“Let not the wise disrupt the minds of the ignorant who are attached to fruitive action. They should not be encouraged to refrain from work, but to engage in work in the spirit of devotion.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.26)
न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्।
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान् युक्तः समाचरन्।।
na buddhibhedaṃ janayedajñānāṃ karmasaṅginām।
joṣayetsarvakarmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran।।
Friend1: I’m going to explain a phenomenon to you, but I’m not exactly sure how to present it.
Friend2: What do you mean by phenomenon? Is this behavior in other people or something about yourself? Maybe something that occurs in nature?
Friend1: With me; at the personal level.
Friend1: It took me a while to realize it. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, so I used to blame the other people.
Friend2: Who are these “other people”? This doesn’t involve only you?
Friend1: No; the setting is general conversation.
Friend2: Direct or part of a large group?
Friend1: Could be either.
Friend1: The conversation turns towards an area where I have some advanced knowledge. The other participants are not aware.
Friend2: That you have advanced knowledge?
Friend1: Correct. It could be about anything. Politics. Sports. Computer programming. History. The idea is that I know more than they do, despite their speaking as if they are experts.
Friend2: This happens to me all the time.
Friend1: And so I immediately get nervous. I feel this pressure to perform. I have to share everything I know, but in the right way.
Friend2: In order to convince them.
Friend1: Exactly! The thing is, most of the time they aren’t convinced. They’ll look at me like I’m crazy. They think they know more than me. As a result, I get more upset.
Friend2: It’s in the nature of friendship. Even amongst colleagues, or what have you, everyone is considered an equal. Therefore, why should I have to learn anything from you? I’m not a student sitting in your classroom.
Friend1: I know that is the reason Shri Krishna had to change His role prior to speaking the Bhagavad-gita. Otherwise, it would be two friends discussing the highest topics, where one is an expert and the other not having as much knowledge.
Friend2: It’s guru-disciple. Higher knowledge is never accepted through friendship. Perhaps I can learn from my friend through experience, but then the relationship changes at the foundation, even if there isn’t an acknowledgement of the fact.
Friend1: I’ve become so frustrated at my failures that I don’t even make the attempt anymore. I stop myself before the urge gets too strong.
Friend2: You mean in similar situations you remain silent? You don’t share the advanced knowledge that you have?
Friend1: Right. What is the point? It doesn’t get me anywhere. The other people don’t listen.
Friend2: It’s to save yourself the trouble. There is something similar mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, you would be happy to know.
Friend1: I am well aware. That was the setup. I want to delve further into that teaching. For anyone who may not know, Shri Krishna says that people too much interested in karma should not be disturbed.
Friend2: Do not distort their minds, buddhi-bhedam.
Friend1: From my personal experience I totally understand the teaching. Goes to show you how the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts continue to have further relevance as time goes by.
Friend2: For sure. One reading is never enough.
Friend1: My question is that if we shouldn’t disturb people interested in fruitive activity, who are attached to the results of action, then why are we teaching bhakti-yoga at all? Shouldn’t we keep it to ourselves? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, endorses this decision.
Friend2: Not just people easily identified as fruitive workers, but many times within religious circles there is the same attitude. Guarantee salvation by a profession of faith and then go do whatever you want. Follow Vedic principles on worshiping higher authorities, but with the same underlying purpose.
Friend1: You are agreeing with me, then? Large groups of people would be disqualified as potential audiences. Authority figures would more or less keep quiet. Is that the teaching?
Friend2: You can look to the Bhagavad-gita for the resolution. What is the nature of Arjuna? What is the setting of the conversation? What was the behavior of both parties: the teacher and the student?
Friend1: There was genuine inquisitiveness.
Friend2: What was the spark, though?
Friend1: Doubt. Concern. Uncertainty over the proper course of action.
Friend2: In other words, interest. You are saying that Arjuna was interested in hearing from Krishna.
Friend2: Then? It’s the same principle in general. Find people who are interested in going beyond fruitive activity. Trust me, so many are fed up with it, though they may not be completely aware. Look at the rich and famous. Look at the people who work in a single office for so many years and then suddenly drop everything to try something new. Sense gratification is never enough.
Friend1: The Vedas offer more.
Friend2: Absolutely. Those who take a real interest in Krishna consciousness have become disgusted with material life. In sharing the wisdom of the ages with them, we are not disturbing anything. We are giving answers to those with important questions.
Friend1: Okay, but I know that sometimes a speaker will be at an assembly where not everyone has that interest. Disciples will take the impetus and try to find people to spark their interest.
Friend2: It’s always question-based. It is not going up to someone and pointing the finger at them. “You are eternally damned with the path that you are on. Surrender now to be saved.” It is not like that. Just as Krishna asks Arjuna at the conclusion of their talk to deliberate and make a rational decision, so the benevolent teachers of the bhakti tradition attempt to at least give people that choice, when previously they didn’t know they had one.
With desire appetite not to curb,
Karma followers not to disturb.
From Krishna Himself the teaching,
How then Vedic principles reaching?
Like with Arjuna an interest so,
Towards open-minded go.
At least then a different choice through,
One which previously never knew.