Arjuna's First Lesson

When Arjuna accepts his Friend Krsna as his guru, Krsna begins His teachings with a reprimand.

A lecture given in Los Angeles, on August 17, 1973

sri bhagavan uvaca
asocyan anvasocas tvam
prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca
nanusocanti panditah

"The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead." Bhagavad-gita 2.11

WHAT CAN BE LIVING or dead? The body. Krsna chided Arjuna: "The behavior you are showing is not that of a learned man." Nanusocanti panditah. Indirectly Krsna said, "You do not know things as they are. Your are not learned; you are a fool." Even though Arjuna had spoken many things in support of his being nonviolent and not wanting to kill his kinsmen, Krsna chided him for being in the bodily concept of life.

Those in the bodily concept of life can speak many learned things, but after all they are fools.

yasyatma-buddhi-kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma idya-dhih
yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah

"A human being who identifies this body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth worshipable, and who goes to the place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is to be considered like an ass or a cow."

What is the body? Kunape tri-dhatuke. It is a bag of three elements: kapha, pitta, and vayu, or mucus, bile, and air, or a combination of flesh, bone, blood, mucus, stool, urine, and so on. But foolish persons take this lump of bones and flesh to be the self: "I am this body."

No learned man will think like that, but the whole world is misled under this conception. This is animal mentality. Animals thinks like that, not learned men. The learned man will say aham brahmasmi: "I am a spirit soul. I am a servant of God." This is learned speaking. "I am not this body."

Arjuna has accepted Krsna as his spiritual master. The spiritual master has the right to rebuke the disciple to give proper direction, just as the teacher or father has that right. Although Krsna and Arjuna are friends, Arjuna has accepted Krsna as his spiritual master. The spiritual master should not speak any compromising words, as is done between friends. He must say the right things: "You are wrong. Don't talk nonsense. You are talking like a very learned man, but you do not know anything."

Conditions of the Body

The body exists in two conditions: when the living force is there, and when the living force is gone. The body moves because the living force is there. As soon as the living force is gone, this nice body will no longer move. And it will decompose. "Dust thou art; dust thou shall be."

Earth, water, fire, air, sky these five gross elements are the ingredients of the body. As soon as the soul leaves the body, the earth energy goes to the earth, the water energy goes to the water, and so on. That is a scientific law, called conservation of energy. The energy is never lost. It goes back to the original stock.

Without the living force, the body is called dead; with the living force, the body is called living. A learned man does not lament for the body in either case. A learned man knows Brahman, or spirit. He has realized Brahman. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma. One on the brahma-bhutah stage can understand, "I am not the body; I am separate from the body."

In former ages this was common knowledge. We can see it displayed five thousand years ago, when the Battle of Kuruksetra was fought. The ksatriyas, or warriors, were fighting one another severely, but still they were not in the bodily concept of life. But Arjuna, a ksatriya, was so overcome with the bodily concept of life that Krsna chided him: "You are talking like a learned man, but you are not a learned man."

We conclude from Krsna's words that anyone in the bodily concept of life is not learned; he's a fool. So this world, now at least, is a fool's paradise. No one is learned, because everyone is working under the bodily concept of life.

In reproaching Arjuna, Lord Krsna took the first step in educating him, just as a teacher, before giving a lesson, may first tell the student, "You are writing incorrectly."

With this verse the Bhagavad-gita is now actually being spoken. Krsna states the first principle to Arjuna: "You do not know anything. Don't talk as if you are a learned man."

The Three Qualities

Each of us in the same position as Arjuna, talking as if learned. Yesterday two young men came to see me. They spoke no philosophy, only nonsense. One of them was talking about stopping starvation, as if he had taken a contract to stop starvation. But starvation is due to the laws of nature. You cannot stop it.

There are three qualities of nature goodness, passion, and ignorance and the natural laws go on under these three qualities. Therefore we shall always find three classes or statuses of living conditions. That will be explained in the Bhagavad-gita.Different species of life are everywhere, because the three qualities act everywhere. For example, there are some good trees, which produce nice fruits and flowers, and there are trees with no fruit and no flowers. They may live for a very long time, but they serve no useful purpose. Any tree that does not give us nice fruit or nice flowers is sinful.

There are also pious animals and sinful animals. The cow is a pious animal, and the dog is a sinful animal. Among the birds, the crow is sinful, and ducks, swans, and peacocks are pious.

Similarly, in human society there are pious men and sinful men. If one has wealth, beauty, high birth, or good education, these are signs that one was pious in the previous life. The opposite of these indicates impiety in one's previous life.

So the three qualities goodness, passion, and ignorance are working everywhere. Therefore, there must always be three classes: high class, middle class, and low class. You cannot make anyone classless. That is not possible. As long as the bodily concept of life is present, there must be these three classes. And those who are condemned must suffer. Everyone is condemned in the material world. But there are first-class condemned, second-class condemned, and third-class condemned.

Unchangeable Destiny

You cannot stop the natural occurrence of first class, second class, and third class. For example, fifty years ago when I was in Bombay, I would see a class of men living on the footpath. Now the same class of men is still there. Today everyone is getting more money, but still the condition is the same. Even if you get more money, the other circumstances will force you to stay in the same condition you were in fifty years ago. That is called destiny. You cannot change your destiny. That is not possible.

Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us not to try to change our destiny. Everyone is trying to change his destiny. "I am poor man; I must become a very rich man." But you cannot change your destiny.

In this world every one of us is bound by the laws of karma, destiny. By destiny we must get a certain amount of happiness and distress. There is always a mixture of happiness and distress. You cannot have unadulterated happiness here. Unadulterated happiness, real happiness, can be achieved in the spiritual world, not in the material world. Here we have to enjoy and suffer a certain amount of happiness and certain amount of distress. We cannot change that. That is the law of nature in the material world.

Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam says, tasyaiva hetoh prayeteta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah. People are wandering within the material world in different forms of life under different conditions. But they are not getting information of Krsna. That is their misfortune. So during this period of continuous wandering in different species of life on different planets, one who is fortunate who is actually anxious to unite with the Supreme Lord contacts a guru. How does one gets this consciousness, this desire to unite with the Lord? By associating with devotees. We are holding this class, and even outsiders who come can understand something, and they can then become serious to understand God and how to go back home, back to Godhead. Then Krsna helps at once. That is the process.

Krsna is there within your heart. As soon as you become a little serious, Krsna is ready. He is sitting with you as a friend, simply looking for the opportunity to help when you choose to come back to Him. That is Krsna. He's always sitting with you. But we are not willing to go back home, back to Godhead. We want to become God in the material world. That is our position. Instead of going back home, back to Godhead, to live with God, we want to become God here. That is our position. Therefore we are suffering.

Servants of God

Nowhere can you be God. God is one. Nobody can be equal to Him or above Him. Everyone is subordinate to God. But those who are not learned foolish people try to be happy in the material world by adjustment and by trying to become God. That is atheism and the demoniac tendency. But those advanced in knowledge know, "We are eternally servants of God; we cannot become God. Better to remain servants of God. That is our happiness."

Those in the bodily concept of life cannot advance in this real knowledge that we are eternally servants of God. That is our constitutional position. But if I deny that "No, I am not a servant" then I become a servant of maya, the illusory energy of God. I have to remain a servant. That is my constitutional position.

One must first understand one's identity. That is the first lesson given by Krsna: "You are lamenting for the body, but the body is not your identity. You are thinking incorrectly."

If your coat is destroyed, that does not mean you are destroyed. If your car is destroyed, that does not mean you are finished. Real knowledge is to know, "I am not the car; I am not the coat; I am not the body." Although sometimes we become a little sorry in relation to the car, coat, or body, our identity is different from these. So Krsna says, "You are talking like a learned man, but you do not know your identity. You are not the body."

Foolish Talk

Anyone not in perfect knowledge should not take the position of talking like a learned man. That is cheating, and that is foolishness. First of all know things as they are; then talk. Otherwise, it is better not to talk than to talk foolishly. Therefore, sometimes in spiritual advancement there is a process called maunam, which means not speaking. If a disciple is too foolish, the spiritual master may order him, "Don't talk. Please remain silent." Because if he talks, he'll simply talk nonsense. Why should he spoil his energy by such nonsense talking? Better to stop talking. Meditation is also like that. If instead of talking or doing nonsense one stays silent for some time, that is good for him.

Meditation and maunam, silence, are not meant for devotees, but for the less intelligent. The devotees' business is to talk always about Krsna. Why should they stop talking? Maunam? No. Kirtaniyah sada harih. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that one has to chant and talk of Krsna twenty-four hours a day. Where is the question of silence? Silence is for those who are nonsense. But for those who are actually advanced, there is no such restriction. Vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane. We should use our talking power to describe the glories of the Lord. That is kirtana.

When Pariksit Maharaja learned he would die in seven days, he went on hearing the Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sukadeva Gosvami twenty-four hours a day, without even eating or drinking. And they both got salvation; they went back home, back to Godhead. How? One was hearing, and one was chanting. And what was the subject matter? Krsna, that's all.

So subjects about Krsna are so nice that you do not have to do anything but simply hear. You have your God-given ears. You can simply sit down and hear. Satam prasangan mama virya-samvido bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah-kathah. Sat-sangameans talking about Krsna, hearing about Krsna not from a paid reciter, but from the self-realized devotee, who is working for the Lord. Satam means "devotees," and sat-sanga means "the association of devotees." Sat means "devotee" or "God" or "spiritual." So sat-sanga means "spiritual association." The more you associate with sat, with devotees, the more you become liberated.

In the material world we are simply in bad association, duh-sanga. So if we want to get rid of this bad association, we must associate with the devotees. Sat-sangat mukta duh-sanga.

Arjuna has the best opportunity. He's hearing from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He's so fortunate. He's talking with the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face, directly. Our business should be to follow the footsteps of Arjuna. How? As Arjuna understood Bhagavad-gita, try to understand in that way. Arjuna accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: "Krsna, You are the Supreme Person, the most pure." Even if we do not understand Bhagavad-gita, if we follow Arjuna we can understand: "Arjuna has understood like this that Krsna is the Supreme Brahman, Supreme Personality of Godhead." That is called receiving knowledge in parampara, or disciplic succession. We don't have to tax our brain trying to understand Krsna. We have poor intelligence, so we cannot understand in that way. But if we simply accept what Arjuna says, then we are perfect.

If you follow the authorities, then you understand. Dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam. It is very difficult to understand what is actually religion. People are puzzled. But we can understand if we follow the mahajanas, the great spiritual authorities. The Vedic scriptures mention twelve mahajanas, including Brahma, Siva, Manu, Kapila, the Kumaras. If we follow their footsteps, we can understand what is actually religion.

Or we can follow Arjuna: "Arjuna has understood like this, so let me understand in the same way." That's all. Then we understand Bhagavadgita. But if we want to speak in a very scholarly way without understanding Krsna, that is simply a waste of time.

Many so-called scholars and philosophers are doing that. They do not understand Krsna, but they talk only nonsense, and such talks are very much appreciated by others. That is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: sva-vid-varaha-ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh. These rascals so-called scholars, so-called incarnations are accepted by a similar class of animals. The Vedic method is to follow the footsteps of the predecessor spiritual masters, who understand things fully. Then we'll also understand, and our life will be successful.

Thank you very much.