Nowhere does the Gita speak of totally avoiding all material wants and legitimate desires. On the other hand, it only warns of the dangers of subservience to them. We are all reminded that time is not a friend: “I am time, the great destroyer of this world….”
By Nazarul Islam
The Bhagavad-Gita is one of the most systematic expressions, highlighting spiritual evolution, of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy, revealed upon human beings; hence its enduring value is subject to Indians….and the nations on our planet.
My earliest impressions of reading through the holy book conveyed to me an inherent feeling of calm, serenity and well-being. And, a sense of purpose that seemed to define human existence. Let me share this with my readers…
Those who care to read the sacred scriptures will find the second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita inspiring, with an evocative discussion—on the dangers of excessive attraction towards the pleasures of the material world, felt and enjoyed by our senses. While there is no denial of the role of material requirements and pleasures in human life, it is the excessive attachment, nay, addiction to them that is at the root of all of man’s problems.
It is about this senseless pursuit of materialistic life that the Gita speaks of. To quote: “Constant thinking of material wants and pleasures generates a sense of attachment. This attachment gives rise to our desires. When a person is unable to satisfy his desires, man is consumed with anger, which intensifies his desire. In this agitated mental state, he is totally enamored with the object of his desire, which makes him forget all that he knows and all that he has seen when greed overtakes man. This in turn makes him lose his ability to think in a mature and balanced manner, which finally leads to his downfall”.
Thus it is seen how this pursuit of material wants and desires is a progressive process, leading man, step by step to his final doom. Of the human vices…Greed blinds man, rendering him unable to differentiate between right and wrong and sets him on the path to ruin.
Despicable crimes are committed when obstacles come up in man’s insatiable pursuit of his wants.
As the Gita says, a tiny seed of desire grows into a mighty tree very quickly. The Upanishads (religious Vedic texts) portray that our senses are wild horses which, if not controlled by the reins of a firm and stable intellect—will haphazardly drag the chariot of the human body in all directions, with man, the charioteer being helplessly dragged along, finally ending in his collapse.
Echoing similar thoughts, Adi Shankaracharya in his ‘Vivekachudamani’ says desires and greed are even more poisonous than the venom of a King Cobra, because the snake’s venom kills only if it enters the body through a bite, but in the case of desires, mere thinking about them or seeing them is enough to destroy man.
It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.
And in life, gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return. We must all be grateful for the truth that peace of God, is with them whose mind and soul are in harmony, who are free from desire and wrath, who know their own soul.
The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.
Nowhere does the Gita speak of totally avoiding all material wants and legitimate desires. On the other hand, it only warns of the dangers of subservience to them.
We are all reminded that time is not a friend: “I am time, the great destroyer of this world….”
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