Five Questions As Justification For Reading Bhagavad-gita

[Krishna and Arjuna]“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)

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क्रोधाद् भवति सम्मोहः
सम्मोहात् स्मृति-विभ्रमः
स्मृति-भ्रंशाद् बुद्धि-नाशो
बुद्धि-नाशात् प्रणश्यति

krodhād bhavati sammohaḥ
sammohāt smṛti-vibhramaḥ
smṛti-bhraṁśād buddhi-nāśo
buddhi-nāśāt praṇaśyati

We have the hypothetical situation of a person making an appeal to at least open up Bhagavad-gita and read a few pages. The promise is for a life-changing shift. If not immediately, then at least at some point in the future. The knowledge contained within those Sanskrit verses and their associated commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada will be of value at some time down the road.

The person on the receiving end of this pitch is not hearing it. They already have their allegiances. They are doing fine in life. They are not interested in following religion out of dogma, sentiment, or fear of eternal condemnation. They politely refuse to give the book a try.

[Bhagavad-gita]In response, a person can offer a series of questions. Resembling a compatibility test, this questionnaire of sorts is a good way to see if the content will be a match. There indeed might be a reason to tap into the timeless tradition of yoga, which dates back as far as anyone can remember.

1. Are you ever unsure of yourself?

“Then this book is for you. The starting point, the premise, if you will, is hesitation. The person hesitating should know better. They were never this afraid before; at least from what we know. They were expert on the battlefield. They were known as the best bow-warrior in the world.

सञ्जय उवाच
एवम् उक्त्वार्जुनः सङ्ख्ये
रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्
विसृज्य स-शरं चापं

sañjaya uvāca
evam uktvārjunaḥ saṅkhye
rathopastha upāviśat
visṛjya sa-śaraṁ cāpaṁ

“Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.46)

“But at a critical moment they came upon a tough decision. They were not sure which way to turn. They ended up dropping their weapons. I think all of us can relate to Arjuna in some way. Are you not interested to see how things turned out?”

2. Do you ever get upset to the point that you can’t understand why?

“Then this book is for you. Do you ever hold lingering resentment? Are there people out in the world that you absolutely despise? Do you ever lose your cool and then later regret it?

“The teacher in Bhagavad-gita, the person to whom Arjuna turns, knows the answer. He can explain the cause of anger in a scientific manner. There is no dogma involved. It is not that only people who refuse to follow a certain faith struggle in that way. The principles apply to every individual, and the solution is the same, as well.”

3. Do you ever wonder what your real identity is, given the constant of change?

“Then this book is for you. I know that people out there are struggling to come to terms with their situation. Their race. Their gender. Their ethnicity. Their identity based on boundaries drawn on a map. A map which hardly any person knows or has ever looked at, mind you.

देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
तथा देहान्तर-प्राप्तिर्
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति

dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)

“The teacher in Bhagavad-gita reveals the true identity of every individual. He also explains why there is so much confusion over identity. He reveals the cause of suffering and the ways to remove that suffering.”

4. Do you ever wonder what will happen after death?

“Then this book is for you. Death is like our final act. It is the end, within an individualized timeline. That is to say, my beginning, middle, and end are different from yours. We go through the same things, but not necessarily at the same time.

यान्ति देवव्रता देवान्पितॄन्यान्ति पितृव्रता: ।
भूतानि यान्ति भूतेज्या यान्ति मद्याजिनोऽपि माम् ॥

yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām

“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.25)

“The teacher in Bhagavad-gita explains what happens after death. He explains what death is, the transformation that takes place, and the potential as far as the next destination. He is so kind that He explains birth, as well, which is at the other end of the spectrum.”

5. Do you ever ponder the meaning to it all?

“Then this book is for you. The reason for living. The purpose to our existence. The dualities ranging from high to low, rich to poor, happy to sad, enthusiastic to morose, and so on. There must be a higher purpose to fulfill.

सर्व-धर्मान् परित्यज्य
माम् एकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वां सर्व-पापेभ्यो
मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.66)

[Krishna and Arjuna]“The teacher in Bhagavad-gita reveals that purpose. He offers practical advice, specific to Arjuna’s situation, but which also applies across the board. Who wouldn’t benefit from at least hearing this information, which can solve the problem that has dogged us for many lifetimes?”

In Closing:

From behind chasing,
A problem not time erasing.

Because birth again taking,
Where life of struggle making.

From Bhagavad-gita just hear,
For an understanding clear.

Which not in dogma based,
Situation that Arjuna faced.

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