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The Gita brings the Highest Wisdom into Daily Life

The Gita has not asked you to renounce all worldly activities and become a sanyasin, a wandering mendicant. Some people are under the impression that the Gita should not be taught to children, for the youngsters might get a notion to renounce the world and go to the forest. Many people suffer from such wrong impressions. But consider the great number of people who have been teaching the Gita. Are they all sanyasins? Have they renounced all the things of the world? Did Arjuna, who heard the Gita directly from Krishna, become a sanyasin?

The inner significance of the Gita has to be understood in the context of human nature as it is expressed in the world, in the everyday activities of people. The most important objective of the Gita is to bring down the priceless, ancient wisdom to the level of the mundane world and to raise worldly life to the level of the highest wisdom. The Gita brings down Vedanta into daily life and elevates daily life to the level of Vedanta; it not only introduces philosophy and spirituality into daily life, but it also introduces daily life into philosophy and spirituality. Hence, it reconciles spirituality and daily life.

Human existence does not just involve the daily, secular activities; it is not meant at all for just eking out a livelihood. The Gita teaches the sanctity of human life; it directs man to his ultimate goal. It teaches him how to make his livelihood in the world, in a way that enables him to transcend the human condition, and in a way that does not bind him to further human births. You will not be bound by your actions when they are performed selflessly, without any interest in the fruits. The Gita teaches you to develop nonattachment to all your activities, duties and possessions. What actually happens by having this attitude of detachment is that your actions become sacred. The Gita does not encourage you to renounce work; on the contrary, it encourages you to do your duty and perform all the activities appropriate to your status in life. But you must transform all these actions into sacred works by offering them to the Lord.

For example, consider the work of a cook. Cooks perform their duties properly and do their job well when they keep their mind on the cooking. If instead, they do everything keeping only the wages in view, then they will not have much interest in their work and the cooking will not be good. Cooking should be performed with a sense of love and absorption in the work and with the welfare of all in mind, without concern for the monetary rewards. Then it becomes a sacred and pure service that nourishes and sanctifies.

In the same way, when you perform your assigned duties, whatever they are, with full concentration on the work, offering it to the divinity, and without any personal interest in the fruit, then your actions become sacred and grand. With this feeling of disinterestedness in the fruits, your work becomes steady and you will also progress steadily forward towards your goal. But when you have a personal interest in the work that you are performing, there will be ups and downs, fickleness will develop and your desires will quickly grow.

Krishna held out King Janaka as an ideal person because he ruled his kingdom with this sense of detachment, and thereby attained perfection. There are some people who have only outward vision. There are others who have developed inward vision. Outward vision sees only the illusory world outside. Inward vision transforms the mind and fills the heart with sacred feelings. In order to gain inner vision, you have to develop this quality of absorption in the work and detachment from the results, offering everything you do to the divinity within. There is a story to illustrate the great spiritual power of this lofty practice.