Several scholarly studies have been published in India and abroad on the Bhagavad Gita from various angles. But not much attention has been given to those of its teachings which can have a profound and permanent impact on our style of living.
It is, of course, true that this great scripture has inspired and influenced the activities and achievements of many eminent leaders in various fields. But the vast majority of people read it in a rather routine way, not realising the immense good its principles can do to attain peace of mind and health of body; to triumph over obstacles; to develop courage, confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, energy and faith, to delay and defeat the ageing process; and thus add years to life and add life to years.
It is interesting and significant to note that, for several hundred years after Christ, his followers around the world did not realise that the Bible contained many ideas which could lift people to heights of achievement and enable them to get rid of negative feelings and live in peace and prosperity. As Mr. Norman Vincent Peale says, in his book, STAY ALIVE ALL YOUR LIFE : 'That Christianity might have any important relationship to health had never gripped my thinking. I was a strict materialist and regarded as cranks those who related stories of healings where faith was claimed as a factor. My experience has taught me that the Christian gospel is dynamically applicable to sickness; and that Jesus Christ is not only the healer of our souls but also of minds and bodies as well".
These observations of Mr. Peale are very important in the context of the tremendous impact his writings have produced on millions of people not only in the USA but in many other countries.
As Mr. Ronald Reagan said, in the citation accompanying the Presidental Medal awarded to him in 1984: "Few Americans have contributed so much to the personal happiness of their fellow citizens as Mr. Norman Vincent Peale". His books, the most famous of which is the POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, have sold several million copies all over the world.
What Mr. Peale has said about the powerful effect of the teachings of the Bible on mind and body is true also of the Gita.
There is now an imperative need to have a new look at the Gita in the context of the tremendous changes that are going to take place in the 21st century. The dramatic advances in science, technology and related fields have immense potential to make our lives pleasant, powerful and prosperous. But, at the same time, these have created serious problems. Acute poverty, unemployment, crime, corruption and violence in various forms threaten to disturb and destroy peace in the world and severely dislocate our ways of living.
In the first Chapter I have described how, while the means of production and distribution in the field and the factory have been drastically changed, resulting in great prosperity for several million people, they have resulted in the aggravation of poverty with all its adverse consequences. In the second Chapter I have briefly indicated how the Gita has been a tremendous source of inspiration for people in various walks of life not only in India but also in many other countries. The third Chapter deals with those teachings of the Gita which focus attention on the need for controlling such emotions as affect our mental peace and physical health. It is only in the last fifty years that modern medical science has discovered the intimate relationship between mind and body and a large number of books have been published on this subject.
Dr. Hans Selye, a prominent medical research scientist, pointed out, in a study published in the fifties, that stress was the cause of most diseases. He wrote: "In this hurry-up world we are subjecting ourselves to too many stresses. We hurry constantly and worry incessantly. The businessman drives himself at his office all day, then worries half the night. The housewife tries to run her home, maintain a social life, and participate in community activities and, at bed time, is so jangled that she takes a sleeping pill. Glands attempt to adjust to the continual demands of constantly increasing stress. They pour out excess hormones trying to keep the body going. For a while they succeed but in the end the defence mechanism itself breaks down. As a result, arteries harden, blood pressure rises, heart disease develops, arthrits strikes. These and other diseases are all part of the stress picture".
Dr. John Schindler is another famous author who has brought out the close connection between good health and cheerful emotions.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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