A couple of months back I had introduced one of my favorite verse from ‘Srimad Bhagavad Gita’ and had promised to introduce one more verse that forms my foundational values or rather the go-to verses for me in all times.
The second verse, yet again from chapter two is as follows.
Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat—and by so doing you shall never incur sin
I would like to repeat a story that I had shared some time back.
Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them, ” Is there a mantra or suggestion which works in every situation, in every circumstance, in every place and in every time. In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory? One answer for all questions? Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me? Tell me is there any mantra?”
All the wise men were puzzled by the King’s question. They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, an old man suggested something which appealed to all of them. They went to the king and gave him something written on paper, with the condition that the king was not to see it out of curiosity.
Only in extreme danger, when the King finds himself alone, and there seems to be no way, only then he can see it. The King put the papers under his Diamond ring.
Sometime later, the neighbors attacked the Kingdom. King and his army fought bravely but lost the battle. The King had to flee on his horse. The enemies were following him. Getting closer and closer. Suddenly the King found himself standing at the end of the road – that road was not going anywhere. Underneath there was a rocky valley thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished…and he could not return because it was a small road…the sound of enemy’s horses was approaching fast. The King became restless. There seemed to be no way.
Then suddenly he saw the Diamond in his ring shining in the sun, and he remembered the message hidden in the ring. He opened the diamond and read the message. The message was – “ THIS TOO SHALL PASS.”
The King read it. Again read it. Suddenly something struck him- Yes! This too will pass. Only a few days ago, I was enjoying my kingdom. I was the mightiest of all the Kings. Today, the Kingdom and all my pleasures have gone. I am here trying to escape from enemies. Like those days of luxuries have gone, this day of danger too will pass. A calm came on his face. He kept standing there. The place where he was standing was full of natural beauty. He had never known that such a beautiful place was also a part of his Kingdom.
The revelation of the message had a great effect on him. He relaxed and forgot about those following him. After a few minutes, he realized that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding. They moved into some other part of the mountains and were nowhere near him.
The King was very brave. He reorganized his army and fought again. He defeated the enemy and regained his empire. When he returned to his empire after victory, he was received with much fanfare. The whole capital was rejoicing in the victory.
Everyone was in a festive mood. Flowers were being showered on King from every house, from every corner. People were dancing and singing. For a moment King said to himself, “ I am one of the bravest and greatest King. It is not easy to defeat me. With all the reception and celebration he saw an ego emerging in him. ”
Suddenly the Diamond of his ring flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message. He opens it and read it again: “ THIS TOO SHALL PASS .”
He became silent. His face went through a total change – from the egoist, he moved to a state of utter humbleness. If this too is going to pass, it is not yours. The defeat was not yours; the victory is not yours. You are just a watcher. Everything passes by. We are witnesses of all this. We are the perceivers. Life comes and goes. Happiness comes and goes. Sorrow comes and goes.
How is the verse connected to the story?
This too shall pass us a sense of equipoise in moments of victory and defeat and the verse urges to do our duty without being overwhelmed.
Being aware of ‘This too shall pass’ allows you to remain balanced.
Well, if this sounds too confusing, here is a better adaptation from the poem ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kiping
“IF YOU CAN MEET WITH TRIUMPH AND DISASTER AND TREAT THOSE TWO IMPOSTORS JUST THE SAME …”
Is this even practical?
Is this even applicable?
Well, all I can say is this.
I think this is the time of the year where your performance appraisals happen.
So when you get a ‘Best Talent’ or a ‘Needs Improvement’ classification, you know the magic four words to see you through.
I thought I would complete the two verses that continue to guide my life, before taking out other portions from the great book that has great relevance for our day to day life.
Next week, I shall describe what makes a ‘Sthitaprajna.’ You may wonder what has that got to do with me.
It has got everything to do with you.
Should a leader be ‘Sthitaprajna’?, is what I will debate in the next week.
I request you to be patient. No more slokas, though they can convey in one line, what I struggle to convey in three pages. It will have the usual mix of candor and humor.
On a different note, last week, you had two words that could liberate you and this week you have four words that help you sail through any situation!
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)