“Arjuna said: What is the destination of the man of faith who does not persevere, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?” (Bhagavad-gita, 6.37)
kāṁ gatiṁ kṛṣṇa gacchati
Friend-One: You know what I got to thinking the other day?
Friend-Two: I’m not antaryami, so the answer is I have no idea what you were thinking yesterday or ten years ago. I don’t know what you’re thinking right now. Can you guess what I’m thinking?
F1: I’m not the all-pervading witness, either. Only Krishna can do that because He is the Supersoul.
F2: What about the yogis who can read minds? I’m sure you’ve heard of the mystics who can appear suddenly to someone in a dream. They can transport themselves from place to place. Some of them can even read minds.
F1: Okay, I’ll acknowledge that. But they can’t read all minds; that’s a different story.
F2: And why is that?
F1: Because we are individual soul. We can distribute our influence outside of the local sphere, but we remain a singular entity. Moreover, we can’t be everywhere at the same time.
F2: Krishna can because He is the Supersoul within each heart. He witnesses all, but does not necessarily provide guidance.
F1: Finally, we’re back to what I wanted to talk about. Specifically, there was a notable time when He did provide guidance. That was the occasion of the Bharata War, where he helped a distressed Arjuna.
F2: Yes, the setting for the Bhagavad-gita.
F1: My random thought was about Arjuna and his compassion in particular. I can’t get over how nice he was.
F2: What do you mean? Because Krishna liked him?
F1: Well, there’s that. But Krishna didn’t choose him by accident. Arjuna was a great bow warrior. He could defeat pretty much anyone. Yet he was completely detached from it. He wasn’t interested in his own success.
F2: The Pandava family was like that. They were so pious. Kuntidevi was their mother, after all, so they had a good starting point.
F1: At the beginning Arjuna was worried about success. He was not afraid to fight. He knew he could win. The problem was over the cost of victory.
F2: Namely, in the lives of the opposing side.
F1: Exactly. Arjuna worried about them. Mind you, their leader, Duryodhana, had no such concern for Arjuna or any of the Pandavas. Duryodhana stole their property and wouldn’t give back even a small piece of it.
F2: It explains why the Gita wasn’t delivered to him.
F1: Arjuna’s compassion doesn’t end there, though. In the process of settling his doubts, Krishna explains to him the science of self-realization.
F2: Right. That is the solution to everything.
F1: It’s described as yoga, which is the linking of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Arjuna is so kind that he worries what will happen to the unsuccessful yogi.
F2: If you’re not fully God conscious at the time of death, your yoga has not been completely successful. Not to worry, though, as you get to continue where you left off in the next life. You take birth in a family of pious brahmanas or well-to-do merchants. This way you’re not struggling to find culture. You can pick up your yoga practice more easily.
F1: It’s very comforting to know. Yet we only know this because Arjuna asked. It’s amazing how compassionate he was.
F2: This is the way all Vaishnavas are. It’s what happens when you see the spiritual equality of all beings. You wish for the wellbeing of everyone. The concepts of friend and enemy lose their meaning.
F1: Arjuna’s behavior also debunks the idea that people in bhakti-yoga abandon everything and everyone. Far from it, Arjuna remembered each and every person on that battlefield. He was worried about everyone.
F2: Yeah, he was worried even about the yogi, who typically has nothing to do with things like war. Yes, Arjuna is pretty amazing. We learn that he is an eternally liberated soul.
F1: Right. The doubts in his mind were due to yogamaya, which is Krishna’s direct energy. Arjuna asked those questions for our benefit. He didn’t need to worry over success or failure in yoga since Krishna was always with Him.
F2: That’s a great point. We can say that is one definition of bhakti-yoga. It is the way to make sure Krishna is always with you. Of course we mean this in terms of consciousness. The Supersoul is always in the heart, but unless we are aware of its presence, we don’t get the full benefit. Vaishnavas like Arjuna and the spiritual masters following in his line teach us how to become conscious of God.
Of his fighting ability aware,
Still concern for others to care.
Not just enemies on opposing side,
But also where the yogis to reside.
Asking if failing to complete in lifetime one,
What of their progress, left with none?
Answer that even if from this world to depart,
Progress not halted, again from that point to start.