I had no idea who Devdutt Pattanaik was. No, I am serious. I hadn’t read any of his books, I haven’t wikipediaed him either. The most I had heard about him was from a friend of mine who was reading one of his books and had mentioned it as a passing comment among many topics that we discuss. So when I saw about this session in the newspaper and other reliable media, I had no expectations about the content or the person.
When Bharadwaj Rangan introduced Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik as a mythologist, I had my own doubts. Mainly because I have not heard about anybody being a mythologist. But I sat on. When he came up to the dias, I judged. Basically because I was human but also because he seemed like the uncle next door. Congenial and ever cheerful.
“My Gita” was the book that he was there to talk about.
Lord Krishna says,” Understand the relationships and don’t judge them”. That was one of the first things that Mr.Pattanaik conveyed.
We humans have evolved to such a level that apart from food,clothing and shelter, judging others has also become a basic need for survival. The reason or rationale,if any, behind that activity is unknown or in most cases irrelevant in any point of time.
The focus is thrust on perspectives.
Truth is complicated. What may be true for me might not be true for you. Worst case, it might be preposterous for another person, altogether. So it all depends on where we stand. Truth isn’t static.
The Gita,according to him, emphasizes on us keeping our eyes open to the world. It encourages us to participate in the world and the worldly affairs, in contrast to renunciation. The Gita encourages us to be more human and less of God. As human beings, we tend to make mistakes, we tend to judge people, and we tend to negotiate with God (Yes, begging Him to give something in exchange for an abhishekam is exactly what I am trying to say). He says, The Gita encourages us to be humans. It also pushes us to get out there and try and understand the human relationships rather than forming an opinion or a judgement about the same.
In Bhakti Yog, he says, Lord Krishna becomes a parent. He gives Arjuna the moral support that he needed at a crucial juncture in the War. That’s exactly what parents do to us. I remember my own childhood when I used to blindly believe whatever my mom or dad told me and I go ahead with that fake courage that was given to me by them. That was Bhakti Yog for me. Well, the blunt truth that it happens at all stages of one’s life is a different story altogether.
What made me wonder was that he concurred with my view that there was no right or wrong in the world. It all depends on the side from which you see it. It is abstract. It is mysterious.
Devdutt says you cannot hope for the Nectar when there is no other side to participate in the tug of war. (Remember the story of parvatham and the tug of war between the Devas and the Asuras?). Where there is good and evil, nectar will emerge. Poison will emerge too, but let us choose to see the positive benefit of the entire exercise. He uses this analogy to describe the current status of the Indian parliament sessions, wittily.
Renunciation is not the key here. Renunciation,to him, implies that “ I have no desire hence you should not have them too”. That is faulty at the foundation itself because it not only encroaches upon ones personal space but also eats into one’s own desires and needs.
He urges us to find our own Gita in a way that is most suitable and feasible for us. Each one of us has it in us to explore relationships without being judgemental or condescending. That itself reduces half the problems that spring up out of nowhere, these days. Letting go would work well in such cases where we don’t force something upon the other person.
Ultimately it is not about focusing on reaching Heaven, but it is all about making the place in which we live right now, as one. We do focus way too much on the future and in the process forget the path to get there. It is the same phenomenon. The hidden message being that each of us is the other person’s Krishna and our current abode is Heaven.
Sigh, there is so much good in this world apart from all the crappy stories we read and watch, isn’t it? Gives me hope.