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Gita: The Art of Selfless Living and Dying

  • 03 Oct 2022
  • 5 min read

For Mains: Ethics and Human Interface

Why in News?

Gandhi’s unwavering faith in high principles both in life and death were shaped by his love for the Bhagwat Gita and is a perfect example for all of us to follow.

Who was Mahatma Gandhi?

  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2nd October 1869 – 30th January 1948), also remembered as ‘Father of the Nation’, was the leader of India’s independence movement against British rule.
  • He was conferred with the title of Mahatma (great-soul) Gandhi.
  • His life was dedicated to many other noble causes like poverty alleviation, women’s rights, and eradication of the practice of untouchability, among others.
  • He was the pioneer of the nonviolence philosophy that has inspired civil rights leaders across the world.
  • His birthday, 2nd October, is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti in India and conferred as the International Day of Non-Violence.

What is the Importance of Bhagwat Gita in Gandhi’s Life?

  • A Gospel of Selfless Action:
    • According to Gandhi, Gita teaches us the only desire that is worth pursuing is to realize that we are the soul (or self), aspire to become like Him (God) (i.e., possess his supreme qualities), and to attain eternal bliss instead of being obsessed with material pursuits such as fame, money, and relationships.
      • This is the process of self-realization, which entails understanding that we are the soul (not the body and mind) and are caught in the endless cycle of life and death due to our karma.
      • Karma simply means that any thought, speech, or action undertaken upon others will have a corresponding result in our lives.
  • Role of Action:
    • The Gita acknowledges that for the world to continue running, action (whether mental or physical) needs to be taken.
      • The Gita says, “Do your allotted work but renounce its fruits- be detached and work- have no desire for reward and work."
    • Renunciation of the fruits of one’s actions is the central message in the Gita.
    • Renunciation does not mean indifference to results but a renouncer is the one who performs his duty with cheerfulness and thoroughness and remains desireless of the fruit of the action.
  • Ahimsa and Truth:
    • Gandhi believed that when one enforces the Gita’s central teaching in life, one is bound to follow Ahimsa and Truth.
      • Nonviolence or Ahimsa as per Gandhi Ji is described as the state to do no harm in thoughts, words and actions to all living beings.
    • It is not just refraining from undertaking violent action but also a whole way of life.
    • Since it extends to all living organisms, it encompasses consuming vegetarian food, a sustainable lifestyle, and the protection of the environment.
      • Because when there is no desire for fruit, there is no temptation for untruth or himsa (violence).
      • The cause of any untruth or himsa will be rooted in the fulfillment of attaining a desire fuelled by ego. For instance, sins like murder, theft, etc cannot be performed without attachment.
  • Serving God through the Service of Mankind:
    • A further message in the Gita is that mankind should serve God by serving one another and Gandhi adhered to this message unwaveringly.
    • To this, he elucidated how the soul’s natural progress is towards selflessness and purity.
    • This is why he was able to effortlessly dedicate his whole life to the freedom and betterment of the lives of the people of India.
    • He believed that what we think of in the last moments will become who we are and by doing so one will acquire the qualities and nature of this God (or revered Gurus) in the next birth.
    • But for this to happen in the dying moment, one has to live a life free of attachment and aversion and have a heart that is ready to love and forgive all. Once we have mastered these skills, the peace we get should be channeled into spiritual practices.

Source: Livemint

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