58. An Important Lesson From the Bhagavadgita

Lord 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


Synapsis: Here is an important lesson to learn from the Bhagavadgita. Find out.


Just as each human being, you are endowed with numerous potentialities. You have the potential to be good or bad, cruel or kind, active or lethargic, violent or nonviolent, proud or humble, angry or peaceful, aggressive or gentle, lustful or self-restrained, greedy or generous, selfish or selfless, friendly or hostile, and so on. The potentialities and their possible uses, permutations and combinations are also numerous. You can use them to regulate your life or create your destiny.

No matter where you live or what you do, they are always available to you because they are your intrinsic qualities, which are rooted in your essential character or core personality. No one can take them away, and no one can prevent their use, unless there is a catastrophic injury or harm to the mind and body.

You have the same choice with the objects and people who become a part of your life and work for you or follow you. It is true that your ability to use them depend upon many extrinsic factors such as your birth, background and circumstances, some of which you can overcome and some you cannot.

It is difficult to be peaceful when your life is in turmoil, or generous when your financial position is strained. Yet, the potentialities always exist. If you do not use them, it may be because your helplessness or failure is self-inflicted due to lack of faith, conviction or resolve. It is like a bird which is hesitant to fly even though it has been endowed with powerful wings.

It is not necessary that you have to always choose only one of the dualities. Nature has endowed you with them, considering all the possibilities and probabilities of your life to ensure your survival. You have to choose them according to your intelligence, need and circumstances.

If the purpose is higher, even a negative quality such as violence or anger becomes a noble virtue. Strength is a vice in the body of an evil person who wants to harm others and meekness a virtue in the person of a renunciant who wants to spread love and peace. Fear in front of God is acceptable, but fear in the presence of an evil person is not. This is what we learn from the Bhagavadgita. If the purpose is selfless and divine, your choices will not even bind you or taint you. The purpose or intention is important. Purpose makes all the difference. There are no universal, absolute virtues or vices in creation. Virtues and vices, which are but manifestations of Brahman, are according to the purpose for which they are used.

For example, violence becomes a virtue and an essential duty for a warrior who is engaged in a righteous war against evil, as in case of Arjuna. In Hinduism, actions are not measured or judged by the distinction of vice and virtue but by intent and purpose. If the intent or purpose is selfish, all actions which arise from it are considered evil. This is true even with such bodily tasks as eating and sleeping. As the Bhagavadgita declares, those who eat food for their own enjoyment without offering to others (or God) verily eat sin.

Having a clear and definitive purpose in life, therefore, is important. You have the freedom to choose your purpose also, which can be inferior or superior according to your essential nature, knowledge and wisdom. You may choose a higher purpose or a baser purpose, a noble purpose or an evil purpose, and selfish purpose or a selfless purpose. If you choose a noble purpose, that purpose will set you free from feelings of guilt, remorse, suffering, unhappiness and the consequences of sin.

Therefore, choose wisely with a higher and nobler purpose according to the best and the highest potentials and possibilities in you. What you are born with, the sum of your inherent potentialities and possibilities, is the only wealth you can truly claim as yours. Consider it the seed investment in the enterprise of life.

Create a purpose and a mission to engage in the battle of your life against the forces that want to outwit you, with conscience and discernment as your guide and protection. Intelligence (Buddhi) is the active lord (Isvara) in the body. He is a reflection of the Self, just as Isvara (the Lord of the Universe) is the reflection of Brahman in Nature. Use your intelligence or discerning wisdom (vivekam) which arises from it, making it as pure and brilliant as possible with knowledge and virtue, and follow it with faith and resolve.

Consider that it is your guru, your Lord Krishna, the source of your celestial song and your means to freedom, light, peace and happiness. Practice Buddhi Yoga to perfection. Those who excel in Buddhi yoga do not require a Guru. They can be "lamps unto themselves." This was the message of the Buddha, in whom intelligence (buddhi) rose to its perfection and showed him the Path to Nirvana. Intelligence shines when the mind is free from desires and attachments. Hence, renunciation is recommended by all the Dharmic Traditions of India.

There are no certainties in life, but only possibilities and probabilities. With your intelligence and potentials, and by defining a clear and definitive purpose, you can decide which of them you prefer to manifest or come true in your life according to the best of your intentions. Here is the one strategy that seem to have a great potential to be universally applicable and effective. And it can be used by anyone, without having to depend upon others.

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