THE BHAGAVAD GITA
THE SIVANANDA TRANSLATION WITH COMMENTARY BY SWAMI VENKATESANANDA
THE MONTH OF JANUARY
Krishna's gospel will not suffer in the least if the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is ignored. But, the blind man will continue to be blind and unseeing, the hero will continue to fool himself and refuse to look at his friends and his enemies in the correct perspective.
The following is not intended to suggest that the Bhagavad Gita or the Mahabharata itself is an allegory. Yet one cannot but be struck by the lesson it provides.
The scripture opens with the blind kings question expressing his concern and his eagerness to know. The spiritually blind man, secure in his false sense of material security, must awaken, must begin to question, must want to know. When he does, Sanjaya enters the picture. Sanjaya is self-conquest, discipline (which is disciple mis-spelt). Without discipline if one goes to the guru, one would be treated as a guest (!) and one would derive no greater benefit.
Even after one awakens and becomes a discipl(in)e one needs a guru; or else one may make a mistake and consider that error to be the truth, clinging to it and mistaking that for faith, love, devotion, etc. It is when the disciple surrenders himself to the guru and serves him, that his heart is purified and becomes transparent so that the gurus light shines through him without any effort on the part of either.
Similarly we learn vital lessons from Arjunas conduct. He asks Krishna to place the chariot between the two armies so that he can take a good look at his enemies. We enter life determined to fight our enemies. (Krishna himself says that these enemies are within!) We blow the conch, beat our drums and jump into the battle. Proudly we ask or pray to God to lead us, to guide us (to where we can see the enemies). Often he places the chariot of our life right in front of the most delicate relationships - Bhishma, the grandfather and Drona, the teacher. Mysteriously, he reveals to us that we are bound by our self-esteem, by our blind attachment to our family traditions, our culture and our ancestry (symbolized by Bhishma the grandfather) and our philosophy, doctrine, dogma, our cult and religious tradition (represented by Drona the teacher). We begin to reclassify these - the inner enemies - into kith and kin! We are ready and eager to renounce some relations (often unimportant trifles), but we cling to the dreadful chains that bind us. We give up father, mother, property, home and wealth, but we cling to a caste, a cult, a religious tradition, a spiritual leader, etc. The latter do not seem to be enemies. Without realizing that all my is eneMY, we endeavor to find scriptural sanction for these new attachments and impotently refuse to fight the battle of our spiritual life.
The spiritual hero ought to see the inner enemies for himself; it will not do to take them for granted on the testimony of others. This does not mean that one should subject oneself to temptations or walk into the snare of sensuality. But one must see evil as evil for oneself, and not just believe it is evil because somebody else said so!
Go to The Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) Chapter One January 1st, 2002