Gita Chapter 1, Part 6 - by Swami Nikhilanand, disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj and sanyasi teacher at JKP Radha Madhav Dham
So far we have learned that the qualification for studying the Gita is to have faith in Shree Krishn, and to be surrendered to a God realized Saint. Only through the Saint's explanation can we understand the true meaning of the Gita.
The Danger of Learning Gita on One's Own
Learning from a true Saint also saves us from one dangerous pitfall: the pride of knowingness. If someone studies the Gita on his own, he is bound to develop a pride in his knowledge. It is human nature to want to be appreciated, so it is a common human fault to want to show our knowledge to others to gain their respect and admiration. However, the development of such vanity is the opposite of what happens when someone has truly understood the spiritual teachings of the Gita. (The previous article explained in detail that no matter how great a scholar a person is, they cannot read and understand the Gita philosophy correctly unless they are already God realized.)
Our pride of "knowing" actually takes us farther from God, instead of closer. The more humble we are, the closer we come to God. The more proud we are, the farther we are from God. When we are humble, we feel that we belong to God and we depend on him totally. This is surrender, and this type of surrender is the essence of the Gita. When we have pride in anything, then due to the pride, we feel that we are great, which means that we are not depending on God. In other words, the more pride we feel, the less surrendered we are. That means that someone who studies the Gita on his own and develops a pride of his learning is now farther from God than before he had studied the Gita. Ironically, even though he studied the Gita, which teaches surrender, he ended up being less surrendered by the end of his study.
True Spiritual Knowledge Leads to Humbleness
It means that, to the extent someone has imbibed the knowledge of Gita, they will become equally humble. More knowledge means more humbleness. More pride means the presence of ignorance. So it means that a learned scholar who studies the Gita on his own and ends up with more pride, has increased his ignorance, not his knowledge.
The only way to avoid this is to learn the Gita or any Hindu scripture from a God realized Saint. The Saint, while imparting the knowledge, will also ensure the humbleness of his students and will not give knowledge to an unqualified person.
It is also important to keep in mind that we don't get anything simply by hearing, reciting or memorizing the Gita. The teachings of the Gita have to be understood and practiced every day in one's life. Only then will the knowledge of the Gita take root in our heart and only then will we realize the benefit of Krishn's teachings. In other words, the theory must be put into practice. For this too we need the guidance of the Saint. It is only by practicing the teachings of the Gita under the guidance of a Saint that we develop true humbleness and surrender to Krishn.
The Qualification to Know Gita: Be Like Arjun
Also please consider that if we were truly qualified to hear Krishn's teachings, then we would immediately get God realized by listening to them, in the same way that Arjun did. So if we do not get God realized when we study the Gita, it means we have not understood it yet. Anyone can study the Gita, whether they are a Sanskrit scholar or an illiterate person. However, the true Gita gyani is the one who, having learned the philosophy of the Gita, becomes humble, surrenders to Shree Krishn and becomes God realized.
Having understood the qualification for studying the Gita, we are now ready to start learning the main topics of the first chapter of the Gita, starting with the very first verse. But, please keep in mind that whatever I am sharing with you in this series is not my own interpretation of the Gita. I have not learned the Gita on my own. I am simply doing my best to explain in English what Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has already taught the world through his speeches and books in Hindi.
Trying to study any Hindu scripture, including the Gita, on one's own leads to a dangerous pitfall: the development of the pride of knowingness. However, the presence of such pride is a sure sign of ignorance. In order to learn the philosophy of the Gita without developing our vanity, it must be learned from a true Saint.
Note: The entire Bhagavad Gita series by Swami Nikhilanand will continue, once or twice a week, for more than a year and will be an incredible study aid in learning the deepest aspects of Bhagavad Gita from one of the most profound and prolific speakers of Bhagavad Gita in the English speaking world today.