The Gita for a Global World

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Group Captain R Vijayakumar (Retd) VSM, Executive Director of MMA initiated the online discussions and introduced the speakers and e-launched the book, The Gita for a global world.’ Mr Mahalingam, Honorary Treasurer, MMA delivered the welcome address. Mr J Krishnan led the discussion with Mr Rohit Chopra.
The Bhagavad Gita is a Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata war. Marked by flux, our increasingly incomprehensible global world presents considerable ethical, political and social challenges. Mr J Krishnan asked, “Could the Gita, for all its philosophical abstraction, serve as an introduction to navigating this space of capitalist modernity? What can it tell us about global warming and violence, inequality and suffering, pandemics and the savage oppression of vulnerable groups?”
Mr Krishnan narrated a story of a young man who was asked by his grandfather to carry water from a river, in a basket full of holes. The water got drained in no time and he went back to the river many times. Frustrated, he asked his grandpa the significance of his assignment. He explained to his grandson, “You have not carried me any water but the basket is cleaned inside out. In the same way, if you read Bhagavad Gita, you will be cleaned inside out, though you may not remember anything like the basket with holes did not hold any water in it.”
Rohit explained about the state of flux in the world and how Gita addresses it. He coined a word ‘crisis globalisation’ to explain the state of globalisation. He said that thanks to the pandemic, people are looking at restricting supply chains within a national boundary. ‘This will last for some time and we will restore status quo later. This cycle of ebb and flow or retreat from globalisation and interaction will happen more frequently in future and that is what I mean by crisis globalisation,” Rohit elaborated. He also felt that more than the invisible virus that caused the pandemic, problems caused by the people themselves are more. At such crisis, we should try to help everyone. We look at a special treatment for ‘us’ and neglect ‘others,’ he lamented and requested people to practise ethical actions, by which, they will take decisions fully aware of the consequences, with a broader, selfless outlook. Gita espouses us to take action but with a people first approach, he said. He clarified the difference between inaction and non-action. Gita denounces inaction which is taking no action. But non-action means choosing not to act, after analysing the pros and cons. This can be a better option in a given situation. Rohit also pointed out the context and setting in which Bhagavad Gita was narrated. Everything we do is outcome driven. What does it mean when Gita asks one to do one’s work and not expect any reward for the outcome? It brings out the epistemic humility in humans, said Rohit. He noted that the world cannot be made a better place merely by regulations. “In Europe, for instance, use of biomass for power generation, which is an eco-friendly source of fuel, led to community in another part being affected by saw dust coming from the bio mass.” He also brought out the power of ‘yoga’ in work which is nothing but discipline.
Group Captain R Vijayakumar anchored a Q&A session with Mr Rohit Chopra after which he proposed the vote of thanks. MMA presented e-mementos to the speakers and also made arrangements to distribute 200 face masks and 100 mini sanitisers to the local community to educate them on Covid appropriate behaviour.

Mr Rohit Chopra, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University, California, the author of the book was in conversation with Mr J Krishnan, Founder, UniMity Solutions.