Radiant Immortal Atman! Beloved sadhaks and seekers! You have become aware of the presence of a thing called spiritual life and have been urged by wishes and desires to lead a life other than the merely secular life of pursuit of earthly things, of normal sense pleasures and worldly activities. You have been endowed with an aspiration to lead a higher life, a life which somehow you have been made to think is a better or more preferable or a superior one to the one which you had been living. Therefore, for reasons best known to each one of you, best known to yourself and to none other, you chose to adopt a way of life different from that lived previously in this incarnation.
Having thus chosen a certain way of life, it behoves each one of you to be sincere in leading that life, to be honest with yourself and to be earnest in the pursuit of this new life—wished for by you, chosen by you, and adopted by you. There should be loyalty and devotion to your choice, made after much deliberation and through coming to a certain inner decision. It behoves you to pay the requisite attention to it, to be one-pointed in the pursuit of it, and be prepared to overcome obstacles on the path, to face difficulties and keep on, keep on, bearing adverse circumstances and enduring certain trials and tribulations inevitable in any way of life, whatever it may be.
When one enters into an arena of one’s own choice, one has to face problems, one has to face difficulties. No one is free from them, either in the business or the professional field or in the domestic field. Each one has problems of their own. For one it may be a problem of strikes, for another it’s a partner who cheats him, still another faces bankruptcy. A professional man may make a mistake that costs lives, and a family man may be enduring an impossible household situation.
In this way, no field of activity is free from its own peculiar types of difficulties. Difficulties are the order of the day in human life. And thus when one has made up one’s mind, made a choice and entered into a way of life, one should also be prepared to endure, to face difficulties and problems, deal with them and overcome them, and sometimes be defeated by them, but yet not accept overall defeat—go on, push on.
To fight, to declare war on the Kauravas was the Pandavas’ own choice. Krishna did not compel them. They could have gone back to the forest. But, having decided and willingly entered into the fray, it was expected that Arjuna would be prepared to face everything that comes, that is part and parcel of the choice, that is in-built, implied and already there in the choice.
“I did not know it would be so. I did not know that my uncle would be looking at me, or my cousin-brother and nephew would be standing against me in the opposite camp.” Nothing is to be unexpected. Everything is to be expected, because the future is always unknown. So when one ventures on a course of action, it is no wisdom to take anything for granted. It is irrational. It shows a puerile attitude. Because when you make a choice you have to take what comes. It is puerile to say, “I did not expect it would be this way.”
Arjuna demonstrated this childishness. That is why, in spite of Arjuna’s terrible clinical, physical and psychological condition, Lord Krishna talked to him with a smile on His face. He said, “This is irrational, this is puerile.” For when one has entered into a field of battle, there is nothing unexpected. There is no such thing as suddenly being taken by surprise. Everything is part of the bargain. And so Krishna did not sympathise with Arjuna’s mind.
And He said: “Difficulties and tribulations are part of this life, this struggle. Tan titikshasva bharata—O Arjuna, endure, endure, be strong within, weakness will not pay. In this path, in this field where you have entered, either to kill or to be killed, to do or die, there can be no attitude other than firmness, stout-heartedness, strength and courage.” All these things Lord Krishna says in so many words, thus giving us a hint as to what should be the attitude of a Yogi, a seeker, a sadhak, who of his own free choice has adopted a certain way of life. There is a saying: “If you want the rose you have to put up with the thorns,” and in Hindi: “If you decide that you want the honey, you must be prepared for the bee-sting.”
And thus the situation of the Gita fairly and squarely makes us take a look at ourselves. Because, here is a young man, entered into a course of action of his own choice, determined for it, having weighed the pros and cons and now appearing very, very unwilling and trying to back out. Not once in our lifetime, but several times during the course of our life we create for ourselves the Gita complex. If any one of these things is lacking—honesty of purpose, earnestness, full attention to the chosen path—then difficulties arise. We find ourselves in the Arjuna situation, the Arjuna fix. And the Gita comes to us with a great light.
Therefore, never forget what a treasure you have. The Gita is full of psychological guidance, psychiatric guidance. It is full of inspiration also, full of sympathy and understanding of your position, and it is full of great assurances. It infuses strength, clears the way, throws light upon the path. Because the human situation was not unknown to the Creator. “I know, I know this is the situation with human life, and here, therefore, I put everything that is necessary for your guidance.” Therefore, it is a manual of life given by the Universal Soul to the individual soul. So Adi Sankaracharya said: “Every day, without fail, read a little bit of the Gita, even half a verse.”
But there is a quality in the jivatma, which is the essence of the jivatma, and that is an unhealthy focusing of all one’s consciousness upon one’s own individual personality, “I-ness.” We have sold out to the “I”. There is a total inclination only to support the “I”, only to follow the “I”, only to give importance to the “I”, only to do what it is urging us to do. Therein is also a greater vexation: a deep fundamental unwillingness to let go of the “I”. And Vedanta says that this is the essence of the jivatma.
In addition, just as you cannot see your own eyes, you cannot see your own jivatva. And it is the jivatva that is the problem. You cannot see it and yet it dominates; you are completely under its subjugation. That is the problem, that is samsara. It is very difficult to open your eyes and know that there is a greater wisdom, a greater intelligence, a greater understanding, in following which alone you can come out of darkness and in surrendering to which alone you can liberate yourself from yourself.
Arjuna was not able to liberate himself from himself. He was caught in his own view of things, in his own sentiments, in his own emotions, in his own reactions. He was caught and he was in a pitiable condition. And it required all patience and effort on the part of Jagad-Guru Sri Krishna to free Arjuna from himself and to enable him to see himself in the right perspective and to be fully and willingly prepared to follow the lead of Sri Krishna. Then the problem gradually began to resolve itself. Arjuna found that he was able to free himself. From whom? From himself. That is the inner tattva (truth), outcome, fruit of the Gita—not I, not I, but Thou.
But Arjuna did not yield, did not give up his self-opinion easily. Difficult was the task. He made Bhagavan go through sixteen chapters of teachings before he finally saw the wisdom. He especially got this clarity after the tenth and eleventh chapters. So deeply one must ponder these two chapters. For all of us have within us the situation of Arjuna in some way or other. It is the crucial problem of the jivatva—its unwillingness to renounce itself for a higher light, higher wisdom.
Arjuna was not initially aware of this situation, this aspect of his problem. He was trying to prove Lord Krishna wrong and to prove himself to be very, very rational, logical and wise. He accused Lord Krishna of misleading him, taking him on a terrible path, one that was wrong and would lead to hell. Afterwards he had to apologise and say: “I did not know to Whom I was talking, please forgive me.”
Jesus, at the last moment, at the peak of His career, as His life reached the grand finale of fulfilling His purpose on earth, faced one terrible night in the garden when He hesitated, there was a conflict: “Should I allow myself to be sacrificed?” How difficult it is to say “Yes.” And so He was tormented, He was tortured, He was in agony. Every pore of His skin perspired, but not with perspiration, with blood. He went through an agony which is difficult to even imagine, because it was the struggle of the “I”. That “I” principle felt great reluctance to lose itself, and Jesus says: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” He appeals to the Universal Soul. It is only when He says: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thy will be done,” that the agony ends and a certain peace once again comes, along with the inner strength to face anything and everything.
Sitting under the Bo-tree, after taking a terrible resolution, there was a last assailment upon Buddha. Something similar to the agony in the garden took place which shook Buddha to His foundations. And it was only when He saw through it, made a great decision and stood firm that enlightenment came.
So hints are given as to how reluctant the jivatma can be to yield to the Universal. If it can happen to souls of such calibre, super souls, what about you and I? We must have the humility and wisdom to recognise where we are, what the problem is, and where the solution lies.
Thus we pay homage to Bhagavan Sri Krishna Who has given to humanity for all times a deep understanding of the individual soul’s situation and problem. He has also given a sympathetic teaching on how to deliver ourselves from ourselves and stand filled with strength to carry out the will of the Divine. So the Gita is something personal to you. It has an immediate relevance, is an immediate help to all individual seekers and souls. Let us all ponder, let us all recognise the Gita for what it is, for it is available to you as you are today. Let us be wise and benefit from it, benefit from Arjuna. Let us also benefit from Lord Krishna.
May the benedictions of Holy Master grant us all that is required to do whatever is needful to come out of ourselves, be triumphant and rejoice in the proximity of the Lord, rejoice in His great goodwill for us. “Having pondered well these teachings of Mine, now you decide, O Arjuna”—thus the Lord says. Arjuna took the right decision and rejoiced. May that be so with each one of us. God bless you!
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