Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Asking why we do what we do?
Verse 1.23: Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.
In this verse, we again find Arjuna speaking to Krishna, asking to be positioned in order to assess the forces aligned against him and his brothers.
In reading it, I am reminded of a saying: Focus on doing the right thing, not on doing things right.
This comes to mind since Arjuna is stating here that he wants to see those who are on Duryodhana’s side. In other words, those who are not focused on doing the right thing (standing up for morality and righteousness), and instead interested in fighting only for the sake of honor and prestige.
Notice the difference in motivation between these two and how this impacts the nature of our actions. Simply by focusing on doing the right thing tends to result in doing things right. However, when we focus solely on doing things right, we may not recognize it, but subtly we’re setting ourselves up for an ego boost. How so? Because for most people, the satisfaction in “doing things right” is the praise and recognition that comes along with it.
Part of doing the right thing means having the proper motivation and conviction.
If you ask someone, why s/he is doing some particular thing, it’s not uncommon to hear responses such as, “Well…because everyone’s doing it,” “It’s popular,” “It’s the thing to do,” or “It’s cool.” Rather than think for oneself, it’s easier to just go with the flow. In this way you ensure that you don’t stand out and that you’re not left behind.
The practice of bhakti yoga is not about going with the flow.
In fact, bhakti is quite the opposite of that. Bhakti is about taking a stand for what’s right. It’s about stripping away all the external wrappings and getting down to the essentials—our need to express and receive love.
The practice of bhakti yoga is also different in that it teaches us how we can fulfill that need—through service. And, it teaches us how to reconnect with the supreme source of love—Krishna (one of the infinite names of God). Engaging in loving relationships with others is good practice, but our need for eternal and uninterrupted love can only be satisfied by Krishna who is eternal and unconditional in His love for us.
Beautiful isn’t it?
But for many aspiring bhakti practitioners, including myself, it can be challenging. Why? Because we keep getting distracted by the glitz and glamor of advertisements and a society that keeps making empty promises that we’ll be happy and satisfied by buying into consumerism and going with the flow.
So next time you do something, ask yourself. What’s your motivation?
Are you focused on doing the right thing, or just doing things right?
Vrindavan Rao was born into the bhakti tradition and grew up enveloped in it. However, her personal discovery of the bhakti path began in 2004 when had the opportunity to go to a Vedic College in Belgium and from that time she has embraced it completely. Her love for travel has given her the opportunity to study Vedic texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita, in places such as India, Canada, Belgium, Ukraine and the United States under the guidance of several advanced practitioners. She especially loves the Gita and refers to it as her “Guidebook for Life” since it contains practical answers for complicated questions and is currently writing a daily blog on every verse of the Gita.
Her background is in science and she not only has a Bacherlor’s degree in Biochemistry, but also a Masters in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology. In her free time she loves to write, read, give presentations, sing and work out.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas
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