How the HOLY GITA taught me to ENJOY Life

  • Most believe in reading holy books say Gita post 50 or retirement. By then we made the mistakes in life some of which could be avoided had we read the Holy Gita earlier. Sharing learning’s that made me deal with life better.

Last Sunday a close friend invited me home for group Satsang. During the Satsang (Geeta Dham, Jodhpur) learned friends give a commentary on verses from The Bhagavad Gita. At the end of satsang the facilitator invited questions from youngsters (under 40) on changes in the Satsang format which might encourage them to participate more actively and carry forward the Gita tradition.


A 35 something said he was too busy with career to think of the Holy Gita now even though he loved the satsangs. Others were willing to learn but unsure at what frequency the Gita classes should be not to forget availability of time.


Inspite of being over 40 I said the first thing we need is a mindset change. Most people believe that we should start reading the Holy Gita on turning 50 or post-retirement. It is then of limited use because we made mistakes for most part of our lives and thus have limited scope to benefit from its teachings.


Instead, if one learns and imbibes the Holy Gita early in life we can benefit lifelong.


I was fortunate that the Holy Gita entered my life at around 30. It has been my best friend ever since. On days when I am feeling confused, stressed or low I open any page of Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinamaynandaji’s commentary, read a few verses and there is clarity, positivity and light. 


Before I enumerate select verses from the Holy Gita that have helped here is my background. Chartered Accountant at 23 (failed twice in Intermediate C.A. exams). I worked with Hindustan Levers, ITC Classic and Star TV. As a Business Consultant I faced many challenges. During my working life faced many ups and downs including being in the dumps and on a high. The Holy Gita gave me the inner strength and confidence to face difficult assignments.  


A 20 something friend read the draft and wrote, “No point in reading Gita or any holy book past 50/60/70. These holy books are meant to be guiding light in our career and must be ready early on. This habit of reading Gita should be introduced in children at an early age. Simplifying Gita is important and starting early is most important.”


A 32 year old young mother read the draft and said, “I will also read the Gita but get intimidated with the volume. But as you mentioned, any para is good enough to bring in the required clarity and peace.”


Look at the Holy Gita as a self-help book not a scripture.


What is in inverted commas is from Gurudev’s commentary, courtesy Central Chinamaya Mission Trust. Gurudev wrote, “It is interesting that the philosophy of the Geeta preaches a constructive re-organization of life and not the destruction or rejection of life’s possibilities.” (213) 


1. Ch 2 Verse 14, “The contact of senses with objects, O son of Kunti, which cause heat and cold, pleasure and pain, have a beginning and an end; they are impermanent; endure them bravely, O descendant of Bharata.”


Neither good nor bad times are permanent. When times are good I express gratitude, share my happiness with the less fortunate and enjoy while it lasts. When times are bad I try to sail through with the belief that nothing is permanent. Simultaneously, with a cool mind I reflect on earlier actions to know if I did something wrong and make amends.


Difficult times/adversity is part of life. Believe this too shall pass away.


If one accepts that life swings like a pendulum, has faith in one’s karmas and is calm during a downturn, willing to reflect and take corrective action it is possible to face difficult situations bravely. Accepting impermanence of situations does not mean having a fatalistic approach that results in inaction.


Before winning the 2011 World Cup in Mumbai a TV reporter asked M S Dhoni of the scene outside his Ranchi house if India won the Cup. He said there would be big celebrations yet in the same tone told viewers (without any anguish) of the protests outside his house when India played badly a few years ago. That is a beautiful example of accepting the opposites in life.


Always be content with the situation you are in and look for opportunities in even a difficult situation. This requires positive attitude and belief in oneself. When I failed Intermediate C.A. exams for the second time, faced criticism all round. It was faith in my abilities that gave me the strength to try the third time.


Ch 2. 38, “Having made pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat, the same, engage in battle for the sake of battle, this you shall not incur sin.”


“Sin in Hinduism is “a mistake of the mind in which it acts contrary to its essential nature as the Self.””


One must learn to be in equilibrium inspite of the opposites. When I celebrate excessively I found myself experiencing the opposite of success pretty soon. Now I celebrate success by sharing with the less fortunate and well-wishers. This keeps me grounded and enables me to handle the opposites better.

It helps maintain equanimity, something I am perpetually striving to achieve. Such an approach has helped me deal with some very difficult situations.


A calm mind improves our power of discrimination i.e. deciding between what is right and wrong, enables us to think clearly and have better control over our thoughts and actions. Look at M S Dhoni, always so cool, even during a tense 2023 IPL final.


When we do anything because we strongly believe in it (battle for the sake of battle) we are inspired and perform in a way that brings out the best in us.    


2. Ch 2 Verse 47, “The right is to work only, but never to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive, not let they attachment to be inaction.”


I love this verse and try to follow it, though not always successfully. As an employee made presentations or as Consultant made sales pitch many times. Earlier I would worry about the results and compare my performance with others. Thus, I got stressed. Positive mental energy was used fearing failure.


Over time realized that once presentation was done, there was nothing I could do to influence the result so relax and live in the present.


Surely, I wanted to succeed but no longer was I worried about the result. Now I accept the result in all humility. This way I am more at peace with myself.


Today, whatever I do treat it as an offering to the Divine Mother so naturally I give it my best shot. If I fail, look within to see how I could do better. This requires me to reflect, innovate and change.


The Holy Gita lays utmost importance on nishkama karma - working arduously and intensely as ordained by one’s sense of duty without being attached to the fruits that follow.


Selfless work gives us inner poise and the strength to face opposition for e.g. Ahilyabai Holkar.


When am not attached to the fruits of my actions, there is no ‘I am the doer’. I have learnt to attribute success to the team, it is never my success. Such an attitude keeps my ego in check and avoids conflict with colleagues.


Ch 2 verse 48, “Perform action, O Dhananjaya, abandoning attachment, being steadfast in YOGA, and balanced in success and failure. Evenness of mind is called Yoga.”


3. When there is tranquillity, openness and equanimity you think clearly and develop a better understanding of your life purpose. 


4. Ch 3 Verse 4, “Not be non-performance of actions does man reach ‘actionless-ness’; nor by mere renunciation does he attain ‘Perfection’.”


I learnt that running away from a problem is not the way to solve it. Think calmly with right attitude. To me, timely action matters not inaction. Use your energy wisely.


5. Always HELP others not because you want something in return but because it is your inner nature (Svadharma) and the happiness it gives you.


6. Ch 3 verse 21, “Whatever a great man does, that other men also do, whatever he sets up as the standard, then the world follows.”


As we become successful or occupy positions of power how we conduct ourselves and what we say is important. We are a role-model for others.


7. Ch 4, verse 30, “Others, with well-regulated diet, offer vital-airs in the Vital-Air. All these are knowers of sacrifice, whose sins are destroyed by sacrifice.” Also read Ch 17, verse 8. 


We are what we eat. Till about 36 I loved non-vegetarian food. Then I turned a fishetarian. This purified my thoughts and reduced my stomach problems.


Even today, the mind works best when my digestive system is in good shape.


8. Ch 4 Verse 39, “The man who is full of faith, who is devoted to It, and who has subdued the senses, obtains (this) ‘Knowledge’; and having obtained Knowledge, ere long he goes to the Supreme Peace.”


Faith, devotion to the Divine and self-control are three imperatives required for us to reach divine nature. To me every action requires to be performed with these three qualities.


9. I have learnt from the Holy Gita the importance of Knowledge. Knowledge about the inner self, what is happening in the country, what our adversaries are doing etc. I do not burden the mind with excessive storing of knowledge. When I share it with others feel lighter and this opens the doors for new insights.


10. Ch 6, verse 16 has taught be the importance of Moderation. Never over-do. In a deeper sense it has helped me realize the importance of balance including work-life balance. 


11. Ch 6, verse 40 “O Partha, neither in this world, not in the next world is there destruction for him; none, verily who strives to be good, O My son, ever comes to grief.”


I have tried to live with this motto – act rightly in the present with the faith that no grief can come in the future because the future is a product of the past and present. 


12. Repeated readings of the Holy Gita have taught me the importance of perseverance. I keep on trying. At times this requires me to reinvent myself.


13. Ch 9, verse 22 taught me the importance of being focussed, keep distractions away. If I had learnt this in school would have scored higher marks to the delight of my parents.


14. Ch 10, verse 18 made me realize the importance of being a good listener. Honestly, this is something I have not learnt to do well.


15. Another key learning is the importance of expressing Gratitude to the Universe for all the things we have and the art of appreciating others.


I wish to thank Arjun for being confused without which the Holy Gita might never have been said. I am also thankful to the Taj Coromandel, Chennai for keeping Gurudev’s commentary in the hotel room. 


Perennial Psychology of the Gita by Swami Rama is an easy to understand, simple language commentary. Suggest read that first before reading Swami Chinamayananda’s commentary.  To get started can read this FAQ on Karma and Reincarnation


There are many more learning’s. I have tried to make the above comprehensive and simple. Feedback is welcome. 


Pranams Gurudev.


Also read

1. The Holy Gita is a guide to one’s life

2. Swami Rama’s commentary

3. Wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita on U Tube

4. Chapter wise commentary on the Gita in PDF

5. Why we should read the Mahabharata

A reader wrote – Apart from whatever you have listed, I have a few which are my favourites.

Chapter 2 Verses 55 and 56 - Remain calm, balanced, content-Sthithapragya- in any situation.

Chapter 3 - Verse 36 - one may be wise and gyani but don’t look down upon or unsettle others for their actions.

Chapter 3, Verse 33- understanding why people do what they do because of their nature swabhava.

Chapter 10, verse 41- pause a moment to appreciate the glory and scale of the universe (earth, oceans, mountains, forests, birds, animals, sounds…) and think of the creator of such a wonder. 

Chapter 17, verse 15- speak softly only the truth, nice and useful things. 

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