Bhagavad-Gita, Plain and Simple — Chapter Two.
This is the second installment of my Bhagavad-Gita series. Please click here for the introductory chapter. And, although we are not technically in the Gita’s first chapter anymore, the first section of Chapter Two is essentially the conclusion of Chapter One.
Seeing Arjuna depressed, crying and confused, Krishna said, “Where did this come from? This does not befit a moral man like you. This leads nowhere good, only into infamy. Arise, hero! Don’t give in to this weakness and fear.”
It is often misconstrued that Arjuna argues for peace, and Krishna calls him a “sissy.” Arjuna is not a messenger of peace; he is a hardcore warrior who has been fighting tooth and nail, justifiably, against these very same opponents for years. Arjuna does not argue for peace, he argues for happiness. For Arjuna peace merely happens to be expedient.
To desire happiness is natural and not blameworthy, but short-term happiness encourages selfishness and so it must not guide our decisions and intelligence. Arjuna has fallen into that trap, and Krishna is shocked.
The fundamental theme of the Gita is to abandon selfishness. Right at the beginning we see a great man, Arjuna, bewildered and dejected by selfishness—and rationalizing it in a costume of “peace” and “morality.” Krishna speaks the Gita to help Arjuna escape the confusion and depression of selfishness by being dutiful and responsible.
Arjuna counters, “How can you ask me to attack my grandfather and my guru? I should throw flowers at their feet, not arrows at their hearts. I would rather become a beggar than have to kill them to become a king. Yes, maybe they have taken the side of an evil man, but they are still my respectable, beloved superiors. I will not be able to enjoy any victory with their blood on my hands.”
“How can I fight when I don’t even know if I prefer to win or lose? I would rather die than kill my family members, yet here they all are standing before me with weapons in hand.”
At this point Krishna merely looks at Arjuna, his eyes saying, “Well, you seem to know everything and have your mind made up—so what is left to discuss? Go ahead and do what you need to do.” So Arjuna admits . . .
“I admit that weakness of heart is confusing me and I cannot clearly see where the path of my duty lies. I am turning to you for help. Treat me as a student. I am surrendered to your guidance, please instruct me.”
Krishna would prod Arjuna, “Oh, but you were just pontificating so expertly about peace and morality. I don’t know if I am qualified to instruct such an ‘intelligent’ man as you.” So Arjuna says…
“I need your help, I cannot help myself. I am so badly confused by my emotions, and I have no idea how to escape it. I fear that this depression will continue even if I won a kingdom as great as the gods.”
“Oh Govinda,” Arjuna said, on the verge of exhaustion, “I shall not fight.”
He then became quiet and prepared to listen.
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He is also a practicing astrologer, prolific writer and former guitarist and song writer in the popular underground spiritual-punk band, 108. His astrology website is available here.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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