Gift of GitaThe Gita is more than an ancient Hindu scripture; it is the philosophy of life
When I left for my new life in Australia, my mother gave me the Gita as a parting gift. She wanted me to recite at least one chapter every morning, although she knew that I never found the motivation or time to read and recite verses on a regular basis. Being a Pandit’s daughter, I grew up surrounded by Hindu scriptures such as the Ramayan and Mahabharat. I satisfied my religious queries by listening to my parents.
I kept my mother’s gift as a symbol of God in a sacred place in my bedroom, never thinking much of it—until my mother unexpectedly passed away. I came back to Nepal to share my intense pain of loss with my father and relatives. This time, when I was about to leave, my father gave me the Gita that my mother used to recite every morning, with a beautiful handwritten message, which roughly translated to: “I give you this book of Komal Gita, which your mother used to recite every day, as a keepsake—Father.” When I held the small book in my hands, I suddenly felt the warmth of my mother’s tremendous love. Then and there I deeply realised why Jamie Sullivan, the female protagonist in Nicholas Sparks’s novel “A Walk to Remember” used to carry her deceased mother’s Bible everywhere she went.
This time I was determined not to leave the Gita (Nepali version) unopened; I wanted to be near my mother and I felt it would be the best link to her. So I decided to recite a chapter from the Gita every morning, which she always wanted me to do, as an offering to her. For the first time in my life, I completed reading all 18 chapters, and I then went on to complete them twice, thrice...—I have lost count.
A way to remember
I had only just started to accept my mother’s passing when suddenly my father also passed away. At that time, I longed to be near my father spiritually. Eventually, I opened the Gita that my mother had given me, which was in Sanskrit with interpretations in Hindi. I deliberately wanted to recite the verses in Sanskrit as I had always heard my father doing so. I had assumed this language would help me connect with him in a better way. As expected, I found great solace in reciting
I am not yet qualified to expound on the vast content of the Gita. Many scholars, who have literally devoted their lifetimes studying it, suggest that every time you read it, you will interpret it in a slightly different manner. There are many layers of interpretation of this scripture and it is said that it is the only book which has been most widely studied and appreciated all around the world.
Having acknowledged that, what I understand from the Gita is invaluable enough. Although it was written thousands of years ago, its content is just as relevant to the contemporary world. This text teaches us how to live our lives being true human beings. Arjun, the questioner, represents people in general like us—full of worldly desires and confusion. Krishna, the lord himself, answers every question raised by Arjun patiently and convincingly, so that Arjun will be ready to do his immediate duty, for example, to fight a war.
It feels like war is an essential part of the universe: Not only external, but also internal wars people fight all the time. As swami Radhanath says, we have a bad dog as well as a good dog inside us and they always fight each other. The bad dog includes ego, hate, anger, jealousy; the good dog is related to spiritual qualities like compassion, forgiveness, peace, and self-respect. The conversation between Arjun and Lord Krishna depicts the whole philosophy of life. The beauty of the Gita is that we can still follow Krishna’s instructions and apply them in our lives to live meaningfully. It is full of spiritual gems. In a nutshell, the Bhagavat Gita is a “message spoken by the absolute truth telling us the absolute truth,” according to swami Radhanath, and I wholeheartedly concur.
I am grateful to my parents for gifting me the Gita. They made me read it and be aware of the precious knowledge it contains. I wish all parents could make their children read the Gita to understand the true purpose of human life, and act accordingly whenever possible. It would be the greatest gift parents could give to their children.
Sharma has a PhD in English literacy education from Monash University, Australia