About 5,000 years back, in India, a war broke out between the cousins known as Kauravas and Pandavas. It was by far the biggest war fought in those times where all the states of India were involved and the total combined strength of both the armies was reckoned at 1.8 million soldiers.
"Arjuna" the commander in chief of Pandava army desired to have the 'SWOT' (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat) analysis of Kaurava army and directed his charioteer "Krishna" to place his chariot between the two armies.
He showed his Gurus and the elders pitted against him and very thought of killing them made him despondent. He was confused and did not know what could be his duty under the circumstances. He turned to "Krishna" who was supremely wise and practical philosopher statesman, for guidance.
They entered into a dialogue documented as "Gita". Gita covered all aspects of human life. Krishna explained the man's duty on the earth, his conduct, need to acquire the scientific knowledge and perform' knowledge based actions.
The dialogue covered the topics like creation of Universe by fusion of energy, creating the sun, the moon and all planets. He advised Arjuna about the need of preserving nature to avoid the present day phenomenon like Global warming, maintaining environment and control pollution.
It also delved on the need to have universal brotherhood and befriend all creatures of the Universe.
Krishna also showed the path of achieving supremacy by attaining Super Vision, fixing the right and rational goals. He drafted the path of action for human beings to be at par with God.
Every word said 5000 years back has relevance even today.
Gita is an encyclopedia of Social thoughts, psychology, ethics, religion, management science and leadership. It is written in a language which is easy to understand and provides enlightening reading.
This book was written by Shri Priyavadan Desai in Gujarati language spoken by about 55 million people in India and about 5 million in Africa, Britain, U.S.A. and other countries.
Shri Desai has studied finance, law, secretarial practice, and commerce. He held positions of financial controller, company secretary, chief auditor, senior vice president, executive director and advisor in large Indian corporations for about 50 years.
He is the recipient of a life-time achievement award of "Udyog Mitra" meaning "A friend of the Industries" from Thane Belapur Industries Association (T.B.I.A.), an Industries Association representing over 2000 industries. He was in the legal committees of ASSOCHEM, B.C.C.I and T.B.I.A .. He was on the arbitration panel of Indo-German Chamber of Commerce and Indian Merchants Chamber.
He has extensively travelled throughout the world. He has written the travelogue giving the brief history of each nation visited by him, the histories and features of the places of interest and varied experiences he had in various countries. He has also written short stories.
He delivers regular lectures on the topics of management and law. He is the professor of Management and law as "visiting faculty" in most reputed management schools. He has presented papers in journals on matters of professional interest and expressed original views for amending the corporate laws.
He has social presence as a trustee of two large hospitals and Gujarat Research Society, a lifelong learning and educational institution running a school with about 2500 students and a recognized educational college. He is also a trustee of charitable institutions devoted to spread of education and providing medical assistance.
His book on Gita written in his mother tongue is well received in India and is translated in English language for wider readership.
Gita has no parallel in the world. It represents tradition of India's wisdom and her thought. Gita has influenced thought processes of others, world over. It is revered by believers and non-believers alike.
Gita is not a religious book. There is no reference to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or any other religion in Gita. It points to the universal way to truth for human beings. So widespread is the reach of Gita that some have learnt the lessons on devotion from it while others have found the ways to 'self-awareness' from it. Some have found in Gita messages on action-orientation, others have learnt the lessons on non-possession and sacrifice. The words of Gita are relevant for the child, for the youth and for the old. Gita is a guide for here and now and for there and beyond. It teaches ways to manage happiness and sorrow. There is one thing or the other to grasp from Gita depending on one's own frame of mind and one's own perception.
Mahatma Gandhi, who spread and popularized the message of Gita through his daily prayer meetings, always said that he better understood all other religions through Gita.
For millenniums, Gita was studied only by a few. It was believed to be a book of knowledge for the mendicants. Persons like Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi brought the understanding of Gita to the common man and dispelled the belief of 'exclusivity'
Gita would rank as a rare book which is most critiqued upon. Gita has been interpreted and its message spread among people in different languages by social reformists, religious leaders and intellectuals.
Gita is eternal. Everyone finds one's own meaning in Gita. Over the centuries, interpretations of Gita have changed. This is the proof of its dynamism and its continued relevance at all times.
Shri Priyavadanbhai Desai, PJ to some of us who have known him for decades, is bringing Gita in this book from a refreshingly new angle of his own. His superior intellect, his love and understanding of Gita, his years of experience as karma yogi as a professional and educator and his commitment to bring his views to a larger audience for assessment and internalization are the heartbeats for the life of this book.
Without disproportionate emphasis on anyone aspect of life, Gita has touched all facets of life. The messages of Gita include those of love and of knowledge, of karma-action and of compromise and acceptance. No aspect is over emphasized, none is underplayed, Devotion, knowledge, character building, yagya, penance, philanthropy, cleansing of mind, social service, community wealth all have place in Gita.
In one of his many brilliant discourses, Swami Vivekananda pointed out that before the advent of Gita, Yoga, Gyana and Bhakti each had strong adherents. They quarrelled among themselves about superiority of their favoured path. Gita synchronized these harmonizing best of the thoughts of each of the paths. Krishna as a great leader was a synthesizer. In one of his classical essays, in Harvard Business Review [November-December 1989] Peter Drucker refers to the conductor of a philharmonic as a model of leadership. Gita reconciled the differences in different paths and harmonized their messages. Reconciliation is a major attribute of good management.
A number of unique attributes of Gita are that it
• culls the wisdom of all and presents it with precision
• is complete and does not emphasize any single belief or aspect
• is owned by all, irrespective of religious beliefs.
Like a child experiences a mother's love, Gita is to be internalized and to be experienced. From the book and its many incisive and relevant examples linking the messages of Gita with occurrences of real life events, Priyavadanbhai provides irrefutable evidence of his internalizing and- experiencing Gita. Vinoba Bhave, a saint, a student and an expert proponent of Gita through his writings and discourses indicated that following three major messages sum up Gita in short:
• In the line of devotion, there are no differences of high and low. The differences in caste, creed, capability, intellect are no barriers in the path of truth. Devotion is free of differentiated rights.
• Gita emphasizes the role of karma - action, without expectation of rewards. Life is action and continues till death. Everyone follows on action. No role is big or small, superior or inferior.
• The third message of Gita is to be aware of own failing and it calls for constant efforts to mitigate the evil within; may it be anger or greed, may it be hatred or envy.
All these three and many more messages of Gi ta have been woven in Priyavadanbhai's book. Numerous examples all through the book bring home the relevance of each of the messages that have been dealt with. Priyavadanbhai's Gita journey takes us through the importance of dialogue, the need for questioning and cross-questioning, of brainstorming, through equanimity, self satisfaction, and steadfastness in adversity, through avoidance of despondency, need for detachment, keeping infatuation at bay, through karma without expectation, constant vigilance, impartiality, trusteeship, integrity, through welfare of the universe, universal brotherhood, values, vision, mission, goal and objectives, acceptance, eternity, decay and destruction, devotion, through faith, awareness and transformation, and through knowledge, skill and attitude - the trinity for learning.
At the end of the journey, Priyavadanbhai relates principles of management and leadership tracing again the roots of these in respective chapters of Gita. The summary of the last chapter is like revision before the test. It has the freshness of 'how I spent my vacation' essay on return to school, the succinctness of the executive summary for an important Board meetings and the brevity and depth of the synopsis submitted by a doctoral candidate.
The structure of the book is commendable. Like a good teacher and trainer that he has been, Priyavadanbhai takes the reader from one chapter to the other. All of the eighteen chapters of Gita have been individually dealt with, their messages deciphered, their relevance for management and leadership discussed and synthesized. Each chapter after the broad overview of the concerned chapter from Gita follows with what he calls 'brainstorming', an attribute of a good manager who would listen to all, assess diverse opinions and reconcile these and arrive at the fair conclusion.
Like effective and meaningful classroom notes, many ideas are presented and summarized in bullet form. For course in management school using the book as a textbook, teachers and students will have little difficulty in preparing their bulleted power point presentations. In a sense in interpreting Krishna's discourse to Arjuna, Priyavadanbhai has himself worn the mantle of Krishna, a guide, a facilitator, to the reader and students of the book.
The book is published at a time when a major message of the book and of Gita has become most relevant. In advocating karma without expectation, Gita was holding a warning against greed. Greed by definition is insatiable. It was the greed of a few and 'fees is all that matters' culture of the Wall Street that triggered the September 2008 trillions of dollars financial meltdown. It was the greed of a few that made lives of millions of jobless all over the world miserable.
As has often been said and has been demonstrated ably in the book, even in dynamically changing times, age-old messages of Gita will remain relevant.
The book is a translation from its original Gujarati version. The translator Dr. Pandia has done a very good job of translation. The flow is excellent and the readability remarkable. Like Gita, this book is to be read, to be reflected on" to be internalized and to be experienced. For me, reading the book was an enriching experience.
Bhagvad Gita is one of the most eminent and worthy epics in Indian Culture which is largely professed and widely acclaimed. The present book written by Shri Priyavadanbhai Desai is a novel piece of literature and sets a new path of understanding amongst the masses, particularly those who are professionals engaged in different fields of art, culture, commerce, science, sports and for that matter all other fields or activities. The basic principles of "Gita" enumerated in the epic and illustrated by examples of Great Souls whom we see at present and whom we have known for their exalted achievements in their respective fields of activity is an exemplary aspect of this book. Those who will read, try to understand and attempt to practice these principles in their lives will surely attain the path of glory and success and reach the peak of popularity with the blessings of the Almighty who is the guiding factor for the welfare of mankind.
"That which is powerful, virtuous and beautiful is all manifested through the atoms of my power". This truth is lucidly explained and amply illustrated by the author in a most appealing manner in the "Brain Storm" at the end of each chapter and in the ultimate analysis of the whole "epic" at the end of his book.
Of all the living creatures in the world, it is only the man who is blessed with the paramount power that is faculty of discrimination. This faculty is either partially developed or fundamentally lacking in other living beings. Endowed with this faculty, man has the choice to evolve himself to the exalted state of God- consciousness during his lifetime or to degenerate himself into existence far lower than that of an animal.
It is only with the grace of God that the soul is bestowed a human body. The Divine self is the same in one and all. However, the human beings are fortunate to have plural personalities. Some are pure and divine, some active and passionate while some others are devilish and cruel. The purity or impurity in individuals depends upon their identification with the Divine and material attachment with the world. The more a man attunes himself with the "Divine Self' and accepts the Divine Supremacy, the greater is the unfoldment of spiritual nature .and detachment with the material desire i.e. 'CV asana". People with religious mould of life thus submit and surrender to "Him" with sincere belief from the bottom of their hearts that success or achievements attained by them is "His" only and not that of an individual. This whole truth transcedentally presented by the author is thus worthy of all praise and applause by readers of this book.
Finally, May the readers of this book mentally detach themselves from all their material preoccupation, (Vasana) execute their duties by submissive approach with total surrender to Him and take the path of glory and success in the realm of infinite Bliss and Beatitude.
The book is very well translated in simple but appealing language by Dr. Mahendra Pandia. The joint efforts of the author and the translator do not allow the reader to leave the book halfway.
Kudos to the writer and the translator.
In July 2006 after the book Gita Manan ane Manthan published in Gujarati, I received a phone call from Shri Vaishnav. He told me that after the death of his mother a few days back, he felt restless and disturbed. At that time, he came across this book written by me which he started reading. He found extreme peace of mind and has received solace reading the same. He sought my appointment as he desired a few clarifications. He went satisfied and from time to time repeats how the book changed his attitude towards the life.
Similar was the case with Shri Vasavada of Ahmedabad. He said that he has a grown-up daughter who was spastic from the childhood. For last about 5 years she has been suffering from blood cancer. His wife lost all interest in life, was unnerved and remained sad. One who used to read a lot before 5 years stopped reading and lost complete interest in life? She came across this book and read the same. She has now shown the signs of peace and tranquility and has started chitchatting with friends and refers to this book. He thanked me and desired to have 50 more books for distribution amongst her friends. I visited their place in Ahmedabad and found that she has started accepting the life as it is and we had a good talk.
It was at this time that Prof. Pandia asked me if I would like him to translate the book in English language and I accepted the suggestion. As emphasis has been partly shifted to management, I have changed the title of the book.
As many English readers may not be familiar as to how and under what circumstance the Gita was recited by Lord Krishna, I propose to narrate the background which will help the easy understanding of Gita and its teachings.
Krishna is reckoned in Hindu mythology and religious scriptures as the most learned, wise, knowledgeable and practical philosopher-statesman. He is addressed as the "Supreme Lord".
He is the author of Gita which is neither a religious book nor a treatise on Hindu religion. It is a practical code of ethics based on common sense. It is a pathway to scientific living. The code depicted and messages passed are applicable to every community, race, religion, lowly, average and the high. It is as much for the intellectuals as for the persons of average intellect. It is easily discernible, digestible and easy to practice. The intellectuals of east and west have found the teaching and message of Gita fascinating and each has found new meaning and fresh interpretations of the same.
I have found the same to be useful to businessman and the Industrialist as it is a real compendium of business management.
Lord Krishna in Gita has emphasised that a man should encompass vision, fix goals and with efforts reach to the supreme state.
Gita was narrated about 5000 years ago by Lord Krishna . At that time India was divided into many independent states. As per the then prevailing code, barring certain exceptions, the eldest in the family was the natural heir to the throne. .-
In the vast state of Hastinapur, due to the inherited deficiency of the eldest son Pandu, his younger brother Dhritarastra took over the reign till such time as Pandu's eldest son "Yudhishthira" came of age.
Pandu's sons were called "Panda vas" and those of Dhritarastra "Kauravas".
As Yudhishthira was to succeed the throne when he came of age, Kauravas made all efforts to banish Pandavas.
However at the behest of the elders a compromise was arrived at and Panda vas were awarded a small part of the kingdom of Hastinapur known as Indraprastha.
The partition was not an end in itself. Being jealous of Pandavas, Kauravas. invited them to a game of dice, cheated them to defeat and then humiliated them. Their wife Draupadi was molested in the open court in presence of Dhritarastra, other elders and their Gurus. They were then made to recluse in the dense forests for 13 years and remain incognito for one more year.
After the period of seclusion and the "period of incognito, Yudhishthira lodged his rightful claim to the throne of Indraprastha. The Kauravas refused the claim. Pandavas thereupon asked Krishna to negotiate on their behalf and suggest any compromise. Krishna failed to convince Kauravas to part with the throne of Indraprastha. He finally sought only five villages but bestowing even five villages from the vast kingdom was refused. There was no further scope for a compromise.
Duryodhana, his brothers and friends had the only aim of banishing Panda vas either in the war or otherwise. Kauravas were sure of their victory due to the superior strength of their army, superior kinsmen, armaments and skills. They having ruled the state of Hastinapur for many years expected the support of other states of India.
Pandavas having suffered the worst humiliation and injustice, having all doors for compromise shunned, and no legitimate means left to come to a settlement, their elders, Gurus and even the King Dhritarastra pleading helplessness as suffering from infatuation towards his own sons, took the only course open to them that is of waging war against Kauravas. They considered it as their sacred duty. It was a holy crusade.
Five brothers were powerful warriors. Arjuna, amongst them, was the supreme warrior and bowman who was to lead and act as a commander in chief of the Pandava army. They also asked their allies to unite and help them in the war that was termed as a holy war.
All the small and large states of those days sided with one or the other rivals and in that sense it turned into the largest war with the strength of 1.1 million soldiers on the side of Kauravas and 0.7 mio on the side of Pandavas. Krishna was the cousin of both the rivals. Both Panda vas and Kauravas sought his help. Kauravas opted for his army whereas Pandavas opted for Krishna's physical presence as a charioteer to chart the course of Arjuna's chariot and act as his guide and an advisor.
When both' the armies were arrayed in the battlefield, Arjuna asked Krishna to place his chariot for close observation of Kauravas' army. He desired to observe the opponent's strategy, placement of various divisions and make "SWOT" analysis measuring the strength, weakness, opportunities and threat of the opponent. Krishna was happy to do so as such a course would enable Arjuna to develop his own strategies, correct his weaknesses, and seize the opportunities to win the war ..
However totally unexpected happened. Arjuna observed that his Gurus who had taught him the war - craft and crafts of the state, the elders who loved him immensely, his cousins and friends all albeit reluctantly were on the side of Kauravas. The very thought of waging war against them and killing them on the battlefield distressed him. His bow slipped from his hand, mouth parched and his body limped with fatigue. In this state of despondency, he lost all the will to fight the war. He expressed this to Krishna.
Arjuna sought the counsel of Krishna, expressed ' his doubts about the wisdom of waging war which will result in deaths and destruction and disturb the social fabric.
Krishna explained to him about his sacred duty and the need to perform the same. He explained the need to goal fixation, and need to perform rightful action for achieving the goal. Each clarification led to further queries. Each of Arjuna's queries was replied till such time as all doubts of Arjuna were resolved, his despondency overcome and he became ready to wage war and perform his duty.
Narration of the dialogue is called "Gita". It encompassed the human infatuation and the ways to remove it. Apart from bringing the philosophical concepts, Krishna explained to Arjuna the attributes of living an enlightened life which can help human beings to reach, to the supreme state. He enlightened them about their vision and the path to fulfill the same. He lucidly depicted the attributes of a man of perfection.
The intellectuals in all ages have .identical questions and desire clarifications. It is due to this that the dialogue or the Gita has attracted the attention of the intellectuals’ world over. The clarifications by the Supreme have been hailed as the most authentic for resolution of human doubts. All hail the analysis of'-actions and the right path to undertake actions as depicted in Gita.
The principles enunciated in Gita are eternally true and apply to entire mankind including the seers and saints, the ordinary and lowly, to businessman and industrialist or every man desiring to reach the highest.
This book was written by me in Gujarati- a language spoken by about 60 million people in a state in India and abroad. Dr. Mahendra Pandia, a former fellow of English of the Wilson College and professor of English suggested translating the book in English for wider readership. He undertook the task and accomplished it. Prof. Pandia's profile has been given at the start of this book. I am indeed thankful to him.
As to the contents, of the book, to begin with, I have explained and interpreted some of the concepts enunciated in Gita and certain terms frequently used in Gita for easy understanding of the same.
I have then described the gist of each chapter of Gita followed by my personal comments on the contents of each chapter under the heading "Brain storming".
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