Let me assert the truth the Bhagavad Gita indeed is the guiding scripture for the majority of Indians as well as many other individuals who have read it and tried to understand it. Its philosophy and key elements are mingled with passages of undeniable sublimity that impact the life of each individual who understands the meaning of “dharma” and lives by “karma” as enunciated in the Bhagavad Gita.
The Bhagavad Gita lays stress on ethical and moral principles in statecraft and in life generally. Without this foundation of dharma, there is no true happiness and society cannot hold itself together. The Gita’s aim is social welfare, not the welfare of a particular group only, but of the whole world, for the entire world of mortals is a self-dependent organism.
Dharma is relative. It depends on the times and the conditions prevailing. But some basic principles of dharma, such as adherence to truth, non-violence, etc, endure and do not change. Therefore, relating the Bhagavad Gita to a particular religion, nationality or sect is undermining its vastness and scope which is all encompassing.
The demand for declaring the Bhagavad Gita as a national scripture is very important. The Bhagavad Gita’s call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the Indian independence movement, including Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi. The Bhagavad Gita has been highly acknowledged, adopted and praised, not only by prominent Indians including Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, but also by leading international leaders and intellectuals.
Of the Bhagavad Gita’s emphasis on selfless service, Mahatma Gandhi said, “When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad Gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of external tragedies and if they have not left any visible or invisible effect on me, I owe it to the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.”
The Bhagavad Gita is about the call of duty when the time demands, it’s a story about resolving self-conflict and the crisis of taking the right decision when an individual is trapped in emotions.
The Bhagavad Gita shows the path for the practical man’s salvation. It says all things are a part of one Lord, that men and gods are but manifestations of the One Divine Spirit. How can such a philosophy be folded in a cocoon of ignorance and nonsense rhetoric?
In times of crisis, when the mind of man is tortured by doubt, is torn by the conflict of duties, man has turned all the more to the Bhagavad Gita for light and guidance.
The Bhagavad Gita is a call to action to meet the obligations and duties of life, but always keeping in view the spiritual background and the larger purpose of the universe. Its all-embracing philosophy is about a way of life which has developed over thousands of years of the evolution of India.
Shrikant Sharma is national secretary of the BJP
It’s also noteworthy to mention here that India and Pakistan shed the British yoke at the same time, but charted a contrasting course for themselves. While India chose secularism as state policy, Pakistan opted to become an Islamic state. But Pakistan could not survive for even three decades and Bangladesh broke away from it. That makes Indian journey since Independence exemplary.
However, we are now in the midst of ideological challenges posed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, which commands majority in the Lok Sabha on its own.
The BJP owes its ideological and intellectual capital base to its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Incidentally, the RSS was making noises even when India was led by Mahatma Gandhi. But we were fortunate that Gandhi’s spiritual and intellectual force ensured that the RSS could never command acceptance in the country’s mainstream political and social discourse.
Union external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, has triggered a controversy with her claims that Bhagavad Gita should be given the status of India’s national scripture. There is no denying that the Gita commands universal veneration in the world. People cutting across faiths respect the moral values enshrined in the Gita. But those who advocate that the Gita be granted the status of national scripture betray a frivolous mind.
Being the custodian of the Indian Constitution and having taken the oath to do so, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the moral responsibility to keep at bay all forces who seek to distort the values and basic feature of the Indian Constitution.
India chose to have equal respect for all holy books, whether it’s the Gita, the Quran, the Bible or Guru Granth Sahib. But an effort is being made to prop up one holy book with the deliberate intention to send the message that one way of life enjoys the support of the government. Such a design has to be defeated with all might.
Ironically, people who have been invoking Gandhi’s name are now proving to be against the very basic ideals of the Father of the Nation.
The Samajwadi Party is opposed to such sectarian political design. The SP is of the clear view that such issues disturb the country’s communal harmony. Let the country not reel under the fear of sycophants. We are a country of unity in diversity and that means respect by all for all.
Gifting the Gita to world leaders is a good gesture, but you can’t forcefully ask them to follow the Hindu way of life.
Rajesh Dixit is national secretary of the Samajwadi Party