Singleness of focus
As Prof. Nair puts it, in practical terms, the single, all-important lesson that the Bhagavad Gita teaches, is this: “What is important for true joy in life is not that painful events, results or thoughts must not happen – or that only pleasurable events, results or thoughts must happen. What is important is this: No matter how painful or pleasurable the events, results and thoughts that happen are, you must have the courage and determination to be anchored to this understanding and to hold your mind still – and to go on doing your duty calmly and with absolute devotion, undeterred by them all.”
All other teachings in the Bhagavad Gita – however fundamental they are otherwise – are, Prof. Nair says, only sub-lessons that are the building blocks of this core lesson, and they teach you how to acquire this courage and determination.
The sub-title of Prof. Nair’s book is “What it takes to stay calm and triumph over adversity”, and it summarises the Bhagavad Gita’s teachings pithily.
Once the wholeness of the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is grasped, readers find it easier to understand why the most prudent course to follow, while one is on the field of duty, is to act according to the law of sacred duty and not according to one’s likes and dislikes or thoughts about pleasure or pain or about personal gain or loss. Topics like discipline of knowledge, discipline of action, discipline of devotion, theory of gunas fall into place and become connected together, with the one fundamental lesson acting as the common thread. The importance of learning about the Self-of-all and the individual self, and nature and spirit, and about the relationship between the Self-of-all and the individual self and that between nature and spirit becomes immediately apparent. And the readers become able to quickly learn the deeper significance of the concepts of sacrifice, penance and charity, and of self-control, self-discipline and self-restraint, and to appreciate the need to focus one’s attention, while doing anything, on the process of action itself, rather than on thoughts about the imagined consequences of results.