May the New Year be full of good things for all, sarve janah sukhino bhavantu. We might take a refreshing peep at the Bhagavad Gita to inspire us to fight the good fight in the months ahead. Its eighteen parva (cantos or reels) overwhelm with their passion and depth, their drama and dialogue.
There are multiple remakes and reviews and we won’t ever be done watching. That’s such a steadying thought that we have an action-packed narrative to hand that will never bore because we discover something new in it each time.
A scene that many people like rewinding to is where Arjuna asks with painful intensity: “How shall I think of You, God, where and how do You appear, how will I know that it’s You?” (BG 10:17).
The avatar has done a gust already from the smoke-machine: “He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginningless, as the power in everything — only he, undeluded among men, is free.” (BG 10:3).
But Arjuna wants details, so the BG zooms in on God’s close-ups. A showreel montage: “Of letters I am A, of purifiers, I am the wind, of subduers I am time, of seasons, I am flowering Spring. ‘Of feminine qualities I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, staunchness and patience.
‘Forgiveness, honesty, control of the senses and the mind, nonviolence, serenity, satisfaction, charity…come from Me.’
‘I am victory, I am adventure, I am the strength of the strong. Of secret things I am silence and of the wise I am their wisdom.
‘Of sciences I’m that of the soul and for logicians I am the proof of truth,” — a neat resolution there of the debates on ‘science’ vs ‘spirituality’? You can know Me, says the Creator, through the marvels of my creation, through certain virtues, through certain qualities and through certain inevitabilities. You can find Me in climate, environment, land use, law, justice, good governance, social responsibility, diplomacy, emotional intelligence, good inter-personals at work and home, leadership, management, creative pursuits, good sportsmanship. I live in human hearts as the inner light.
That’s who I am, says God in BG Chapter 10 — and it’s said a bit huffily, as though subtitled: “I gave him a brain, why?” Answers issue only “because you are dear to Me, Arjuna.”
Perfect script logic and the whole human plot: is that why the BG remains an evergreen hit?
Renuka Narayanan writes on religion and culture