CHENNAI: The Bhagavad Gita explains the essence and goal of life and the methods to attain the goal. Every human being is a unique fusion of the spirit and matter and human birth is an opportunity to realise God. Lord Krishna's enumeration of the vast range of human qualities, both divine and demonic, is a checklist to enable us to make an honest self-assessment, said Swami Parthasarathy in a lecture.

Such an inward-looking exercise can act as a catalyst in one's spiritual progress and make our birth meaningful. The divine qualities help to foster the basic values of life and enrich the individual's personality. The demonic qualities kindle greed, jealousy, anger, etc., and the effects are restlessness and confusion.

The emphasis of Krishna's teaching is on the value and meaning of renunciation and this is shown as the only path to salvation. The general assumption about renunciation is that one gives up what one thinks one loves or cherishes. But the truth is that we cannot give up anything. We can only take up higher things in life. As one progresses, something higher is gained; then one naturally leaves aside that which is no longer important or needed. A child is fascinated with a bicycle or toys early in life. As he/she grows up, when other objects/interests are recognised, the early fascinations are no longer sought.

When a flower matures into a fruit, the petals fall off automatically. The petals are renounced. Likewise when one understands the value of salvation, the worldly trappings no longer seem to attract.

Events/experiences happen in one's life and neither can we accept nor reject the force of circumstances. But the only freedom one has is the choice to turn one's mind inward and remain unaffected by these turns of joy and sorrow that we come by in life.

The time to practice renunciation is now, before our death. We need to reduce our attachment to worldly pleasures by realising that they are deceptive and cannot give real satisfaction. In reality, they cause us only suffering. Peace is mental equanimity. It is a state of mind. The human mind is the seat of our spiritual progress or descent.