Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Bhagavad Gita's Primary Message

Welcome back, fans of Latin and Greek root words as they pertain to English vocabulary!  I and my colleagues in Portland, OR have just finished putting out our SAT and GRE vocabulary online learning system  that has been a labor of love.  Hence, I have a few moments to discuss yet another amazing text that I've just perused, The Bhagavad Gita as translated by Eknath Easwaran.  This Hindu/Yoga text, probably the most enlightening religious text I have yet to learn from, has one primary message in it that supersedes all others: The Freedom That Comes from Renunciation.  Let's first take a quick look at the Latin roots of the word "renunciation:"

re-:  from the Latin root "re" meaning "back, again."
nunciat:  from the Latin root word nuntio, nuntiare, nuntiavi, nuntiatus: "announce, report, send a message."  Thus, renunciation is the taking in of something, and sending it back out into the world, or not acquiring the desire for the "message" you want in the first place.  SAT and GRE English vocabulary words that come from this root include:  renounce, denounce, denunciation, enunciatem and annunciation.

The freedom that comes from renunciation is a simple concept, and it works like this.  In chapter two of the Bhagavad Gita, we find the following verse:

You have the right to work, but never to the
fruit of work.  You should never engage in action
for the sake of reward, nor should you long for

This, to me, is almost the meaning of life itself.  Imagine that, if you were to do work with no selfish thoughts of what you were going to get out of it; that is, you renounce all results of the work, all that which you hope to gain from the work, such as material success, power, wealth, etc.  This would bring about a state of moksha, or freedom.  One would never have to worry again, scheme again, be disappointed again when things didn't work out.

In point of fact, Krishna, the Lord of Yoga in The Bhagavad Gita, tells Arjuna, his disciple, that those who do not desire or hanker for the fruit of their actions, the desired results, attain spiritual perfection, and in fact get everything they want.  Whereas those who strive and think only about what's in it for them gain, in the end, nothing but disappointment.  This renunciation of the fruit of action (note this is not giving up the action itself!) is, in Sanskrit, tyaga.  Imagine working selflessly.  And thereby freeing yourself from the bondage and pain that comes from lack of success (or sometimes even from success itself, which often brings about unintended entanglements in the swirling mass that is maya).


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