Isn’t life too complex to have a manual?

Sometimes, the Bhagavad-gita is commended as the manual for living. This raises questions among thoughtful people, “Isn’t life way too complex to ever have a manual? If a manual was to address all of life’s complexities, wouldn’t it be forbiddingly huge? How can a short 700-verse book be a manual for life?”

Anticipating such concerns, the Gita acknowledges that deciding what to do can be incredibly complicated (04.17). Yet we all need to act; while acting, we need to make choices; and while making choices, we need all the assistance we can get. Assisting us in our choices is the spirit of the Gita’s call to mold our life according to its guidelines (16.24). These guidelines aren’t meant to be an exhaustive set of dos and don’ts; they are meant to harmonize us with the indwelling supreme intelligence, Krishna, who is forever competent and compassionate to guide us. Indeed, the more we become devotionally attuned to him, the more we become receptive to his guidance that helps us choose wisely (10.10). 

Thus, when it is said that the Gita is a manual for life, the manual being referred to is not a frozen book written thousands of years ago. The reference is to a living book that manifests the wisdom of the living, loving Lord who speaks to us both through that book and through our own hearts. When we study the Gita regularly and especially during difficult times, it is that inexhaustible, infallible, intimate Lord who guides us. He helps us move closer to him  and closer to fulfilling our divine destiny, becoming all that he wants us to be. 

One-sentence summary:

The Gita acts as a manual for life by equipping us to access the indwelling source of all wisdom, Krishna, who can guide us in all situations.

Think it over:

  • How does the Gita guide us for life?
  • How does the Gita demonstrate its guiding potency?
  • Are you facing any difficult decision? How can you use the Gita to gain guidance?

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16.24: One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated.

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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