In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verses 6 - 10. This episode discusses what the ultimate purpose of the Gita is and we discover how Arjuna reaches the point where he surrenders to Sri Krishna.
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 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 podcast. We now continue on with my thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita. And we'll be looking specifically at Chapter Two, verses 6 to verses 10. We have a Patreon page set up for The Bearded Mystic Podcast and for a very minimal cost, you get extra bonus content. Like I mentioned in the previous episode, if you have any questions, you can ask me via social media and I will give audio responses to those on the Patreon page. The link to the Patreon page is in the show notes and the video description below. Let's get started with verse six. If we recap, we know that Sri Krishna has started to speak to Arjuna. He was both soft with him, sensitive with him. But then at the same time, he was completely harsh. Then we see Arjuna raise further doubts about killing his family members and how he was uncomfortable with fighting in this war.Arjuna is continuing on:
Chapter two, verse six. It is difficult to say which would be a worse outcome, destroying them or being defeated by them. If I kill the sons of Dhritarastra, I will not want to live. And yet here they are standing before me on the field of battle. I want us to really know think about how Arjuna is feeling? How is Arjuna really digesting all of this? We can kind of see that intellectually he's not thinking, he's allowed his mind to be overcome with emotion. As we know with emotion, we can act under impulse. When we act under impulse, it may not have favorable outcomes. Now the impulse here for Arjuna is to run away. He wants to leave. He doesn't want to stay. He would rather die. He's quite disturbed because he doesn't know what's worse now. Destroying them or being defeated by them. We have to understand that when there is a time where the world is in turmoil, if we do not stand up for social justice, destruction and the depletion of social constructs and togetherness starts occuring. We start seeing society become more fragmented, more divided. Arjuna knows that whatever path he chooses, he will ultimately feel like the loser. But this is an ideal situation for Krishna because Krishna can now observe that Arjuna is like really stressed out, mentally drained, he's completely overwhelmed. Krishna can now see that Arjuna is seeing two outcomes and they're more or less are the same outcome. Krishna is now seeing how to maneuver the conversation. When someone has nothing to lose, they leave the possibility to gain everything. This is where Krishna will be very beneficial because Krishna will open up an avenue to Arjuna, which is not available to everybody else. I think Krishna wants Arjuna to go deeper into his sadness and deeper into his depression because when he goes deeper into that depression, he's then going to start thinking differently. What we tend to do is we try to save ourselves from going deeper into some things. Even happiness. Have you ever been so happy that you have to stop yourself from being too happy? The same thing with sadness, we stop ourself. What we're doing is we're not traveling with our emotion. So when we are not traveling with emotion, we sway here and there. Here, I feel that Krishna is allowing Arjuna to really go deeper into his sorrow. So then when the time is right to pull him out, to show him that actually you're at the other end of darkness. But now let me show you the light. The light will have more value. The light will have more of a purpose. This is the way that Arjuna is going to keep cleaning his mind with the doubts that he has and this is important, when he's asking these questions, he's dealing with his doubts and that's where, like I mentioned, Krishna can then maneuver how he wants Arjuna to be. He then knows how to tackle the mind that Arjuna has. It's really empowering in many ways that even though he's really upset, really sad, he still cares for people and sometimes we can get so self-absorbed in our sadness that we don't think of others. One doubt that he has is how can his family kill him? How can they be standing in front of him in the battle? This is when discernment starts coming in because now he can say, they're standing there ready for the battle. They're not like me right now. Not one of them is feeling what I am feeling. Now the observing faculty is kicking in. We can establish that it's not the idea of death that actually challenges Arjuna. It's the idea of the values and the ideals of love, family, togetherness and that being destroyed. He's expressing how they keep one bounded and locked in the prison of the mind. Our attachments don't allow us to grow, our attachments lead us to feeling weak. I think he's starting to gain that understanding. I feel that with this verse. He talks about killing the sons of the blind king. Now, if you think about it, if the king is blind and you take that as a metaphor that the king is blind in ignorance, he wants his sons to win because he wants his sons to have the kingdom. He wants them to benefit. He wants the Pandavas destroyed. It kind of shows that it's blind leading the blind and here we starting to see that Arjuna's starting to realize this.Verse seven:
My thinking is filled with imperfections, pity has overcome my true nature, and I cannot discern how to follow the path of Dharma with certainty. Therefore, I am now bowing at your feet and am your completely surrendered disciple. Please instruct me on the correct path of action. You see the game that was being played by Krishna. He knew how to deal with Arjuna and Arjuna realized that his thinking is filled with imperfections. He now knows that he's not seeing things correctly. He's not able to discern how to follow the path of Dharma. He's bringing it back to spirituality. This is great about Arjuna because he's not looking at it now as a family between battles. Now he's saying, how can I be spiritual and do this? How can I claim to be following Dharma and fighting this battle? It's a real nice question to ask because it's through these challenging questions that we get an empowering response. We can see that he's processed Sri Krishna's few words to him earlier and it's obvious that Arjuna now recognizes that he has imperfections. He's probably had that moment when he's been crying and he's been upset that he starts thinking to himself, maybe I shouldn't have said this. Sometimes we go through that in our emotions, at one time we we're very self-righteous. We think that if we're upset, we're right to be upset. Then eventually we think actually we weren't right. We could have dealt with the situation differently. This is something that I feel Arjuna recognizes. These imperfections were probably not known before. He just discovered them now, and he had not understood them. Now he's realized that he needs to do something. It's always when we're in a crisis, the mind would throw anything to get attention. When Arjuna's mind was fully distressed, Krishna didn't do anything. During the crisis moment, Krishna didn't react to Arjuna. Arjuna had to really just express himself. I think the mind of Arjuna realized that he wasn't getting the attention. So now the mind plays a different trick, but Bhagavan is smart. He knows what the boy's going to ask for, what his friend is going to ask for? He's gotta be ready for it. When we have imperfections, it's because our thoughts are imperfect and we're not focusing on what is right. We're not focusing on what is real and unreal. We cannot discern between what is dharma and adharma? What is the righteous path? What is the less righteous path? What is the less harmful way? What is the more harmful way? We're not able to discern that. When thought becomes blinded or clouded by attachment, by greed, by pride, by identity, we are not able to decipher what the best thing is to do. Our dharma is always to go towards more of the righteous path. I'm saying more of the righteous and less righteous, I'm not saying wrong path or the false path. The reason for this is that any action we do is subject to change in terms of interpretation. What you did right five years ago, may not be so right now, but it was right at the time. That's the way life is. For Arjuna the adharma, the path of less righteousness would be to lose his family, to kill his family, to kill his mentors, to kill his elders. It's beautiful that he opens up about not knowing how to discern anymore. He cannot discern how to follow the path. We have to recognize his honesty and that's why I really think that Arjuna is a great devotee, someone to learn from, someone that we can at least, when it comes to the intellectual understanding of the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma or any of the dharmic traditions, it's very important that we're honest. We have to be open enough to say, I cannot discern between what is right or wrong, real or unreal, or what is eternal and what is temporary. That is something that we need to build and that's why I always emphasize that Gyana, wisdom is the Supreme path. To get to this point, he's had to have some level of awareness, internally while he's been going through that turmoil, he's had a sense of awareness, that's been watching everything and has probably been in the background saying I'm waiting for you to finish your little rant. I'm going to allow you to feel pity for a few moments, but awareness will always kick in. That self-awareness is really good. At the same time, he doesn't want something that would disappear with time. He approaches Sri Krishna saying he's completely surrendered. When someone says they completely surrendered, they're looking for the complete answer. They're not looking for a half-baked answer. Sometimes when we approach a teacher, we approach a guide or we want to learn something, we approach it half-heartedly. And therefore we only get a half hearted response or outcome. If we really want to go deeper, we have to fully go in. Arjuna wants something, which is going to be complete because he's now surrendering. He's surrendering his intellect because with intellect, we can discern. Therefore, by wanting to discern, he's surrendering his intellect and then he's allowing Krishna to work on the intellect. He wants to follow that path with certainty, with determination, and that's how we need to be in our spiritual journey. We want to be determined on our path. When we want to attain Brahm Vidya, when we want to attain Brahman, we have to be fully involved. We have to put our whole mind to it, our whole focus on it. This is why it's really important that we have that level of discernment and surrender our intellect to the Lord, to knowledge and wisdom. Without discernment of the real and the unreal, Brahman and Maya, there is no way Arjuna can follow the path of Dharma. So for him to be following this path with Dharma, he needs to understand what Brahman is and what Maya is. What is real? What is unreal? What is changeless? What is changing? What is temporary and relative? What is permanent and eternal? What is subject to death and decay and modification? What is subject to none of that? What is always here? What is always present? This is what he needs to do. And he wants that discernment because that's what dharma is. Dharma is the discernment of knowing what is real and what is unreal? What is truth? What is not truth? What is manifest? What is un-manifest? When I read this line of how he completely surrenders to Sri Krishna. It's so beautiful. It's the greatest show of humility and that in the middle of a battlefield, remember his state of mind before and now he's showing great humility, great respect and benevolence and bowing at his Master's feet. Why is someone bowing down to the master's feet? It's interesting, in our tradition, we touch the feet of our elders or the feet of lofty souls. We bow down to them. Why do we do this? Why touch the feet? Some people are a bit superstitious. They're like, if you touch my feet, you're grabbing my energy. That's superstition. It's all about the intention of the other person. For example, if one person wants to touch your feet, out of love and benevolence, that's what they're gaining. All that love and benevolence is already within them. They're not getting it from you. They're not getting it from me. They're getting it from themselves. If you are resolute in your faith and you're resolute in your understanding of Brahman, then you know that it's not your feet they are touching. They're touching the feet of Brahman. Arjuna is lowering his head. He's putting his ego, his identity at the feet of Lord Krishna. He's now saying Krishna take my ego. This ego has given me pain right now. You've seen it. Now take this ego and by giving his ego that automatically implies that he is now surrendered to be a disciple. Now we're seeing that Arjuna is now becoming the disciple. Krishna is now becoming the master. Now, Krishna is not going to deal with him in the same way. Now we're gonna see a change and we can now feel that Arjuna is now beginning to feel ready for the task ahead. Now he is determined. Now he is ready. Something has now clicked in him and now he's not going to look back. Yes, there may be doubts still. Even though we say we completely surrender, we don't completely surrender. That's true. That's going to happen with him too. He's now ready to embark on that path of action, the right action and that path is always stabilized in wisdom.Verse eight:
I can see no way now or in the future, to remove this sorrow that is tormenting and debilitating my indriyas 'my bodily senses', even if I become the ultimate maharaja of Bhumi Loka 'Mother Earth' herself, or achieve the Supreme powers and enjoyments of the devas. We're seeing that there's an incredible intensity in Arjuna to know, and he knows that by himself, he cannot solve this genuine mental health crisis he's in, this genuine depression he's in, this sadness that he's in. He knows he cannot deal with it alone. He needs help. He now recognizes the help and goes towards that help. He understands that his senses are being debilitated by this depression, by this sadness. He understands that now it's tormenting his mind. His eyes may be burning. He may be welling up in tears. His ears may be ringing. He may be feeling incredible pain. His heart is beating really fast. He's feeling that stress and he's saying he doesn't want that. He doesn't want that anymore. When we feel sad, when we lose a loved one and remember he's going to be losing a lot of loved ones and he's getting ready for this. When we lose property or money, that feeling of the world escaping under our feet. Don't we feel that? Arjuna is feeling that same thing that we feel if we find that our bank balances at zero and we're entering into overdraft? We're entering the red. Or we know we have lost our job and now we don't know how we're going to feed ourselves next month? Or we live paycheck to paycheck. We don't know if we were able to fill the gas to go to work or petrol to go to work. That's all because we are linking it to the body and mind identification. We feel the 'indriyas', we feel these bodily senses because of that. We can all understand Arjuna's plight here. We can all understand how Arjuna is feeling now. We know now that he doesn't care about the kingdom, he doesn't care about the world itself. Forget the kingdom. He doesn't even want to own the world. He doesn't even want to have the world in his dominion. And then further on goes on to say that he doesn't even want the Supreme powers and he doesn't even want the enjoyments of the devas. The devas in Deva Lok, the ones in heaven. He doesn't even want what they enjoy. He doesn't care about it. He's not interested. Again, he's showing Krishna that he's ready for the ultimate truth, and he's not going to bargain for anything else. This is how we need to be as disciples. We need to be like that. We need to say to ourself that no matter how much we achieve, we are not going to let go of this path of enlightenment. We are going to achieve enlightenment at whatever cost. People dream of heaven and here Arjuna doesn't even entertain the idea. Remember, in the previous episode we discussed how Sri Krishna said that you didn't even deserve heaven. You don't even deserve Svarga Loka. Here he's saying he doesn't even want it. He's responding to Sri Krishna by saying this because he knows where he needs to go. He's probably remembering the teachings he's received earlier in his life. The fierceness here is, is incredible. You can feel it now. What's interesting is a lot of people fall in love with the idea of heaven. Why? Because they love the idea of heaven because they're going to do what they can't do on earth because they're being tested, but they won't be tested when they do it in heaven. They will enjoy wine in heaven. They'll enjoy virgins in heaven, blonde virgins I believe, or they will enjoy seeing their family members in heaven. Everything that is related to the earth is really in heaven. Heaven isn't anything special, it's still material. Here for Arjuna, it's like, well, all those enjoyments are going to go. If he's feeling sadness and frustration right now in the circumstances he's in, then even the enjoyments will be exhausted at one point. He's exhausted now by his sadness, by his depression, by his mental state. So wouldn't he be exhausted with the opposite end? If he had beautiful apsaras, the females who are dancing for him, if he has them around him, how long is he going to be happy with that? Can one always be in that sense of enjoyment? Sense enjoyment because it is senses even though you're bodiless. How long can you keep it up for and forget that in Hinduism, we have seven heavens, I believe in other religions, I have seven heavens too. Each star getting better. You go from Holiday Inn to Marriott to the Ritz-Carlton of heavens. Even that's not good enough for Arjuna. There's a complete change in Arjuna. He's focused. He wants to be free. Freedom is his way. He knows liberation is the only thing he wants. Nothing else is going to deter him away from that. He recognizes enough that there is a way out, that he can remove this sorrow, he understands that this sorrow is not everlasting, that this sorrow can be removed. He asks for that. And remember, we don't want sorrow to be removed temporarily. We don't want to put a bandaid over it. We want it to be a complete transformation. We want to go beyond suffering. Pain will always be there. Pain is of the senses, but suffering is our choice. Suffering is always our choice because we determine whether we want to suffer with something. So here he recognizes this. And from someone who was moments ago attached to his family, who wanted to kill him. He now feels that this very attachment is now an obstacle to salvation. The sorrow is his attachment to the family. He needs to remove that because he cannot see now or in the future, how he can get rid of this when his body's feeling weak. And his body's feeling weak because he's attached to the bodies that are around him. This is really unique as a feeling and he really wants to transcend the sorrow. He wants a complete cessation of that. He's now ready to understand brahman. At least open to it, whether he will understand or not is another thing. He's allowing the door to be a little bit open, so that little beam of light of Brahman can enter. Swami Chinmayananda says the urgency felt by Arjuna as is evident from his own words may be considered as amounting to his burning aspiration for liberating himself from the limitations of being a mortal. All that he needed to make himself perfect was right discrimination (viveka) which the Lord of the senses, Sri Krishna gives him throughout the divine song throughout the Bhagavad Gita. Swami Chinmayananda's completely right that now he sees the limitations of being human, like being in the human body and the limitations it has. When one is able to address that suffering, one wants out. Only then do we want to escape, not escape actually, but deal with it. And now he knows that if he's going to remain in this mortal frame, in the boundaries of his senses, he's going to be having a tough time with this battle and it's not going to help in the long run. We know that the true kingdom is the kingdom of wisdom, not the kingdom of heaven. It's not even a kingdom, but if you want to say the domain of wisdom, the domain of Brahman, that is the ultimate place to be. It's Arjuna's responsibility to ask his master for that teaching. He has to set the record of where he wants to go. If he says, I just want to fight the war, give me the strength. That's what Sri Krishna is going to give him. But Arjuna's asking that he doesn't want any of this. He doesn't want the world. He doesn't want the heavens. He doesn't want any of that. He wants the complete truth. He wants to know what he truly is. He wants to get rid of that sorrow. That is blinding him to his true self. It's important that this student sets the record straight of what he wants.In verse nine:
As Dhritarastra's curiosity increased regarding Arjuna's state of mind, Sanjaya said: Then having accepted Sri Krishna as his guru, Arjuna said, "O Bhagavan, I will not fight." And with those words, he became silent. A very important verse that needs to be fully understood the blind king obviously has his interest peaked in Arjuna now. He's in disarray. Basically he's now seeing that Arjuna's improving. His mental state is actually gaining strength again. The interest is peaked because ultimately what's happening is Arjuna is saying that he doesn't care about the Kingdom. But he cares about righteousness. He cares about following Dharma and this will scare anyone that is blind in ignorance. Then they see that someone wants a way out and they're going to find that way out. And not only that he's with Krishna, he's with the avatar of the time. He's with the master in the same chariot. So this is a big deal. And the key note is that having Sri Krishna as his guru. Now before the master can speak,Arjuna has to declare and be honest where he is right now. This is why I admired Arjuna because he's not said get rid of my sorrow and I'm going to fight. He's saying, "O Bhagavan, I will not fight right now." Like, this is still how I'm feeling. So he's not setting Krishna up for any misunderstanding. When it comes to true understanding, a true conversation, you have to understand the other person fully, but the other person has to express themselves in a complete manner. So that's why it's very important for Arjuna to set the record straight of where he is right now mentally. Sri Krishna knows how to address Arjuna in a proper manner, how to answer his doubts completely. This is the true way of dialogue. This is how we should have dialogue with everyone. Arjuna is not your substandard, cardboard cutout devotee. Yeah, he's not that, he's a different breed. He's a good breed, the breed that we need to be. And he knows his Master, he knows that Sri Krishna has been a great friend and that no matter what, he trusts his friend, he trusts him completely and he completely loves Krishna. He completely adores Krishna. This is why he's so honest. And he knows that Sri Krishna is going to do what is necessary. And he knows he cannot fool him. There's no point in trying to fool Sri Krishna to say, I am going to fight. Just tell me how to go beyond my body and mind. He's not doing that. He's not people pleasing. Sometimes we like to Guru please. We please our Guru by saying certain things. But our intentions are something else. Arjuna is not like that. Arjuna is a model here that we really need to admire and learn from, especially if you have a guru or especially, even while you're reading this text. If you're reading the Bhagavad Gita right now, if you're listening to this and you're reading the Bhagavad Gita. Remember one thing then now the Bhagavad Gita has become your guru and you have to respect it in such a way that you're going to learn from it completely. That is the mindset to be used here. As Arjuna is, we need to become, we need to be. Arjuna is going to question him, that not everything is going to be accepted either. Whatever we don't find to be true for ourselves, we need to either question it further to understand, or we drop it. We let it go. So there is a certain sense of understanding herefor Arjuna that:
"yes I want to achieve all this. I want to get rid of my sorrow. I want to get rid of my sadness. I want to get rid of this torment that I'm feeling, but I still don't want to fight. I know you want me to fight? I know you want me to go in this battle, but I don't want to do it right now." We make this mistake often in spirituality, especially with gurus that we can doubt a guru's character, but never look at their philosophy. Arjuna knows the philosophy and places his own verdict on it. There's obvious understanding that he's had a history in a Gurukul or he's met Rishi's and sages in his life. He knows the game. He knows what's going on. Therefore he knows that he's not going to look at what Krishna is going to do. He's not going to look at the actions. He's going to look at the philosophy and understand the philosophy of Sri Krishna more. Here Arjuna declares he's not going to fight. He's not being disobedient and he's not being weak either. He's just showing that he has a capability to be speaking the truth as he wants his Master to speak the truth. He's going to speak the truth. If he doesn't understand something, he's going to say he doesn't understand. If he understands, he's going to say he understands. There is that hidden contract going on between them. At the same time, he's having the capacity to be silent, to listen to the master, because now he's surrendered his mind to his master. Now his guru is Sri Krishna and he has to truly understand each and every word that's going to come from Bhagavan. Arjuna has to prepare himself and he knows the only way to prepare himself with this is now to enter silence. He has to allow the words to enter the fertile land of his mind that he has surrendered.Verse 10:
At that moment, Shri Krishna, who had to look of bemusement and surprise on his face, started laughing and began to speak to the disheartened Arjuna. This was the, you could say, the last flash of his friendship. I was your friend. I'm letting that go now. There's the other aspect of look at where you were a few moments ago and now look at where you are. That's really good and there's a sense of let's see how long this lasts for again. Krishna is a master. He understands how the mind is going to work and as a master, would he just smiles and he takes it easy. Neither does he get really ecstatic that Arjuna is going to embark on his spiritual journey, he's now my disciple. There's no ego like that. There's none of that. He doesn't care by gaining another disciple because he knows it's just a game and he knows what he's about to say. He doesn't get annoyed at Arjuna for going from one mental state into the mental state. He knows exactly how to approach the situation and I think at the same time, the bemusement and the surprise is a sense of happiness and pride that his friend has now reached a unique place where Sri Krishna can say of the highest truth can now be declared in the middle of this army and think about it just like the picture it in your mind that in the middle of this battle, Arjuna has now changed his whole mentality. And that now there's going to be a beginning of a journey of enlightenment. A journey towards transcending the ego, transcending the false self to the ultimate self. Looking at the setting of the whole scene in the middle of a battlefield, you gonna have the highest truth declared to you. From seeing someone mentally fragile like Arjuna was to then become some of that silent, ready to absorb the message, ready to take in the wisdom of the master. It would surprised anyone. Yeah. We've seen that this has happened in a matter of moments and this will lead us to the next verse but obviously, we will not go there, but there is something that Adi Shankara Ji said in his commentary that is worth noting and why this is going to be effective going further. Adi Shankara Ji says that so the definite conclusion in the Gita is that liberation is obtained only from the knowledge of reality and not from its combination with action. That being said Lord Vasudev found that for Arjuna whose mind was thus confused about what ought to be done and who was sunk in the great ocean of sorrow. There could be no rescue other than through the knowledge of the self. This is why in my podcast, I've been really emphasizing why Gyana is so important. Sri Krishna knows that only through the knowledge of reality, can he transform someone's thinking, someone's mindset. If he can get Arjuna to focus on Brahman, on the True Self, the highest Self. He's done everything. The definite conclusion to the Gita, if you really want to learn from the Gita and grab as much wisdom as possible, you have to understand that this is the key line. Liberation is attained only from the knowledge of reality. Only when we know the reality. What is that reality? Brahman? What is Brahman? This underlying consciousness that is everywhere and in everything. And yet is beyond everything. This Brahman is formless, it's shapeless, it is existence and yet non-existence, this is the ultimate state. When we understand this, then the door of liberation is open to us and the master has turned the key and even opened it for us. This is where we'll end this episode. If you do have any questions, do contact me via social media in particular about these verses we've discussed today, and we will address those questions and then address any of the further thoughts 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. A new episode is uploaded every Sunday and Thursday until next time, take care. See you again soon.
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