How we celebrate Gita and Gandhi Jayanti

According to the Hindu calendar, this is the month of Margashira. It is supposed to be the most auspicious month of the year.  In Bhagavat Gita Lord Krishna says- ‘māsānāṁ mārga-śhīrṣho ’ham ‘. I am margashirsha among the months.

Today is Gita Jayanti – the anniversary of Bhagavat Gita. The Gita in the title refers to Bhagavat Gita and by Gandhi, of course I mean Mohan  Das Karam Chand Gandhi. By the way Gandhiji was an ardent practitioner of the Bhagavat  Gita.

Presumably,  Bhagavat Gita was born today, in the sense that  today  is the day when Lord Krishna gave this ultimate knowledge to his friend and disciple Arjuna who had fallen into despondency just before the start of the war when he saw that he had to fight against his own relatives. So, today is the anniversary of the first day of the eighteen day Mahabharata war fought on the battle fields of Kurukhetra to decide the future of Hastinapura.

Some years back I had gone to a temple to take part in the celebrations of Gita Jayanti. It started with a lot of fanfare. The gathering was huge. The organisers had left no stones unturned to make the event a grad success. The celebrations were to culminate with a sumptuous meal or grand Prasad Sevana  which was like a seven to eight course ‘no- garlic no- onion but nevertheless sumptuous’ lunch.

The celebrations started with Krishna Bhajans where singer after singer showered praises for the grand acts of Lord Krishna not only during his own avatar but also during his other avataars. It is worth noting that the hardcore devotees of lord Krishna consider the so called dasavataars or the ten incarnations to be that of Lord Krishna and not of Lord Vishnu.

After the bhajan program, a huge volume of Gita, which was wrapped in a golden clothe, was taken in a grand procession around the temple complex. People jostled to touch the divine book and take its blessings.

After the book was brought back to the dais, there was customary arati. Like the Jai Jagadish hare arati dedicated to Lord Krishna , there is an elaborate arati dedicated to Bhagavat Gita which has been  composed perhaps for such an occasion where praises are sung profusely glorifying the Gita.

During the arati my friendly neighbor pulled me and said, “Come fast. We have to rush to the dining space to secure the spot. Or else, you will have to wait for a long time to take lunch.”

I said, “But, what about listening to the message of Gita? Isn’t some body going to read or chant a few passages of the Bhagavat Gita explain the meaning?”

“Gita message ? What Gita message? Arati means it is the end of the spiritual proceedings. It is time to taste the sumptuous meal and go home.”

“But, today is Gita Jayanti. Should not we learn or remind ourselves about the essence of the Gita or a few of its core messages?”

“Dear friend, I am attending this function for the third year.  Once you start discourses on Gita, many will leave without even waiting to take lunch. A lot of food will be wasted.”

We do the same with Gandhi. We worship him, put his statues everywhere particularly in the most lavish localities of the city, garland his statues, name the busiest commercial streets after him,  and organize elaborate functions with sumptuous meals to celebrate his Jayanti.

We do all these so that we can get rid of his message. Instead of criticizing him and portraying his killer as an hero, an elaborate method of worship is a better way to sideline him and forget his messages.

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