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Sarvopanishado Gavo Dogdha Gopalanandanah
Partho Vatsah Sudhirbhokta Dugdhan Geetamritam Mahat
Bhagwan Sri Krishna is a figure full of compassion and love. When a stream of compassion flowed from his heart, for the welfare of the living beings, he first selected a blind man named Dhritarashtra, who had no means to see by himself, to go to the battlefield, to hear the Gita while he sat far away from the place where the Gita dialogue took place. Shri Krishna inspired him in his heart to ask questions regarding his speech.
Although Lord Sri Krishna himself narrated the Gita to Arjuna, except Arjuna, if anyone had the privilege of hearing it, it was only Sanjay and Dhritarashtra. Therefore, there are three characters in the Gita – Arjuna, Sanjaya, and Dhritarashtra. Therefore, first of all, one should remember Shri Krishna, who for the sake of humanity created in the heart of Dhritarashtra the curiosity about the Gita. Dhritarashtra already knew the news of the war which had been ongoing for ten days. Bhishma Pitamah had gone to Sharshayya, then this question was asked- Kimkurvata Sanjay? What did the Kauravas and the Pandavas do together on the battlefield of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra? It cannot only mean whether they fought or not? The meaning of that question is, what particular event took place there? The Gita comes in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata and that is its essence.
It is worth noting, again and again, that to those who have no power, no means, no vision, even in their heart when they raise questions about the Gita, the Lord transmits his message to them. Sanjaya says that God’s hand is involved in whatever we do and we should be aware of this. It is not so important to follow the will of God as to know Him. Purvacharyas have said that “Avidito Devo Nainam Bhunakti” i.e God is everywhere, but he protects when it is known that God protects, “Harismritih Sarvavipadvimokshanam”.
The remembrance of Bhagwan removes suffering. In fact, the Bhagwan himself does not protect from the calamity, the memory of the Bhagwan does. But one who keeps the remembrance of Bhagwan in his heart does not experience calamity. The presence of the Divine in the heart is one thing and the remembrance of the Lord is another. The remembrance of the Lord removes all sorrows. Remembering Bhagwan is in our power and we should never forget that, at least Arjuna didn’t forget that.
God’s inspiration is behind the means we use. Sadhana does not mean only that by turning the rosary beads we tell you this and that. There are four divisions of life in Indian culture. The great poet Kalidas has presented the essence of Indian culture, describing the characteristics of Raghuvansh.
Shashveऽabhyastvidyanam Yuauvane Vishaishinaam
Vardhake Munivritinam Yoganante Tanum Tyajam
In infancy, Vidya should be practiced; in childhood, education should be received. One should earn wealth in youth and indulge in pleasures. One should live like a Mahatma in old age and when the time comes to leave the body, one should merge oneself with the Lord.
Earlier the teachings of Vedanta were in the Aranyas which means Forest and they spoke about vidya. The name of Vedanta in Sanskrit is Aranyaka Vidya. Most of the Upanishads are Aranyakas. The word Aranya in Vedanta means something else; it means a place where there is no battle. Where there is fighting and quarrelling one can’t get to hear the Vedanta. It is not the knowledge of those who get into fights and quarrels.
The Gita broke with this tradition. Gita did not appear in the forest but on the battlefield. Contemplating Vedanta in solitude is one department and contemplating Vedanta on the battlefield is another department. This second section was vacant and Sri Krishna fulfilled it. Just think again, Vedanta on the battlefield, and what is the difference between the two?
On the battlefield, where weapons are about to be used from both sides, how wonderful it would have been for great men to sit in the middle and discuss Brahman. Think about it: If you drive a car for some business purpose and your mind is entangled in that business, then can you get rid of its burden and do Brahma charcha? Just imagine how much Arjuna’s mind was in his control, how much concentration was there in him; he was engaged in the contemplation of Brahman even though the pressing and tragic duty of warfighting faced him.
Arjuna suddenly did not care about the war. The question before him is only of discretion: whether the work he is going to do is right or not and to what extent it is helpful in the realization of the Brahman? From this, it is concluded that when the thought has started to develop in one’s mind, then one should not leave that in the middle, but should pursue it to the end until he achieves Brahman.
So, it is not a forest, it is a battlefield. As it has been earlier mentioned, the word Aranya in Sanskrit simply means one who takes refuge. The forest in which the seekers take shelter after being freed from the household and where they meditate on Vedanta. In the Gita however you are sitting on the battlefield and contemplating Vedanta, which was a task that could have only been fulfilled by Shri Krishna himself.
Here is a twist again, the seeker is not a renouncer or a sannyasin but he is a Kshatriya dressed with his armour inside the battlefield. He has a weapon in his hand and his heart is full of attachment to his opponents who are also his relatives. He was inclined towards retiring from the battlefield, but he suddenly got so interested in the discussion about Brahman that he forgot the battlefield and became absorbed in the contemplation of Brahman.
Just as there is a curiosity about happiness, about where we will get happiness from, when and how we will get it, in the same way, there is a curiosity for truth. Surely we have a desire for happiness, whether it comes from knowledge or ignorance, either from the truth or from the false narrative. According to the Vedas, Shastras, and Dharma, if you want and get happiness, it should be from the truth. You should not be happy in ignorance, be happy with the knowledge, do not be happy with closed eyes, be happy with open eyes. So, when Arjuna’s curiosity arose in his mind, he did not hesitate to ask questions.
Many people have a desire to know, but they are hesitant to ask. For how long will you suppress that questioning shy nature? One day or the other, that will emerge. Questioning is also a natural part of life, as it is in the life of a child. The question itself arises. Here the Lord has raised a question in Arjuna’s mind –
Sadhibhutadhidaivam Mam Sadhyagyam Cha Ye Viduh.
Prayanakalepi Cha Mam Te Vidurukchetasah
Arjuna is taking rasa in this ocean full of questions. This is the rasa of truth, the rasa of knowledge. But this rasa is not of substance, not of enjoyment, not of action. This is the kind of rasa that the inquirer must partake of. You assess yourself and see where do you get that rasa from. Does it come from sleep? Does it come from tasty food? Does it come from work? Does it come from love? Does it come in thoughts? Does it come in peace? Where is the rasa of your life? Just think.