Conception of Gītā-nāgarī Part 1
[Most of this article appears in Back to Godhead magazine, Vol III, Part VI, published May 20, 1956. It has been edited for publication.—Ed.]
On The Principles Of Gandhi
1. The Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears Himself in this mortal world by dint of His internal potency in order to be visible to the conditioned souls specially to the human being, although in essence He is eternally unchangeable Supreme Truth and Absolute Lord of the visible and invisible worlds. The Vedas are known to be transcendental, because they were impregnated in the heart of Brahmā by Śrī Kṛṣṇa after creation of the material cosmos and as such Vedic literatures or knowledge have descended in a transcendental process of aural reception from Śrī Brahmā to Nārada, from Nārada to Vyāsa, from Vyāsa to Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī and from Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī to other disciples in succession. The Vedic literatures are known as śruti because they have come down by the process of submissive aural reception by the bona fide disciplic succession. But the original teacher of such knowledge is no other than Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.
2. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and the transcendental knowledge thereof has also descended in the above process of aural reception from Vaivasvata Manu but when the chain of disciplic succession was broken at the beginning of the Kali-yuga by the influence of the external energy of the Personality of Godhead (māyā), it was again reincarnated by the Supreme Authority of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself at the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra in the presence of the most beloved friend and devotees of Śrī Arjuna. The Lord summarized the full text of the Vedas and Upaniṣads in the techniques of the Bhagavad-gītā in order to give facility to the people of the present age, who are mostly affected by the influence of the age of quarrel (Kali-yuga) and disagreement.
3. The summum bonum teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā is that Religion means the art and science of learning the transcendental process of surrendering unto the Lotus Feet of the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The purity of such religious knowledge becomes polluted when conditioned souls become too much influenced by the external material energy of the Lord and thus they forget the eternal relation with Him (Śrī Kṛṣṇa). The result is that such forgotten souls become too much addicted to the material process of sense gratification which is the lowest form of crude human civilization. When such irreligious life of the people in general flourished, the world at large suffers terribly in all directions in the way of challenging the very existence of God.
4. The Personality of Godhead and His transcendental utterances as sounded in the Bhagavad-gītā are identical. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is therefore eternally the Personality of Godhead Himself with full potency of His Lordship. The sanctity is maintained by keeping intact the parampara system i.e. when the message is received just in the way as it was done by Śrī Arjuna the first listener of the Bhagavad-gītā. If we strictly follow the footprints of Śrī Arjuna we can also undoubtedly become equally enlightened as Śrī Arjuna was by the presence of the Lord Himself. The Lord is omnipresent and He reserves the right of not being exposed to the nondevotee class of men who do not follow the principles of Śrī Arjuna.
When the law-abiding devotees of the Lord become embarassed by the unlawful activities of the asuras i.e. those who are averse to acknowledge the Supreme Authority of the Lord, at that critical moment either the Personality of Godhead or His counterpart form of Sound Transcendental appears in the mortal world in order to save the people who are faithful and annihilate the unbelievers. As such Bhagavad-gītā descended directly from the utterances of the Personality of Godhead in order to save the faithful and annihilate the unbelievers at the juncture of the Lord’s disappearance just after the battlefield activities at Kurukṣetra. The Battle of Kurukṣetra was fought between the two rival political parties namely the Kurus and the Pandavas.
At the present moment the same fight between two rival political parties without any guidance of the transcendental direction of the Personality of Godhead is merrily going on at the expense of the innocent poor people of the world and therefore Śrī Kṛṣṇa has descended again in the shape of Gītā-nāgarī with the same purpose of saving the faithful and annihilating the unbelievers as He did in the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra.
5. The Gītā-nāgarī will be therefore the main preaching center of the Supreme Authority of Śrī Kṛṣṇa the Personality of Godhead. It shall be proclaimed from that place that Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the Absolute Enjoyer of all benefits derived from all kinds of works, sacrifice, cultivation of knowledge, that He is the Absolute Proprietor of all the material and spiritual worlds, that He is unalloyed friend and philosopher of all living entities namely the gods or the rulers, the general people, the beast and the birds, the reptiles, plants and trees and all other animals residing in every nook and corner of the great universes. When such knowledge will be fostered from the vantage of the Gītā-nāgarī, at that time only real peace and prosperity will usher in the world so anxiously awaited by the people of the world. Unfortunately the present trend of civilization is conducted just on the opposite direction of the above standard view. The human being has declared himself to be the Lord or the Supreme enjoyer of everything and he poses himself as the proprietor of the world. He has declared himself as the friend and philosopher of the people in general enamoured by material power and wealth which is bringing in ruination for himself and his followers also. Every human being is imagining himself as independant God (?) and foolishly trying to guide the activities of his so-called followers without knowing the art and science of such leadership business. Such leadership for the actual benefit of the people in general can effectively be conducted when the leaders themselves will know the art and science of surrendering unto the lotus feet of the Śrī Kṛṣṇa and will be able to convince their followers that God alone has the absolute prerogative in the abovementioned three functions.
On the other hand the native of India only has the prerogative to understand this position of Godhead from the pages of the Bhagavad-gītā and he is alone able to preach this truth throughout the whole world. It is therefore desired that the authorities who shall guide the activities of the Gītā-nāgarī may make such organized effort as will help this mission of the Gītā-nāgarī on a permanent basis.
The pangs of the demoralized type of civilization designated by the demoniac principled diplomats are being keenly felt by the people in general and to save them from the untold miseries of life, is to take shelter of the transcendental message of the Bhagavad-gītā.
A vivid picture of the demoniac principled leaders is given in the text of the Bhagavad-gītā in the Sixteenth Chapter as follows:
“We can know the real heart of an asura in the statement of the Bhagavad-gītā. At the present moment practically every man is infected with a false sense of prestige, pride, anger, vanity, cruelty and similar other qualities born of poor fund of knowledge. There are always two classes of men of which one is known as the devas or the gods and the other is known as the asuras or the demons. The asuras unable to realize what should be done and what should not be done in the human form of life. Those who are generally endowed with godly qualities do perform charities, possess the power of controlling the sense organs, perform sacrifices, practice penance, nonviolence, love, truth, learn tolerance, remains peaceful, refrain from speaking ill of others, become kindly in behaviour with others, eradicate lust and hankerings, practice patience and purity of habits. These are some of the many godly qualities of men equal with God. But unfortunately these godly qualities are rarely experienced in the character of the present generation and in most cases the qualities of the demons are vividly demonstrated because the demoniac men are unclean in habits. Such unclean men do not believe in the existence of God and they think without any reason that desire or necessity of life is the ultimate cause of all creations without knowing that disposal is more important cause than desire. The demoniac observation is always defective both in fact and practice.
People addicted to demoniac principles, devoid of transcendental knowledge, imperfectly educated and inventors of violent works leading to miseries and destruction of the world have greatly developed in this age. Although these people indirectly realize that their mode of activities had already diminished the duration of life of the people in general, yet they consider the advancement of material knowledge as progress of life, dictated by a strong sense of vanity under the cover of unclean habits. The effects of this pernicious type of material civilization is that people have already forgotten the question of life after death. and thus they have taken to an irresponsible way of life leading to untold miseries and distress of material existence. The demoniac way of thinking has covered their unsatiated desire for work and sense enjoyment till the end of material existence. These people are embarassed with thousands and one desires enlarging the circle of exploiting habits in greater and greater circumference. They have now become mad so to say for such enlarged activities of material civilization. Such people think unrestrictedly and at all times like this “I have accumulated so much wealth just now and in the next I am going to accumulate more wealth. I am God and nobody is equal to my position. I have killed this enemy, and I am arranging to kill the other one. I am God and I am the enjoyer of everything. I am happy and I am perfect. I do not think anybody else richer than me. I can perform all kinds of sacrifices, and by doing so, I can purchase all virtues.” [Bg. 16.13-15] The asuras therefore exhibit a feat of their unalloyed foolishness by such contemplation as above mentioned.
Saintly politicians of the modern age like Mahatma Gandhi and others, inspired by the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā, although imperfectly, have tried to lead such demoniac politicians of demoniac principles as they may be influenced by the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā. Mahatma Gandhi’s movement in the political field, such as non-violence, peaceful non-cooperation, truthfulness, sacrifice, etc., are some brilliant examples for subduing the demoniac tendency of the people in general. Such examples in the life of Mahatma Gandhi made him well recognized all over the world, in spite of their being temporary measures, and it may be safely concluded that Mahatma Gandhi’s success in such movements was solely and wholly dependant on the inspiration of the Bhagavad-gītā. Leaving aside all his other activities in the political field, the four following principles which he adopted sincerely in his mature old age, are in essence derived from the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā for practical application in the matter of social and spiritual upliftment of the present order of things. They are as follows:
1. Leaders and politicians may take lessons from the life of Mahatma Gandhi, who was undoubtedly a great and busy politician, with respect to his daily evening prayer meeting and regular recitation of the text of Bhagavad-gītā. He followed this principle of life most faithfully, even up to the last moment of his lamented life. People in general, and the leaders in particular, may follow the footprints of Mahatma Gandhi, if they at all want to do some good to their followers. Such regular habit of reciting the reading of the Bhagavad-gītā makes one able to get rid of the demoniac way of life and gradually rise up to the plane of pure devotional life of the gods. When such devotional life is enriched by recitation of Bhagavad-gītā, all the good qualities of the gods automatically overcome the reciter without any extraneous effort on his part. And a person, however qualified he may be in the mundane sense of the term, if he is devoid of the principles of devotional life as abovementioned, he shall surely hover in the mental plane of uncertainty and, as such, will always fail to enter into the noumenon existence of life. Those who have developed such noumenon existence of life, generally known as spiritual life, are called mahātmās in the language of Bhagavad-gītā. The definition of real mahātmās is given in the book.
2. The temple entry movement of Mahatma Gandhi is another attempt to deliver people in general from spiritual degradation, and by such movement, the mass of people can be saved from gliding down to the lowest status of demoniac life. Even when he was at Noakhali during the dark hours of the partition days, he never hesitated to reinstall the deities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and by such examples, he had done immense good for the people in general. Leaders and politicians may take lessons from this particular incidence of his life. It may be said in this connection that there are thousands and thousands of Viṣṇu temples all over India. And these temples were originally meant for enlightening the mass of people in spiritual values so that they can live in peace and harmony with higher aim of life. At the present moment in most cases, these spiritual educational centres have been rendered into rendezvous of demoniac dance for want of the culture of Bhagavad-gītā. They have become on the contrary, so many plague spots for preaching atheism and advancement of demoniac principles, for want of regular propagation of spiritual education under able leadership. The mission of Gītā-nāgarī must have its aim amongst others, to rectify the anomalies that have entered into the life of these centres of spiritual education and regenerate them to the sense of spiritual education through the exemplary life of devotees that may be created from the practical life of the members of the Gītā-nāgarī. The Bhagavad-gītā encourages us in such spiritual culture as follows:
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ‘pi mām
“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me. (Bg. 9.25)
3. Mahatma Gandhi started the Harijan movement in order to raise the status of the fallen people either by social injustice or otherwise. But such pious movement may not be restricted only amongst the Bhangis and Chamars who are proclaimed as such for their unclian habits or in some cases by social injustice, but such movement may be extended amongst those also who are passing in the society as brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas etc., but in practice their mentality is more degraded than the lowest of the Bhangis and Chamars. Harijan means the associate of God Himself. Chamars and Bhangis, or for that matter, people who are of the mentality of Chamars and Bhangis both in habit and dealings can never be promoted to the position of Harijans unless and until such persons are helped to go up to the place of the Harijans by the approved method of rules made by actual Harijans such as Arjuna, Prahlāda, Dhruva Mahārāja, Yāmarāja, Bhīṣma, Janaka, Nārada, etc. There is no bar for any one to rise up to the position of Harijan, and this is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā.
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim
“O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiśyas [merchants] and śūdras [workers]—can attain the supreme destination.” [Bg. 9.32]
Mahatma Gandhi did not approve of the system of birthright castes as prevailing in India, and there is ample support for this movement of casteless society in the Bhagavad-gītā in its own way. Casteless society does not mean that there will be no section or subsection of social division. Without such division of social order no living society can be conceived but there may not be any such section or subsection simply for the matter of birth right accidence. A brāhmaṇa’s son has the right to become a brāhmaṇa provided he has the rightful qualifications of a brahmana otherwise he cannot be placed in the exhalted position of a brāhmaṇa. That is the verdict of all revealed scriptures.
There are three modes of Nature working all over the world and they are called the mode of goodness, the mode of passion, and the mode of ignorance. Every man or every animal is under the influence of either of the above modes of nature. As such, it is wrong to calculate that the modes of Nature are working only within the boundaries of India. On the contrary the fact is that nature is working all over the universe and therefore in other parts of the world also. In the human society undoubtedly there are men of different modes of nature as above mentioned. Persons who are under the influence of modes of goodness, may be classified as brahmanas, similarly those who are under the influence of the modes of passion may be called as the ksatriyas and so on as they are described in the approved sastras. The modes of ignorance as it goes down by degrees, produces men of such lower and lower qualities and they are designated as Yavanas, Mlecchas, Kiratas, Huns, Andhras, Pulindas, Pulkasas, Aviras, Sumbhas, Khasadayas, etc., and there are four lakhs of men of different qualities all over the universe influenced by the above mentioned modes of nature. From the Gītā-nāgarī this universal Truth must be propagated systematically, so that REAL HUMAN SOCIETY may be established for the benefit of all, dividing the categories of men according to natural modes of nature. Such social order on the basis of the Bhagavad-gītā all over the world may be called the institution of natural caste system or the casteless society. In that institution of natural caste system
(page 5) all divisions of men will be engaged in one transcendental business of spiritual community with equal status of life and with equal importance of co-operative value as much as the different parts of the one whole body have different functions only but qualitatively they are one and the same. In that institution of spiritual social order every one will have equal right to promote himself to the higher status of life without any malicious competition and as such education and culture will be open door for all concerned as much as the varsity of all state is open for all with equal status of educational right. Casteless society will, of course, never allow to place on the same category of a high-court judge and the laborer unless such society will have gone in to madness of culture. On the contrary by establishment of such casteless society as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā nobody will be grudging if any one is recognized as the qualified brāhmaṇa on the value of merit only and not on the basis of birthright claim. Such casteless society is reasonable and acceptable by one and all in the world.
E. On the basis of the abovementioned four principles of Gandhi and approved by the tenets of the Bhagavad-gītā, the Gītā-nāgarī will properly utilize the huge resources of Mahatma Gandhi memorial fund, in the manner as will satisfy both Gandhi and the public. Gandhi’s memory can be well preserved by his exemplary activities and not by simply constructions of huge buildings or deadstone statues as we see the general tendency. Mahatma Gandhi was saintly reformer and his memorial fund may be utilized for the purpose of converting degraded persons into saintly order. Mahatma Gandhi strictly followed the four primary principles necessary for the public leader, brāhmaṇa, king, and the transcendentalist and they are as follows:
*1. Not to associate illegitimately with women.
2. Refrain from animal slaughter.
3. Refrain from intoxication including drinking of tea and smoking of bidi.
4. To act not on speculative and gambling enterprises.
Unfortunately many of the so-called followers of Mahatma Gandhi are positively addicted to all the abovementioned four principles of immoral habits and still they are passing as the disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly mentioned that exemplary acts by the leaders are followed by the common man. If the leaders are themselves fallen in the matter of standard morality how one can expect the common man to be virtuous and moral? It will therefore be the duty of the Gītā-nāgarī to produce leaders of exemplary character to guide the people in general both in this as well as the next life for actual peace and prosperity.
*See article on standard morality. [Published in BTG Vol III Part XIV November 20, 1958]