yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥDownload this episode (right click and save)
It’s the doubt raised by students ever since there has been school.
“When are we going to need to know this stuff? I don’t see adults tackling these questions. They probably don’t remember any of this. Why, then, are you teaching it to us? Why do we have to spend hours at home studying this? How is it important enough for you to spend so much time teaching it to us?”
In many cases, it is not the subject matter exactly that will be needed later on, but rather the techniques used in understanding it. For instance, to solve word problems in mathematics requires patience and thoroughness. You have to think about what is being asked, gather the facts, and then develop a plan for reaching a solution. The routine for reaching a solution is known as an algorithm. Life is about problem solving. No matter the occupation in adulthood, there will be problems. If they are not solved properly, the problems linger and multiply.
The Bhagavad-gita, the ancient Vedic text that translates to “the song of God,” has many details that would appear to be irrelevant to the person struggling through a material existence. We learn that in the spiritual world there is no need for electricity. The naturally effulgent body of the Supreme Lord accounts for the lighting. His body is brighter than anything we know, even the sun.
That’s fine and dandy, but we don’t live in the spiritual world right now. We already have electricity. During the nighttime we can turn on lights, and during the daytime we have the sun. Who cares about the spiritual world, then? The Bhagavad-gita also says that the living being is not their body. The embodied soul continually passes through changes in that body, from boyhood to youth and to old age. At the time of death, the soul similarly passes into another body.
dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Again, to the living person, what use does this knowledge serve? We are living right now. We should worry about death when the time approaches. Ah, but that is the catch! In the material world nothing is fixed. Death can come at any moment. Another relevant fact revealed in the Bhagavad-gita is that the consciousness at the time of death determines the type of body in the next birth. The consciousness proceeds in a manner similar to how the air carries aromas.
śarīraṁ yad avāpnoti
yac cāpy utkrāmatīśvaraḥ
vāyur gandhān ivāśayāt
“The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life from one body to another as the air carries aromas.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.8)
Every person has consciousness. This is the primary symptom of a living thing. Dull matter lacks consciousness. Every person is an individual covered by a material body. Everyone is influenced by time and karma [fruitive activity]. Therefore the facts of the Bhagavad-gita have relevance across the full spectrum of the population. Even if a person is disinterested in learning such topics, eventually the truths will become applicable to their situation. It is like the teacher telling the student, “One day you’ll need this stuff. You may not appreciate what I am teaching you now, but someday you’ll be glad that I taught this to you.”
Since ages past the message of the Bhagavad-gita has been carried by benevolent souls looking to rescue the distressed, the bewildered, and the confused. Narada Muni is one of the more famous carriers. He is the spiritual master to Valmiki, who authored the epic Ramayana. He is the guru to Vyasadeva, who compiled the majority of Vedic literature. The disciple may not always be receptive at the beginning. Irrespective the reception, the aid offered by the representatives of God is always relevant. Some time may have to pass before the importance of the instructions is realized, but those instructions are always needed; they are lifesaving.
The spirit soul continues to live on. Nothing can destroy it. Death applies to the body only. When we say the knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita is lifesaving, the meaning is that future births in a material body can be spared. The individual doesn’t have to swing between like and hate forever. They don’t have to remain in the dark about their true identity. They can receive the highest wisdom right now, today, provided they are sincere in their willingness to understand. If they are sincere, then the self-effulgent Krishna sends help in the way of a spiritual master, who delivers the flawless, pristine, and evergreen message of Godhead.
Though right value in it now not seen,
Know that Gita’s philosophy is evergreen.
Like with mathematics process learning from,
So that proficiency in bigger problems some.
Truth of spirit soul and body’s changing,
Relevance from young to old ranging.
With sincerity just be genuine at the start,
Then guru to you from Vaikuntha to depart.