I write a little Sanskrit most days and it is a useful exercise in slowing down enough to read and reflect. Quite recently, I started a journal (like the ones we had in school) and started to make my own copy of the texts. There is plenty to write and no deadline so I am slowly working through different texts.
The first chapter of the Gita has been completed and I was contemplating its importance in the book. At first glance it appears like a lot of background and subsequently Arjuna’s grief. Why begin with despondency? Why not get into the second chapter straight?
From a literary perspective, continuity as it is part of the great epic but I guess it also creates the necessary background for the teachings.
If I stop and consider, I have been Arjuna-like in my dejection. All of us are warriors of the spirit but we lose sight of it and sink into listless inaction. It is only when the pain of not changing is greater than the resistance to change that transformation can begin. In this case, it was Arjuna’s mental turmoil and pain that made him ripe to receive. That’s pretty much how I was drawn to Vedanta too. Pain of watching my father-in-law die slowly of Parkinson’s disease, pain of an emptiness despite having everything, pain of my father’s passing away. That was a year of tumult, within and without. I needed something to make sense of the storm raging in my mind.
The shloka mentioned in the image is from the last part of Chapter 18.
Thus, the ‘Wisdom’ which is a greater secret than all secrets, has been declared to you by Me; having reflected upon it fully, you now act as you choose.
Translation by Swami Chinmayananda
Contemplation is at the heart of the shastras. Perhaps that is why they are so concise. They are an invitation to explore and experience for oneself and not just believe blindly, although I suppose that may also work. In the context of my inclinations, it helps me soak in the words, sounds and texture as they become familiar. Taking them one or two at a time and letting it stew for a few days is also a mental exercise, developing endurance to stay with a sadhana. Am I hurtling down the road? It doesn’t feel like it. I still go through my everyday life quite contentedly. It feels as though I were a dormant seed that has suddenly sprouted and is in its initial shooting out of the ground. All the months and years that have passed seem to have been to get the conditions right for it to take root. May I ever remain a student.
2 thoughts on “Beginning at the end”
You are a hero, like Arjuna. I am so inspired by your approach to understanding these texts. I would like to (once I can write a bit more in devanagari) attempt to emulate your approach. Keep sharing!!!
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All of us are Arjuna. 🙂
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