Democracy turns into DemoNOcracy!!

Prof.Bal Ram Singh

There have much talk about the demonization of republicans and democrats in the United States especially since Donald Trump became candidate for the position of President. He called his opponent as crooked Hillary, and Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters as basket of deplorables.

But Indian leaders, perhaps taking some cue from the politicians of the oldest democracy, yet certainly adding their own ugly flavors to it.

“There are remarkable parallels in terms of this kind of highly prejudicial and extremely parochial nationalism that both Modi and Trump have promoted and have sought to demonize minorities.”, said Sumit Ganguly, a leftist and Tagore Chair Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Indiana University at Bloomington in an interview on April 9, 2019 with Council of Foreign Relations).

Some examples of low level stench are given below:

Modi while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh for Assembly Election, branded the main opposition party Congress as termites and called the electorates to wipe them out: “There should not be one polling booth where this termite called Congress be allowed to thrive.”

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Kejriwal had recently called Modi “a Coward and a psychopath” (Outlook India, 06 November 2017)

In 2007 campaign for the Gujarat assembly election, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had indirectly accused Modi and his government as “merchants of death” (Oulook India, 06 NOVEMBER 2017)

In an article on May 20, 2019 The New York Times wrote several disturbing statements on democracy in view of the Indian elections.

“In Hungary, Viktor Orban demonized immigrants and secured an expansion of his power. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan purged his enemies and won a new term. In Australia, Scott Morrison shrugged off calls for tougher carbon-emissions rules and was unexpectedly kept on as leader.

And in India, where the world’s biggest parliamentary election appears to be boiling down to a binary choice — Yes or No on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “

“Trump and Modi are twins separated by continents,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator, and dalit activist. “Both are against knowledge, they consider the past as the golden period, they consider themselves the center of gravity.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India during a roadshow in Varanasi, India, April, 2019 – credit Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Observers are looking at this people polarizing trend with disdain. 

“…the social media cells of the BJP and the INC seem to be projecting their star campaigners as populist leaders, demonising each other’s parties and supporters, and polarising the voters along religious lines.”, wrote Dr. Sangeeta Mahapatra, LSE Blog, January 11, 2019

“He can’t take care of his wife, he will take care of Indians?,” Mamata Banerjee said during a rally in Bishnupur. (India Today, New Delhi, May 6, 2019). She refused to even take a call from the Prime Minister to discuss the relief work on the cyclone, saying she did not recognize him as the Prime Minister of India!

“Who knew you (Modi) before you became the Prime Minister? Even now, nobody knows the name of your father. (Former Union minister Vilasrao Muttemwar, November 25, 2018).

At one time a BJP MLA, Heeralal Regar, declared his intention to “strip” Sonia and Rahul and transport them to Italy

BJP minister “Sadhvi” Niranjan Jyoti asked a gathering to choose between “Ramzaadon (followers of Lord Ram)” and “haramzaadon (illegitimately born)”

Mani Shankar Aiyar discovered Modi to be a “neech kism ka aadmi (a lowly person)”.

In 2014, a video of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal went viral, where he could be seen openly threatening to rape women members of the opposition (India Today, July 20, 2016).

“I am from Chandannagar. Leaders are created by workers. I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me… If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal said.

SP leader Mualayam Singh Yadav had shocked the nation’s conscience when he wondered aloud (about BSP leader Mayawati): “Is she so beautiful that anyone should want to rape her?

“Smriti Irani sits beside leaders like Nitin Gadkari and talks about changing the Constitution. Let me tell you a thing about Smriti Irani. She wears a big ‘bindi’ on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husbands frequently, the size of her ‘bindi’ keeps growing,” (Jaydeep Kawade, a leader from Maharashtra-based People’s Republican Party).

Insey bada kayar, insey kamjor Pradhan Mantri main jeevan me nahi dekha, (I haven’t seen a more coward and weaker PM than him in my life).” (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, May 9, 2019)

Chowkidar (Modi) chor hai”  a phrase invented by Rahul Gandhi for 2019 elections, with nearly no truth in it as asserted by the Supreme Court of India when it made Rahul Gandhi apologize for justifying the phrase by attributing it to the honorable court.

While these utterances may have been said in the heat of political campaigns, the fact that one has to come down to this level reveals the true nature of democracy which can in fact be very dangerous in places like India with unparallel history, philosophy, continuing culture, diversity of nature, humans, languages, and freedom of thoughts.

On the other hand, when Sadhvi Pragya Singh said that she had cursed Hemant Karkare, the police officer who had supervised her torture in jail, she was banned from campaigning for three days by India’s Election Commission. This is the situation in so called free India where a person is not allowed to even moan for the extreme torture meted out to her physically and mentally!

Such a deterioration in discourses can (and perhaps meant to) be divisive and destructive to a society. In other words, democracy has become demonocracy!!

As a silver lining, it may in fact provide a pause to think of an alternative system of governance, at least for India, if not the entire world.  

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA & Board Member, WAVES-International


Relevance of Gandhi in Today’s World


Dr. Anju Seth

Looking at the present state of affairs in India, the birthplace of Gandhi, one would probably surmise that Gandhism, whatever the term may mean, cannot have any relevance in this twenty-first century. Gandhi is rightly called the Father of the Nation because he single handedly stood up against the mighty British Empire, without any arms, and brought her independence. However, today, Gandhi is mostly forgotten and his relevance questioned even by his ardent devotees. Today Gandhi is remembered in India mostly on his birthday which is celebrated as a national holiday rather as a ritual.

Gandhiji Line Drawings (1)

(Source of Image :

As a matter of fact, India is not following any of Gandhi’s teachings which are mostly confined to text books. In fact, since independence, the country has witnessed many violent communal riots in this multi communal country. Gandhi’s message of ‘swābalambī’, self-sufficiency with home spun ‘khādī’ cloth is not used now-a-days even as a social slogan. Statistics shows that the country is definitely not following ‘sarvodaya’, a broad Gandhian term meaning ‘universal upliftment’ or ‘progress of all’ reaching the masses. On the contrary, India today has the unique distinction of being the only country in the world which has the richest man in the world while at the same time more than 30 per cent of its population lives in dire poverty.

The above shows that today, Gandhism is a very confused ‘ism’ in India. Today many politicians in India use the term merely as a slogan and the common man make Gandhi almost out of reach of the younger groups by making Gandhi an unwilling ‘avatāra’. That may be one reason why the only photo we see of Gandhi in India is always that of an old man which brings the image of a very simple and pious man who was meek and mild like Jesus Christ. While Gandhi was not a simple man to say the least, the above does not gives the right image of Gandhi and does not bring any inspiration to the younger group, the group most relevant for Gandhi.

But Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of ahimsā in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing.”

And that is precisely the greatness of Gandhi and that is the message of Gandhi to the modern world. In the past century many places in the world have been drastically changed through the use of brute force, by the power of guns the Soviet Union, China, Tibet, Burma, many communist countries in Africa and South America. But eventually the power of guns will have to be changed by the will of the ordinary people. If we try to analyze the secrets of Gandhi’s success, we would probably find Faith and Action and Populism, the three most important aspects of his life. Gandhi’s extra ordinary communion with the masses of ordinary people was another of his secrets. In contrast to many of our present day leaders of this highly democratic world, Gandhi was a true leader and friend of the people. Disaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist leader who takes great inspiration from Gandhi has this to say about him. “His activism is not mere action but contains many aspects of a spiritual practice that is inspired by the inner urging of the conscience”.

The phenomenal success Gandhi registered in far-away South Africa fighting for human rights and civil liberties has great significance when we find that later his teachings were adopted not only by Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter, but it was also subsequently revealed that the former South African president De Klerk was greatly influenced by Gandhi’s principles. In fact, from Dalai Lama to Desmond Tutu and from Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela, many world leaders were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, all in their own different ways.

Gandhi left many valuable sayings for the modern man to fight for goodness in society in a non-violent way. “Good” Gandhi said “travels at a snails pace.” “Non-violence” Gandhi said “is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” And then “Mere goodness is not of much use.” Gandhi stated. “Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character.” The modern man can also take great wisdom from what Gandhi said the seven social sins: Politics without principles; Wealth without work; Commerce without morality; Education without character; Pleasure without conscience; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice.

It was the unique non-violent movement under his leadership that earned for India freedom from the colonial rule. In spearheading the campaign against the alien rule, Gandhiji adopted the innovative techniques of civil disobedience and social transformation, which had several exemplary features.

The Gandhian technique of mobilizing people has been successfully employed by many oppressed societies around the world under the leadership of people like Martin Luther King in the United States, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and now Aung Saan Sun Kyi in Myanmar, which is an eloquent testimony to the continuing relevance of Mahatma Gandhi.

In India, economic development has been mostly confined to the urban conglomerates. In the process, the rural India that comprises 700 million people has been given short shrift. Gandhiji’s philosophy of inclusive growth is fundamental to the building of a resurgent rural India. He believed in “production by the masses” rather than in mass production, a distinctive feature of the industrial revolution. It is surprising, even paradoxical, that these days Gandhian philosophy should find increasing expression through the most modern technology! Now, it is possible to establish small-scale and medium-scale factories in smaller towns and remote corners of the country, thanks to the phenomenal innovations in communication and information technologies. New technologies have brought in widespread and low-cost electronic connectivity that enables instantaneous contact between industrial units and the sellers and consumers of their products. Location and logistics are no more a limitation or constraint for industrial development.

If we say that the twenty-first century is the century of the common man, then we see that Gandhism has even more relevance in this age, and Gandhi will inspire generations of individuals fighting for goodness of the society. If today we find that Gandhism is in severe test in countries like India, it is not because there is certain inherent weakness in Gandhism, but it is because we have not seen in India strong leaders with the required courage and conviction to fight the evils in society. We may borrow Gandhi’s own words on Ahimsā, and say that Gandhism is only for the courageous people.

-Dr. Anju Seth, Associate Professor, Department of Sanskrit, Satyawati College (Day), University of Delhi, Delhi, India

स्वतंत्रता की भारतीय शैली

-प्रोफ़ेसर बलराम सिंह

Independence का वास्तविक अर्थ आत्मनिर्भरता है। In का अर्थ है inside अर्थात् आत्मा के स्तर तक पहुँचना और फिर उसी पर निर्भर होना अथवा dependent हो जाना। जब व्यक्ति आत्मश: कार्यरत होता है तो उसका आत्मबल सदैव पुष्टित होता रहता है। उसके लिए सारा जग आत्मीय बन जाता है। वह ‘अयम निज: परोवेति’ की गणना लघुचेतीय समझता है। उसके अंत:करण में चिरक़ालीन उदारता झकोरे लेने लगती है, तथा ‘वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम’ के सम्मत भाव जागृत हो जाते हैं। यहाँ तक कि उनके यहाँ ‘संताने तनय व तनया’ तक न सीमित रहकर आत्मज और आत्मजा के रूप उत्पन्न होने लगती हैं अर्थात् आत्मबीज ही अंकुरित, पल्लवित, पुष्पित. व फलित होता है। ‘अहम् ब्रह्म अस्मि’ की अनुभूति सार्थक हो जाती है। ये है independence की वास्तविक महिमा! ये एक दिन में सीमित नहीं हो सकता, ये तो कल्पों का माजरा है जनाब!!


Independence का दूसरा अर्थ है है स्वाधीनता, अर्थात् अपने को पूरी तरह से पहचान कर उसके आधीन हो जाना अथवा उसी की सत्ता के आधीन कार्यरत हो जाना। अपने को पहचानने का अभिप्राय है अपने धर्म को पहचानना, और उसी आधार पर गुण और कर्म निर्धारित करना। स्वधर्म की पहचान का तात्पर्य है अपनी प्रकृति को गहराई से समझना, बूझना, और परखना। जब व्यक्ति इस स्तर पर पहुँच जाता है तब अपनी प्रकृति को ही आधार बनाकर उसी में श्रद्धा एवं भक्ति से संलग्न होकर कर्म करता है। उसके अतिरिक्त कुछ नहीं करता। श्रीकृष्ण ने भगवद्गीता में इसका उद्धरण इस प्रकार किया है- ‘स्वधर्मे निधनम श्रेय: परधर्मों भयावह’, अर्थात् अपने धर्म के अनुसार आचरण में सबकुछ मिट जाना भी श्रेयस्कर है। यही नहीं किसी अन्य के धर्म अर्थात् प्रकृति का आचरण भयावह होता है इसलिए स्वाधीनता अत्यंत आवश्यक मानवीय दशा है जो मानव ही नहीं बल्कि पूरी समष्टि के लिए कल्याणकारी है।

Independence का तीसरा अर्थ है स्वतंत्रता अर्थात् अपना ही तंत्र होना चाहिए चाहे वो पारिवारिक हो, सामाजिक हो, आर्थिक हो, शैक्षिक हो, अथवा राजनीतिक हो। दूसरों की व्यवस्था यद्यपि उनके लिए कितनी भी उच्च एवं सराहनीय क्यों न हो किसी और के लिए तनावपूर्ण, बलाघाती, भयंकर कलह का कारण बन सकती है। अतः किसी भी देश को एक ऐसी व्यवस्था का सृजन करना चाहिए जिसके अंतर्गत हर एक व्यक्ति को सम्पूर्ण मुक्ति रहे कि वह व्यक्तिगत, पारिवारिक, तथा सामाजिक स्तरों पर अपने ही तंत्र के अनुकूल जीवन यापन कर सके। यह व्यवस्था बाह्य रूप से प्रारम्भ में अनेकता के सिद्धांत पर ही आधारित हो सकती है, अर्थात् कोई uniform civil code नहीं, कोई संविधान नहीं, कोई अधिवक्ता या न्यूनतवक़्ता नहीं, कोई AC में विराजित न्यायाधीश नहीं। मात्र धरातलीय प्रबुद्धजनो की आवश्यकता होती है जिनमे आचार विचार से आत्मबोध झलकता हो। वही सर्वभूतानाम की स्वतंत्रता सुनियोजित व  सुनिश्चित कर सकते है इसीलिए भारत ऋषियों का देश रहा है, स्वतंत्रता के लिए। आधुनिक स्वतंत्रता दिवस  को प्रेरणा का आधार मानकर स्वतंत्रता को शाश्वत बनाने के लिए संकल्पित हों, और इसी का पर्व मनायें आज and forever!! शुभम्

– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA

योग का तत्कालीन क्रियात्मक बोध

– प्रोफ़ेसर बलराम सिंह

योग: सत्तस्य पर्याय: तस्य सार्थकेव मानव जीवनस्य लक्ष्य:।

योग सत्य का पर्याय है, उसी को सार्थक बनाना जीवन का उद्देश्य है।

वैसे तो सत्य एक सरल सी धारणा है पर अधिकतर व्यक्तियों को इसका बोध नहीं हो पाता है। इसका मुख्य कारण है कि व्यक्ति कुछ विशेष वस्तुओं, स्थानों, लोगों, अथवा बातों से ही जुड़ता है और उसी को मानक बनाकर अपना दृष्टिकोण निर्धारित कर लेता है।

जैसे कि वस्तुतः व्यक्ति परिवार से या माँ से जुड़ता है और उसे प्रेम करता है। यदि उस माँ के प्रेम को सीमित न करके उसे प्रेम के अभ्यास की प्रक्रिया मान ले तो उसी प्रेम भाव को औरों के साथ जोड़ सकता है। तभी माँ के प्रेम की सार्थकता हो सकती है ठीक उसी तरह जैसे कि स्कूल में गणित सीख कर हम उसका जीवन के अन्य पहलुओं में उपयोग करते हैं।


इस अवधारणा को प्रथम स्तर पर हम योग अभ्यास से समझ सकते हैं। स्थूल रूप से आसन एवं मुद्राएँ हमारे मन को शरीर के उन भागों पर केंद्रित करते हैं जहाँ आसन के कारण ज़ोर पड़ता है। इसका अभ्यास करते-करते हम अपने मन को इस तरह अपने वश में कर पाने में ऐसे सफल हो जाते हैं कि आसन के बिना भी अँगो और प्रत्यंगो पर ध्यान दे लेते हैं। यही प्रक्रिया हमें जुड़ने की वास्तविक विद्या प्रदान करती है। इस विद्या को ही सूक्ष्म रूप में प्राणायाम के द्वारा शरीर के उन कोशिकाओं और अणुओं परमाणुओं तक जोड़ा जा सकता है जो की हमारी ज्ञानेंद्रियों से परे होते हैं। यही शारीरिक आसन और प्राणायाम के अभ्यास हमें हर किसी से जुड़ने की योग विधि बताते हैं।

उपर्युक्त अभ्यास से जो ज्ञान प्राप्त होता है उसके उपयोग से जब हम संसार में बिना किसी भेद भाव (प्रत्याहार अभ्यास के अंतर्गत) समस्त प्राणियों से जुड़ते हैं तभी उनके जीवन सत्यार्थ से परिचित हो पाते हैं।


(Source of Image : Prof. Singh with his younger daughter)

अथ योग: सत्यार्थ परिचायक:। ॐ!!

माता की अवधारणा

मदर्स डे पर विशेषविमर्श

-डॉ. शशि तिवारी


यह संसार भगवान् की अद्भुत रचना है। भगवान् के इस सृजन का हम सब प्राणी उपभोग करते हैं। रचयिता होने से ही ईश्वर को ‘माता’ कहते हैं – त्वमेव माता च पिता त्वमेव । माना गया है कि हम सब ईश्वर के अंश हैं। तो जो गुण ईश्वर में हैं वे प्राणियों में भी हो सकते हैं या कि प्राकृतिक रूप से होने चाहिए। मातृत्व एक ऐसा ही गुण है। केवल मनुष्य ही नहीं पशु-पक्षी भी किसी न किसी प्रकार के सर्जन और निर्मिति की कला में निपुण देखे जाते हैं। हर किसी में रचनाधर्मिता होती है- कभी कम कभी अधिक। तभी देवी की स्तुति में कहा गया है –

            “या देवी सर्वभूतेषु मातॄरूपेण संस्थिता। 

            नम: तस्यै नम: तस्यै नम: तस्यै नमो नम:॥”

वेद में माता-पिता के युग्म को ‘मातरा’ या ‘मातरौ’ कहते हैं यानी माता और पिता दोनों माता ही हैं। इसी तरह द्यावापृथ्वी का नाम ‘मातरा’ है; पृथ्वी हमारी माता है और आकाश पिता। सांसारिक माता और पिता के जोडे के लिए ‘पितरौ’ या ‘पितरा’ शब्द भी प्रयोग में आए हैं; यानी दोनों ही पिता हैं। यह ठीक वैसे ही है जैसे पति-पत्नी के युग्म को ‘दम्पती’ कहते हैं। भारतीय मनीषा ने शब्दों में ही जीवन-मूल्यों को सूत्र में मणियों कि भांति पिरोया हुआ है। तात्पर्य है कि महत्व की दृष्टि से माता और पिता लगभग समान ही हैं। इसीलिए कहते हैं – ‘मातृ देवो भव, पितृ देवो भव’। परंतु जब बात जनन की होती है तो जनि, जनी, जनयित्री आदि नामों से मां को जाना जाता है क्योंकि वह उत्पन्न करने वाली है। केवल उत्पन्न ही नहीं उसके बाद जो लालन-पालन की आवश्यकता है वह भी वही करती है। एतदर्थ उसमें स्नेह और ममता की आवश्यकता है और इसके वाचक अंबा, अम्बि, अम्बी आदि शब्द मां के लिए वेद में प्राप्त होते हैं। इन सब नामों से माता जननी, स्नेहमयी, पूजनी्य़ा, आत्मीया बतायी गयी है। उत्पन्न करने वाली का साक्षात् स्वरूप ‘माता’ पद में दिखाई दे्ता है, इसलिए उसे इस सम्मान से विभूषित किया गया है कि वह जननी है और ईश्वर के समकक्ष है।


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सतत् स्मरणीय है कि साक्षात् माताएं हमारी सम्माननीय हैं; क्योंकि ‘मातृत्व’ मानवीय गुणों में सर्वोपरि है। रचना करना तथा पालन करना – प्रत्येक मनुष्य का धर्म कर्म होना चाहिए, तभी सामजिक संतुलन बना रह सकता है। जब हम मातृ-दिवस मनाये तो ये याद रखें कि यह अपने दायित्वों को वहन करने की शिक्षा देने वाला दिन है। यह रचनाधर्मिता का दिन है या फिर रचनाधर्मिता के अभिनंदन का दिन!

– डॉ. शशि तिवारी,अध्यक्ष, वेव्सभारत 

Bases of Dharma in the Gita

– Dr. Shakuntala


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The Gita, through Krishna declares a two-fold bases of dharmaSamkhya or reason and yoga or discipline – “In this world a two-fold basis (of dharma) has been declared by Me of old, blameless one: By the discipline of knowledge of the followers of reason-method and by the discipline of action of the followers of discipline method” (III.3). But before we try to understand reason with discipline of knowledge or jñana-yoga and discipline with discipline of action or karmayoga, we need to appreciate the fact that the term ‘discipline’ is used in two senses in the Gita. One of course is the basis of dharma. The other is defined by the Gita through Krishna as indifference: “discipline is defined as indifference” (II.48). We can take it that it is discipline in the latter sense, that is, in the senses of indifference that is used when the Gita is talking about discipline of knowledge and discipline of action. In other words, it appears that whether we are followers of reason or followers of discipline, discipline in the sense of indifference is a necessary feature of it.

In the Gita, Discipline (basis of religion) appears to be, on one hand, renunciation and, on the other hand, non-attachment: “For when not to objects of sense nor to actions he is attached, renouncing all purpose, then he is said to have mounted to discipline” (VI.4). That is, if we want to understand discipline, then we need to understand what renunciation and non-attachment mean in the Gita. Renunciation in the Gita comes forth as renunciation of actions of desire (XVIII.2). Further, in the Gita, he is recognized as renouncing action who does not ‘loathe or crave’ which is also termed as being free from pairs of opposite (V.3). But if this is renunciation, it appears that it is non-different from what the Gita calls as discipline of mind or buddhi-yoga. In its discussion on discipline of mind, the Gita says about longing and loathing that “one must not come under control of those two, for they are his two enemies” (III.34). But this is how renunciation is understood in the Gita. Again, it says that “Whom all desires enter in that same way he attains peace; not the man who lusts after desires” (II.70). This can be understood as meaning that who is nor driven to act by desire goes to peace. And this is the way renunciation has been defined – giving up acts of desire. Further, this renunciation is also discipline in the sense of indifference: “Content with getting what comes by chance, passed beyond the pairs (of opposites), free from jealousy, indifferent to success and failure, even acting he is not bound” (IV.22).

Discipline, however, in the Gita also means non-attachment. The actions that the Gita has asked one to perform without attachment to fruits are actions of worship, gift, austerity (XVIII.5) as well as natural born action of the individual (XVIII.48). Worship is another kind of action the Gita says one should perform (IV.23). The Gita suggests that if one performs actions without attachment to the fruit of action, one does not get bound (III.7). In fact Krishna tells of himself that he is not bound even though he keeps performing actions because he is not interested in fruits of actions: “Actions do not stain Me, (because) I have no yearning for the fruits of actions. Who comprehends Me thus is not bound by actions” (IV.14). Such actions do not bind because in truth they do not bear fruits, though performed they are barren (IV.20). In other words, it appears that according to the Gita, it is the mental attitude that binds and not mere action.

Of the two elements of discipline, if they can be termed as such, renunciation and non-attachment to fruits of action, the Gita shows its certain inclination towards the latter (V.2). The reason for this can be explained in the following way: renunciation is more an attitude than performance of action. Giving up certain action by itself cannot be called action – at least in the sense of performance. Renunciation is giving up acts of desire. But non-attachment involves performing of certain kinds of actions without attachment to fruits of action. In other words, in the latter case one gives up certain action but goes on performing the required kinds of actions. That is, non-attachment involves both giving up action as well as performance of certain sort of actions while renunciation does not imply performance of action.

Of the ‘two-fold basis’ of the world, the Gita declares reason as one of them. Reason in the Gita comes forth as understanding of the nature of the soul. When Arjuna asks Krishna regarding a way for right conduct, Krishna answer tells of the right way as suggested by reason. The way, as we find it, involves a description of soul’s nature: “He is not born, nor does he ever die; nor, having come to be, will he ever more come not to be. Unborn, eternal, everlasting, this ancient one is not slain when the body is slain” (II.20). Further, it is said that the soul in reality does not feel pleasure and pain. Whatever feeling of pleasure and pain the embodied being feels is due to its contact with matter (II.14). Thus on one hand, the Gita tells that the soul actually does not feel pleasure and pain and on the other hand, that they belong to matter. Reason, according to Gita, thus lies in understanding that pain, pleasure etc are not felt by soul but belong to matter. Likewise, the Gita also tells that according to reason, action does not belong to the soul, but to matter. Having said this, the Gita says that the one who understands reality in true nature – that the immortal does not in actuality feel or perform – in reality he does not perform action. That is, though actions take place, even after one realizes that himself is not the doer, such actions no more bear fruits, that is, they more bind (XVIII.17).

Knowledge is the means for the followers of reason. This knowledge comes forth in the Gita as knowledge that reality is one which can be understood under its ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ nature. The first, the ‘lower nature’ constitutes the universe (VII.4), while the second, the ‘higher nature’ is the soul, the support of living being (VII.5). And then there is the Lord in whom “this (universe) is strung, like heaps of pearl on a string” (VII.7). These two natures of the ultimate reality again have been explained in Gita under different headings – the Field and the Field-knower. And this knowledge of the Field and Field-knower is considered as true knowledge in the Gita (XIII. 2). In another place of the Gita we come across knowledge as knowledge of the Lord and Brahman as well as that of the Strands as the binding factor. The man of knowledge thus knows that the actual agent is matter. As such he can be assumed to be acting with the knowledge that it is not he who is acting. This is also the way how disciplined man is defined: ‘I am in effect doing nothing at all?’ – so the disciplined man should think, knowing the truth, when he sees, hears, touches, smells, eats, walks, sleeps, breathes, talks, evacuates, grasps, opens and shuts his eyes; ‘The senses (only) on the objects of sense are operating’ – holding fast to this thought (V.8-9).  Thus it can be said that the man who performs with knowledge is practising discipline of knowledge.

A study of the bases of dharma reveals the importance of mental attitude in performance of dharma in the Gita. That the Gita has attached indifference to both the ways of reason and discipline is indicative of this very feature. In fact that this is so is clear from the very beginning of Krishna-Arjuna conversation. Arjuna asks Krishna what is dharma: “My being very afflicted with the taint of weak compassion, I ask Thee, my mind bewildered as to the dharma” (II.7). But Krishna does not answer by telling what dharma is. Rather what Krishna says reveals the importance of mental attitude: “Abiding in discipline perform actions” (II.48). And this indifference is certainly of mental nature. However, though the importance lies in the mental attitude, the Gita cannot be taken as advocating mental attitude alone. What it advocates is performance of action with certain mental attitude and not mere mental attitude. And that is why the advice to Arjuna is not just to carry the attitude but to fight with the right mental attitude: “Holding pleasure and pain alike, gain and loss, victory and defeat, then gird thyself for battle” (II.38).

Dr. Shakuntala, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy,  University of Gauhati, Guwahati, Assam