“One who executes his duties according to My injunctions and who follows this teaching faithfully, without envy, becomes free from the bondage of fruitive actions.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.31)
ये मे मतमिदं नित्यमनुतिष्ठन्ति मानवाः ।
श्रद्धावन्तोऽनसूयन्तो मुच्यन्ते तेऽपि कर्मभिः ॥
ye me matam idaṁ nityam
mucyante te ’pi karmabhiḥ
1. Retreat to the Himalayas
“You really have no chance here. Better to drop your weapons. You already did that? Good. Now shave your head and change your clothes. You will be living in the Himalayas now. Mountain-life is more suitable for you. Then you can simply meditate. People will applaud your decision for generations to come. Every person who ever contemplates quitting in the future, they will have your example for support and justification.”
2. Take two of these and call me in the morning
“Here are these magical pills. They are rare to find. Don’t ask me how I got them. Just take them. Then your problems will go away. Get a good night’s sleep. Everything will be fixed by the morning.”
3. Talk it over with Duryodhana and see if they understand
“Wow, your level of compassion is unbelievable. Duryodhana basically wants you and your family dead. He’s already tried so many times to kill you. I thought setting your house on fire was pretty bad, but I guess not. You seem to have forgotten that incident.
“Anyway, maybe talk things over with him. He never sounded reasonable to me, but maybe you’ll have better luck. If he hears how you want to give up, after the uproarious laughter subsides he might actually take you seriously. Who knows just exactly how he will reward you for your cowardice, I mean kindness.”
4. Just sit back and let me take care of everything
“Wow, you seem really troubled. I can see that this situation is bothering you. Just take it easy. Stop worrying so much. Sit back and let me handle things from here. I can’t believe I put so much pressure on you to defend righteousness. Granted, you and your brothers are really the last resort for the innocent, those who follow dharma. But I guess they’ll understand that you cared more about the interests of the side aligned with adharma. That shows how kind you are.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that Shri Krishna gave practical advice to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The work containing that advice is highly regarded. Known as Bhagavad-gita, it has been studied, honored, and consulted for at least five thousand years.
Flowing through to the present day in the Sanskrit language, the work is not easy to comprehend. A person usually can’t just pick it up and start reading. They would not understand the context. Even if they did the best translation possible, with a word-for-word review, the resulting content would not make much sense.
This is one of the reasons Prabhupada calls his translation and commentary of the work Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The translation is in the spirit originally intended. The acharya is confident in this declaration because they have spent considerable time within the culture. They have learned from their own teacher, who appears in a line of disciples directly traceable to Krishna.
Though we place Bhagavad-gita on this high pedestal, based on the philosophical nature of the content, the underlying advice is most practical. The premise is Arjuna’s hesitation. As the leading bow-warrior for the Pandava side, he does not want to proceed in a military conflict.
Arjuna comes up with every excuse he can think of. He really appeals to emotion and intellect. If converted to a blockbuster film, Arjuna’s presentation would be a tearjerker. He wants everyone to know the extent of his compassion. You see, he is so kind and unattached that he is willing to give up on the spot. Let the other side have whatever they want, as long as bloodshed is avoided.
Krishna, the charioteer, turns into the guru. He is actually always in this role, as He is known as the adi-guru. Due to the closeness with Arjuna in terms of affection and familial relation, Krishna usually doesn’t assert Himself as the teacher.
This specific situation warranted instruction and Arjuna made the first move. Krishna’s advice was simple. Stop being silly. Stop sounding like someone who is anarya.
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)
Proceed with the war. Do your duty. You are a kshatriya warrior. This is your occupation, for better or for worse. Better to fail miserably in work that aligns with your nature than to imitate someone from a different occupation.
This advice is practical, but it might not be easy to understand. Therefore, Krishna provides justification from every angle of vision. If you are an atheist, moving forward is the best decision. If you think karma is the topmost controlling authority, then there is nothing better than sacrificing yourself on the field of battle.
If you are devoted to God the person, there is nothing to lose. Work with consciousness of Him and there will never be failure. Time has already determined the outcome. Time operates on everyone and everything. Time is the cause of birth and time is the cause of death.
The advice from Krishna is not exclusively to Arjuna. That is to say, anyone can follow the same. Whether they are born into Vedic culture or not, the principles still apply. Whether they are a world-recognized scholar in Sanskrit literature or if they are illiterate, they can understand what needs to be done.
In this regard, no one can be kinder than Arjuna’s guru. That celebrated hero of the Yadu dynasty is indeed the greatest well-wishing friend to everyone. No one can say that God is not in their life. The key is to access His instruction and feel the merciful protection during every deed, which is dedicated to Him.
Advice for Arjuna to proceed,
Maintain with every deed.
Then outcome properly to align,
Whether injury or protection to find.
Krishna the words practically considering,
As teacher to student delivering.
Applied to everyone giving,
That with Divine consciousness living.
Categories: the four