(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 19 March 2015, Pretoria, South Africa, Evening Lecture, Bhagavad-gita 1.1)
In the thirteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, there is an amazing list of pure qualities: amānitvam adambhitvam… (Bhagavad-gita 13.8). One must be free of pride, adambhitvam. One must be very tolerant, amānitvam. Like that, there are many qualities, verses eight to twelve, you can paste them on the wall and look at them every day as a meditation.
Then in the fifteenth chapter, in the final verse, we get a description of hṛdaya-daurbalyaḿ, of the weakness of heart. That weakness of heart, that is our obstacle. Pride, the desire to be somebody, the desire to be glorified, the desire to be worshipped. Therefore, there is the tendency to pretend, to present oneself greater and better than one is. This is due to weakness of heart. So, one has to let pride go as petty and small.
Anyway, but meanwhile we have all this knowledge. We know, we should be transcendental, we know we should just serve Krsna, but we cannot. Then what can we do? We can meditate more on what it means to be a devotee. Sixteenth chapter is really interesting because the sixteenth chapter, in the first six verses, it describes the divine qualities – our qualities – and in the rest of the chapter it describes the demoniac qualities – the qualities of the neighbours. So that is a great chapter, you know. So if you need some entertainment, that is a chapter to read. You know, especially that part about the neighbours, you know, “Yeah, right. Spot on! Perfect fit. Well done. Yes, fully, I am in full agreement!”
Of course, there is another way to read the sixteenth chapter which is to consider… Satsvarupa Maharaj summed it up in a book that he wrote. He wrote so many books but there is one book, it is called, “Am I a demon or a vaisnava?” That is a very interesting question. What am I? Because, yes, that is how it is in this time. There are some demoniac tendencies in everyone. One can see in the sixteenth chapter, that some of these qualities are in us. This chapter is like a mirror actually. It makes you more aware of who you are and what you should be. Anyway, after that you just feel like, “Oh gosh.” What if you come to the conclusion after reading the chapter that, “Actually, I am a demon. I have always known it. Deep down, I have tried to ignore it. And for all this time, I have been chanting Hare Krsna. I have been trying to be a devotee, but after studying the Gita, I have finally realized it. I am a demon! What do I do now?”
Alright, so you know, you kind of feel hopeless after that. Fortunately then, there is the seventeenth chapter which saves us. Right there and then. Because the seventeenth chapter is describing the three modes of material nature. It describes is the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. “Yeah, I have heard enough about that before and I heard that you are supposed to be in the mode of goodness. Well, my goodness, have I tried to be in the mode of goodness until steam came out of my ears!” No, that was the mode of passion. Not easy. So how to be in the mode of goodness?
Srila Prabhupada has an interesting reference in a purport which I thought was really revealing. Prabhupada did not say you have to be in the mode of goodness, he said you have to associate with the mode of goodness. Well, that we can do. We cannot be in goodness but we can associate with goodness – cleanliness, purity, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, religiousness, equipoised, you know, not so quickly disturbed by things that are going on. We can try and create that atmosphere and then stay in such an atmosphere. That will help. That will help! When you realize at the end of the sixteenth chapter that actually, we are demons and we have tried all this time to be a devotee but we do not really make it. What to do now? Then associate with the mode of goodness.