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Gita lessons from Arjuna
By Virupaksha Dasa

Lord Krishna presents an unparalleled treasure of knowledge and devotion, through His transcendental teachings in Bhagavad-Gita. But Lord Krishna also says in the Gita that this treasure is a very confidential one, and not everyone has an access to it even though one may be able to conveniently approach the Gita, for this treasure is carefully protected under a mysterious lock. In the very same Gita, we get the clue, from the character of Arjuna, to the key that opens this mysterious lock. Being proclaimed by Lord Krishna, as the right candidate to receive the message of Bhagavad-gita, Sri Arjuna sets an example before us with regards to the right spirit to learn the Gita.

FRIEND AND A DEVOTEE : (4.3) 
bhakto’si me sakha cheti rahasyam hy etad utammam
“…because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.”
Lord Krishna declares in the Gita that Arjuna is His friend and devotee and thus, Arjuna is qualified to understand the mystery of the Gita. Unless one becomes a devotee of Lord Krishna, he cannot taste the real nectar of the Gita. This confidential knowledge is not accessible to the non-devotees, however great a scholar, a philosopher, a ascetic, a politician or a renunciant one may be. A non-devotee’s approach towards Gita is just like licking a sealed, closed honey bottle from outside. One may have the satisfaction of possessing the bottle of honey but one will not have the benefit of possessing it, which is, tasting the honey within. Similarly, a non-devotee can have the satisfaction of reading the Gita but he cannot have the benefit of it, which is, understanding it’s essence. For one to actually taste the honey, the bottle must be opened, and the key to its opening is to become the devotee. Arjuna was neither a Vedantist, a sannyasi nor was he a scholar. Still Krishna chose him to hear Bhagavad-gita because he was a bhakta. 

NON-ENVIOUS TOWARDS THE LORD : (9.1)
idam tu te guhyatamam pravakshyamy anasuyave 
“My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most secret wisdom.” 
Envy is the state of mind wherein one becomes malicious upon seeing another's advanced state of life. The envy towards Lord Krishna reflects in the non-acceptance in His position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord and master of everything that is, the supreme controller, the ultimate object of surrender, etc. There are many persons who envy Krishna because Krishna has explained in Bhagavad-gita that He is the Supreme and that nothing is above Him or equal to Him. Those who are envious of Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead can never understand Bhagavad-gita. One should not think that he is equal, on the same level of Sri Krishna, or one should not think that He is an ordinary personality, maybe a very great personality. No. Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada explains, “We should therefore at least theoretically accept Sri Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and with that submissive spirit we can understand the Bhagavad-gita. Unless one reads the Bhagavad-gita in a submissive spirit, it is very difficult to understand Bhagavad-gita because it is a great mystery.”

COMPLETE SURRENDER UNTO KRISHNA : (2.7)
shisyyas te 'ham shadhi mam tvam prapannam
Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
One can please the spiritual master simply by surrendering to him and rendering service. Although Arjuna was a very intimate friend of Krishna's, before receiving Srimad Bhagavad-gita he surrendered himself before Krishna, saying, shisyyas te 'ham shadhi mam tvam prapannam. This is the way to receive knowledge. One does not approach the spiritual master with a challenging spirit. It is not that one considers himself superior to the guru. Surrender means that one will accept whatever the guru says. It is not that one thinks, "I do not care for my guru's order. Still I am a disciple." By surrendering to the proper person, one can very quickly come to understand transcendental knowledge. One should also be inquisitive to understand the spiritual science. Without inquiry, we cannot make advancement. The inquiry should be in a submissive spirit, accompanied with humble service to the spiritual master. It should not be in a challenging spirit. First of all one must surrender to the bona fide guru. If one cannot surrender to the guru, then one should not waste his time and guru’s time. 

ACCEPT KRISHNA IN FULL: (10.14)
sarvam etad ritam manye yan mam vadasi keshava
O Krishna, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me.
By the grace of Lord Krishna, Arjuna understood that the Supreme Truth is Krishna and that He is the perfect one. Arjuna’s all doubts and dilemmas were destroyed and he was reinstated on his original, perfect spiritual position. To get the same benefit, one must follow the path of Arjuna who accepted Krishna in full, without any interpretation, addition, deletion or alteration. Arjuna accepted Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and took whatever Krishna said, as it is. Gita should not be taken on the principle of ‘ardha kukkuti nyaya’ – half hen logic. The rear part of the hen gives eggs and is profitable but the mouth has to be fed and is expensive. If one thinks of cutting the mouth off and keeping only the egg laying part, there will be no more egg. Similarly, if we study Bhagavad-gita according to our whims, and accepting or rejecting whatever we feel like, then we will not get the benefit. We have to accept as Arjuna did - ‘in full’ & ‘as it is’ - then our success is assured. 

KRISHNA'S WISH IS MY COMMAND : (18.73)
karishye vacanam tava
“…I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.”
In the beginning of Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna was not ready to fight. He was not in agreement with Krishna. He gave so many arguments to Krishna against fighting. But at the end, he agreed, "Yes." He became a yes man. Now we are all "no men." In our present state of existence we uphold aversion towards God and His order. Lord Krishna directs us in our actions but we say "no." We have to simply say "yes" and act according to His instructions. Spiritual life means to act in agreement with the Supreme Lord. God has given us ‘free will’, a choice to act as per our wish. When we use our wish to act for our gratification, it is called ‘material existence’. When we use it to act for Krishna’s gratification, it is called ‘spiritual existence’. Initially, Arjuna refused to fight, out his personal motive but later he agreed to fight out of Krishna’s motive, and thus, became a perfect spiritualist. So we have to become a ‘yes man’ to Krishna. That is the perfection of our spiritual life.

Category : Bhagavad-gita
Posted On : 20 Jan 2018
Virupaksha Dasa

Virupaksha Dasa joined as a full time missionary in 2005 and is serving at Hare Krishna Movement Ahmedabad. He serves as a Bhagavad-gita teacher and Executive Editor for HKM's Hare Krishna Darshan Magazine.