April 28, 2013

The Strength of a Soft Heart. ~ Vrindavan Rao

Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Soft Heart.

Verse 1.46: Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Today we reach the last verse of the first chapter.

As we end this chapter, we are subjected to a moving scene. Up to this point, Arjuna, our valiant warrior, has been speaking and now due to mental turmoil he is setting aside his weapons and sitting down.

This mental turmoil is the result of his soft-hearted nature. Soft-hardheartedness is a beautiful quality. Unfortunately, in this day and age, this quality, along with humility, is considered weak, or even worse, useless. One more than one occasion, when I’ve expressed compassion for others, people have asked me, “Why do you feel sorry for them? They deserve whatever they get.”

Pretty callus, huh?

The heart of a bhakti yogi is naturally soft because such a person doesn’t want to see anyone in distress.

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However, this doesn’t mean the bhakti yogi is naive, or has blinders on to the world. Oh no. The bhakti yogi fully realizes that this material world is not a place of happiness. They understand that identification with the body, mind and ego is the cause of so many problems and challenges.

You might ask, “How can one be soft-hearted if she knows the reason for others’ suffering? Doesn’t this actually make one’s heart hard?” A soft-hearted person is not characterized by just feeling a certain way; they are considered compassionate if they actually do something about it.

A truly soft-hearted person seeks to help others who are suffering. And in order to do this, one must be able to truly listen.

My spiritual mentor is such a person. He travels all over the world, and not only presents bhakti yoga to hundreds of thousands of people, but he truly cares for them. He listens to them. You see, bhakti yoga is not just about helping others with philosophy; its about being an instrument of God. That means that we are willing to be tested and molded into the very best that we can be.

All this time throughout the Gita, Krishna has been listening patiently to Arjuna. He has just been hearing. How amazing is that? What a good friend God is. He never interrupted, questioned, prodded or spoke up. He just quietly listened to everything Arjuna had to say. This is one of my favorite qualities of Krishna. It’s something I too strive to become—a patient and empathic listener.

But soon, Krishna will be putting Arjuna in the hot seat. Arjuna is the perfect student and so Krishna will go about testing and molding Arjuna into the perfect bhakti yogi.

If we can hear Krishna’s words, as Arjuna does, with an open mind and faith in our hearts, we too will uncover the mysteries of bhakti.


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 she had the opportunity to go to a Vedic College in Belgium and since 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. In addition, you can keep track of all the happenings of Everyday Bhagavad-Gita on Facebook and viaTwitter.

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.

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Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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