“O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell.” (Arjuna, Bhagavad-gita, 1.43)
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नरके नियतं वासो
narake niyataṁ vāso
1. Who can be more thoughtful than you?
“It is just amazing. This world is full of selfish people. Everyone is looking out for themselves. Their self-interest is paramount. They rationalize the behavior by noting that no one else will be as interested in their welfare, so why not take care of themselves?
“You, on the other hand, think of every angle. You tread lightly. You are not a fool who rushes in. It is wonderful to see the care and consideration, how you are concerned with the fate of the affected parties.”
2. Your compassion knows no bounds.
“Your level of compassion is unbelievable. It is typical to be friendly with friends and maintain a distance with enemies. This is the natural way. Friends help us. Enemies do not. Friends sacrifice for our benefit. Enemies work to harm us.
“You, on the other hand, have compassion for everyone. You forgive others for their offenses, no matter how grievous. Even the offenses committed to relatives, like brothers, mothers, and wives, do not remain in your memory. In and out.”
3. How could I not see what you see?
“Here we are on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, ready to proceed in war. Everyone is concerned with the immediate task. We are ready to fight, to show our skills in the particular areas assigned to us.
“You, on the other hand, see the big picture. You are thinking in the long-term, to the children and grandchildren. You are worried about everyone. This distance in vision is astonishing. You are the very opposite of narrow-minded. You have opened my eyes.”
4. The Kauravas will reward your sacrifice
“Surely, the rival party will applaud your decision to give up the weapons and leave for the forest. They won’t mock you, at all. They will probably donate a large palace in the kingdom to serve as your residence. They might even establish a temple of worship in your honor, so that no one ever forgets the brave decision you made to leave the Pandavas behind and without the assistance of the greatest bow-warrior in the world.”
5. People will celebrate your decision for generations
“Not just the many thousands assembled here today, but generation after generation will remember your decision and look back on it as an item of study. If anyone should become overwhelmed by the moment of responsibility, when so many are counting on them, they can take solace from your example.
“They can give up the fight without guilt. They can claim to be nonviolent, not wanting to inflict harm on others. They can let the criminals run rampant, stealing, raping, and pillaging. There won’t be anyone to protect the innocent, but at least your legacy will live on. You have found the path to immortality.”
If you are going to approach a teacher for instruction, it is most beneficial when that teacher speaks the truth. Whether they give it to you in a nice way is irrelevant. More important is that the proper message arrives, delivered in a timely manner.
When Arjuna approached Shri Krishna about the possibility of renouncing interest in the fight for the kingdom of Hastinapura, he presented a variety of arguments. Arjuna even considered the fate of future generations. If the other side perished, you see, the families would suffer. Traditions would be lost, and soon adharma would rule the day.
Krishna changed roles. Moments prior he was the charioteer. Before that he was the cousin and well-wishing friend to Arjuna and his four brothers. Kuntidevi, the mother of the Pandavas, understood that it was Krishna protecting their family all along, through the many hardships inflicted by the rival Kauravas.
When Arjuna posed his questions, the role for Krishna changed. He became the trusted guide. The guru then gave it to the disciple straight, without holding anything back. Arjuna was not praised for his compassion. He was not celebrated for contemplating leaving the battlefield.
कुतस् त्वा कश्मलम् इदं
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ
“The Supreme Person [Bhagavan] said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.” (Bhagavad-gita, 2.2)
Rather, Krishna asked how such impurities could arise in someone otherwise educated. Arjuna’s mindset represented anarya, or the lack of familiarity with the principles of righteousness. In other words, Arjuna should have known better.
This kind of interaction indicates how the words of the guru might sometimes be received. We might consider them to be offensive. We might be blown away at the directness, at how the sadhu cuts through our illusions, to reveal the truth.
This is compassion, all the same. Krishna did not take care of everything for Arjuna. He did not advise the warrior to stand down, to sit back and relax. Rather, the message was to fight ahead, to continue with detachment. Follow the duties assigned to the role.
The difference is that Krishna would assure a proper and successful outcome. Everything would end well, eventually. If the mind stayed with Krishna, always thinking of Him, then Arjuna would never be without that great well-wisher to the countless living beings lost in this material universe. To find Krishna is the meaning of life, and Arjuna was already there, win or lose.
Whether win or lose,
In fighting option to choose.
Krishna always there,
With attention and care.
So hesitation not required,
By devotion be inspired.
And thus protected throughout,
Never guidance without.
Categories: the five
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