The biggest hindrance to self-realization is our bodily concept of life – accepting and rejecting people as friends and enemies
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna , seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.
Arjuna was a ksatriya, trained up by Dronacarya how to kill. Ksat means “injury,” and tra (trayate) means “saves.” A ksatriya is one who saves the citizens from being injured by others. A brahmana is one who knows brahma, the supreme. These divisions – brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra – are there according to quality. Gunakarma- vibhagasah (Gita 4.13): guna means quality, and karma means actual operation of the guna.
Nonviolence is cowardice and is not the business of a ksatriya. Ksatriyas are taught how to become violent, otherwise how can they rule? Formerly the judgement was given by the king – immediately finished. You didn’t have to go to the court and wait for the judgement for ten years. The king used to sit in his assembly, and all the criminals and culprits were judged by the king himself. Sometimes the king had to kill personally with the sword. Nowadays it is constitutional, democratic government; the king has no power. But this is not good for the people. Democracy is a farce, because so many rascals, simply by getting votes, go to the government. Therefore, at the present moment, all over the world there is no good government.
Formerly the ksatriyas were trained up how to govern based on sastra. The king’s business is to see that everyone in the country are properly employed and engaged in his own business. A brahmana is engaged as a brahmana, a ksatriya is engaged as a ksatriya. There should be no unemployment, because if a person is unemployed, his mind becomes a devil’s workshop.
Arjuna was not a coward; he was a competent warrior. But still he was affected by dehatmabuddhi, the bodily concept of life. Arjuna says, svajanah, “my own men.” “Own men” means this bodily relationship. Why others are not “own men”? Everyone is own men, because everyone is Krishna ’s son. So when one becomes Krishna conscious, he can see everyone as one’s own men. And when he is not Krishna conscious, he simply sees his “own men” wherever there is bodily relationship. This is the defect. They are advertising, humanitarian work, philanthropic work, communism, this “ism,” but when there is question of bodily relationship, immediately everything is changed. Khruschev, leader of the communist country, was driven out because he was patronizing his own men. You may advertize that “I am for everyone,” but there is affection for own men. It’s called nepotism.
This “own-men-ship” in relationship with the body, is the greatest barrier for advancing in spiritual consciousness. Therefore the Vedic civilization is so planned that one can give up this conception. It is called vairagya. Two things are required in human life: knowledge and vairagya, detachment. Materialistic life results in the increase of attachment. Pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam (Bhagavatam 5.5.8). This whole world is based on sex life. A man has got attraction for woman; a woman has got attraction for man. This is nature’s bondage – shackle. And when they are actually united, this shackle increases. Hrdaya-granthim means “knot in the heart” – ”she is my wife,” “he is my husband.” So this “own-men-ship” comes from the bodily concept of life.
Arjuna is thus preparing the ground for receiving the instructions of Bhagavad-gita. Spiritual instructions will begin to separate the soul from the body. Unless one understands what soul is, how it is different from this body, there is no spiritual education. This is the basic principle. So Arjuna was affected by bodily concept of life – he says, “My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.”
These symptoms, the different transformations of bodily constitution, usually appear in times of danger, but similarly symptoms appear even in times of spiritual bliss. They are called astasattvika-vikara (Cc. Antya 14.99), eight kinds of transformation of the body. There are so many reserve energies within our body. They become manifest in due course of time when the mind and intelligence work in different ways. They appear from the mind and intelligence. The soul is there within the body, and the intelligence and mind create the situation of the bodily symptoms. Therefore body or the senses are not all. The modern education teaches us that this body is everything. But real education is to understand the entire thing. Indriyani parany ahuh (Gita 3.42): with gross vision we see this body. But indriyebhyah param manah: the bodily symptoms appear because the mind is there. And mind is working because the intelligence is there. And the intelligence is working because the soul is there.
The basic principle is the soul. The soul is acting through intelligence, and the intelligence is acting through mind, and the mind is expressed through the senses. This is the position. So as my mind is absorbed in something, some subject matter, my bodily symptoms also will work, or the senses will work according to that mind. Therefore for spiritual advancement also, you have to train your mind. Sa vai manah Krishna -padaravindayor vacamsi vaikunthagunanuvarnane (Bhagavatam 9.4.18). First of all fix up your mind. Yoga means indriyasaiyama: controlling the mind and the senses, because currently our mind is very flickering and changing, it constantly accepts something or rejects something. Therefore we have to train up the mind, and when the mind is trained up, then automatically your senses will be controlled. For example, if you are strongminded, you will say, “I will not accept any foodstuff which is not offered to Krishna ,” and in this way your tongue is controlled naturally.
Bhaktivinoda thakura has sung, sarira avidya-jal jadendriya tahe kal jive phele visaya-sagare: Our body is a network of nescience, or ignorance. We have got this body because we have forgotten Krishna and we wanted to lord it over the material nature. Therefore, according to our different desires, we have got different bodies. Here we are sitting, say fifty or hundred men. Nobody’s body will tally with other’s body. Face and other features are all different, because every one of us has got different desires. Our facial expressions and bodily constructions are made according to our minds. So at the time of death also, the constitution of mind will transfer me to another, different type of body. The mind will carry the soul. Yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram (Gita 8.6). So if you train up your mind to become Krishna conscious by always remembering Krishna – by chanting Hare Krishna , Hare Krishna , Krishna Krishna , Hare Hare – then it will be possible remember Krishna at the time of death. In this way your life is successful. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna (Gita 4.9): immediately you are transferred to Krishna loka.
So we have to think of Krishna always, twenty-four hours, as Lord Caitanya recommends (kirtaniyah sada harih). If we are serious of going to Krishna loka
then we have to train up the mind so nicely that at the time of death we will remember Krishna . Therefore one great king Kulasekhara prays:
Krishna tvadiya-padapankaja- panjarantam adyaiva me visatu manasa-raja-hamsah prana-prayana-samaye kapha-vata-pittaih kanthavarodhana-vidhau smaranam kutas te
“My Lord Krishna , I pray that the swan of my mind may immediately sink down to the stems of the lotus feet of Your Lordship and be locked in their network; otherwise at the time of my final breath, when my throat is choked up with cough, how will it be possible to think of You?” (Mukunda-mala-stotra 33)
He is praying, “Krishna , I am now in good health. So kindly award me death immediately.” Krishna ’s feet are always compared to a lotus flower, which has got a stem. The swans take pleasure in diving in the water and sporting in these stems. Kulasekhara compares his mind to a rajahamsa, or a royal swan, and prays that his mind be entangled in the stem of Krishna ’s lotus feet. “At the time of death, my bodily functions will be disturbed due to the choking of kapha, vata, and pitta (mucus, air and bile). How then will I be able to remember your lotus feet? So let me die now, immediately, as I am quite fit.”
This is the point. The mind should be kept in a healthy condition. Therefore one who dies with full remembrance of Krishna is most successful. You may be a great devotee, but it will be tested at the time of your death, how you remember Krishna . We should not be parrot-like. The parrot may chant, “Hare Krishna , Hare Krishna , Hare Krishna ,” but when the cat catches its neck, it cries, “Kanh! Kanh! Kanh!” – no more Krishna . Artificial practice will not help us remember Krishna . Kanthavarodhana-vidhau smaranam kutas te.
Prahlada Maharaja therefore recommends that one begins practicing Krishna consciousness from the very beginning of life. He was born in a demonic family and his teachers were demons, but still he would preach to his class friends. As soon as the teacher would go away, he would start preaching. This is the preaching spirit. As soon as you get some opportunity, preach. What is preaching? Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised us, yare dekha tare kaha Krishna -upadesa (Cc. Madhya 7.128): “Whoever you meet, simply speak of the instruction of Krishna .”
Arjuna had to be a practical preacher by sacrificing everything for Krishna ’s sake. He is the greatest example because he became fully Krishna conscious. He said, sarvam etad åtam manye yan mam vadasi kesava (Gita 10.14): “My dear Krishna , Kesava, whatever you say, I accept in total.” Not like the rascals who accept Bhagavad-gita only partially. One kind of nyaya (logic) is called ardha-kukkutinyaya (Cc. adi-lila 5.176). Kukkuti means hen. Hen gives an egg every day. But the owner of the hen thinks, “Although the hen gives me an egg every day, its mouth is expensive – I have to feed its mouth. So let me cut the mouth and simply take the egg.” Similarly rascals study Bhagavadgita in this fashion: “Cut this, take this, cut this, take this.” He does not realize that if you cut the head, there will be no more eggs. If you study the Bhagavad-gita according to your whims, you will not get the benefit of studying it.
Therefore we have to learn from Arjuna how to accept the Bhagavad-gita. Sarvam etad rtam manye: “Krishna , You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever You have spoken, I take it as it is.” This is the proper study of Bhagavad-gita.
Thank you very much.