(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 30 March 2014, Cape Town, South Africa, Bhagavad-gita Lecture)
Bhagavad-gita as it is, is the pure message of Krsna which was spoken to Arjuna who was at a state that was no longer his normal self. Arjuna was the most exalted personality who could go where none of the other Pandavas could go, even to the heavenly planets; he was not at all an ordinary person. But somehow, he came to the state where he was bewildered and said, ‘Govinda, I shall not fight!’
Because, when it comes to something that is very close to our heart then even one, who is deep in transcendental knowledge, can forget. Of course, Arjuna’s forgetfulness came from the Supreme Lord – it was a special arrangement so that Bhagavad-gita could be spoken. That is what happened to Arjuna, because he had to fight against his grandfather and his teacher, two people that were most dear to him, to whom he felt indebted, so how could he fight against them!? He could have fought so many others but them – it was not possible and that was the point where he said, ‘No! I will not fight!’ Ksatriyas are in a very difficult position as they have to fight for the principles of religion, regardless of situation. When it comes to injustice, even if that injustice is caused by one’s own family, a ksatriya has to act – it is a very difficult position, not to be envied!
In this way, Arjuna becomes a prototype of the conditioned soul who lives in this world and is influenced by the three modes of material nature and who tries to rise above. Therefore, the Bhagavad-gita is particularly a book that is aimed at those who are in this world and are preoccupied with this world. It opens up an understanding that actually there is the other, eternal dimension. Like in the second chapter where it is described that the soul never takes birth and never dies; actually the whole second chapter aims at this eternal aspect of our existence and that is where spiritual life starts, where we begin to look at our eternal position. So, in the beginning, Bhagavad-gita is focusing on our identity as eternal beings, as souls, again and again stressing that eternal aspect, but only later in the middle six chapters, Gita is establishing that soul is not only eternal, but has also an eternal relationship with Krsna in devotional service.
It is explained that by becoming attached to Krsna, everything can be known. ‘Just hear from Me,’ says Krsna, and that is how the cause of all things and also this phenomenal world can be known. Knowledge of the phenomenal world means to have knowledge about the relationship it has with the Supreme, so the point is that one who knows that everything has relationship with the Supreme Lord will also look for the knowledge from the Supreme Lord, because even knowledge has a relationship with him.
So, we see that Arjuna had become bewildered and attached to control destiny. He wanted destiny to go according to his ideas, but that represents a false conception of life. Bhagavad-gita teaches us that we should be ready to accept Krsna’s plan and whatever Krsna desires with our life. Maybe now we are not at that level, but we need reminders to at least make attempts to rise above our emotional affliction with things. The things of this world are going to our mind and we become completely emotionally involved with them, but then at least some transcendental knowledge, as given in Bhagavad-gita, can help us to rise to another platform. Gita particularly gives us the essential knowledge that is required to deal with everything appropriately.
It can lift us way beyond our expectations, way beyond anything that we thought we could be and that is spiritual life. It is about changing the conception that we had about ourselves, about our identity, and there is where humility starts – where we can admit ourselves that the conception we had about ourselves is actually wrong and we don’t know who we are. ‘All this time, I had it wrong! All this time, I was so sure about my identity and therefore about all the things that belong to it, that I wanted, that I needed, that I had to have, and could not live without – now I am living without! And I never thought I could! But somehow or other, that is possible!’ So that is the secret and the essence of Bhagavad-gita.
With the combination of the holy name and the knowledge of the Gita we are discovering aspects of ourselves that we never knew we had, that we never thought we could have had. We are becoming something we have never dreamt of and we are reaching levels of satisfaction which we never thought would be possible. That is just amazing!