Home Letters May all of Guyana enjoy the Ashirvad of Shri Krishna
In Guyana and throughout the world, Shri Krishna Janmashtmi or Gokulashtmi is being celebrated today and spilling over to tomorrow as it is a midnight celebration, the time when the Lord manifested on Mother Earth in Mathura, as Shri Krishna (the dark-complexioned Lord) and fondly referred to as Gopal (one who plays the cowherds), or Govinda (one who pleases the cows, land and nature) or Mohan (all attractive God) or Vasudev (all prevailing Lord) or Yogi (the supreme master) or any of the remaining 108 names. Shri Krishna came into the imprisoned abode of his earthly parents, Devaki and Vasudeva and immediately afterwards, Vasudeva took him across the Yamuna river to his foster parents, Yashoda and Nanda in Gokul. Shri Krishna took the 8th Avatar (Incarnation) of Vishnu, the Preserver (One of the Trilogy of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh- Creator, Sustainer, Annihilator) at a time when it was a dark era, freedom was curtailed, evil was rampant and there was a threat to his life by his uncle, King Kansa. Eventually, good triumphed over evil, light replaced darkness and truth conquered lies when Gopal demolished Kansa and righteousness again prevailed over unrighteousness. Some 1.25 billion followers of Hinduism will participate in different customs and traditions as is culturally practiced globally but curtailed and limited this year in restricted and controlled COVID-19 protocols. The large conglomerate gathering of devotees will be disallowed by only a handful of attendees in the Mandirs, but, there are various virtual programmes for participation and Hindus will perform personal home services.
Hinduism is more than just a religion and traditionally and significantly, a “way of life” that embraces religious, philosophical and cultural ideals and practices that originated thousands of years before the birth of Christ. Hinduism is called the world’s oldest religion and many practitioners refer to their religion as “Sanatana Dharma,” “the eternal way,” which makes reference to its origins stretching beyond human history as revealed in the Hindu Texts. One of the most powerful books gifted to mankind is the Hindu Text, “The Bhagavad Gita,” simply referred to as “The Gita.” President Barack Obama is a prolific reader of this text and he once reflected that the Gita was one of the books that moulded his character and helped to influence his work towards the nation. The Gita is an 18 chapter, 700-verse Hindu Scripture that is part of the Hindu Text, “The Mahabharata,” (Chapters 23-40 of Bhishma Parva). It is set in a narrative framework of a dialogue between Arjuna, the Pandava prince and his guide and charioteer Shri Krishna. On the brink of a great war on the battlefield of Kurushetra between two sets of cousins, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, over the throne of Hastinapur, Arjuna is suddenly overwhelmed with misgivings about the justice of fighting his brothers, uncles, friends and teacher on the opposite side. Shri Krishna’s reply to him forms the themes of the Gita, teaching him and the world the mind-body dualism, self-consciousness, the immortality of the soul, transmigration of the soul into another body at death, the purpose of life, Nirvana/Moksha (God Realisation), performing one’s duty, in-action is impossible, bravery from fear, freedom from the cycle of birth and death through Jnana Yoga (the path of knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) and Karma Yoga (the path of selfless action). Two main principles are expounded, one is, of every action carries an equal or opposite reaction and the source of evil is not in actions but in the passions and desires, ie “The intentions behind the actions.”
Two American philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau considered the Gita to be the pivotal Hindu text. There are eight basic and fundamental concepts today’s society can adopt, digest and practice in the applications of our lives from the teachings of Lord Krishna: (1) Attachment – Because nothing is permanent and will perish, man should quickly detach himself from material attachments – attachment breeds misery and detachment ferments happiness, (2) False pride – Inaction is misapprehension and trying to escape responsibilities by failing to perform your worldly duties is being delusive. Not shunning your humanitarian commitments allows true liberation, (3) Renunciation – Give as much of yourself as long as you can and don’t be concerned with the result and reward, (4) Lust – Conquer desire, for a want is not always a need. Have a stable mind to understand the nature and structure of desires so that we can exercise control, (5) Covetousness – Selfishness blinds wisdom and when put aside, then clarity of the mind steps in. A clouded mind with selfishness is a mirror covered with mist or dust, (6) Greed – Avoid extremities and embrace moderation. Too much or too little creates imbalance in life and it can be food, sleep, physical pleasures, money and even knowledge. Moderation is the control key, (7) Anger – Rage deludes and confuses us when we fall in a fit and actions performed are futile. We cannot apply logic or reason and anger can be the reason for the downfall of even the greatest man who will later regret this mood, (8) Realisation – God is seated within. God is omniscient (all knower) omnipresent (here, there and everywhere) and omnipotent (all-powerful). A human being is only a small piece of the whole and most of the circumstances are a play of a bigger entity, whole or force ie an unmanifested source.
It is thought that the theory of relativity discovered by Albert Einstein owed its existence to the wisdom contained in the Bhagavad Gita. Einstein seriously indulged in the teachings of the Gita in his later life, believing in the efficacy of the Gita from initial stages of life. Philosophy and politics are blood-related and inseparable and is influential in its “rubbing effect.” Today is a day of reflection as the celebration of Janmashtmi is a commemoration of good over evil and the reestablishment of righteousness over unrighteousness. Many lessons can be learnt from the past five months in Guyana and one of them is that truth will always ultimately prevail and people will always seek the blessings of happiness and blissfulness. Gandhi had remarked that every time a problem appears as an obstacle, he turned to the pages of the Gita for its answer. Janamdin Mubarak ho… May all of Guyana enjoy the Ashirvad of Shri Krishna and remain protected under his umbrella. May the Government and its officers be guided by his influence.