GTA5

Despondency is a good place to start

By Narayani Ganesh

Are you feeling frustrated, dejected and hopeless? That’s a good place to look for answers to life’s eternal questions and it helps to have a genuine guide to channel your thoughts and feelings to something constructive, creative and positive. The guide could be a book, a master, life coach or better still, time-tested scriptural signposts like the Bhagwad Gita and the Yog Vasisht. These works were responses to dejected souls, like the accomplished warrior-prince Arjun and Vishnu avatar, Prince Ram.

Both Arjun and Ram were able to express their despondency to the likes of Krishn, another Vishnu avatar and Vasisht, a renowned sage, respectively. Arjun’s spirit was broken when he faced his kinsmen on the battlefield; he was loath to take up arms and slay his own relatives, teachers and friends. Krishn, as his charioteer, steers Arjun away from his despondency, by discoursing on dharma, duty and detachment, all essential prerequisites of a balanced mind that focusses on upholding righteousness even on a battlefield.

There’s a view that this was fine on a battlefield of yore where warring was all about physical hand-to-hand combat with little likelihood of collateral damage – of destroying homes and institutions, and innocent citizens including women and children. Whereas in a battle of that scale today, enabled by hi-tech gadgets, the collateral damage could be so immense that the spiel about dharma may not make much sense. The answer today is perhaps to avoid battle at all cost and negotiate peace over the table, without having to compromise the lives and livelihoods of innocents. With human evolution never ceasing, and if humans are an intelligent species, it follows that bloodshed is never a feasible solution.

Another view is that the Kurukshetra battle was a metaphysical one, played out in the mind, wherein the combatants are none other than one’s own conflicted thoughts and feelings. That to overcome mental conflict, one has to slay one’s own negative thoughts, and thereby uphold mental dharma, to achieve that state of a stithaprajna, ensuring that the mind stays unperturbed in the face of dualities. It’s all about achieving peace of mind and a sense of peaceful purpose that promotes harmony rather than discord.

In Prince Ram’s case, he was going through a phase of dejection as a young heir-apparent, even as he was being groomed by Sage Vasisht for his future role as king. Ram was full of doubt that gave rise to a host of questions: Why do people suffer? What’s the nature and purpose of life? What’s the way out of human suffering? How does one overcome the world and achieve liberation? Weighty questions, and Sage Vasisht answers them all, slowly coaxing Ram out of his state of despondency. This discourse between sage and prince forms the body of the celebrated Yog Vasisht, filled with insights on the real and unreal, consciousness and Self, mind and matter. The result is both exhilarating and liberating.

Significantly, what the Gita and Yog Vasisht also reveal is that even if you’re a celebrated warrior like Arjun or a beloved avatar-prince like Ram, you are not immune to self-doubt and despondency. Even they require the able guidance of evolved masters who can help them see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. ([email protected])

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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