Casualties In Bhakti

[Arjuna and Krishna]“Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.” (Bhagavad-gita, 18.78)

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यत्र योगेश्वर: कृष्णो यत्र पार्थो धनुर्धर: ।
तत्र श्रीर्विजयो भूतिर्ध्रुवा नीतिर्मतिर्मम ॥

yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo
yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ
tatra śrīr vijayo bhūtir
dhruvā nītir matir mama

“I am aware of the concluding verses of Bhagavad-gita. They are a kind of moment of appreciation. The speaker, the person relaying the information, the one with eyes allowing the blind Dhritarashtra to see, marvels at the scene. Sanjaya feels bliss throughout in remembering Shri Krishna acting as the teacher to Arjuna.

“It was the chariot driver turning into a spiritual guide. It was the supremely capable and confident bow-warrior accepting a humble position. Submissively inquiring. Presenting questions in a respectful manner. There was a challenging spirit, for sure, but only for the purpose of resolving doubts.

“Sanjaya concludes that the very presence of Krishna and Arjuna, together as one, indicates victory, power, and opulence. In other words, things will turn out right. The bad people won’t be able to get away with their crimes for long. Everything will end well.

“It is on this basis that we serve the two. We follow in the footsteps of Arjuna, acting as a humble disciple. We approach Krishna through the representative, the spiritual master. The idea is that through this setting it is like we are transported to the battlefield of Kurukshetra. We are in the presence of Krishna and Arjuna. Nothing can hurt us.

“Except there can be pain, misery, anguish, torment, torture, despair, and the like. Devotees sometimes leave this world prematurely. They get struck down by a force of nature. They succumb to illness. They may fall down from giving in to temptation. They are not always stout and strong in their connection to Krishna and Arjuna.

“Does this not pose a contradiction? How can there be victory in defeat? How do you have the triumph of morality when bad people run the world? How is there opulence when devotees might be the poorest people within a community?”

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that since there is still association with maya, since there is interaction with the world of illusion, there will be casualties. He gives the example of Abhimanyu. He is Arjuna’s son, but he gets killed in the subsequent battle, in the aftermath of the Bhagavad-gita delivery.

[Prabhupada]This does not indicate a lack of devotion or a deficiency in the connection to the Divine. In fact, Arjuna does not seek Krishna’s counsel for the purpose of protection. Arjuna is not looking to live forever or avoid harm in the military conflict. He is looking for confidence in the path, for decisiveness, for guarding against a wasted effort.

The foundation to the advice offered to Arjuna is to work without interest in the outcome. Be fully engaged in the work, but detached at the same time. Whether the effort culminates in celebrated triumph or bitter defeat, remain steadfast in the position. The interest for the work is duty, or karyam.

तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर ।
असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्‍नोति पूरूषः ॥

tasmād asaktaḥ satataṁ
kāryaṁ karma samācara
asakto hy ācaran karma
param āpnoti pūruṣaḥ

“Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty; for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.19)

Krishna explains that karyam is the way towards attaining the Supreme. It is the path for reaching the highest destination. Notice that the outcome of that duty is not the determining factor. The output may lead to success or failure, but the wise person has no attachment to the result.

To be detached from the results of fruitive work is to be in the true spirit of sannyasa. This is real renunciation. The saffron robes, the shaved head, and the constant travelling are not the determining factors. They may be of assistance towards creating a general atmosphere of detachment, but it is the consciousness which matters.

काम्यानां कर्मणां न्यासं सन्न्यासं कवयो विदु: ।
सर्वकर्मफलत्यागं प्राहुस्त्यागं विचक्षणा: ॥

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
kāmyānāṁ karmaṇāṁ nyāsaṁ
sannyāsaṁ kavayo viduḥ
prāhus tyāgaṁ vicakṣaṇāḥ

“The Supreme Lord said, To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation [tyaga] by the wise. And that state is called the renounced order of life [sannyasa] by great learned men.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.2)

[Arjuna and Krishna]It is the consciousness which persists through to the next life, and in keeping Krishna and Arjuna in mind, that consciousness will always be in a state of victory and opulence.

In Closing:

Time in each day provision,
For Krishna and Arjuna vision.

Opulence in that place seated,
In victory opponents defeated.

But casualties also to see,
Since maya persistent to be.

But bhakti for properly landing,
Where higher force commanding.

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