General Public follow Great Men: Lord Krishna (Post No.11,160)


Post No. 11,160

Date uploaded in London – 2 AUGUST 2022         

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There are two interesting slokas in the third chapter of Bhagavad Gita. Those two couplets explain why great saints simple rituals do even after reaching highest state in spiritual matters. They are like ladders. They want others also to reach spiritual heights step by step. They set the examples for laymen. In sloka 3-20 Lord Krishna says why one should do certain actions for the sake of others. In sloka 3-21 he says ordinary people do what great people do.

First let us look at the meaning of two Slokas before reading the commentaries.

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादय: |
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि || 3-20||
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: |
स यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते || 3-21||

karmaaiva hi sansiddhim āsthitā janakādaya
graham evāpi sampaśhyan kartum arhasi

yad yad
ācharati śhrehhas tat tad evetaro jana
sa yat pram
āa kurute lokas tad anuvartate


BG 3.20-21: By performing their prescribed duties, King Janaka and others attained perfection. You should also perform your duties to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues.

Set an example to Others

Dr Radhakrishnan, philosopher and former President of India, explains the word Lokasamgraha in 3-20,.

Janaka was the king of Mithila and father of Sita, wife of Rama. Janaka ruled, giving up his personal sense of being the worker. Janaka and others worked lest people at large may go astray, convinced that their senses were engaged in activity, Guna gunesu vartante. Even those who have not known the truth might adopt works for self purification.


Lokasamgraha means World maintenance. It stands for the unity of the world, the interconnectedness of the society. If the world is not to sink into a condition of physical misery and moral degradation, if the common life is to be decent and dignified, religious ethics must control social action.

The aim of religion is to spiritualise society, to establish a brotherhood on earth.

We must be inspired by the hope of embodying the ideals in earthly institutions. When the Indian world lost its youth, it tended to become otherworldly. In a tired age we adopt the gospel of renunciation and endurance. In an age of hope and energy we emphasise active service in the world and the saving of civilisation.

Boethius affirms that “ he will never go to heaven who is content to go alone”.

My Comments

We are reminded of the story of great Vaishnavite saint Ramanuja. His Guru taught him the Ashtakshara Mantra (OM NAMO NARAYANA) and told him it would elevate him to the highest level but he should not reveal it to anyone. But he went straight to the top of the temple tower and proclaimed the great mantra to everyone. He told his guru the reason for his ‘blasphemous’  action as well. “If I go to hell for violating guru’s command, that is fine because millions are going to be benefitted”.

Swami Vivekananda also had a great dilemma whether to work for his moksha/ liberation or to work for the welfare of the people. He swam to a rock in the middle of the sea in Kanyakumari and did meditation. Then it dawned upon him to serve the society. He started lecturing to people around the world and established missions for service. Several leaders of India sacrificed a lot for the benefit of the society.

Lord Krishna also told Arjuna to work for Lokasamgraha and set an example .

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa added a word of caution about misusing Janaka’s name. “Becoming Janaka is not that easy. Every one who is a father can also call himself a Janaka”. He punned on the word Janaka. Janaka in Sanskrit also means father.

Dr Radhakrishnan quotes two Slokas from Yoga vaasishta

“The knower has nothing to gain either by performing or by abstaining from action. Therefore, he performs action as it arises”.

Again “ to me it is just the same whether something is done or not. Why should I insist on not performing action? I perform whatever comes to me”.

Here are the Slokas

Jnaasya naartah karmatyaagaih naarthah karmasamaasrayaih

Tena stitham yathaa yad yat tat tathiva karoty asau VI 6-199

Mama naasti krtenaartho naakrtenah kascana

Yathaa praaptena tisthaami hy akarmani ka aagrahah VI 6-216

In Gita 3-21 Lord Krishna says the world needs an example to follow

Dr Radhakrishnan continues,

Common people imitate the standards set by the elect. Democracy has become confused with disbelief in great men. The Gita points out that great men are the path makers who blaze the trail that other men follow. The light generally comes through individuals who are in advance of society. They see the light shining on the mountain heights while their fellows sleep in the valley below. When they proclaim the splendour of that light, a few recognise it and slowly the many are persuaded to follow them.

Great Tamil Saivite and Vaishnavite saints sang about this splendour and begged the people to follow them. In the North devotional poets did the same.

Kanchi Paramacharya explained in one of his talks the reason for the rituals they do every day.

Rama Krishna Paramahamsa explained this in one episode. Once a mother got worried about the addiction of her child to sweets. She couldn’t control him. She came to Sri Ramakrishna and begged him to correct her son. He sent the lady back and asked her to come the following week. This happened several times. When the lady was about to burst in anger, Sri Ramakrishna called the boy and said,

‘Hey boy,don’t eat sweets’.

From that day he never touched the sweets.

The woman was wonderstruck and asked Swamiji, why did you ask us to come every week for several months and said this. You could have said it during our very first visit. Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said, I was myself very fond of Bengali sweets Rasagolla and so I controlled myself first which took several weeks and then I said it to your son.

One must preach what one practises and practise what one preaches. Then the word will have magical power.

Fortunately India now has got some great men who set good examples for others .

Xxx Subham xxx

Tags- Great men, General Public , Loka samgraha, Bhagavd Gita, 3-20, 3-21

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