18.70 – Veneration, comprehension, application, transformation: The four stages in our relationship with the Gita
The Bhagavad-gita is a profoundly empowering book. To tap its power, we need to develop our relationship with it through four progressive stages:
1. Veneration: Some of us may have been brought up in a culture that venerates the Gita. We may have placed our copy of the Gita on our altar – and left it there till the dust accumulated on it due to long disuse needed to be removed. Sometimes we may have memorized a few of its verses and happily quoted them as the official proof of our piety. If we stay stuck at this level of ignorant veneration of the Gita, we may get some religious merit but no spiritual empowerment.
2. Comprehension: The Gita itself prods us towards comprehension by stating (18.70) that it is to be worshiped with one’s intelligence. This implies that we use our intelligence in a prayerful and submissive way to analyse, appreciate and assimilate it, and thereby comprehend its verity, glory and relevancy. A sincere attempt at comprehension can empower even those of us who had no upbringing of cultural veneration for the Gita.
3. Application: The Gita is essentially a book for application. Comprehending it helps us to determine the most prudent and productive course of action for our life’s journey. When we apply its message in our own life, we start experiencing for ourselves the higher spiritual realities that it delineates.
4. Transformation: Application of the Gita is profoundly transformational; it redirects our love from matter to Krishna. Thereby it propels us beyond the temporary and miserable world of matter, and reinstates us in our original life of eternal love in Krishna’s supreme abode.
Thus does the Gita empower us to achieve life’s ultimate success.