In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 1 - 5. This episode discusses Krishna's first words to Arjuna that may shock you and then is followed with Arjuna's responds back to his dear friend.
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 the second season 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 listen to this podcast. As you know, in this second season, we are diving deep into the Bhagavad Gita and today we'd be starting this second chapter and we be going through five verses at a time. If you do have any questions about what you listened to on the podcast, especially the ones related to the Bhagavad Gita. You can contact me on social media and I recommend that you do, so we can discuss some of these things in bonus episodes, which will be available on Patreon. Which reminds me! Do sign up to my Patreon page for extra bonus content and by doing this, we get to create a community and we also get to keep this podcast ad free. Let's start with verse one of chapter two and it says: Sanjaya says, seeing Arjuna overcome by pity, sorrow, and despair with his eyes, downcast and full of tears, Krishna began to speak. Now we do know that Arjuna is upset about the circumstances. The first chapter really goes into how he really feels. It really goes into his mental state, how he's really depressed at the moment, because he's feeling the pain of losing his loved ones. Now coming from a point of view of how we live in this transactional world, this maya these are very real feelings that we would have when we think about people that we love, that we are close to, and we think about them dying. We also have those feelings, but the difference in this circumstance is that Arjuna that has to fight a war against the people that he loves. He may have to kill the people that he loves and adores and worships. This is the difficult part that may be all of us cannot understand, yet the advice that Krishna is going to give is always going to be one of compassion. We can see from here that Krishna is in the state of the observer. He is watching how Arjuna is reacting and responding to the situation. He's playing the role of a great teacher. The teacher always observes, the master, the guru always observes. Krishna knows his role is going to morph into a teacher eventually. But at this moment in time, he's a friend, he's a friend of Arjuna's and he's there to support him. He's the charioteer. There is that basic understanding and respect and he waits to speak to Arjuna. He doesn't interrupt Arjuna midway. He waits until the time is right. This is a great thing for us to learn. We need to learn when to do this and listen properly. By listening, we are able to help others. By listening, we are able to capture what they really mean. We get to gauge where they are right now. So this is very important to understand. We see Krishna is waiting. He observes when the right time is to speak. That is the art of conversation. They say if you want to learn the art of conversation or communication, you need to learn how to listen. Communication is more about listening than it is about speaking. And this is very true. Yeah. Now you're going to listen to me, speak on the podcast for however long it is. But the art of silence is also communication. The art of silence is also a conversation. I think sometimes we think that silence is uncomfortable, but actually silence sends a powerful message. Sometimes it is silence that helps understand what's really going on internally. Yes, there is a need for conversation, and we must have conversation when we feel that silence is not helping us at that time, but where we can, we must observe that silence. I would say silence is better for a mind that is resolute, for a mind that is completely strong and is capable of dealing with very difficult situations. If you're someone that get affected by things very easily. We get agitated, we're fragile sometimes, and that's okay. In those times, maybe having a friend to speak to, having a friend just nearby is sometimes really important. Just remember Arjuna had a friend who he was talking to when he was in that despair, when he's in sorrow. I advise that if you ever going through a circumstance like Arjuna is, where you feel completely down and out, please approach a friend, please do. Now we see that Arjuna is completely overwhelmed in emotion and with his eyes downcast, this implies a little bit of shame. Maybe he's feeling a bit of shame for the way he's feeling. Although I don't think Arjuna should feel shame. He's being very honest. He's being very real with how he's feeling, but I think he is a little bit ashamed. He knows his potential is much higher. I think maybe he expected himself to be a lot stronger and that when it came to being on the battlefield, it actually affected him quite a little bit. It startled him. There is that element of shame. But again, if we do feel shame and we do feel in those circumstances in those times, it is best to have a friend near us. Who's able to empower us. Yeah. So we'd see that his eyes are downcast and then his eyes are full of tears. He's sad. We understand why he's feeling sad. It's about the pressure he's feeling. He's the only one probably on the field that is feeling this much pressure, that one strike to his relatives, to his family is going to cause destruction for him. He knows about the outcome of the war, he's feeling that he's going to lose people he loves, that he has devoted his life to and we feel sad whenever we know that someone is going to leave us. So just imagine the overwhelming sense of loss that he's going to be feeling and that he is feeling at this time. We can see here that now Arjuna is at the beck and call of the mind. The mind has completely taken over. The manas has completely taken over. It is completely overwhelmed him. Now is the time when Krishna has to speak. Now, what's going to be interesting is what Krishna is going to say. We're going to now get to the second verse where Sri Bhagavan says my dear Arjuna, how has this unmanly weakness in the face of danger overtaken you? It would only lead to disgrace. It is unbefitting of a great Aryan leader like yourself and will not lead you to Svarga Loka at the time of death. This is a very interesting verse and it requires us to think a little bit before we cast judgment into what Sri Krishna is trying to say. I was reading Swami Chinmayananda does a Gita commentary and there's something very interesting he mentioned because we need to understand what it means to be in an Aryan leader. The Aryans are extremely sensitive to the higher calls of life, righteousness and nobility, both in thought and action. But here Arjuna is weak. Here an Aryan leader would be someone that would see that they have to do something. Okay. There's a war on. The person opposite me will only cause destruction, will only create harm, will only cause distress upon the community, upon the kingdom. So it is imperative that Arjuna should act. That Arjuna should be in the frame of mind of winning this war, by being victorious. But he's not thinking that way and therefore we see here that Arjuna is weak because he's overwhelmed. He's not understanding the path of righteousness right now. He's not able to discern this and he's not being noble. Even though he's given the perception of nobility. It's very interesting because when you observe the things that Arjuna has been saying, they seem very noble, very nice, very important. And if we see somebody like this, we say, that's true. They should act like this. We need to remind ourselves that this war has only come after all modes of discourse has been completely exhausted. I see this now a lot with our communities, I'm finding that whenever somebody has an opposing view within the Dharma, we automatically condemn them. I see it on TikTok. There's a complete utter disregard for people. Or sometimes on Instagram, people write comments of people that are saying wrong things and they completely denounced those people. I don't think that's right. That's not noble because you're not exhausting conversation. If you really want to speak to somebody about their views, you would do it. You will try. Ample times Krishna tried to be the peacemaker between the Pandavas and Kauravas. But he wasn't able to achieve that peace. This war now is completely noble because it has exhausted all aspects of dialogue, where it is the only option. One should remember this, that when one gets so empowered in feeling offended because someone has disrespected their religion, whatever religion you may be, I would say, first of all, have a dialogue, have a discussion because it's very important that maybe we have misunderstood and there will be a future podcast episode that's going to be looking into how we should debate and bringing things back to the times of Adi Shankara Ji. Anyway, going back to verse two. Even here by emphasizing Svarga Loka, Krishna is speaking at Arjuna's level. He knows how to approach him. He says and yet at the same time, he's saying that whatever Arjuna has been doing and saying is not religious or spiritual, even though he's overwhelmed with sadness, grief and compassion. This is very interesting because here Krishna is not talking about liberation. He's not talking about moksha, he's not talking about mukti. He's talking about Svarga Loka and according to Sanatana Dharma, according to Vedanta, Svarga Loka or heaven, or heavens is not the ultimate achievement. You could say it's a middle achievement, it's an all right achievement. It's okay, you've done good, but not the best, but good. And here Krishna is saying you're not even at that level. So he's attacking Arjuna because remember Arjuna that is thinking he's being noble, he's being righteous by saying, I don't want to kill my loved ones. I rather than not die. I rather not do this. I rather not kill them. I rather die myself. How can I kill my loved ones? People say such noble thoughts. Such love he has for his family. He deserves to be in heaven. Krishna is saying you don't even deserve that. Krishna is being a friend right now. He's now speaking as a friend, not as a guru, not as a teacher, but as a friend and the friend will speak like that to you, they can say things that other people can't say to you, where you will not feel offended. I expect my friends to be completely honest. I expect my wife to be completely honest with me. If I'm being an idiot, I'm being an idiot. I need my wife to tell me that. But someone who doesn't want to offend me will say "no, you know, you're thinking the way you're thinking." they say things like that because they don't wanna hurt your feelings. But I expect my wife to, yeah, it may hurt my feelings but it will help me grow. And this is exactly what Krishna is doing. He wants Arjuna to grow, so he's going to make sure that growth happens. He's speaking at his level, and like I said that whatever Arjuna said is not actually religious or spiritual. It's completely material, completely based on Maya, completely based on this transactional reality. Arjuna feels that he's killing people. He is seeing the multiplicity of forms. Therefore, Krishna is right, that Arjuna does not deserve even Svarga Loka. We need to establish that heaven is just a lesser spiritual goal and that Arjuna cannot reach that. Krishna does use pretty harsh words and he is quite harsh in my opinion. He mentions here how, My dear Arjuna, how has this unmanly weakness in the face of danger overtaken you? Krishna is saying you're in danger right now. Why are you now being a coward? Why you lacking in that warrior spirit? Unmanly simply means Arjuna's nature. Krishna again he doesn't recognize this side of his friend. Maybe he wasn't expecting it. Who knows? But surely he was not expecting Arjuna to feel this way. Krishna is warning Arjuna that he's letting his emotions get the better of him. Krishna talking about being in your nature and then talking of disgrace. So Krishna is telling Arjuna by giving up like this, he will not get respect. He will not be of virtuous nature. He will not even be considered ordinary. It's quite harsh if you think about it. Like by saying you're a disgrace, you gonna be a disgrace to society too, in the history books you'd be considered a disgrace. It's pretty harsh. And again, we have to remember that Arjuna is like psychologically weak and Krishna is just saying all this as if not caring about what he is feeling psychologically. There's a reason for this and it has to shock him. Krishna is very harsh with these words as if slaying the identity of weakness. Arjuna has associated himself with weakness. Krishna with these words is attacking that association, he's not attacking Arjuna. He's attacking the identification with weakness. The identification with the thoughts that have overwhelmed him. That's what he is attacking, not the person, just the manas, the mind and its thoughts and it's the way it's taking him away from spirituality, from his true nature. Verse three, and Krishna is not letting go man, I'm telling you. He says, do not behave like a coward Arjuna, acting in this weak and faint-hearted Instead O mighty warrior, Uttishta 'arise' and stand firm in battle. This is nice. This is both empowering and yet deflating at the same time. And I think this is going to affect Arjuna. I can't imagine that Arjuna is going to be let this go, because this is pretty harsh. These are really harsh words. Here Krishna does refer to Arjuna as Partha which is a name his mother calls him. This is to invoke the spirit of Arjuna and remind him of the promises he's made to his mother. Previously in the Mahabharata, he made some promises. Krishna is reminding him that remember your promise to your mother. Fainthearted is an interesting word because only someone with a strong heart in wisdom is able to gain spiritual attainment. Otherwise faintheartedness makes us cowards to our ego, to our identity. We do have to think about our mind and the way we are as human beings. Using the word faint-heartedness, it implies how if we get offended very easily, if we get hurt too easily, if we get overwhelmed by our then we will always be acting weak. Then how can we say we want enlightenment? How can we say we want to achieve enlightenment? How can we say we want to attain godliness? It's impossible. It makes us cowards to our ego, we fall under the trap of the ego towards identification of the body mind. When we identify with this, we cannot think clearly. Krishna is referring to him as a mighty warrior, showing Arjuna what his true strength and power is. I think Arjuna doesn't know whether he's being hugged or punched, it's like two things going on at the same time. At one time, Krishna is empowering him and saying, you gotta do this. Then at the same time he's saying you're being a coward and it's going to be very confusing for him. This is very good because the mind doesn't know how to react to this. What Krishna is slowly doing is bringing a silence within Arjuna's mind. As Krishna knows, this is against Arjuna's nature. He knows that Arjuna knows this. So he tells him to arise and stand firm in battle, reminding him that his place is that the battlefield. His duty is to wage this war for righteousness. Arjuna has to do this and Krishna will make sure he does this. Krishna will not let him go. Krishna will not reject him. We need true friends like this in our life, who will always be with us and Krishna is showing how we can be good friends to the ones that we love and that we care about. Some translations have used 'a scorcher of foes' instead of Mighty Warrior. You are the scorcher of foes. Remember your nature. This is who you are. I mentioned earlier that Arjuna may feel offended and someone like me would feel offended. Krishna is like a strict parent who's giving this no nonsense response here, but there is a sense of loving in his teaching. If you're sensitive enough, you'll see that there is a little bit of sensitivity. There's a little bit of caring nature within Krishna. He's being harsh but then at the same time, he's reminding his friend, this is who you are. This is who I love. This is the Arjuna I love. Which Arjuna have you become now? This level of questioning is coming in. I associate Krishna's harshness is like the advaitin teaching. If there is no ego, then there is no suffering. If there is no body, no mind then who is suffering? And this is a high teaching that is actually lost on an upset Arjuna. Arjuna cannot think this way. He's completely identified in the body. He doesn't understand that this is not the reality. This is not the Atman. In Verse 4, Arjuna replied. Oh Krishna. How can I fire arrows in battle at Bhishma and Drona, who are both elders and mentors worthy of my veneration and respect. Arjuna seems to remind Krishna that he's never had to kill his gurus, his teachers or his family. This is very smart actually because Krishna has killed demons in the past and he's killed people who are not related to him. Arjuna is reminding him that this is the task I have. I have to kill my gurus here, I have to kill my elders, my mentors, the people I love and respect. This is totally a different ballgame. Obviously Arjuna is highlighting that this is not a normal battle for him and that it's not something that anyone should go through and Arjuna's feeling that he's condemned if he kills them and it doesn't matter what Sri Krishna says to him, he knows that people are going to lack respect for him in the future. He'll be known as someone who killed his gurus, which is one of the highest paap, one of the worst vices to do, one of the worst acts to do is to kill your guru. You gotta understand his desperation and why he's upset. Because of that respect that he has for his elders. He cannot guide them and he cannot scold them. He cannot tell them what you're doing? Why are you on that side? He cannot do any of that. That's why he has to remind Sri Krishna that how can he hurt them? Arjuna doesn't judge them. He doesn't criticize them for being on the other side. He understands why they are and he respects that. Therefore it shows also his capacity to not judge, which also shows that he is strong in Dharma, he just needs to be reminded. Regardless of what we think of Arjuna's response, it does show his maturity as a human being, that he has a strong sense of humanity, we have to embrace that, we have to really applaud that. The way he's responding to Sri Krishna is that he cannot kill his gurus. He cannot kill his mentors. He cannot kill his elders. No matter how Krishna may say it's right for him, it is completely wrong. It's the worst crime for him. Verse five, Arjuna continues to say, I am certain, it would be more noble for me to live by begging than to satisfy my personal desires achieved by killing these great beings who are also my gurus. If they are destroyed, all that we gain will be spoiled by the spilling of their blood. And here Arjuna calls them Mahanubhavan which implies that they are the most revered. Mahan most noble and respected. It implies they will fight without being partial is because they're noble warriors. They understand the art of war. They will not cheat in any way. Arjuna understands this, he says it would be better for him to be a renunciant than to hurt his gurus. We can start seeing here that Arjuna is getting into the mindset that he feels like a renunciant. It is better for him to beg and finds more nobility in distant, fighting in the war. And that is natural. I can completely understand why he feels this way. No matter what they will gain, everything will be destroyed by killing them. Look at the respect he has for his gurus, for his mentors, for his elders. I really applaud this. He sees that nothing will be gained by spoiling their blood. That even if they gain a kingdom, what have they gained? If they've lost elders, if they're lost their mentors, the people that teach them righteousness, the Dharma. We have seen that within his mind, he will always recall memories of them being killed. This is very true. This is, I can imagine that Arjuna is going to be feeling this all the time that he will always end up thinking how he killed his gurus or how his gurus were killed in the battle. This war is about righteousness. Yeah. By him saying that he rather not satisfy his personal desires is just a way of not seeing things in the bigger way. We have to be objective. Okay. Yeah. He may not gain anything for his personal desires, but what about other people, the innocent people, the people who are in the middle of this war, who don't want to be at war. What about them? Arjuna still thinking about his own personal desires, whether they're achieved or not. In these first five verses what we've seen really is the harshness of the teacher and now the response of the student. Right now, Krishna is being the friend and is responding like a friend. Arjuna is feeling that it would be better for him to be an renunciant than to kill the people that he loves. He understands why his family members on the other side have to be where they are. He understands that there will be consequences to the actions. There will be consequences to the loss that will be made. This shows the awareness, the alertness that Arjuna has. In this whole five verses, what we've understood is, is that you have to be true to your nature. Only then can you discern the best thing to do, the right thing to do? If we do not have discernment, if we'd cannot understand what is real or unreal, we will be like Arjuna - confused. This will be the end of this podcast episode on my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. Like I said in the very beginning, if you have any questions, do contact me on social media and I will note these questions down and then we can discuss them in bonus episodes that will be exclusive on Patreon. 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. 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