On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna, a mighty warrior, great achiever and celebrated hero, suffers a psychological breakdown. At the crucial moment, when weapons were about to be raised, he was assailed by a temporary state of confusion about his duty and the very purpose of the war. In the grip of despondency, he crumbled, sat down and refused to fight.
Arjuna was overwhelmed by his emotions, by his attachment to his grandsire, Bhishma, and teacher, Dronacharya. Viewing the war from the pinhole of a limited, egocentric and narrow standpoint created anxieties, fear and intense emotions in his mind.
Whenever we become overly emotional due to sadness, anger, vengefulness or frustration, our thinking becomes clouded. The storm of emotions wrenches us away from the rational, logical side of our personality – leading to indecisiveness and ineffectuality.
Nevertheless, Krishna raised his friend, devotee and disciple from that abject state. He brought a sense of substance to Arjuna’s life by delivering the knowledge of the Bhagwad Gita, the quintessence of the Upanishads – right in the middle of the battlefield! Each chapter of the Gita contains powerful instructions.
This knowledge unfolds the secret of intelligent action, fulfilment and true happiness. Bhagavan’s very first instruction, in the third verse of the second chapter, comes not as a gentle shower, but as an avalanche to jolt Arjuna out of his torpor and sweep away all his negativity. He addresses Arjuna as Partha, the son of Pritha, one of the names of Kunti. Pritha also refers to Mother Earth. Therefore, the Lord is awakening all children of Mother Earth to rise to their full proficiency and not be undermined by crippling thoughts and lack of self-confidence.
Krishna admonished: ‘Hey Partha, get up! Stand up! Cast off this weakness of heart. You have defeated many formidable enemies, O Scorcher of Foes. Get up!’
In life, we are often confronted with daunting circumstances, and somehow manage to tackle them. But when it comes to facing inner weaknesses, we are unable to act. Krishna exhorts Arjuna to overcome frailty of heart and emotions that are clouding his judgment and impeding his performance.
Doubtless, certain positive emotions motivate and enhance our personality but excessive emotions are detrimental. To quote Swami Chinmayananda, ‘Sentiments adorn a person, but sentimentalism is an ugly scar on his personality.’
Therefore, whenever we find ourselves slipping into confusion and helplessness, we should remember this powerful instruction of the Lord: Do not give in to weakness nor remain in a state of sorrow. Stand up, move forward and perform to your maximum potential. Get up and face life!
Like Arjuna, let us give up inner weakness and stand up, ready to face life’s challenges. This is living the Gita. How often is it that we fail to start our journey towards a particular goal, because of the restraining thought, ‘I can’t’? We are here to be happy. Awaken to that happiness and capacity within and bring it to the world around us.
These words of Krishna are like a mantra. They possess the power to lift our mood, inspire and give us the confidence to seize opportunities for greater development, fulfilment and contribution to the world. Let us free ourselves from the stranglehold of our own narrow thinking.
Author: Swami Swaroopananda, Global Head Chinmaya Mission
(Source: Times of India , September 9th 2020)