“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.7)
तस्मात् सर्वेषु कालेषु
माम् अनुस्मर युध्य च
माम् एवैष्यस्य् असंशयः
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu
mām anusmara yudhya ca
mām evaiṣyasy asaṁśayaḥ
Have you been accused of the following?
“Silence is de facto acceptance. If you say nothing, the status quo will continue. Is that what you want? Are you in support of the current situation? We need to force a change. Get involved. Speak out. Do not be frightened into acquiescence. If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.”
The above accusation can apply for any cause. Cleaning the environment. Removing corruption from government. Changing leadership in a large institution. Stopping the killing of innocent children. Equality for the different ethnic groups living within the same community.
The acharya of the bhakti tradition advises to only get behind a single, specific cause. Devotional service. Linking the individual consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. Abandoning attachment to the temporary and focusing only on the permanent. Asat-tyaga and sat-sanga.
1. Difficult to get people to care
One of the limitations with taking up a cause involved with the material world is arousing interest. Someone might not care about stopping forced circumcision. If a person does not have children of their own, they are not familiar with the pros and cons of vaccination.
If I can’t get anyone to support me, I have essentially failed. My effort isn’t doing much. Maybe there is influence in the immediate circle. After all, people watch how we behave. They notice what we say. This is a subtle way of influencing. But for the person taking up the cause, success depends on some level of backing.
2. Success determined by swaying public opinion
Getting someone to take an interest is one thing, but convincing them to change a long-held belief is something entirely different. Persuasion is an art. If it is a discussion with my friend, then I likely stand little chance.
We are friends for a reason. Equals. Contemporaries. If I thought my friend was so brilliant then I would likely have too much respect for them to deal with them in a friendly manner. This occurred on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, where Arjuna regretted behaving like a friend in the past with his now-guru, Shri Krishna.
सखेति मत्वा प्रसभं यद् उक्तं
हे कृष्ण हे यादव हे सखेति
अजानता महिमानं तवेदं
मया प्रमादात् प्रणयेन वापि
यच् चावहासार्थम् असत्-कृतो ऽसि
एको ऽथ वाप्य् अच्युत तत्-समक्षं
तत् क्षामये त्वाम् अहम् अप्रमेयम्
sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
yac cāvahāsārtham asat-kṛto ‘si
eko ‘tha vāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam
“I have in the past addressed You as ‘O Krishna,’ ‘O Yadava,’ ‘O my friend,’ without knowing Your glories. Please forgive whatever I may have done in madness or in love. I have dishonored You many times while relaxing or while lying on the same bed or eating together, sometimes alone and sometimes in front of many friends. Please excuse me for all my offenses.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.41-42)
Arjuna’s is a perfect case study for this discussion. He lived in a kingdom that featured significant wrongdoing. The adharma started at the top. The leader, Duryodhana, unjustly took the kingdom for himself. The Kauravas ruled over the property that rightfully belonged to the Pandavas.
Arjuna could have made it his life’s mission to instigate a coup. Get others within the community to revolt against Duryodhana. List the many wrongs, as Kunti Devi remembered them later on:
विषान् महाग्नेः पुरुषाद-दर्शनाद्
मृधे मृधे ऽनेक-महारथास्त्रतो
द्रौण्य्-अस्त्रतश् चास्म हरे ऽभिरक्षिताः
viṣān mahāgneḥ puruṣāda-darśanād
mṛdhe mṛdhe ‘neka-mahārathāstrato
drauṇy-astrataś cāsma hare ‘bhirakṣitāḥ
“My dear Krishna, Your Lordship has protected us from a poisoned cake, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly, from sufferings during our exile in the forest and from the battle where great generals fought. And now You have saved us from the weapon of Ashvatthama.” (Queen Kunti, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.24)
He instead chose the cause of Krishna consciousness. There was only one person to satisfy. He is available to everyone simultaneously. His representative shows the way towards meeting the interest.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says to take up the cause of bhakti-yoga by chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
I can surely recommend the process to others. I can share Vedic wisdom through sacred texts such as Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Others may listen or they may turn away, but the benefit will fall to me all the same.
Arjuna was advised to proceed forward. The outcome did not matter. Win or lose, he would attain the highest destination. Liberation is already guaranteed for the person who takes up service to Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Of not caring for this issue accused,
Defend environment and people abused.
See Arjuna with potential crusade,
When challenge to dharma made.
The Kaurava ruling family by,
Perhaps support uprising try.
But with one cause of devotion sided,
To victory by Shri Krishna guided.
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