“O Govinda, of what avail to us are kingdoms, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed in this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, then why should I wish to kill them, though I may survive? O maintainer of all creatures, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.32-35)
Friend1: I know that the Bhagavad-gita discusses yoga.
Friend2: What is that?
Friend1: You know, the mystic thing. Sitting down in a secluded place. Laying down a rug made of deerskin. Concentrating the eyes on the tip of the nose and so forth.
“One should hold one’s body, neck and head erect in a straight line and stare steadily at the tip of the nose. Thus with an unagitated, subdued mind, devoid of fear, completely free from sex life, one should meditate upon Me within the heart and make Me the ultimate goal of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.13-14)
Friend2: That is a certain kind of yoga, but what is the actual meaning of the word?
Friend1: Union. Plus.
Friend2: And within the proper context what is being added?
Friend1: The individual soul and the Supreme Soul. Jivatma uniting with Paramatma.
Friend2: What is considered the best yoga?
Friend1: I know about grading the different varieties, but Shri Krishna does make a distinction as far as who is the best yogi.
Friend2: The one living in the cave?
Friend1: Not necessarily.
Friend2: The person teaching a class in a room heated to one hundred degrees?
Friend1: Another miss.
Friend2: The mystic who can appear and disappear at will?
Friend1: Actually, we know Rakshasas could do that, from descriptions in the Ramayana. They were the quintessential bad guys, so exhibiting that ability surely doesn’t make you the best yogi.
Friend2: It doesn’t really make you a yogi, either.
Friend1: The answer is the person who always thinks of Krishna. He is the topmost.
“And of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.47)
Friend2: It’s a key omission, done intentionally, by those who are averse to serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead but want to use Bhagavad-gita to further their personal objectives.
Friend1: My question is about Arjuna. We know the conclusion to the conversation. He fights in the war. He proceeds. The advice from Krishna, who is also the charioteer, worked. Doubts vanished. With certainty, Arjuna knew that he was on the righteous path in delivering justice to the bad guys, who had gotten away with their crimes for too long.
Friend2: Then what exactly about Arjuna?
Friend1: If the best yogi is the one who always thinks of Krishna, what would have been the harm if Arjuna dropped his weapons and retired to the forest? We know that is the setting for the conversation. The leading fighter for the Pandava side had this inclination. He did not want to take part in the sin of killing so many others, especially some people he respected.
Friend2: Relatives, teachers and other family members. Are you saying that by living in a cave somewhere, meditating on the lotus feet of Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, Arjuna would not be guilty of a violation?
Friend1: Forget piety and sin for a moment. We know that a person who meditates on Krishna is the best of yogis, and in all circumstances a person should strive for yoga, for that is the benefit of a human birth. Not to eat as much as possible. Not to sleep comfortably on a memory foam mattress. Not to gaze at the ocean on the perpetually sunny days. Spiritual life is the auspicious end for the spirit soul travelling through the cycle of reincarnation.
Friend2: You raise an interesting issue, but you should know that such a decision would have been ill-rooted.
Friend1: How so and does that really matter?
Friend2: Retreating to the forest would have been to avoid responsibility, to consider only the bodily welfare of others. The intention would matter because that then affects the quality of the meditation.
Friend1: Umm, but Dhruva Maharaja went to meditate with material desires and eventually was purified through contact with Vishnu.
Friend2: Yes, but Arjuna already met Vishnu. He was getting advice directly from Krishna, who is the same person meditated on by Dhruva. Following that path would have been ignorance. It would not be meditation really, since the consciousness was still materially focused.
Friend2: But here is the more important truth to understand. Fighting in the war in the manner that Arjuna ended up doing is exactly the same as the meditation of which you speak. No difference.
Friend2: Yes. That is the secret of bhakti-yoga. Others may not notice it. Arjuna is firing arrows, after all, while standing on a chariot. He is in the middle of chaos personified, a battlefield featuring millions of soldiers hostile to one another. That a person could perform meditation in such a setting proves that devotional service is for every kind of person, in every kind of situation. Consciousness is what counts, and the person who can always remain conscious of the Supreme Lord, through to the time of death, is assured liberation, which means eternal connection in yoga.
Putting in perspective the rest,
When describing yogi the best.
Krishna advice to Arjuna to find,
That he who with Lord always in mind.
So what harm then for weapons to drop,
And into forest meditation without stop?
Idea that the same when in war fighting,
Service to Krishna through wrong righting.