Gita Daily Readings

15th January
Chapter
II: 1-3
Sanjaya said: To him who was thus overcome with pity and who was despondent, with eyes full of tears and agitated, Krishna spoke these words:

Whence has this perilous strait come upon thee, this dejection which is unworthy of you, disgraceful and which will close the gates of heaven upon you, Oh Arjuna?

Yield not to impotence, Oh Arjuna. It does not befit thee. Cast off this mean weakness of the heart. Stand up, Oh scorcher of the foes!

Commentary

Lord Krishna proves to be a superb diagnostician here. What afflicted Arjuna was not compassion or a sense of righteousness. It was "weakness of the heart" unworthy of a great warrior. It was disgraceful; and what was most important, since it was against dharma (the will of God) it would close the gate of heaven upon Arjuna! It was sheer impotence.

Yoga or religion is intended to break down the ego, which is the prison of the soul. It demands unwinking vigilance to ensure that the sadhana or a virtuous life itself does not become a prison-house, reinforcing the ego! Virtue, created and maintained by a wrong motive or egoistical attitude, is prison. This does not mean that we ever sanction vice: if a seeker exposes himself to sin, he will never be able to reach the goal.

What is needed is virtue as a fortress. But the difference is this: the key of the fortress is in your keeping; the key of the prison-house is in another's. The spiritual hero dares to be virtuous. The coward is scared to err, though he would very much like to! The hero can go beyond the walls of the fortress, but remains within it because the glitter of the external world does not delude him. The impotent man imagines he is free in his dark prison-cell.

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