Yoga: Fighting for What’s Right.

Via Vrindavan Rao
on Aug 4, 2013
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Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Violence in the Bhagavad-Gita.

Verse 2.33: If, however, you do not perform your religious duty of fighting, then you will certainly incur sins for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and puzzled over aspects of the Gita concerns the fact that it takes place on a battlefield and that Krishna, God, has to convince his humble servant Arjuna to fight.

I grew up surrounded by the culture of bhakti  and I have to admit that this confused the heck out of me for many, many years. The path of bhakti is all about compassion, love, tolerance, humility and respect. And so what gives? Isn’t Krishna’s encouraging Arjuna to fight completely contradictory to the essence of bhakti?

Well, no.

It was only when I studied the Gita under the guidance of extremely advanced and qualified bhakti practitioners that I began to understand something crucial. There is a time and place for everything. Nothing is good or bad in and of itself. Take for example a knife. In an expert surgeon’s hand, it’s an instrument of healing and whereas in the hands of a criminal it is an instrument of harm.

In this case, Arjuna is a leader, an administrator and a protector. Therefore, it is his duty to take care of those who depend on him. Duryodhana, who wrongfully usurped the kingdom, is not a qualified leader having obtained his power through trickery and force. We forget that the consciousness of those in power has a direct impact on others. And since Duryodhana is the epitome of selfishness, deceit and unlawfulness, this is the mentality he would bring to the kingdom.

Krishna is not asking Arjuna to fight for himself, but on behalf of his subjects who need to be saved from this type of rule.

yogapoliceImagine a parallel situation. A thug is harassing someone on the road. A policeman witnesses the situation and realizes that to help the victim, he might need to use force on the thug. Believing that using force is always bad, he simply walks away. Do you think the policeman did the right thing?

Most people would probably agree the policeman’s inaction is even worse than those of the thug because it is the policeman’s duty to help those who are in need. The application of force and fighting is sometimes necessary to help those who are dependent and helpless.

The consciousness of those involved in such activities is also extremely important. Krishna is not encouraging Arjuna to fight so that he can enjoy the kingdom. Similarly, the policeman is, hopefully, not motivated to help others for recognition, but out of a sense of duty and responsibility.

In the world today, the concept of acting in the right consciousness and out of duty are foreign concepts, what to speak of the fact that we don’t have qualified leaders and protectors. But, this doesn’t mean that the aspiring bhakti yogi doesn’t fight. Oh no, we do.

Our fight though is against our minds.

We do battle with our tendency to remain complacent and lazy and actually strive to be spiritually active and involved. It is often said that the path of bhakti is simple, but not easy. Reading bhakti texts, hearing inspiring talks and engaging in mantra meditation all take time, effort, discipline, and above all else, a desire to move beyond our everyday existence.

It’s about time, place, circumstance, and motivation. So, before you draw a line in the sand, remember that even bhakti can benefit from a little force now and again.


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Editor: Thaddeus Haas


About Vrindavan Rao

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 via Twitter.

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.


6 Responses to “Yoga: Fighting for What’s Right.”

  1. This post reminds me that there is a time for every purpose under Heaven. What you've described here actually has helped me understand why the God of the Old Testament encouraged the Israelites to confront other tribes. These peoples were large and in charge for all the wrong reasons.
    Thanks, as always, for a thoughtful reflection!

  2. Zoe Dune says:

    Yes, it is very difficult and sometimes, that’s enough to throw this philosophy out the window because it refuses to let you nurture aggression.

  3. minimum dose says:

    thank you for your guidance on this. i was just reading the Bhagavad-Gita and struggling with the concepts you describe. Krishna talks so much about non-harming, and so his call for Arjuna to fight seems to directly contradict this. it's good to be reminded that nothing is good or bad in an of itself. ben

  4. Vrindavan_Rao says:

    Thanks so much Martha! Yes, everything has a purpose and reason behind it. We just need to have the authorized guidance and mentors to teach us how to use everything in a positive way that serves to uplift and help others.

  5. Vrindavan_Rao says:

    Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, isn't it? However, we can use aggression to tame the crazy ways of the mind. 🙂

  6. Vrindavan_Rao says:

    I can totally relate! Sometimes that sense of contradiction occurs because some of us (myself included) tend to categorize things as black or white. One of the biggest lessons that the Gita teaches is the importance of consciousness and attitude. Since it is an intangible, it can be hard for some of us to grasp that concept. It's consciousness that shapes our motivations and desires and that's exactly what Krsna is trying to teach Arjuna here.