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The birthday of the holy Bhagavad Gita

ht view Updated: Dec 08, 2013 00:54 IST
Renuka narayanan

This year, Gita Jayanti falls on December 13, which, in the traditional calendar, is the ‘Ekadasi day of the Shukla Paksha (the moon's bright half) of the month of Mrgashirsha (November-December)'.

It commemorates the discourse called the Bhagavad Gita or God Song that was revealed by Sri Krishna to Arjuna on the first day of the 18-day battle in the Mahabharata.

The custom at temples and in many homes on Gita Jayanti is to conduct a mass recital of the Gita's 700 verses through the day.

Many also fast as Ekadashi has been iconic since olden times as a public detox day. So we may cheerfully disregard the Western superstition, which in any case is of highly uncertain origin, that ‘Friday the Thirteenth' is a dire day.

But we're free nevertheless to happily observe pleasant Western festivals like Valentine's Day and of course, Christmas — how wholly unnecessary to miss out on carols, cake and/or punch and the chance to felicitate friends and fellow-citizens.

Amazingly, nothing in ‘Hinduism' forbids us from appreciating the good points of other faiths or enjoying aspects of other cultures.

We are meanwhile expected to develop our conscience, give generously of our affection and our resources, speak and behave politely and work hard for the greater good and our own.

That, anyway, is the mega life plan that the Gita suggests - and after allowing everybody the longest rope, somewhere along the way, the Book noticeably likes to catch us with its karmic quotient.

It's also usual for someone who really gets into it to speedily acquire ‘favourite' verses, for the Gita has such a profound and poignant quality that it touches hearts and inspires any number of people to live brave and decent lives despite the fraud squad.

The Gita wastes no time and is good to go from its first verse: "dharmakshetre kurukshetre samaveta yuyutsavah/mamaka pandavaschaiva kim akurvata samjaya": On the battleground of Dharma, on the field of the Kurus, when my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled eagerly to fight, what did they do, Sanjaya?", BG 1:1

The Gita can make your head pound with sound as in this random example where Arjuna praises the Lord: "param brahma param dhama/pavitram paramam bhavaan/purusham shaasvatam divyam/adidevam ajam vibhum": Supreme Being, Supreme Abode, the Ultimate Purifier, the Eternal Divine Person', BG 10:12.

Canto Eleven, where the Lord transfigures himself to appease Arjuna's audacious longing, has some of the most beautiful poetry in the known history of the word.

Canto Sixteen that describes the difference between ‘divine' and ‘demoniac' natures has old cult status with great magical powers attributed to it including the ability to tame wild elephants with merely a touch.

This thrilling book is where we believe that we hear ‘God' speaking directly to us as ‘God', transcending the avatar to ‘cosmic form' after a man whose life turned upside down once too often asked, "katham vidyaam aham yogim" (How may I know Thee, Lord?) BG 10:17.

Jai Sri Krishna.