On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna, a mighty warrior, a great achiever and celebrated hero suffers a psychological breakdown. At the very 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, fears 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, Shri 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 Bhagavad Gita, the quintessence of the Upanishads – right in the middle of the battlefield! Each chapter of the Bhagavad 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 from the lap of Kunti and stand up! Do not give in to this impotence. 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. Shri Krishna exhorts Arjuna to give up the frailty of heart and emotions that are clouding his judgement and impeding his performance.
No doubt, certain positive emotions motivate and enhance our personality but excessive emotions are detrimental. To quote Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda, ‘Sentiments adorn a person, but sentimentalism is an ugly scar on his personality.’
Therefore, whenever we find ourselves slipping into this debilitating state of confusion and helplessness, we should remember this powerful instruction of the Lord: Do not give in to impotence! Do not remain in a state of sorrow. Cast off this mean weakness of heart. Stand up, move forward and perform to your maximum potential. Get up and face life!
Like Arjuna, let us give up inner weakness and pettiness 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. Let us awaken to that happiness and capacity within ourselves and bring it to the world around us.
These words of Shri 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, greater fulfilment and greater contribution to the world. Let us remember this potent dictum and free ourselves from the stranglehold of our own narrow thinking.
By Swami Swaroopananda