Krishna’s help to Arjuna || Acharya Prashant (2015)

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Listener: Sir, you said Krishna got the right to poke his nose(…) But when we study the text, we find that Krishna also poked the nose only when the other person sought his advice, moreover surrendered to him. So, till that time he was tolerant. I am just stretching the argument a little far. So that means his love only aroused when he realized the other person’s mind got activated that he felt the need for his interference. Because there is a couplet that Duryodhana sat on his head side. So that means one has to have Viveka (discretion) to seek Krishna.

So my question is, “Does love remain tolerant if not called for? It is not love then, it is service.”

Acharya Prashant: Facts do not really support this. Was Arjun really prepared to surrender? Even till the 3rd  chapter or the 4th chapter, Arjun is putting up a great deal of resistance. In fact, in one Shloka (couplet), he explicitly says to Krishna that sometimes you are saying that Karma Sanyaas is better, sometimes you are saying Karma Yoga is better. Why are you confusing me?

L: “Tell me clearly.”(Arjun)

AP: “Not only tell me clearly. If Karma Sanyaas is so good, then why are you pushing me in all this?”, So, it is not as if Arjun is coming to Krishna like a surrendered devotee. At one point Krishna has to display his magnified form to Arjun just to convince him, ‘just to convince him’. Even after the entire narration of Bhagwat Gita, Arjun is still not fully convinced, he is not prepared to fight Bhishma, for example.

Out of the total eighteen days of Mahabharata, the first few days were just a sham because Bhishma Pitamah was leading the other side and Arjun was not prepared to be ferocious with him. And then Krishna has to pick up the wheel and rush towards Bhishma; Arjun is still not convinced. The other party, if it is so intelligent that it can come to you in surrender, then why would it need your interference and advice at all.

The action of Love is to interfere, is to provide advice even when the other party is not prepared to take advice.

L: Then why didn’t he provide advice to Duryodhana?

AP: Right! There lies that which you referred to: Viveka (discretion). Duryodhana lies at a point where either it would take just too much energy to bring him to understanding or he may be beyond redemption as far as this particular lifetime goes. So, in a human form if Gita is to be recited, if the message of Gita is to be advised, then it would preferably go to Arjun rather than Duryodhana. But remember, it is not as if Krishna did not try with Duryodhana. Krishna goes to Duryodhana and what does Duryodhana do? He tries to arrest him. Krishna goes as the messenger of peace and Duryodhana says no, no, no!

L: Five times. So he drops him.

AP: The action of Love is still taking place. He is not saying that I will leave Duryodhana to his fate. He says it is my responsibility to teach even Duryodhana. But when Duryodhana proves it, beyond doubt, that he is incorrigible, then Krishna says, “Fine, now that the battle is destined, let the blows, rain.”

L: So that means that it can be said that the commentators who say that Krishna only interferes when we seek His solace or he surrenders to Him are basically giving us cue to do that.

AP: Yes! Yes! You see, how does the narrative of the Gita begin? There is a wonderful hint there. Both the sides are assembled together, in front of each other. Only one warrior says, “I want to have a look”. That’s how chapter one begins. Vishad Yoga, that how it begins. Arjun says, “I want to see”. Nobody else in that entire field says, “I want to see”. He says, “Krishna please take this chariot to a place where I can look at both the armies. I want to see who all is there?”

Bhima is not saying that, Yudhishthira is not saying that. Neither is Duryodhana saying that, nor are hundreds of other warriors and kings who have arranged themselves there. He is saying that I want to see and that is the little support that Krishna needs. He says now here I have a Supatra, now here I have a deserving student. Amongst all these warriors here is somebody, who, even in the heat and the intensity and in the excitement of war, still wants to see. The first thing that a war-like situation does to your mind is that it makes you blind, you don’t want to see. You just want to fight and you want to recklessly kill. But Arjun is saying,”Before I pick-up my bow and arrow, I want to see.”

L: Sir,one more point is there. Apart from Arjun, Yudhishthira did a wonderful thing. Before commencing to war, he sought blessings of Bhishma and Dronacharya. So in that case, you say that Arjun still has the composure but there was an emotional breakdown.

AP: Yes, there is an emotional breakdown. If that is the way it has been communicated to us, it is correct. Arjun is the one who is trembling. In fact, he says, “I am experiencing jwar (fever), my body temperature is rising and my hands have lost the capacity to pick-up the Gandiva”. So he is experiencing a kind of a meltdown. You know what is this meltdown. He is not convinced about his beliefs.

Being a Kshatriya (warrior) and being a person who has been terribly wronged since decades, he should have fought. But there is something within him which is telling him, “No! No! No! There is something missing. There is something that I am unable to see.” Everybody else is fully convinced and you know what is this conviction, ‘I am firm in my belief’. Duryodhana is firm in his belief that the kingdom belongs to him and he must have it at any cost. Dharmraj Yudhishthira is firm in his belief that he already knows the dharma (the right way), “I know what is to be done”. Bhima is firm in his belief that he has given commitment to his wife and so he must kill.

Only Arjun is becoming doubtful about his conditioning. His conditioning tells him to fight. The situation, the assembly of armies tells him to fight. Still something within him is shaking. This shaking, this doubt, is a very beautiful, very auspicious thing. Most of us do not have any kind of self-doubt. Don’t you see how we live our lives with a dead singularity, with a robotic regularity. We have no doubt. We don’t ask ourselves, “What are you doing?” We don’t tremble like Arjun. We don’t just pause and look at ourselves. This is happening with Arjun.

Now, to a Teacher like Krishna this is a good indication. He says now the time has come for the Gita to be communicated. Here is the worthy student.

The broader issue that we are discussing is that if Love interferes then must it interfere in every case, must it interfere with everybody, in everybody’s life? Not really! There, discretion must be applied. When you will apply Viveka and discretion, then you will find that there are many people who are not yet rightly placed to receive your interference. There you can delay it, postpone it but still you will find hundreds and thousands who are in immediate need of help and not only are they in need of help, they are also rightly placed to receive your help.

Their situation is just appropriate. If you just extend your hand, they will take it. There, if you are not extending your hand, there if you are saying, “You know, he must come to me and ask for my help like a true seeker”, then you are just being insensitive. Remember, that he is in need of help and he has realized that he needs help. Now it is your duty to stretch yourself. Now it is your duty to barge into his house. And if you don’t do that, then don’t say that you are just respecting his privacy. Sorry! You are just too terrified about your own comforts. It is not his privacy that you are respecting, it is not his customs that you are respecting.

Krishna arranged for Arjun to kidnap his own sister, “Arjun, please come, break into my house and take away my sister. My sister is all ready for you, she loves you”. But if you say, “You know, only through civilized debate and through norms of civil society, will the alliance take place.” Then it will never take place. It will never take place. Then the action of Love, the action of responsibility, the action of Krishna is to destroy the rituals and respectability of his own household even if that makes Balram terribly angry.

Let the world become very angry, let them say what kind of brother is this who is getting his own sister kidnapped. Let them say what they want to say. But now that I know that these two love each other, my responsibility is to arrange… Are you getting this?

L: Sir, you said that  a Krishna would interfere or rather help that person who is ready to receive him, where his efforts will bear fruit. So my point is, that doesn’t that mean that he is attached to the result of the thing? Is he not doing his action without caring about the fruit? He had said that do the work and don’t desire the fruits.

AP: Please understand this. This must be put very straight. Wherever there is action, the action will always be concerned with the result. It has been repeatedly said that act without bothering for the result and this has been touted as the message of Krishna; no, this is not the message of Krishna.

Action implies results. The actor can be result-free. You can act from a point where results don’t bother you but that does not mean that actions will not have results. You can play in such a way that the results – the victory or the loss, are inconsequential to you. But that does not mean that you are playing to lose.

Please understand this. I am playing, it is Leela. Yet I am playing to?

L: Win.

AP: Win! Otherwise what is the fun in playing, otherwise you will also get bored. Have you ever played with somebody who doesn’t want to win? How does it feel?

L: Foolish.

AP: Foolish! And you feel as if he is contemptuous towards you. If you play with somebody who does not want to win, then is he respecting the game? It is a form of respect towards the game, the whole game of Leela, to play to win. When you play, you must always play to win but the player must remain unconcerned with the result. That is what is Nishkam Karma.

L: But the way I understood was that the Krishna or the actor was concerned with the result?

AP: Yes, of course! In the bodily form, in the form that is uttering the discourse, Krishna is very much concerned with the result. He is not only a passive charioteer, he is very much concerned with the result; he is advising Arjun. Once when an arrow is about to hit Arjun, it is said that Krishna displaces the chariot. He tells Arjun whom to fight, whom not to fight. He is the one who says, “Now is the time, shoot, kill Karna”. All the major battles that happened in those eighteen days, have been shaped by Krishna himself. He is of course bothered with the result. Krishna, the man is bothered with the result. Krishna, the Aatman, is not at all bothered with the result.

We have to understand what do we mean when we say Krishna. There is a Krishna that is speaking to Arjun and there is a Krishna within which the whole Krishna-Arjun dialogue is taking place. Which Krishna are we talking of? The totality within which  both Krishna, and Arjun and all the armies exist, is Atman. Within that Krishna, there are millions of Krishnas , millions of Brahmas. And then there is that one particular bodily Krishna who is talking to Arjun. The bodily Krishna will have his own limitations, personal peculiarities, birth and death, language, message, idiosyncrasies, even faults because we are talking of a person.

The person named Krishna. And then there is ‘The Krishna’, the source from which the Gita comes, not the mouth. The mouth belongs to Krishna, the person. Gita comes from the Krishna, the source. That source is not bodily. So kindly do not try to copy the characteristics or lack of characteristics of Atman. That is one major fault that many so called spiritual people enter. What applies to Atman, we start trying to apply that to the world. What applies to Nirgun (attribute-less), we start applying that to the world.

The Atman has no future, the Atman has no time but you have time, so you must respect time. The Atman has no goal but you must know your goal. You become goal-less only when you become identified and identical with the Atman; only then you have a right to say that I have no goal in life. Till the time you are not identical with the Atman, till the time you are identified with your body and mind, you indeed do have a goal and what is that goal? To be ‘dis-identified’. That is the goal.

But this mistake we very frequently make. The fellow would say,” You know, I have no goal in life”. And when he is making this statement, all that he means is that I am too lazy to do anything. Why don’t you have a goal in life? Not having a goal is a privilege, is a luxury that belongs only to the one who has reached the very source of himself, the very foundation of his being. Only he has the right to say that he is goal-less. Everybody must with total devotion pursue The Goal. And what is that goal? Goalless-ness is the goal.

Watch the Session: Acharya Prashant: Krishna’s help to Arjuna The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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