When I was growing up, my dad used to tell me stories from ancient Indian texts. Mostly, these stories had moral lessons to teach.
There stories underlined the consequences of greed and jealousy. There were also stories about our fixation with material comforts; stories about the impermanence of humans and so on.
My inability to relate to blunt and direct messages in the stories, at times, used to leave me perplexed.
In the early 2000s, when I left home to pursue higher studies, my dad gave me a copy of Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Hindu text. I didn’t read it. I tossed it in my drawer, and it remained there untouched for years.
Years later, my wife, the wiser of us two, retrieved it and asked me to read it. Specifically, she wanted me to read it to her and our daughter who was still in her womb.
It’s widely believed in Hinduism that a pregnant mother should indulge in pious deeds because every action of hers affects the unborn child. I was reluctant to read it, but, with the possibility of what was at stake, I had to give up.
What followed in the subsequent days and weeks was nothing short of eye-opening for me. It dawned on me that many stories my dad used to tell me early on were weaved around the main extracts from Bhagavad Gita.
In a few years, it would be me passing down these lessons to my daughter just as my dad did. However, I intend to go a step further and dispel the confusions that reigned in my mind when I was young. Bhagavad Gita, after all, is not an easy text to absorb unless you have an open mind.
I still feel I haven’t been able to extract fully the wisdom embedded in the 700 verses of this transformational scripture. It’s one of those books that you get more out of every time you read it.
Nonetheless, I am sharing 10 key lessons from Bhagavad Gita that have served me well over the last few years:
- You arrived empty-handed in this world and so shall you leave. Any obsession with material comforts is futile because we all are going to die one day.
- You are kept from your goals, not by obstacles, but, by a clear path to a lesser goal. Always aim high. Lesser goals may appear more accessible, but they are not going to set your soul on fire.
- Your beliefs shape you. As you believe, so you are. Our mind is our enemy at times. If you feed it negative inputs such as doubt, envy and greed, it will give you exactly the same pathological beliefs in return.
- If you don’t fight for what you want, don’t cry when it is lost. Stand up or shut up. The world doesn’t have time for moaners. Either you step up to the plate, take responsibility for your goals or you wallow in the mire of self-pity. The choice is yours.
- It’s better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of someone else’s with perfection. Your life might be besotted with all kinds of difficulties, but it’s yours to live. Take on the hardships and you will be a rarefied gem. Excessive focus on the lives of others will not allow you to be at peace. You would end up chasing fleeting moments of happiness.
- No one who helps others and does good work will come to a bad end either in this world or in the world to come. Positive deeds are self-perpetuating.
- Keep your secrets to yourself and yourself alone. You never know circumstances may turn your friends into enemies, giving them an easy access to exploit those secrets and destroy you.
- Accept your circumstances, however harsh they might be. Don’t run away from the truth, accept it.
- Stay temperate in life. Avoid extremities. Your mind can send you over the edge when you are either too happy or too sad. Avoid taking important decisions in either scenario.
- Don’t stay passive when you see someone stronger meting out blatant injustice to others. Confront them. Your silence is an endorsement of their evil actions.
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