Krishna and Arjuna-On the imperishable soul

 

Value- Truth

Sub value- Wisdom

The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is about  Arjuna the great warrior who is leading the Pandava army to fight against Kauravas  which included his cousins brothers, uncles and other relatives, teachers, guru and other respected elders, kings, allies with whom he had close relationships. His  own army  includes  his own brothers, cousins, uncles and other kings. Lord Krishna is his friend , charioteer who is giving guidance and is the support of Arjuna. The war is about to commence in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

krishna arjuna 01

Arjuna asks Lord Krishna to drive his chariot into the center of the battlefield so he can see whom he is facing in battle.  As he recognizes so many familiar faces, his feelings get the best of him, his whole body reacts and he is overcome with sorrow.

He loses his will to fight, saying even if they wish to kill him, he does not wish to kill them. He sees no point in the battle – if it is gaining ruler ship of the earth, it is not worth it and if it is to gain glory in heaven – it is also not worth killing his own kinsman.  Arjuna becomes confused, discouraged and lays down his weapons saying he will not fight.

krishna arjuna 02

Having spoken thus, Arjuna throws aside his arrows and his bow in the midst of the battlefield.  He sits down on the seat of the chariot benumbed  and despondent and on the verge of  psychological breakdown.

Krishna tells Arjuna that in times of such danger, it is not befitting for him to throw down his weapons.  This will be seen as cowardice and will bring disgrace  to him and his lineage,  thereby urging him to stand up and fight.  Unable to  reconcile himself to bloodstain on his  hands even if he is victorious in battle;  Arjuna falls into a  state of benumbed  mental collapse or utter delusion.

It is at this point that Lord Krishna delivers his first teaching on life and death and outlines the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita and the central themes of its teachings.  He teaches what true wisdom is, the nature of the Atman, the futility of grieving over the inevitable, the difference between knowledge and experience,  the importance of following one’s dharma and the philosophy of Karma Yoga.  Krishna teaches Arjuna to use his discrimination and tries to guide him out of his spiritual confusion, which Arjuna mistakenly takes for compassion.

Even though Arjuna’s words seem wise, the truly wise mourn neither for the living or the dead.  True wisdom is able to discern between the real and unreal. Life is continuous – there is never a time when anyone ceases to exist.  Human beings live through a cycle of birth into the body, they age, die and then take new bodies.  True wisdom is not deceived by the appearances of the cycle.  Human life in this world of duality is made up of the opposites: pain and pleasure, heat and cold which are impermanent and Lord Krishna’s advice to Arjuna is that he must endure these. Whatever is unreal can never come into existence and whatever is real cannot cease to be.  The Imperishable pervades everything and everyone.  The real Self is embodied in these bodies but does not die when the body dies.  Lord Krishna compares the changing of bodies to the changing of clothes.  The wise are not deceived by the illusion of death.

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Learning

For most of us, the battlefield is not a physical war, but symbolic of the challenges of living one’s life.  We are, in a way, on a battlefield, where we are faced with our positive ambitions and desires, duties and obligations to self, family and society and poised against us, are negative characteristics and temptations. We are overwhelmed by the array of problems standing against us.  We get confused, paralyzed when we have to make decisions, weighing our own interests, those of others whom we love, our duties, possible outcomes, possible consequences of our actions or the actions of others with whom we have struggles. Then we look out for help and if we have the grace like Arjuna, an enlightened Master comes to guide us and help us understand the difference between real and unreal.

Courtesy- http://bhagavadgitamodernlife.blogspot.sg/p/chapter-2-yoga-of-knowledge.html

 

 

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