Message to Som Gollakota

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Woodinville, WA
The Desires
April 9, 2008
ध्यायतो विशयां पुन्सह सन्घस्थेषूप जाऽयते
सन्घात् सन्ध्यायते कामः कामात् क्रोधोभि जायते
क्रोधात् भवति सम्मोहः सम्मोहात्सुति विभ्रमह
स्तुति भ्रम्सात भुधि नाशोत् बुधि नाशात् प्रणस्यसि
dhyāyato viśayāṁ punsaha sanghasthe ṣūpa jā'yat
sanghāt sandhyāyate kāmaḥ kāmāt krodhobhi jāyate
krodhāt bhavati sammohaḥ sammohātsuti vibhramaha
stuti bhramsāta bhudhi nāśot budhi nāśāt praṇasyasi

Rough translation: As you always think about your wants, and get attached to them, they turn into desires and graduate into Strong Desires. Desires unfulfilled will transform into frustration and anger that leads to losing the ability of reasoning. This leads to forgetfulness, resulting in not being able to think appropriately, and ultimately sliding you to the rock bottom - a point of no recovery.
esires are said to be the root cause of all miseries. The discourse said to have given by the Lord to the mightiest of the warriors, Arjuna, discusses about this fact at a great length. These desires are specified to be Worldly Desires. The Geeta talks at length about such desires and their effects. One such verse is given above along with my rough translation of it.
Now comes the most obvious question - Are you (Is The Geeta) suggesting that we do not have any desires at all? Absolutely not. Without wants and desires, we are not who we think we are. Then is the verse making a false statement? No again! What then, is the point in saying Wants and desires are the root of all misery? Here is my thinking. The key is hidden in the first part of the verse itself. Wants, when uncontrolled, turn into Desires. And Desires, when uncontrolled, lead to frustration and anger. From that point on, it's all down hill.
This is all great and dandy. I know all this stuff... pretty simple - you hear the verse, get a translation and you know what it means. Right? Well... The complexity begins after you know the translation. The question is not What, but How? Not what it means, but how do you practice it?
I for one, quite often struggle with the difference between What and How, quite often ending up thinking both are same - if you know the What, you can easily figure out How. Simpler/easier said than done. The "how to" part of this maps right back to an earlier discussed verse about Karma, and another verse I am yet to talk about - where a comparison is made to a Lotus Leaf in a pond. This is my favorite comparison by any stretch. A Lotus Leaf lives in a pond and in water, but is never wet. You immerse it in water, and remove it - looks as though it never saw any water. Water does not stick to it. It is unattached. Detachment is not giving up on the world and the things the world has to offer. Detachment is to be where you are, do what you do, and yet not be overly affected by the results. Detachment is - having everything, but not holding on to anything. This is the difficult part.
The way I see the Geeta is that it is a big puzzle, with each verse being a piece of the puzzle and all verses fit nicely to complete it. Once the puzzle is complete, you have answers to life's questions. Simple enough - all life's answers are in one book... right? Well... Completing the puzzle is a lot of work. It's not just reading all the verses, their meanings, translations, and understanding the meaning. It is not that simple. There are countless translations of the Gita, and any one of them in a chosen language might do the trick. Perhaps not.
The translations available in the market are written by those who are at least bilingual, understand the original language in which it's written (Sanskrit in Devanagari script), and have translated the meanings into other languages. However, Sanskrit is a complex language where each word may have multiple meanings depending on intonations and context. Beyond that, the essense of Gita is not for understanding the translated meaning, but is to be captured by an intellegent mind thirsty of knowledge.
Many have tried for a lifetime, and only a very selective few have succeeded. Those we know as saints and elevated souls - such as Swami Chinmaya, Swami Vivekananda or the Jagat Guru Aadi Sankara. Discourses of saintly beings such as Swami Chinmaya on Bhagavad Gita is a great start. The reason it is a great start is that they have endured what it takes to capture the essense of the Gita - reading, understanding, thinking, discussing, expanding, and opening up their minds to possibilities that the individual egos would never in a million years would open up to. However, Swami Chinmaya's discourses are the interpretation of one saint. True light of knowledge comes when you take the enlightnment of many such saints, and launch yourself into the spiritual journey. When you gain your own interpretation (what it means to YOU) of the entire Gita, then you have the answers to all YOUR life's questions.
As much as I struggle with the meanings and how tos, some day I hope to resolve at least a few issues, gain a drop of knowledge, and become a better human being. Even if I can answer one question of my life - regardless of what that quesiton is... I would consider to have bettered myself.
With these thoughts, I will now conclude this writing and leave any readers out there to delve on these thoughts of mine, on your own. Please do feel free to contact me with your thoughts and inputs. I do value and appreciate them.