In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast introduces a brief commentary on the 1st chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 1 - 35. This episode dwells upon Arjuna's dilemma and Rahul highlights that we have all been in a situation like Arjuna and how relatable his plight is.
Translation used: The Bhagavad Gita Comes Alive: A Radical Translation by Jeffrey Armstrong Available here on Amazon
If you would like to dwell deeper in the Bhagavad Gita, I recommend Swami Gambhirananda's translation with Adi Shankara ji's commentary: Available here on Amazon
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Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast and I'm your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for taking the time today to either watch or listen to this podcast. Today we're going to be starting our commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and we will be starting from Chapter One. Before I go into that, there's a few things I want to just let you know .Season Two will be the place to go to if you want to listen to all of the Bhagavad Gita commentaries that will be uploaded every Sunday. They will be part of Season Two and Season One will be the general spiritual topics that we will discuss every Thursday. It may be that we upload a Bhagavad Gita episode on a Thursday, it will still be on season two. Just keep a note of that. Just remember this and I will put it in the show notes, so there's no confusion. If you would like to support this podcast, you can do so on Patreon. You can support the show. The link is in the description below, in the show notes below. Please do take a look at that. There is extra content on there for you to look at, so do sign up. Before I go into it again, like you said, there's a few things I want to discuss. The main thing I wanted to discuss is the book that I'll be using the translation that I'll be using for this. It's the Bhagavad Gita comes alive, a radical translation. It's by Jeffery Armstrong. The reason why I've chosen this one out of others is because it retains some Sanskrit words, which I think are necessary to be kept in as they are and it explains the essence really well effectively in English of those Sanskrit words. What has happened in some translations, and I've noticed this, that they may refer to a certain sanskrit terms, they translate it in the Abrahamic sense. What may be acceptable in the Western aspect to spirituality or religion in the Abrahamic religions, they use the words may apply for them, but for the essence in the east, it misses that. One example I give you will be 'paap.' They translate it as sin, but I would say it's an act that is done that causes more harm, that leads us to destruction. That for me is 'paap.' The concept of sin isn't really there in Hinduism or in Advaita Vedanta. It's really important that we understand that we're looking at things that are totally different dynamic. When we're looking at the Bhagavad Gita, we can't be using the Abrahamic understanding. We have to be using the understanding of the Eastern spiritual tradition. That's the main reason why I've kept this as the translation to use. I'm going to start from verse 28 of Chapter One. Well just to give you the background before verse 28. What's happened is as we know, the two sides, the Pandavas and the Kauravas, they're on the battlefield. The blind Maharaj is asking Sanjay to give a close account of this fight that is going to occur. Even though it's the Kurukshetra, the land of the Kurus, the Kuru is the clan. Really it is the Dharmshetra it is the land where the truth will be determined. Sanjay tells how the armies have gathered together. He tells them about who's on each side and makes that clear to the king. There's a point where he describes the conch being blown and the two sides creating that battlefield roar, getting their sides hyped up. In the midst of this hype, in the midst war and destruction. There lies a man in torment. Sanjay then explains what is going on in Arjun's mind. This is one interesting point that I want to make. And it's very interesting to understand this point because it shows us a lot about the mightiness of the Pandavas. In verse 20, it says that at that moment, standing upon this chariot with it's flag bearing the image of the mighty Hanuman and seeing the armies in formation with weapons already beginning to clash, Arjuna raised his bow and spoke to Shri Krishna. Now what's interesting here is that there is the image of Hanuman and Hanuman as we know is the image of a pure devotee, a sincere devotee and the one that follows Lord Ram. Now Lord Ram was the avatar of Vishnu and Krishna is the same avatar as Lord Ram. They are basically Vishnu in human form. This image in your mind has to set that you've got the mightiness of Hanuman as a flag and at the same time you got Arjuna who is mentally disturbed and we're going to see this in the verses that is going to follow and basically Arjuna then tells Lord Krishna, to drive the chariot in the middle of the field. He wants to be in between both of the armies and he wants to look at both sides that are willing to kill each other. Lord Krishna, he understands this request and then he goes to the middle of the battlefield. There are certain information I'm not mentioning right now because I'll be mentioning it later. When Arjuna sees friends, his gurus, his teachers, his brothers, his cousins, they're all there. His grandfathers, he can see them all willing to fight and it really affects him. It really disturbs him. We get to verse 28 now where it says that "Filled with deep sadness and profound empathy, Arjuna spoke. O Krishna, seeing my own family and friends standing ready to fight against each other. Verse 29 follows my limbs have lost their strength, my mouth is dry, my body is trembling with empathy and my hair is standing on end. Right now, what we are understanding of Arjuna's emotions is that, his mental state is that he's disturbed by all this. He sees this. He cannot understand how the people that he loves, that he cherishes are willing to kill each other. We can see that he loses all strength in the body. We can see that there is depression settling in. Arjuna is deep in his feelings right now. The word is very interesting the translation empathy, and not compassion. The reason for this, I think is two fold. Compassion would be something that is done in awareness, but empathy you can do in both ignorance and awareness. You can relate to someone and here we can see that Arjuna can relate in ignorance to the pain that's going to be there. The pain is there because of attachment. Yeah. As we have just seen the whole previous verses, we see the whole scene, he can see everyone that he loves and he connects to, and he cherishes and they are now there, ready to fight, ready to kill each other, thirsty for blood of the other army. Yeah, to defeat the other army. There's hatred there. There's greed there and he's just overwhelm ed with sadness about this. He uses the word that he's trembling with fear. Yeah. He's trembling. His limbs have lost strength. Now in verse 30, he says, My bow Gandiva has fallen from my hands. My skin is burning. I'm unable to remain standing. And my manas 'my mind' is unfocused and disturbed. Have you ever got to that point where you're so emotional you can't think straight? Basically, that is what is going on in Arjuna's mind. Arjuna is feeling that pain, that sadness. His skin is burning. Again, when you're in the heat of emotion, you feel your skin burning, you feel yourself heating up. We've all probably felt this in our life and this is, what's so interesting about the Bhagavad Gita, the reason why it's so impactful. Why it's one of the most talked about scriptures in the world is because you can relate to it as a human being. We've all been at that point, maybe in a different circumstance as Arjuna but we can all relate to it. That we've all been in a circumstance where our skin is burning. We get heated up and because of that, our mind isn't focused. We're disturbed. We can't think straight. We don't know how to think, our thoughts are going here, there, and everywhere we can relate to Arjuna in this. Verse 31 says, O Bhagavan, I'm perceiving many inauspicious signs, and I foresee only misfortune will be the outcome of destroying my beloved family and friends in this battle. Now we're understanding that Arjuna is now filled with attachment. Yeah. He's attached to his family. He's attached to his friends and he sees only misfortune. He seeing only the negative. He can't think straight. He's unfocused. He's not seeing the bigger picture. He's just seeing the picture that wants to be seen now, which is through his own mind. If you think about it, he's in the middle of the battlefield, if you look at it in terms of energy, he's getting conflicting energies from both sides. Yeah. The side that he's on and the side that he's fighting against. Then he talks about inauspicious signs. For seeing something that hasn't happened. He's perceiving something of the future and we do that don't we? We have expectations of things that are going to happen in the future and we say, oh, this is not good looking good. Then we get depressed about it. We get upset about it and we disturbed our mental state. Arjuna is telling Lord Krishna that there's only misfortune ahead. That's the thing that he's foresees. Let's be very honest here, they are two friends and at least Arjuna's very, very honest with Lord Krishna. He says "destroying my beloved family and friends", he knows the outcome. Eventually he knows that in reality with war there's bloodshed and he sees only misfortune. Verse 32 says "My dear Krishna, I do not wish for victory or to be a ruler or to enjoy Royal pleasures. O Bhagavan, O beloved of all, what is a use of power enjoyment, or even life itself? Verse 33 goes when all those for whose benefit we would rule, and with whom we were share abundance and pleasures, are dressed for battle in which they will not only lose their wealth, but their very life-breath?. Now, despite the mental state he's in, this is why he has empathy. He understands the pain of losing something. This is something that he's acutely aware of. He understands that, okay, people are going to lose their wealth, but to lose their life-breath, it's something he's not willing to do. Here Arjuna's taking a stand that he doesn't want to hurt anybody. He doesn't want to kill anyone because he'd be robbing them of their life. He's talking about what will he gain by being a ruler or by enjoying Royal pleasures. If the people that he loves are slain. He's asking all these questions again, he's telling his mental state to Sri Krishna. He's being very honest about how he's feeling, which is why he becomes a real seeker, because he's being honest. He's not fooling his friend or his teacher. He's being straight forward. This is what I'm feeling. I don't want to be rich. Again that's the way the ego works. Remember the ego can pretend to not want something just to avoid conflict. Even that is ego. We're not there to avoid conflict. We're there to remove conflict. To be in that mind, which is stable. Here, Arjuna is very clear. He doesn't wish for victory. He doesn't care about winning this war. Then verse 34 and 35 again showing his attachment. 'These are all my dear ones, teachers, fathers, children, grandfathers, uncles brother-in-law or my kinsmen and friends.' 'O Bhagavan, I do not wish to kill them. Even if they are intent upon killing me, I would not harm them to become ruler of the trilokas, the three cosmic realms, what to speak of this tiny world. He's looking at all his attachments. He's showing Sri Krishna his real feelings. He loves his family, his friends. He can't look to harm them. Even if they would kill him, he's willing to allow that to happen. That is showing how weak he is. Now, some people may turn around and say, well, he's being really compassionate. He's being really caring. But in reality, he's being a coward at the same time, because he's meant to be leading an army for righteousness and even for the battle of righteousness, he's hesitating. Where he's willing that the other army can kill him. At this point, we can kind of guess that he's suicidal. Look at the way, the Bhagavad Gita has started already?. It has shown the weakness of the mind. Let me explain the trilokas, the three cosmic realms. So according to Hindu mythology yeah, the, they depict three kingdoms of the known universe. So there's a Swargalok, which is the land of the gods. There's Mrityulok , which is the middle kingdom of men. And then there's Patalok, which is the home of the asuras, the fallen gods and what you could term as demons. That is the three cosmic realms that Arjuna is talking about. Then he says what you speak of this tiny world. It's very interesting. This tiny world that he's talking about is the land of the Kurus, the whole kingdom that they're fighting for. He's basically showing that he's not willing to kill them at any cost, no matter what gift he may be given if he kills him, he's not willing to accept it right now. This is what he's thinking right now. This is the first episode of this commentary and we are basically going to go into verses 36 to verse 47 of the Bhagavad Gita. Let me recap this for you right now that at the moment in chapter one, we've set the scene. He can see what's going on and we get an insight into Arjuna's mind. We're seeing what Sri Krishna is going to have to deal with. When we talking about the mind, we talking about a mind that is resolute in knowing what is right and what is wrong, what is the best thing to do? I wouldn't say what is right or wrong. What is the better action to do? And right now we see that for Arjuna, it is completely blurred. It's completely messed up. Psychologically, he is in despair. it's going to be really interesting because now Sri Krishna has to think about how is he going to deal with his friend right now he's willing to give up everything even before the battle has started. Whose mental state is not ready to lead an army? He's not showing himself to be a true leader. Right now, we're seeing the effect of Arjuna's mind and we've all been in the situation where mind has been in a whirlwind. We've all been in that time where bodies have burned up in a situation. So we can relate to Arjuna. We can feel what he's feeling. We can understand it. We can relate to it. Yeah, this Mahabharata is not just a war that happened historically. Who knows if it happened historically. The main thing is it's happening in the world right now, it's happening within our own mind right now. When we are on the path of righteousness, do we give up very easily? Are we like Arjuna, where we're thinking, well, there's not much benefit from being on righteousness? I'd rather give up all the boons of righteousness and allow evil to rule. Yeah. To allow misinformation, to rule. We face this battle every day, every moment. I look forward to sharing more in the next episode. Thank you for listening to this episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast, please do remember to follow or subscribe to this channel and do leave a review for this podcast. I'd really appreciate knowing what you think. You can follow me on social media and I will leave the links below to each of those accounts. I do share small clips on there that you can share with friends and family. And if you feel that anyone in your friends and family circle would love this podcast do share it with them. A new episode is uploaded every Sunday and Thursday until next time, take care. See you again soon.