Saturday, October 26, 2013

If Arjuna was a woman



 Devastated by the array of his kith and kin lined up on the battlefield, Arjuna abandons his desire to fight the war he had prepared for and Krishna motivates him to pick up his weapons and destroy adharma.The mighty warrior has a panic attack and his friend, philosopher and guide walks him through 700 verses of wisdom that has guided humanity over centuries. As a novice studying this great work of Veda Vysa, I have started analyzing Krishna’s teachings in the context of the battle we women have to fight in a man’s world and have found his sage advice to Arjuna equally relevant to us albeit different contexts.
Swami Vivekananda is said to have found two key words in the Gita which sums up the Lord’s teachings- klaibyam(wretchedness) and uttishta(wake up.)During my interaction with women as a Trustee of an organization to motivate women (Guild Of Women Achievers), I found that these two words aptly sum up their situation too. They tend to wallow in self pity and hridayadourbalyam (fainthearted) and despite goading them to uttishta (awake and arise) they refuse to take control of their lives and move on.
Of all the verses in the GITA, my favorite one is from the Second chapter, verse 41.Here Krishna lays emphasis on ‘one pointed determination.’  We live in a world of choices and unless we have ‘eka’ focus, we end up with a whole lot of confusion and chaos in our life. We become like the tree with many branches and as Swami Dayananda Saraswati says..’Too many channels, too many expressions, too many pursuits’
While watching a programme on award winning women achievers on the TV, I realized why I was not there! That was because I, like the ‘bahushaka” tree, dabbled in many pursuits and ended up with perfection in none of them. These women had stuck to their informed choice of what they wanted to do and with one pointed determination, reached their goals with aplomb.
How does one decide on a particular path?  Arjuna was a warrior and his goal was to fight for dharma.What if he were a woman?  What is a woman’s ‘dharma”?  Does it have to be based on cultural mandates or can she carve her own niche and go by it?  I would think Krishna is talking in general terms.  Whatever you choose, that becomes your ‘dharma’.  If I choose to be a home maker, then I need to focus on keeping a good home, running an efficient household, serving healthy and nutritious food to the family and being a gracious hostess.  If I opt to be a career woman, I give my profession my hundred percent.  That is shraddha (commitment).Alas, I think that is where women are branching out too much, not doing justice to any one thing.  They want everything at the same time and end up making a mess of all!
In this verse, Krishna is talking of decision making and how important it is to stick to that without wavering.  He spells out the secret of success in any field you choose.  Success according to Gita is making the right choice based on viveka (discretion) which is dictated by the right kind of knowledge acquired by the seeker from the right source.  How does one affirm the right source?  That is where shastra comes in.  We have the tendency to pooh pooh our scriptures by saying they are outdated and have no relevance to this age of science and technology. Surprisingly, it is more relevant now than ever! The Gita is a comprehensive text of the shastras, Krishna, in lucid terms, through His upadesha(guidance) to Arjuna, gives us the blueprint for sensible living in this troubled world.  I personally feel it is a great how- to book for women who wish to uttishta from their klaibya.