In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast introduces a brief commentary on the 1st chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 36 - 47. This episode discusses the importance of women's rights and when we see these rights taken away, it truly means the Mahabharata is still continuing.
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
I hope you enjoyed listening to the 2nd episode of the Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.
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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 joining today and for taking out the time to either watch or listen to this episode. Before I get started, just to let you know, if you would like to support this podcast, you can do so by signing up on Patreon. If you sign up on Patreon, you do get extra benefits and the link to that is on the show notes or the video description. In the last episode, we looked at chapter One, Verses 1 to 35, and we looked at the agony of Arjuna. We got to understand what his state of mind was at that time. Let's start with chapter one, verse 36. Remember Arjuna is still speaking. Oh, Krishna. How could we ever find pleasure in life again? After killing the sons of Dhritarashtra? The darkness of paap 'activities which result in suffering.' this is why I like this translation. So 'paap' is activities which result in suffering a brilliant way to understand what paap is. So it's not sin, it's activities which result in suffering. The darkness of paap would cling to us after we killed such aggressors. Arjuna is trying to justify why it's spiritually not right to kill anyone. He's saying that basically it's paap to kill anyone even for righteous means, it's going to lead him to suffering. There's a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is something that you feel. For example, if you have a headache, if you say my head is hurting, you're being objective. But if you say, I can't stand this pain, that's suffering. You've gone away from the objective to the subjective. Arjuna is saying that how can you ever find pleasures in life? He's not being objective, he's being subjective. He's already showing signs of suffering. He further on says in Verse 37: Therefore, we cannot be justified in killing those sons of Dhritarashtra, who are our own kinsmen. O Krishna. How could we ever be joyful again after destroying our own family? Again, bringing himself to attachment. Remember attachment leads to suffering because now he's getting subjective about it. He's talking about how he can kill, even though he sees the other side as his kinsmen, as his friends, as his family, but are the other side seeing him the same way? He rather live in their oppression. He rather be oppressed by them than to live a righteous life, than to give the kingdom righteousness. Do you see how the larger picture here is about having a kingdom ruled by righteousness? Not by one that is guided by hatred or greed. 'How can we ever be joyful again after destroying our own family?' He's asking the question, how can we ever be joyful, therefore only seeing pain. And this type of language, Lord Krishna is holding onto it. He's remembering this. He talks about the destruction, all negative words have been used so far, nothing positive has been said by Arjuna. We can see from his state of mind right now. It is a mess. Psychologically, he cannot deal with this and that's because he does care. He genuinely cares but he's not thinking of the greater good. Verse 38, even if they are overwhelmed by greed and cannot see the negative consequences that will be caused by the crime of committing treachery, to friends and one's own kula ' extended family'. Extended family is a very beautiful way of actually expressing kula. Even here, he's understanding that they can't see the whole picture. The other side, he knows they're acting in ignorance, but he's allowing ignorance to overwhelm him. He's allowing ignorance to guide the way he wants to go forward. Arjuna is allowing that to takeover. He even notices that it's greed, but still he's not willing to stand for righteousness. He's not willing to stand for truth. He's not willing to stand for wisdom. He's not willing to stand for unity. One can turn around and say, well, there's already division between the two armies, but at the same time, one army, if they win, will try to create unity. The other side, if they win, will only look to divide even further. Divide and rule, divide and conquer is their mentality. Arjuna is fully invested in the ignorance. He's only seeing things from the ignorant point of view. He's not thinking about the highest truth. Not once have we seen Arjuna mention Brahman or the ultimate reality. He's fully invested in this appearance, this transactional reality. He doesn't know how to deal with the transactional reality. So how is he going to deal with Brahman - The Ultimate Reality? One has to be stable in the transactional reality to even contemplate about Brahman. We can see already here that Arjuna is not looking in that aspect. He's fully invested in ignorance, he's fully invested in the ego. He's thinking purely from ego because now he's willing to put righteousness on the line. Then verse 39 Dearest Krishna, why should we engage in this battle since we know the flaws and negative reactions that will result from the destruction of family traditions? This is really interesting that Arjuna mentions, the destruction of family traditions. Let's remember that the whole purpose of this war, the reason why it began the reason why it was taken to this level was the disrespect of women. Despite Arjuna knowing this because Draupadi was his wife. He knew what she went through. Despite knowing that he's talking about the destruction of family traditions, they've already been destroyed. The other side, the Kauravas have already disrespected his wife. So what family traditions is Arjuna talking about? This is what Lord Krishna is understanding completely. That Arjuna is not looking at the whole picture. He's talking about the destruction of family traditions, they've already been destroyed. The other side has already done this. Again, he says why to engage in this battle since we know the flaws and negative reactions that will result from the destruction of family traditions. He's not even aware right now that this is the result. Yeah of that one event, when they were ready to disrespect his wife, Arjuna's wife, the Kauravas disrespected his wife, despite seeing that, despite knowing that is the result from the destruction of family traditions. They disrespected women. It may have happened to one woman, but the fact is if you can disrespect one woman, you can disrespect them all. So what flaws and negative reactions is he really thinking about? Just remember if Arjuna does nothing about it. He's allowing the flaws and negative reactions to run wild. If he chooses not to take part in the battle. Verse 40 is when the kula structures are destroyed, remember kula is the extended family. So also are the Sanatana principles [the eternal principles] of family unity, then chaos overwhelms all and the kula is fragmented. Again emphasizing that Arjuna is not seeing that everything is already fragmented. He's thinking about something happening in a future, which has already happened, and he's not willing to accept that reality. He thinks that if you fights and kills his family members, the extended family, and destroys that structure, then there's going to be fragmentation While he's in the middle of two sides. He cannot see there's fragmentation already in the present yet two extended families already fighting. He's talking about the eternal principles of family unity. I want to emphasize on this a little bit more because family unity. Now, if we look at this, one aspect you can turn around and say, related to the world today. If you look at it now, we live more in nuclear families than extended families. We don't live in joint families anymore. Some of us may, but even if you're in a nuclear family, you still have the extended family. Now we aren't even related to our extended family. I can just observe from my own life. That the unity that was there when I was growing up is not there today. Even though we have more modes of communication, the unity is still there, but we don't communicate as much. Let's relate this to today. The family unity. In the family, even if it's between the husband and wife, the husband and children, the husband and the parents and the in-laws, the wife and the in-laws and the parents. Also the siblings. If we consider a joint family, even in that regard, there is lack of trust. There's a lack of embracing the other. I always say this that I don't have in-laws, I only have parents. My wife's parents are my parents and also for my wife, my parents are her parents. They're not her in-laws. The reason why I believe this to be true is, it changes the way you see your in-laws. You don't see them as people that have come into your life after 25 or 30 years or whatever number of years. Actually you are now united and marriage is about the unity of two families, as well as two people. So how can you have unity if you still see someone only as 'in law' related to you? It's really important that we understand that we get rid of this whole division. So again, in the family life, are we creating more joy? Are we looking at what's best for the family or what's best for me personally? Are we willing to create a ruckus in the household by wanting something, by demanding something that will be detrimental as a result? Or do we look at what's right for the family? What's good for the unity of the family, for the wellbeing of the family? This is the difference between someone that is stable minded and someone who's not stable minded. The person who is instable will always be thinking about their own personal desires being more important, greedy about their own desires, about their wants, their attachments. But the person who is stable minded, will think about the wellbeing of everybody. Okay. If I do this one action, what is the reaction going to be? And is that reaction in the long run, right? Or is what I'm about to do right in the long run, but have to face consequences in the short-term? Again, with Arjuna, he has to realize that what he's doing right now, is it good for him in the short-term? Or is it good for him in the long-term? What may be detrimental in the short-term may be beneficial in the long-term. The eternal principles are about the wellbeing and togetherness and love and unity being part of the family life. Those are the eternal principles and the main eternal principle that I want to mention is that the family together should be encouraging their loved ones, not to be going after material wealth, but to go towards the spiritual wealth, the emphasis should be on the spiritual wealth. Yes, we all have to earn a living. We all have to earn the basic needs, but the family life should be one where they encourage each other and remind each other of spiritual values. Not angrily point out 'you're not so spiritual, look at the way you're acting.' Not that way, but guiding. Instead of reacting to somebody, respond with nice words with a nice attitude. Don't get angry if someone's voice raises or if someone says something silly, listen, and then respond. Hard to do. I fail all the time. But like I said, the eternal principles of a family life should be that it is based in spirituality and is based towards spiritual development, encouraging spiritual development. And what I mean by spiritual development is understanding the Ultimate Reality - Brahman. This is a whole purpose of spirituality is to realize that there is only Brahman. We can see today whether the extended family structures have depleted or whether they have not depleted. One can just look into their own households, their own family life. Verse 41. O Krishna, when the Vedic codes of kul dharma are overpowered by social chaos, the integrity of women which keeps the kula healthy is damaged. This disturbs the consistency of family values and the ongoing performance of family responsibilities. In verse 41, 'O Krishna when the Vedic codes of kula dharma are overpowered by social chaos. When we look at dharma being the path of righteousness and that the kula, the extended family's path of righteousness is overpowered by social chaos. So again, we can look at it in terms of the world today. Is our family being invested in misinformation about COVID-19? And spreading that information within the family? Or are family members denying the reality that things are bad? And therefore it's affecting the path of righteousness. When we talk about Vedic codes, they could be talking about the ritualistic aspect, but I can also just related to Vedic codes can mean as spiritual values. Our spiritual values of integrity and truth. Then when he says 'the integrity of women, which keeps the kula healthy is damaged.' Look at the interesting thing that's happening. People who aren't willing to take the vaccine to save lives. Or wear masks to save lives are the very same people that are saying they're pro-life and believe that abortion should be banned. How can you be pro-life in one thing and not the other? 'The integrity of women, which keeps the kula healthy is damaged.' The integrity of women, today are we really respecting women? And this is interesting because I believe that India has moved towards more of a patriarchal society, but it shows here that women should be at the forefront. And it's true. We want to relate this to Arjuna what he's going through right now, he's already seen the integrity of women destroyed. He's already seen social chaos, but he's not acknowledging what's happening in his own home. He's blinding himself to that. The integrity has already been destroyed. Here we see that we have to respect women and men who look to overpower women, according to the Bhagavad Gita. You're not good. You're not on the path of righteousness. The path of righteousness lies in respecting women. I mean true respect towards every woman. Not just your wife, not just your mother, but to every woman. For example, the real testimony will be when there is equal pay. It doesn't matter if you're male or female, you get equal pay. But we see today there's gender pay inequality. Old men in the parliament buildings are telling women what to do with their bodies. The fact that women get taxed on tampons. Do you see the disrespect that we have as a society right now? It's really chilling in fact, where we should be making it easy and saying, these products need to be free for women. There shouldn't even be a cost. But because men have been ruling for so long and overpowering women, we see that destruction already. This is something to think about. The verse further on says 'this disturbs the consistency of family values and the ongoing performance of family responsibilities.' Now, you may recall that sometimes politicians or celebrities talk about the male jobs and the female jobs in the house, the female chores and the male chores. For example, they say that women do the cooking and men take out the garbage. In my household there's no such rule as that. Whoever can do something, they just do it. There's respect. There's no such thing as this is a gender role. Yes. It could be that I may be more stronger in picking heavier things, but that's supporting. That's not meaning that I'm more powerful than my wife. Do you see where I'm coming from here? So the ongoing performance of family responsibilities. So doing what's best for the family. Yeah. It's not about because I'm the mother, I'm going to do this, or I'm the wife I'm going to do this, or I'm the husband and I'm the father, I'm going to do it this way. No, just be a parent, just be a spouse, just be a partner. Also when it talks about integrity of women. I also want to mention how it's also about the integrity of the other. So for example, anyone that we consider separate to us in society today. We see divisions between the LGBTQ community, considered that it's talking about the integrity of them as well. 'This disturbs the consistency of family values.' So whether you're two husbands or two wives, however you may term yourself, the fact is that one should always look to uphold the eternal family values, which is of keeping unity and peace in the home. That's all. It doesn't matter who you are. The integrity lies in keeping those family values of peace and love and kindness. Verse 42 goes on to say, ' O Bhagavan, I have heard that those who destroy the kula dharma and thus stop the offerings to the departed ancestors, go to Naraka the most painful and degraded realms of material existence as a result of their disruptive actions. So naraka here, I would say is your own mind when it goes negative. Again, Arjuna is not recognizing that this is happening to him right now. That if he doesn't act, it's a disruptive action by him not acting. Also he's talking about something is heard. It's like gossip. He doesn't know if it's true. He's just heard that those who destroy the kula dharma, so he's thinking now that he's going to be destroying his family. Therefore, because of that, he's going to stop offering gifts to the departed ancestors. He's going to go to the most painful part of the mind. He's already there. What offering are you going to make to the ancestors, if you're already tormented? Then it's just in a ritualistic act. Then verse 43. 'Because of the chaos caused by those who destroyed the perpetual extended family structure. The class responsibilities in society are also destroyed. Finally, even the jati codes of professional conduct are compromised.' This is something we need to think about a bit more deeper. I'm going to say it as briefly as possible. That he's saying here that the class responsibilities in society are also destroyed. What will happen is he's talking about is a destruction in society. Like for example, if we don't give rights to people, then that will cause harm. Today, if we don't give rights to janitors or cleaners, and we take that away and we give the power all to the rich, to the powerful, we already are destroying family life by doing that. Because if that means that the people aren't well paid, they're not giving them minimum wage. They can't look after their family. What does that lead to? They'll think of any means to feed their family. Whether that's crime in the eyes of people, but to them, they're just trying to feed their family. This is what happens. Here, in fact, there is talk about a oneness in society, that society looks after each other. Not pit itself against each other. Not the 1% fighting the 99% and their rights, which we see today. We see that Arjuna's talking about this, and then he even says jati codes of professional conduct. The four castes that we hear about in society, he's talking about those being compromised. That what happens is that we start seeing one thing as high and the other as lower. When really we should be looking at the function that they bring and how it harmonizes all of existence, all of society. See what's happened now is if we see someone doing a menial job, a working class job, or termed as working class job, we think that job is less than us. But we don't see the impact of that job, how it benefits society. Imagine if people who clean the streets, didn't clean the streets, what would happen? It'd be dirty. The environment will be dirty. So instead of praising them, what we do, we try to look at ways to take away their power. But here this is where Arjuna is saying that when the society is in chaos, this is what happens. The 1%, the people in power look to oppress the masses. They look to take the rights away from people. The rights that are from human birth, they should not be questioned. They should not be taken away. They're everyone's rights, but we take it away because we want to remain in power. This is what Arjuna is talking about. Verse 44. 'O Bhagavan we have heard again and again, that the manushas 'human beings' who choose to destroy kula dharma are destined to reside in places of Naraka, where they experience pain and suffering.' Pain and suffering - two different things remember that I mentioned. But here it's saying that he's heard this again and again, that anyone that looks to destroy the family, let's consider the whole of society as our family here. But destined to live in hell. Yeah. What do we mean by hell? Pain and suffering? Can we say today that society is in harmony or is it more in chaos and suffering and pain? The latter. So that means that'd we're seeing already that this earth is a hell. So the question is how do we get it to the path of righteousness, to peace and harmony? If we choose to destroy society and destroy the equality of society. This is what happens. This is what is being shown here. Verse 45 'O dear Bhagavan, because of greed for royal pleasures, we are about to plunge into utter darkness through the paap of killing our own beloved relations.' Again, he's talking about doing those acts, which are going to lead to suffering, the activities that lead to suffering. Again, he's in attachment. And he's talking about plunging into utter darkness. Arjuna is already in utter darkness. Remember this is describing his own mental state, even though he's talking about something in the future, it's happening to him right now. And remember if we're in this state of mind, you're not going to be thinking about Brahman. You're not thinking about the Ultimate Reality. And in verse 46. 'Considering all these truths, I would be much happier if the sons of Dhritarashtra simply killed me, unarmed and without fighting or resistance.' We just see he's given up and he believes that by giving up here, we'll be happy. Verse 47. 'After speaking in this way, there in the middle of the battlefield, Arjuna threw down his bow and arrows and sat down upon the chariot. His manas overcome with sorrow.' We see that he sat down on the chariot, his mind, his mental state right now is overcome with sorrow. He's thinking about all the negative things now. That's all that's going on in his mind. And this is where chapter one ends. 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.