Jai: If Arjuna felt
so kind-hearted for everyone he was
supposed to kill in the war, how could
he go out and fight, Grandma?
is exactly what Arjuna asked Lord Krishna.
He said: “How shall I strike my
grandfather, my guru, and all other
relatives with arrows in battle? They
are worthy of my respect.” (Gita
Arjuna had a good point. In Vedic
culture, gurus, the elderly, honorable
persons, and all other superiors are
to be respected. But the scriptures
also say that anyone who acts wrongly
or unlawfully against you or others,
or anyone who supports such deeds, should
no longer be respected, but punished.
Arjuna was confused about his
duty and asked guidance from Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna then instructed him on
the true knowledge of Atma and the physical
Jai: What is Atma,
is also called the Spirit, or the soul.
Atma is never born, never dies, and
is everlasting. Our body takes
birth and dies, but not Atma. Atma supports
the body. Without Atma, the body becomes
dead. Atma supplies the power to our
body, mind, and senses, just as air
burns and supports fire. Weapons cannot
cut Atma, fire cannot burn it, wind
cannot dry it, and water cannot make
it wet. Therefore, we should not grieve
over death of the body because the Atma
inside the body never dies. (Gita 2.23-24)
Jai: What is the
difference between Atma (Spirit), soul,
and body Grandma?
and the same Atma dwells inside all
bodies. Our body changes with time.
Our old-age body is different from our
childhood body. But Atma does not change.
Atma takes a childhood body, a youth
body, and an old-age body during this
life, then takes another body after
death. (Gita 2.13) The Sanskrit word
Atma is translated as Spirit in English.
Spirit is universal and all pervading.
The English word spirit or soul also
means the Spirit residing in individual
bodies. In Sanskrit language, we call
this individual soul Jivatma or Jiva
(also spelled as Jeeva). If Spirit is
compared to a forest, the individual
soul (spirit or Jiva) can be compared
to the tree in the forest.
The body is called a garment of Atma.
Just as we get rid of an old, worn-out
garment and put on a new one, similarly,
Atma gets rid of the old body and takes
a new one after death. So death is like
changing the garment of Atma. (Gita
2.22) All beings are visible between
birth and death; they can’t be
seen before birth or after death and
remain in their invisible form. (Gita
2.28) Therefore, we should not grieve
over death of the body. We are not the
body. We are Atma with a body. Death
just means our soul passes from one
body to another new body.
Jai: Then why did
Arjuna grieve over deaths of loved ones
on the battlefield? Why didn’t
he want to fight?
Arjuna was a very tough warrior, Jai,
but he wanted to run away from the horrors
of war and lead an easy life of a Samnyasi,
a wandering hermit. Lord Krishna taught
us to face the battle of life by giving
Arjuna the beautiful science of KarmaYoga,
the art of peaceful and prosperous living.
Chapter 3 of the Gita tells us more
about this. Arjuna was worried about
the results of the war, but Lord Krishna
asks us to do our duty without worrying
too much about the results, such as
gain and loss, victory and defeat, success
and failure. If you are constantly worried
about the results of your studies, you
will not be able to put your heart and
soul into them for fear of failure.
Jai: But Grandma,
how could Arjuna fight his best if he
wasn’t fighting to win and gain
Arjuna must fight to win, but he should
not weaken his will by worrying about
the result while he is fighting. He
should put all his attention and energy
into every minute of the fight. That
energy is what will bring the greatest
Lord Krishna tells us that
we have full control over our action,
but no control over the results of our
action. (Gita 2.47) Harry Bhalla says:
A farmer has control over how he works
his land, yet no control over the harvest.
But he cannot expect a harvest if he
does not work his land with best effort
and with tools he has.
We should do our best at the
present moment and let the future take
care of itself.
Jai: Could you tell
me more about the secret of success
as told by Krishna to Arjuna?
We should be so completely absorbed
in work or study as to become unaware
of everything else, even of its results.
To achieve the best results from what
we do, we should be focused on the action
with undivided attention.
Action should be done sincerely
without worrying about its results.
The results of the action will
be greater if we put all attention and
energy into the action itself and do
not allow our energy to be diverted
by thinking of results. The result will
depend on energy put into action. We
are asked not to worry about results
during the course of action. This does
not mean that we should not care about
results. But we should not expect only
positive results all the time.
The secret of
living a meaningful life is to be very
active, and do our best without thinking
of our own selfish motives or even the
results. A Self-realized person works
for the good of all.
Jai: What is a Self-realized
person like, Grandma?
A Self-realized person is a perfect
person, Jai. Lord Krishna tells us the
mind of a perfect person is not shaken
by difficulties, does not run after
pleasures, is free from fear, desire,
greed, and attachment, and has control
over mind and senses. (Gita 2.56) A
Self-realized person does not get angry,
is peaceful and happy.
Jai: How can we keep
from getting angry, Grandma?
get angry if our desire is not fulfilled.
(Gita 2.62) So the best way to control
anger is to control or limit our desires.
We should not want too many things.
Desires begin in the mind, so we should
control our mind. If we don’t
control our mind, we drift like a ship
without its rudder. The desire for pleasure
takes one to the dark alley of sin,
gets us in trouble, and prevents our
progress. (Gita 2.67) As a student,
you should set a higher goal for yourself
than pleasure. Put forth your best effort
and concentrate on your studies.
Arjuna was a very good example of such
concentration. Here is a story about
2. The Graduation
Guru Drona was the military teacher
for both the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
At the end of their military training
came final examination time. Drona put
a wooden eagle on the branch of a nearby
tree. Nobody knew it was just a doll.
It looked like a real eagle. To pass
the graduation test, every one of the
students was supposed to cut off the
eagle’s head with one arrow.
Guru Drona first asked Yudhisthira,
the eldest of the Pandavas: “Get
ready, look at the eagle, and tell me
what you are seeing.”
Yudhisthira replied: “I
see the sky, the clouds, the tree trunk,
the branches, the leaves and the eagle
Guru Drona was not very pleased
with this answer. He asked the same
of all the students, one by one. Every
one of them gave a similar answer. Then
came Arjuna’s turn for the test.
Drona asked Arjuna: “Get
ready, look at the eagle, and tell me
what you are seeing.”
Arjuna replied: “I only
see the eagle and nothing else”
Drona then asked a second question:
“If you are seeing the eagle,
then tell me how strong is its body
and what is the color of it’s
Arjuna replied: “I am
only seeing its head and not the entire
Guru Drona was much pleased with Arjuna’s
answer and asked him to go ahead with
the test. Arjuna easily cut off the
head of the eagle with one arrow because
he was concentrating on his aim with
a single mind. He passed the test with
Arjuna was not only the greatest
warrior of his time, but also a compassionate
KarmaYogi. Lord Krishna chose Arjuna
as a medium to impart the knowledge
of the holy Gita.
We all should follow the example
of Arjuna. Read the Gita and be like
Arjuna. “Arjuna Bano, Arjuna Bano,”
my dear grandson! Whatever work you
do, do it with single-minded attention
and put your whole heart and mind into
it. This is the main theme
of KarmaYoga of the Gita and the secret
of success in anything you do.
A word for the youth from Swami
"Whatever you are doing,
put your whole mind on it. If you are
shooting, your mind should be only on
the target. Then you will never miss.
If you are learning your lessons, think
only of the lesson. In India boys and
girls are taught to do this".
Chapter 2 summary:
Lord Krishna taught us, through Arjuna,
the difference between Atma and body.
We are Atma with a body. Atma is unborn
and indestructible. One and the same
Atma dwells inside all bodies, human
or nonhuman. Thus we are all connected
with each other. We should do our duty
to the best of our ability without worrying
about success or failure. We must learn
from our failures and go forward without
letting our failures defeat us. To become
a perfect person, we need to control
or limit our desires.