Two great armies have assembled. A decisive battle is about to be fought. On the battlefield, Lord Krishna – who is God incarnate – is the charioteer for Arjuna the warrior. The Lord is unable to prevent the war, to be fought solely because of the opposing king’s greed. Arjuna has grave doubts, seeing great spiritual men; friends, relatives and teachers assembled against him for battle. He does not want to fight them. This is the backdrop for the most cherished book of Hinduism, and is the moment where Krishna, in dialog with Arjuna, reveals the spiritual teachings of the ages.
Overcome with emotion and in distress, Arjuna proclaims it would be better to run from the battlefield than to kill these noble men facing him. Krishna’s retort is strong and simple. Fight, he says. And here he unfolds the ancient message of nonattachment.
There are two paths, one of action, the other meditation, says the Creator of worlds to Arjuna. To obtain perfection, we must bring the two together, meditating while acting and acting while meditating. We accomplish this by performing our prescribed duties without having attachment to the result. In balanced symmetry, our thoughts and actions being precise and perfect. The battle about to occur is unimportant in respect to this greater goal. Liberation from physical entrapment is our one true purpose. Were Arjuna to run, he would separate himself from the community and be thought a coward. His name cursed, he would live miserably. The battle is a path of action, and thus carries the devotee toward that one great goal.
But Arjuna remains in great distress, and does not want to fight his own kinsmen.
Krishna continues his lesson.
Of those great warriors, who are truly good spiritual men, if they die, the highest heavens will be opened to them, they will be given a great place in the higher worlds. No one actually dies, nothing dies, for the self is eternal. Action without attachment is the key to a realization of our true nature. So, fight! The outcome of this battle is not in doubt. The selfish king will lose the battle, says the Lord, because “I” am with you.
The conch shells of the King blare out, signaling the battle is beginning. Lord Krishna responds, blowing his conch shell. The battle ensues, Arjuna victorious at the end, as the Lord had predicted.
Justification of war is impossible or difficult for those of a spiritual mindset. Yet this holy book’s rationale has been regarded, even in our modern times, as one of the great of books of the world. The lesson is not of victory and defeat, nor of hating an enemy out to wrong us. It is of truer noble qualities regarding the higher nature of existence. In a most adverse situation -- an ensuing battle – it becomes demonstrable, as spoken by the Lord, that a seeking of higher awareness is to be applied not just in a time of meditation, or in church or in yoga classes. It is to be practiced at all times, balancing action and meditation, and in any situation, no matter how problematic it may seem. The Gita is not a story about justifying war. It is about adhering to the higher practices of acquiring self-awareness, focusing on the Self at every moment, while performing tasks both ordinary and extraordinary, even in fighting wars. It is about overcoming the physical distresses presented to us in our ever-present moment, balancing our outer and inner worlds precisely without error.
America’s highly respected philosophers Thoreau and Emerson greatly treasured India’s most cherished book, the Gita. Emerson called it “the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and disposed of the same questions which exercise us.” Truly the wisdom-knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita shows us our true purpose, perfection by way of the activities we experience throughout our lifetime.
About the Author
Arthur Telling has written numerous stories and articles on religion, philosophy, and metaphysics. His article, “A Different Jesus Message” appeared in the Nov. 2011 AMORC Rosicrucian Digest. Telling is the author of “Johann’s Awakening” (a parody of Jonathan Livingston Seagull), and three novels including “Kaitlin’s Message,” exploring the secret sayings of the Gospel of Thomas. His web site is: www.arthurtelling.com