This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Divya Joshi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How I Understand The Bhagavad Gita And Its Relevance Today

More from Divya Joshi

While growing up in a western country, I was mainly surrounded by proud Hindus who always spoke in their mother tongue and talked about India with great pride and worship. In my early teenage years, I started to realise that a lot of the teachings from the elders weren’t those that I personally agreed with. They were things I wanted to change about the society. These included the taboo on women’s sanitary products, traditional gender roles and intolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community. After talking to an elderly lady about my concerns, she advised me to actually find out what Hinduism’s sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita, actually teaches.

In today’s day and age, most developed countries follow a democratic system of government which greatly differs from the monarchic times that the Gita was written in. A leader of a country is supposed to represent the country’s views and values and rule the country in accordance with those values. Although the time in which the Bhagavad Gita was written did not have representatives and responsible governmenance principles, the leader was still expected to uphold the wishes of his/her followers.

The Gita was developed when two parties were engaging in a power struggle to determine who would be the leader. While Arjuna didn’t feel comfortable harming his own blood to gain power; Lord Krishna explained why Arjuna must fight to ensure the betterment of the kingdom. The fight was not just between two cousins; it was between a virtuous, fair, just ruler and an unruly group who did as they pleased. Even though they were related and Arjuna did not wish to harm them, Krishna told him to look at the greater good and ignore his selfish desires and prejudices. Good leaders (and people), do not lead by using society’s fear, anger, or hatred, as this only divides the society. A progressive society would instead unite, supporting each other’s differences, and not fear or hate one another.

This one teaching has stuck with me since childhood and I believe is more relevant now than ever – one must not give in to selfish pleasures or pain but instead aim for what is better for the world’s future and must not lead by using fear or hatred.

The recent election in America highlights what a detrimental effect a bad leader can have on his/her nation. Donald Trump is not even in power yet, but due to his election in which he used fear tactics and played on people’s hatred – gendered and race-related crimes in the USA have sky-rocketed. Already we are witnessing him, using this election result as a means of furthering the interests of his company. What will happen in the future is unknown, but should the advice of Krishna be considered, a person like Donald Trump cannot be expected to unite the country or make it “great again”.

The Gita teaches us that we must face challenges head on. Do not shy away from them, as it is during these difficult times when our strong attributes and true nature shines. This advice stands true for those in power as well as us, everyday people. Whenever a nation or kingdom has come under threat or immense stress, they’ve looked towards their leaders for guidance. It is only through wise, deep understanding and thought by a leader who is unafraid to face challenges, can a country overcome this. A great example of when this was not followed was David Cameron’s resignation after Brexit. He backed out of his role as leader after the vote that he called for didn’t go his way.

Following his resignation, Britain has narrowly avoided a meltdown, but are still suffering the consequence and will continue to do so, for years to come. Not backing down from challenges is a teaching that even we can learn from. For whatever we are passionate about – be it Feminism, Black Lives Matter, or Stop Acid Attacks, we should always keep fighting no matter what struggles we have to face – as long as we believe that we are doing it for the betterment of society, we should never give up.

While facing these challenges, it is also important to stay resilient – another teaching from the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna told Arjuna not to fall prey to paths that may seem easier. The inability to go down your chosen path is born out of the simplicity and lure of another. Barack Obama’s struggle and ultimate success in protecting and funding Planned Parenthood is a great example of how resilience can lead to triumph. Despite multiple setbacks, bad media coverage and various easier options, Obama stuck to his original stance and did not stop trying until he made it law.

These are all specific examples which the Gita gives. If we take a broader approach, one sentence can summarise the crux of what the holy text is all about. “Be selfless.” Broader topics which the text deals with includes renunciation being the key to a brighter future. Renounce inequality and promote equality, renounce arrogance and ignorance, and be open-minded, renounce momentary happiness that is derived from selfish behaviours. Instead, seek happiness that is long-lasting and beneficial to all. If all members of society gave importance to these teachings and adopted them a way of living, we may have already stopped having to argue for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ marriage, and casteism. We should all put in a helping hand in constructing a better future.

Kids these days are taught “each drop counts”. Likewise, each individual fighting for what they believe in, is sure to bring about change – even if it is a small one. A million small changes will create bigger and more influential groups and slowly but surely, this will result in a big change.

The young generation all over the world is connected. We are all united through social media. The youth of India are fighting against the common and old belief that ‘nothing will become of this country’ by actively rallying to change it.

Living life in accordance to the Bhagavad Gita doesn’t make you Hindu, nor does it have to mean that you’re religious. You can live by the Gita without believing in a God. While many believe that the Bhagavad Gita is a centuries-old book, upon reading it, you’ll discover its true meanings and the value of its teachings. This text was, is and for the foreseeable future, will be applicable to society and teach us how to reach a brighter future.

This text was written in lieu of Gita Jayanti, with the attempt to show its positive aspects. By no means does this mean that everything written in the Gita is good and is not written with the intention of promoting Hinduism. If anyone feels offended by what is written here, please accept my apologies.

You must be to comment.
  1. ashu arora

    I am surprised that how thoroughly you analysed the Bhagvad Gita and related it to the current scenario. We actually need the kind of people who instead of rejecting the holy texts as ancient, use it as a guide to our future.

More from Divya Joshi

Similar Posts

By parijat banerjee

By Adil Zafar

By Mohammed Rafi Shaik

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below