In other words there is nothing that you experience for yourself. Whether it is joy or sorrow, whether you enjoy or suffer, it is all His. It is not only His will but also His experience, not yours, because He is in you and there is nothing else in you. This is the meaning of being devoted wholly to Him and still living a life. This is the life of bhakti. ‘yad ashnAsi, tat kuruShva mad-arpaNaM’ (shloka 9-27) therefore is what ‘mad-bhaktaH’ of 11-55 means. This is bhakti yoga; and more, it is advaita-bhakti. This is what leads us on to the ‘I am not the experiencer’-attitude, the attitude of an ideal advaitin.
Whatever you offer to deities – ‘yaj-juhoShi’ - through Fire or otherwise, dedicate it to Him. This implies, there is no other object for your worship, reverence or care. He is the goal; He is the refuge. That is what the Lord says by the words ‘mat-paramaH’ in Shloka 11-55. This is the Surrender theory of the Gita.
Whatever you perform - ‘yat tapasyasi’ - with or without an end in view, dedicate it to Him. This performance is tapas; meaning, enduring the ‘shrama’ (effort or ‘pain’) while performing. Doing something for the sake of some noble cause or someone whom you revere, is tapas. Even ordinary acts of a difficult daily commuting is also a tapas, if you adopt the attitude of dedication to the cause that motivates you to undertake the journey. All this has to be dedicated to Him, because if you have no end in view, that is already a dedication, and if you have an end in view, dedication to Him means you are not attached to that end in view. Thus the whole process is a sAdhanA (practice) for detachment. This is the ‘sanga-varjitaH’ of Shloka 11-55. This is the yoga-sAdhanA or the control of the senses. That is surely one of the five major teachings of the Gita.
Whatever you give away or renounce, - ‘yad-dadAsi’ - dedicate it as well as the action, to Him. Because nothing belongs to you, really. Everything belongs to Him. Even when you are giving or renouncing, you are renouncing what you think you have, but in reality you do not have. Nothing belongs to you or to anybody. This is the combination of the fundamental idea of equanimity and also of the idea that everything is transient, i.e., mAyA. Therefore there is no reason to bear even an iota of ill-will to anybody, even when you feel, in the worldly sense, that the other person is possessing what you think must be, or should have been, in your possession. Love every one; and more importantly, hate no one. This is the attitude of equanimity – ‘samadR^iShTi’ - that is the hallmark-teaching of the Gita. It requires you to renounce every feeling of ill-will. The Lord describes it in Shloka 11-55 as ‘nirvairas-sarva-bhUteShu’. This equanimity is also mentioned repeatedly in the Gita as ‘brahma-bhAva’ or ‘brahma-samsparshaM’, the attitude of seeing everything and every one as brahman, the Supreme.
Thus all the five major teachings of the Gita, and these are the five components of advaitic living. namely, (i) doing one’s actions in dedication to God and developing the ‘na aham kartA’-attitude, (ii) advaita-bhakti, that concurrently develops the ‘na-aham-bhoktA’-attitude, (iii) the surrender of even one’s will to God, (iv) control of the senses through a discipline of dispassion and (v) brahma-bhAva or the attitude of seeing Him in everything and everything in Him -- all these, are contained in this single shloka, shloka No.27 of Chapter 9 as also in the single shloka, shloka No.55 of Chapter 11.
After all this there is Shloka No.66 of the eighteenth chapter of the Gita which is considered to be the final message of the Gita. Being the most profound shloka of the text, it is also easily misunderstood and legitimately therefore, it is the most commented shloka. We shall devote this article to a deep understanding of this shloka. It reads:
Sarva-dharmaan parityajya maam-ekam sharaNaM vraja |
ahaM tvaa sarva-paapebhyaH mokshayishhyaami maa shucaH ||
sarva-dharmaan = all dharmas (acts, obligations, duties)
parityajya = giving up
maam-ekam = in Me alone
sharaNaM vraja = seek refuge
ahaM tvaa mokshayishhyaami = I shall release you
sarva-paapebhyaH = from all sins.
maa shucaH = grieve not
Giving up (renouncing, discarding as of no consequence) all dharmas, seek refuge in Me alone; I shall release you from all sins (and bondages); grieve not. This is the literal translation of the shloka. But what needs further explanation are the following:
What exactly is ‘seeking refuge’? How is it done? Why?
What does it mean to ‘give up’ or ‘renounce’?
The word ‘sarva-dharmaan’ is too general. What does it include? What does it exclude?
For the first one we need to get into the topic of ‘Surrender Theory’ (the shaastra of sharaNaagati). For the second one we need the right understanding of the concept of ‘Renunciation’ in Vedanta. The third one brings us back to the context and full meaning of the shloka.
We shall elaborate on all this in the succeeding pages: . GO TO
20.5: 5 to 7 5: Renunciation 6: 'I am One with You' 7. FINALE