CREDOS : Gita’s greatness — I

Arthur J Pais:

Schoolteacher Shyamala Chivukula often uses a tiny book in her Salt Lake City home for inspiration to fight her daily life battles.

The book, with less than 100 pages, has travelled more than 10,000 miles from her native India. She has one version of the book in her native language, Telugu. She also has two English translations. “The Bhagavad Gita is not only a source of spiritual inspiration,” she says, “it is also a book about day-to-day life.”

When her two sons were growing up in Utah, surrounded by Mormon religion and culture, Chivukula had often wondered how she could get them to retain their Hindu culture and religion. “The Bhagavad Gita offered me clear guidance,” she says, referring to the tract that many religious leaders and thinkers consider to be the highest expression of philosophical Hinduism. “It showed me that one does not have to change one’s karmic destiny or religion to be virtuous.” Chivukula, who migrated to America about 10 years ago, says she inculcated the idea in her sons that they could lead a perfectly moral life and find fulfillment in Hinduism.

For Chivukula and many others, the religious tract familiarly known as the Gita is also a treasure house of practical knowledge. “Hinduism is certainly not a simple religion,” she notes. “But the Gita has the clearest answers to many of the most complex problems of any century.”

And it is the complex problems of life and death which were the basis of the Gita, a long sermon Krishna gave to Arjuna on the eve of the Mahabharata war on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Gita outlines the battle in which the human spirit has to fight lower passions. —