According to William Von Humboldt, Gita is “the most beautiful perhaps die only philosophical song existing hi any known tongue” Mahatma Gandhi wrote in ‘Yong India’ “I find in Bhagwad Gita which I even miss in the Sermon on the Mount.
When disappointment stares me and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagwad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there and immediately begin to mile in the midst of tragedies.
My life has been full of extreme tragedies and if they have left no visible mark, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of the Gita.” Tilak wrote Gita Rahasya to elighten the modern world through Gita. Annie Besant and Sri Aurobindo have also interpreted Gita in the context of the modem age.
In the modern times when all the efforts of the world peace seem to rest on the walls of sand, Gita’s teaching of world brotherhood can very well guide humanity. The ultimate end, according to Gita is the consolidation of society. It has not only preached for the welfare of human beings but even that of all living beings as m. h. Gita has that liberality which is characteristic of Indian thought. Gita synthesized selfishness with altruism by seeing God everywhere.
Synthesis of Activism and Renunciation:
The circumstances in the present times are however different from those in the time of Gita. In the context of Gita, Arjuna was tending towards renunciation. The modern men, however, tend in the opposite direction. But the need of Gita for the modem man is no less than it was for Arjuna, since both require a balance. Gita has advocated integral perfectionism. It refutes all one sided developments. It preaches “renunciation through activism”. In the words of Prof.
Hariyana, “Ours is an age of self assertion, not of self suppression. Men are not now likely to give up their duty to become reduces as Arjuna wanted to do. The danger some from the other side. In our eagerness to claim our rights and exercise them, we may ignore our duties. Hence the need of teaching of the Gita now is as great as ever.
Its value has not lessened through lapse of time and that is a mark of its greatness.” As a matter of fact, Gita is beyond the distinctions of space and time. Several types of temperament can attain peace through it. Its teachings have reached every country and have found place in thoughtful persons everywhere.
According to Samkar the central teaching of Bhagwad Gita is knowledge. Samkar does not emphasize action and devotion as necessary for knowledge and maintains them as subordinate to it. According to him one can attain liberation only by the knowledge of Reality. On the other hand, Ramanuja maintains that devotion is better than knowledge and action and the latter are not essential for the former.
According to Madhwacharya also devotion is the central teaching of Gita. Ballabhacharya has also advocated this view and so is the view of Nimbarkacharya as well. Mahatma Gandhi has emphasized devotion, but laid excessive emphasis on the moral values.
All these views either emphasize knowledge or devotion. B.G. Tilak the author of Gita Raltasya, however, maintains karma Yoga as the central teaching of Gita and subordinates both knowledge and devotion to action, like Sri Aurbindo, Tilak occupies a place among the foremost commentators on Gita. Hence it is relevant to discuss his views critically and in details.
To support his view regarding the central teaching of Gita, Tilak in his Gita Rahasya, quotes a verse from Nyaya Philosophy meaning,”The beginning and the end, the occasional repetition, the novelty of the subject, the immediate result of the work, the subsidiary matter and finally the argumentation in support, are the seven ways of determining the aim of a particular work.” According to Tilak in Gita all these speak in favour of activism.
The occasion of Gita’s teachings:
The occasion in which the need for the preaching of the Gita arises is very much significant to determine its central purpose. It was a question of war. To regard a consideration of ultimate philosophical questions as falling within the main aim of Gita, is plainly ignorant Gita was required to convince Arjuna that fighting is his supreme duty and it is for this conviction that Sri Krishna has elaborated his teaching in more than 700 verses.