MS.ED

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Krishna's Bhagavad Gita Today

A person is said to be established in self-realization and is called a yogi (or mystic) when he is fully satisfied by virtue of acquired knowledge and realization. Such a person is situated in transcendence and is self-controlled. He sees everything--whether it be pebbles, stones or gold--as the same Bhagavad Gita 6:8

Paul Vitello, in an article about yoga, published in The New York Times, raised an interesting dilemma. The Bhagavad Gita teaches its followers (to the wisest of its transcendentalists) that they should always engage the body, mind and self in relationship with the Supreme, that they should be free from desires and feelings of possessiveness. No easy task.

Further, they shall regard all “honest well-wishers, affectionate benefactors, the neutral, mediators, the envious, friends and enemies, the pious and the sinners all with an equal mind." (Bhagavad Gita 6:9.)

This is universal wisdom, and for a Christian can be found in Matthew 7:12:  “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you….”

Thus, there are no differing shades of gray, or even black and white for God's people. You see someone, meet someone, know someone, you treat them as you would like to be treated. You see all with an equal mind

Who can truly do this, other than perhaps Jesus, Mohamed, Buddha or Krishna?  In this modern time, followers of ancient wisdom don’t even try. The “would-be” pious often show rejection of others, and rage, when their Lord and sovereign does not reign supreme in the hearts and mind of the “wayward.”

But even in Vitello’s article, entitled “Hindu group stirs debate over yoga’s soul,” (http://www.nytimes.com) the argument shows a secular bent that is all too familiar: Our God is better than your God. He showed us first!

Sadly, there is nothing new here in our modern age, but too many practitioners of Hinduism, according to the article, have been scapegoated for far too long. And perhaps there is some truth in the fact that wisdom is better understood by giving credit where credit is due.

Vitello cites the Hindu America Foundation in their campaign “Take Back Yoga.” At face value this appears an oxymoronic; the Bhagavad Gita calls on all its followers to divest themselves of “feelings of possessiveness.” According to the Bhagavad Gita then, the call to “take back” yoga could certainly be called heresy.

Still, Doctor Aseem Shukla, the foundations cofounder, believes the children, according to the Times, need a break.

“When our kids go to school and say they are Hindu,” Shukla, a urologist and a second-generation Indian American, said, “nobody says, ‘Oh, yeah—Hindus gave the world yoga.’ They say, ‘What caste are you?’ Or, ‘Do you pray to a monkey god?’ Because that’s all Americans know about Hinduism.”

Indeed, on "30 Rock," a popular television sitcom on NBC, Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey, is the head writer of the fictional comedy-ensemble series "The Girlie Show." Liz works for the none-too-skilled network executive Jack Donaghy, played by Alec Baldwin, whose previous experience had been confined to the offices of the network's corporate owners General Electric, or GE.

In one episode, Jack returns to these roots. He is excited about being in the "microwave lab," one of his responsibilities as an executive in product development.

To be fair a Hindu scientist now in charge of the lab, tells Jack that western names all sound alike to Hindus, and calls him John Donavan repeatedly. "Westerners all look alike," he said (a stab at stereotypes). But the laugh comes quickly back to the Hindi

As the scientist touts the new microwave (it talks like Hal the computer on "2001: A Space Odyssey" ), Jack exclaims, “My God.”

“Which one?” the Hindu scientist said, in all seriousness.

In fairness, tongue-in-cheek stereotypes may be the best way to understand, if not laugh at, prejudice. But the point Shukla was trying to make is not at the expense of America's children on the playground.

For some reason, in the older generations, a person of color was not easily identified, or distinguished, from another person of color.  A reporter sharing the movie, "Gandhi," for example, heard all about it from elderly family members one evening.  Ben Kingsley played the title roll and, naturally, "which gentleman was he?" someone asked. "They all look so much...."

Well, you get the idea.  

While the "30 Rock" episode was "touché hilarious," not so much the family room that evening.  A very special movie lost some of its luster in a misguided sharing.

Perhaps Krishna, in the wisdom of eternity, will nod in understanding at the call for possessiveness, and forgive. He is wiser than we and, no doubt, shared in the making of everything. He is creation, and all things were created from one and the same — as we are — the pebbles, the stones and the gold.... 

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