Discussions of India and the Bhagavad Gita
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Gita is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna in the middle of the great war - the `Mahabharta`. In the larger epic of the same name , Krishna is the multifaceted incarnation of the God - as a king, a diplomat , a messenger and a friend and the one who stands up to the evil . Among all these and many others, his role as the driver of Arjuna's chariot is the one that is contextually (and probably otherwise), the most fascinating . This role is symbolic of one who is leading us on a righteous path; particularly when we are stuck into dilemmas.
The cyclic nature of our Reality
Gita targets a timeless, universal problem - the cyclic nature of our life. That is what makes it ever relevant. The birth and death are cyclic , so are the day and night. In observable universe, everything grows and then diminishes. Greater the rise, bigger the fall. Every success finally meets it's failure . This is as true in business as in our emotional lives. Happiness and pain is a never ending cycle. Planets, stars and even black holes can't escape this truth.
Krishna says ..
Jatsya hi druvo mrityur, dhruvam janm mritasya cha;
All things born in truth must die, and out of the death in truth comes life.
The Nirvana Solution
Krishna, in said conversation, lays out an elaborate method to help us stay afloat in the waves of joy and grief associated with the rise and the fall . A method that was unheard till he said it and remains unique to date. This message of Karm Yoga is both - rational and practical. It doesn't warrant a leap of faith because it is experiential. Not only does it offer the exit from the cycles - Nirvana, it also makes the follower feel "blessed and blissed " that obviously translates into worldly success. Thus Karm Yoga is a useful guide rail to navigate modern life.
Being a skeptic myself, it wasn't easy for me to jump into Gita blindfolded. Truth be told, I did my due diligence :-) Here is my rationale before I took on the journey. First obvious comfort was ..
It didn't ask me to give up anything.
I love my life. Frankly, there are not many complaints. The ideas of Gita appealed to me because it didn't ask me give up my life for a strange unknown blessing. All it basically says is just do your duties.
No religious overload .
It didn't ask me to visit a temple or light up the candles at a church. In fact it didn't sound religious at all. It calls for realization of your inner "self" and it says once you know yourself, you are the God !
Despite being part of Hindu scripture (s), Gita doesn't belong to any religion nor does it advocate a specific God or a specific way to worship. In fact, it rejects the popular religious ideas. The situation itself was very symbolic - you have a king talking to a prince in the middle of a war. There were no long bearded monks there. This discourse was NOT at a Himalayan cave . In fact , it was not even a discourse - it was a one on one conversation. And the outcome of this conversation was the biggest blood shed ever known to the mankind - at least, till the time of its writing. There sure is nothing religious about it.
A very different approach
It came as a fresh air to my goal (outcome) oriented thirty years through the corporate ladder. Everything should not be a calculation. I should be able to do things just for my (inner) sake.
Made me more effective
Being attached to "Actions" made me more effective at my chores. I got better at fitness. Once I stopped chasing a number for "Financial Independence" and started focusing on right investment actions, the number automatically came through.
All above are good, but the thing that really won me over..
The sharp logic
If we start a game, a common perception is that there are two possible outcomes - we win , or we lose. Win means we are happy, lose means life sucks. In a normal game, if we keep on losing, ultimately we run out of the chips or the casino closes (assuming we are not at 24 X 7 Las Vegas :-) . So the third possible outcome is the game ends. What if we are in a game that can't be stopped ....ever ?
Isn't life one such game ? Leaving the concept of reincarnation at a bay (for the time being ) - I asked myself - Is it possible to be alive but not play the game !
Can I pack my cards ?
The obvious answer was to get to a sustainable financial independence[FI], resign the regular job. Try to live with in my means. I did all that . But many of you who reached FI would vouch - the game doesn't stop. Portfolio, pandemics and politics never stop. And of course the body itself needs us to go on . It goes on and on . Only the events change - cycles don't. Desires , happiness and pain are kinda built into us. No matter where we go , no matter what we do, our mind can't get over the game .
There seems no option to pack the cards , sit in the casino bar and just enjoy a drink - no game.
Even if I don't "use" the exit, there must be one. Where is my third option ? To just "be" - at peace. I thought doing "nothing" might work. It doesn't. In fact , being able to do nothing is very difficult. It is the freedom. Freedom is actually tied to the actions. Anyone can think or imagine whatever they want to do; but that is not so when it comes down to actions. For actions we need permissions. There are permissions to be sought at the work place, at home ; even from our own body. Our ability to do what we want to is freedom. And if we want to do "nothing", then being able to do that is freedom. Turns out this ultimate freedom isn't possible. No matter what we do , we still need to breathe, drink , eat and millions of other chores to run this body. With every single layer of sophistication or automation, we add another layer of chores that must be done. Charging our cell phone is now as important as drinking water :-)
It just seemed unfair that I was neither asked if I wanted to play in the first place, nor do I have permission to leave. No doubt this is a beautiful physical reality but it feels like a beautiful jail if we don't have the permission to see past it. Or do whatever we want to . On top of that - the reincarnation thing (if true) sounds as if , I am stuck here for the eternity , playing these Squid games :-) . Isn't it ?
Gita's take on this HARD problem ..
Gita says where the world looks at only two outcomes - heaven or hell ; both being here in this physical reality , there does exist a third option - Nirvana - that is to exit this game . It suggests a simple approach to accomplish this third stage - Indulge in actions whole heartedly but give up the all the expectations. That seems counter intuitive because desires (or passions) are the very reason we indulge in actions. The good news is, Gita, just doesn't offer the dictum; it also offers a roadmap. A definitive overall one stop solution !
Krishna says - Nirvana is the real victory and that is the real goal. And he proposes Karm Yoga as the only path. In essence, Gita gives a new destination and also paves the singular path to it . Why singular ? Why only path ? Because , it says , all other paths finally lead to Karm Yoga.
In nutshell, it says that the pains and happiness are attached to the "the expectations v/s the outcomes". If favorable we are happy , Otherwise not. Actions done without attachment , on the other hand, have two different properties - peace and knowledge. If we focus on actions (and do them as a ritual without attachment- Yajna) we will attain the peace and decrypt the knowledge. And finally this knowledge automatically solves the puzzle and thus exit - Nirvana.
And here is the Kicker - It says that we don't need to perform any special drill . All we need to do is just change our approach to "Actions" . From attached to detached.
No Brainer
That sounded like a no Brainer. Isn't it ? If all I need to do is change the approach to things I anyway do - invest in stocks, love my dogs, run , chat with friends, take care of a family , drink some good wine and come up with occasional tweets :-) ; then obviously there is no down side to trying out Nirvana route !
Alexa - put me on Nirvana mode ..
Unfortunately , Alexa still doesn't have the Nirvana skill :-) . So the journey is really to learn (and experiment) how to focus solely on "Actions" . Without any consideration of "outcomes".
Turns out it is harder than what I thought. Desires creep into everything we do. Thus Karm Yoga is a skill , just like playing the Violin. The good news is Gita has all the information. We still need to practice though ; because just information is not sufficient. Gita is experiential.
Somewhat better news is, the work done on this path never goes wasted. This assurance comes from the "auto save mode" :-) Krishna knows, we will wander off track ; get swayed by the desires- thus the assurance that once we start on Karm Yoga , just like swimming , we will never forget it. We can always come back at any point, reset our password (if forgot), and get started from where we left ..
Isn't Nirvana a Desire ?
Yes it is, aspiring to exit is also a desire, a desired outcome - what a catch :-) .. I thought to myself !
Gita says - only till we are learning . Once we attain Karm Yoga, even the desire to exit vanishes - thus the eternal peace. In fact Karm Yoga is not about exiting the life. It is about riding wave above the cycles of happiness and pains. Exit happens whenever it needs to happen . At this stage we are not even a Karm Yogi . We are simply a Yogi - means connected.
Beyond labels
It is hard to label Gita as spiritual or scientific. It offers experiential method that is as testable as science. At the same time it warrants dedication, commitment and rigor which is common to any "problem solving" apparatus. A new reader might see the later as a "call for faith". The best approach is to treat it beyond labels. Walk the line and determine yourself if it works. If it does, take on to the next iteration.
As we start invoking Gita into our lives, first curious to see if it works and later as the path pulls us in, we realize Gita is based out of pure logic. It may not not be grounded in the mathematical equations but a slightly deeper experience opens up the door to its superlative rationale that is baked into common sense above all. In a way, it could act as a unifier between two conflicting ideologies of our time - Science and Religion. And that is exactly this book is about . One of my motive is to bridge this gap , at least make a start.
The name - Arjun Uvaach
It simply means "Arjuna Said" . As we know, Gita is a conversation where Arjuna asked the questions and Krishna answered them with love and respect. Think of this work, as Arjuna of this time , explaining back what he understood. A loop back mechanism to ensure intact delivery of communication and also its intent. And also using his own language, his metaphors and his analogies.
My goal is to say it in the most accessible way. My hope is, in the process, I will be able to boil it down to a modern document that is beyond blind faith and is logically appealing. At the same time I do want to quarantine numerous Yogas into their boundaries and stay put on the core message.
There are four parts of this book.
Getting Started - is where I want to reinstate the age old, time tested and proven concepts of Gita in a language that is easy on a modern reader. The goal is to develop a common Vocabulary and solid grip on the core message.Consciousness - is where I try to build the larger construct of our reality. Who we are. How the whole thing works. Again based on the concepts of Gita but using modern metaphors.Triangulation - is the ways and means to figure out where we stand in the maze of matrix and what is the righteous path forward.Test - As we know Gita is experiential. This section is to figure out the means to test the ethos of Gita. The goal is to develop a scientific approach to testing rather than asking for a leap of faith. In addition to being a separate chapter in itself, I have tried to add sections on "test" inline with other chapters to supplement the ideas and the flow.Just like in any other scientific faculty, it is difficult to watertight the different sections. You may find yourself hopping from one chapter to other for the knowledge is always integrated. I believe a book is only information ; it is a way to organize the knowledge in a template. We can get the template but we need to fill it up with our own imagination. No matter how descriptive an information artifact , there is always room to read between the lines. I feel knowledge lives in that unwritten space. Thus, my request to not hold back your imagination. With each section, try to fill the gaps with your experiences, your perception of reality and hopefully, it will align.
The work here is not mere reflections of what I read, it in fact, comes from the me putting the ethos in practice to whatever little I could. I don't claim Nirvana but I vouch I have seen the tip of iceberg. Peace and happiness were alien to me. I was a wandering soul ever so lost in "what next" and consuming my way to bloat. Gita has helped me focus, remove the unnecessary baggage and fine tune my life. And it remains a work in progress though I see a light at the end ...

  1. arjunUvaach (39.1Mb)
  2. Dhaarna - Hypothesis (15.3Mb)
  3. Chakra - The Continuum (28.5Mb)
  4. Karm Yoga - Ritual of Actions (23.6Mb)
  5. Abhyasa - Skills and Practice (24.8Mb)

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