Five Abrupt Changes To The Status Quo

[Krishna and Arjuna]“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.16)

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नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सतः ।
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभिः ॥

nāsato vidyate bhāvo
nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayor api dṛṣṭo ’ntas
tv anayos tattva-darśibhiḥ

1. Night ending the day

“This day has been so enjoyable. I don’t want the fun to end. We are having a great time out in the field. No one expected things to turn out this way. The joyous occasion was most memorable.

“But now the sun is setting. There is no artificial lighting, so we must return home. Before it gets dark, we will have to wind down and put an end to our gathering.”

2. Morning sun dissipating the darkness

“The sunshine creeping through the window this morning was such a welcome sight. It has been dark and overcast for over a week. It is like we are suffering perpetual darkness. I don’t want to live like that. No one should have to. I thought the misery would never end.”

3. The young becoming old

“It happened so suddenly. I looked at a picture of myself and couldn’t believe it. Why do I look so old? What did I do wrong? Have the pressures of job and family gotten the better of me? Why does this have to happen?

“It is not as though I care so much about my appearance. I don’t put too much effort into the presentation, but I did not expect the changes to occur so suddenly. It makes me sad.”

4. The healthy becoming sick

“It was unexpected. They left this world so suddenly. This seems to be happening a lot lately. Unexpected and untimely deaths. I wonder if people have been forced to take experimental medication, on a large scale.

“But anyway, just see the illusion. We think someone is healthy. They look fit and lean. They sometimes counsel others on how to improve health. Then, in the blink of an eye, they become so sick that they can no longer remain in this world.”

5. The honored becoming dishonored

“I guess those websites and newspapers will be busy scrubbing all those old stories. It was fawning coverage, spanning years. They loved this person so much. They gave them the highest honor.

“Now it turns out that the person was not worthy of it. At least that is the prevailing narrative today. This person has brought dishonor and shame to themselves. I can’t help but chuckle. It seems to me that this person was the same the entire time, that either extreme was not warranted. The wise person would have picked up on the flaws the entire time and not been so effusive in their praise.”

Who hasn’t been desperate to hold back the wheels of time on occasion? Who hasn’t wanted just a few hours more of the current situation to remain? Who hasn’t been frightened at the prospect of a new state of affairs, of change sweeping in and disrupting the status quo?

A person could say that this is the premise of the sacred Bhagavad-gita conversation, in its iteration playing out on a battlefield. Between two relatives, cousin-brothers who also happened to be friends, the person in need did not want things to change.

He came up with every excuse he could think of. He appealed to every side of compassion. The preservation of life. Avoiding violence. The continuation of family traditions, in maintaining dharma.

Most importantly, Arjuna thought the best argument was that he did not want anything for himself. People would have to praise him for that. He did not want to win the war. He did not covet the spoils of victory. He would remain exiled and embarrassed, with the kingdom still stolen from his side of the family.

He would do this all for the benefit of the other side. He would preserve the status quo by ensuring that they continued to live. They would not be punished for their illegal behavior, which went against dharma. At least Arjuna would not be the person delivering that punishment.

Arjuna would not mind staying as the whipping boy, the person on the receiving end of brutal and unfair treatment. Just don’t let the war commence. Sure, everyone was gathered on the battlefield of Kurukshetra already.

They all knew that Arjuna was the best fighter. Everyone on the other side acknowledged that truth, if only in a subtle way. They all saw his amazing feat of piercing the eye of a fish by only looking at its reflection in water. They knew Arjuna had the guidance of Krishna, if only as the charioteer.

[Draupadi svayamvara]If things did not go well, then it was a sign from above. It was Providence delivering justice. That delivery would be many years too late, especially for the victims, but it would arrive in the timely manner. As explained by Shri Rama, the comparison is to the flowers blossoming on trees in the proper season.

अवश्यं लभते जन्तुः फलं पापस्य कर्मणः।
घोरं पर्यागते काले द्रुमाः पुष्पमिवार्तवम्।।

avaśyaṃ labhate jantuḥ phalaṃ pāpasya karmaṇaḥ।
ghoraṃ paryāgate kāle drumāḥ puṣpamivārtavam।।

“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

As if to immediately spark the interest of the person reading or hearing Bhagavad-gita, the teacher scoffs at the ideas of the student. Arjuna receives no credit for his compassion. Krishna actually characterizes these ideas as anarya. They are indicative of someone who does not know the progressive values of life.

श्री-भगवान् उवाच
कुतस् त्वा कश्मलम् इदं
विषमे समुपस्थितम्
अनार्य-जुष्टम् अस्वर्ग्यम्
अकीर्ति-करम् अर्जुन

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kutas tvā kaśmalam idaṁ
viṣame samupasthitam
anārya-juṣṭam asvargyam
akīrti-karam arjuna

“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)

Krishna then proceeds to dispel the illusion from every angle of vision. Whether you are an atheist, a believer in karma, the most knowledgeable of the material and spiritual sciences, or simply looking to please the higher authorities, proceeding in the war was the proper decision.

The status quo could not remain. The soldiers who were set to perish were already gone. Destiny was already set. Time simply had to operate. It would be like expecting the sun to rise in the morning. We know it will happen. It is a done deal.

Krishna compared the body and soul to the nonexistent and the existent. There is no endurance to the bodily situation. The status quo can never remain. Even if it is something like that tree which stands outside, which has been there for years.

Of that which exists, there is never a way to stop it. The soldiers gathered on the battlefield would continue to exist. There would be no way to stop that existence from continuing. Technically, Arjuna would not be destroying anyone.

[Krishna and Arjuna]The nonexistent, which already changes, would simply change. The existent would move to a different state. Under this understanding, dharma is always the proper choice. Dharma aligns with the interests of the existent. Dharma produces the best future, after the many changes to the status quo. Arjuna was aligned with dharma because his teacher happened to be the object of dharma.

In Closing:

Arrows from quiver not to release,
Since desperate status-quo to keep.

Better on sidelines to stay,
Allow adharma to have its way.

But changes in motion already,
Arjuna as instrument to be ready.

Because of existent endurance to last,
And of nonexistent changing fast.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❣️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❣️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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