Sorrow Opens The Doors of Wisdom

Krishna and Arjuna

by Jayaram V

Notes: I have translated the Bhagavadgita twice. The first one was a loose translation. The second one was a word to word translation with a detailed commentary. The commentary is however different from what you will find here. In this section I will share with you my thoughts about the knowledge, philosophy and wisdom of the Bhagavadgita as I understand it from my perspective. Jayaram V


From sorrow comes wisdom, when you are ready. The Buddha began his spiritual journey when he became aware of the suffering hidden in human life. Our suffering arises from the fact that we live in a transient world and can take nothing for granted. Gain and loss are the twin aspects of life, from which we are never free. When we are attached to things, we experience attraction and aversion to them and gain and loss. We are thus caught in the whirlpool of life subject to duality and emotional instability.

However, sorrow which is hidden in every aspect of human life, serves a great purpose in our lives. It opens our eyes to the harsh realities of life and makes us think about the nature of suffering, its causes and remedies, and the lessons one can learn from it. Arjuna suffered from an emotional trauma when he entered the battlefield of Kurukshetra. His suffering opened a new door of wisdom to him, when he opened his mind to Lord Krishna and expressed his concerns, doubts and fears to him.

Sorrow is also a great healer. When we are exposed to pain and suffering we look for the causes, and try to address them. In the process, we find solutions and do our best to mitigate our suffering. Thus sorrow improves as well as heals.

However, excessive sorrow is a great burden.  It brings out the best as well as the worst in us, according to our nature. In some, it opens their eyes to the truth that they cannot entirely address their problem on their own and they need help from others or from God. In such situations, it is better to surrender to God and pray to him for help. In others, it creates a crisis of faith, breaking their faith in God or in themselves, and pushes them to the edge of self-destruction.

From the Bhagavadgita we learn that we can overcome suffering by performing righteous actions in the right manner, cultivating right knowledge that leads to liberation and practising devotion which leads to the absorption of the mind in the thoughts of God. In this austere effort, detachment, renunciation, purification of the mind and body, intelligence, etc. are great facilitators.

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