ï»¿February 20, 2013
Gandhi And The Gita
Mahatma Gandhi was a prominent leader in Indian nationalism during British-ruled India. He was a firm believer in non-violent, civil disobedience and lead inspirational movements across the world. Mahatma Gandhi's commentaries on the Gita are regarded in India as among the most important of the century. The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This scripture contains a conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna on a variety of theological and philosophical issues (Wikipedia). In Gandhiâ€™s commentaries he addresses the issues he felt most directly affected the spiritual lives of common people. In Chapter 3 of Gandhiâ€™s commentary of the Gita, he goes on to explain yajna. Yajna means any activity for the good of others. A man works for the good of others when he spends his body in their service. This ...view middle of the document...
â€œWe need not go into why in the past people performed Â or even at the present time do perform - animal sacrificeâ€ (63, Strohmeier).
To that end, Gandhi continued on by stating that there is no harm in expanding or adding to word â€œyajna,â€ even if the new meaning or connotation he adds behind yajna was never in Vyasaâ€™s mind.
The next part of sacrifice Gandhi interprets is: "Along with yajna the Lord created men.â€ Now, he goes on to say this is a universal statement, which previously was mentioned in the bible as well. Bodily labor is our lot in life. We have to work to make a living. â€œWe should undertake bodily labor to do service. Man simply cannot live without such work. If he had not violated this law, he would not suffer as much as he does, the rich would not have become masters of immeasurable stores of wealth and the millions would not be suffering in povertyâ€ (65, Strohmeier). He wants us, therefore, to provide only for each day. If we want anything the next day, we must labor for it.
According to Gandhi in every yajna Godâ€™s presence can be felt, but if there is no yajna of bodily labor, God is too absent (although god is always present). Working through your body, initially keeps the cycle going. The people who participate in yajna will almost never feel the underlying effects of karma. The world cannot subsist a moment without yajna in this sense; therefore, the means of attaining it requires labor. Our bodies have given us opportunity that we may all serve creation. If you want to lead a life of purity, one must follow the nature of yajna. I believe Gandhiâ€™s translation and commentary of the Gita is rather genius. His explanations are clear and insightful and he speaks from experience. He gives a somewhat metaphorical interpretation of the Gita.
"Bhagavad Gita." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 20
Gandhi, and John Strohmeier. "Chapter 3." The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills, 2000. N. pag. Print.
"Mahatma Gandhi." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.