THEOSOPHY, Vol. 38, No. 3, January, 1950
(Pages 108-110; Size: 9K)
(Number 3 of a 24-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 24 articles have the same name.]

"THE BHAGAVAD-GITA" -- INFORMAL ESSAYS

ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS

THE opening chapters of the Gita present Arjuna in a most unhappy condition, but Krishna, though "tenderly smiling," does not appear to feel sorry for his pupil, beset by so many difficulties. Instead he emphasizes what a sorry figure a warrior cuts when he sits on the battlefield with his head in his hands. This seems to be an indication that sympathy is of secondary importance to a spiritual guide such as Krishna.

If we remember always to interpret the personage of Krishna as a symbol for the constantly-aspiring spiritual center of perception within each man, it is not difficult to understand the relationship between Krishna and "sympathy," for if the struggle of the creative spirit is the core of lasting happiness in human experience, then the greatest help that can be given any man is to encourage him to persist in his efforts. What ordinarily passes for sympathy often flows from a belief -- in Theosophical terms, fallacious -- that life is, at times, too hard to meet with tranquility and redoubled effort.

Throughout the Gita, Krishna keeps reminding Arjuna of latent positive capacities. At times he addresses his slightly quavering disciple as the "best of the Kurus," and the tribe of Kurus was not a lowly company. Again he is frequently referred to, by an interjection into the discourse, as "Dhananjaya, the despiser of wealth," while elsewhere Krishna makes clear that men may aspire to success in spiritual effort after they have set aside all desire for gain, property, or riches. This implies that Arjuna, despite his temporary weakness, has already filled certain indispensable requirements, and by this means has become one of the select few of "fortune's favored soldiers." Krishna also addresses Arjuna as "Son of Bharata," or in other words, a personification of that Warrior Quality in man which enables him to attack difficult odds and to emerge victorious.

A short time ago, one of the few modern heirs to Indian greatness was brought before a large American radio audience. The Governor of Illinois, in introducing Jawaharlal Nehru, included in his remarks of high praise numerous expressions of sympathy for the trying years Nehru spent in prison as a consequence of championing the cause of Indian political freedom. In response, Pandit Nehru, after thanking the Governor for the good will which his words were undoubtedly meant to convey, expressed the opinion that such sympathy was "rather wasted." He then proceeded to explain something which Krishna clearly knew, and which Arjuna had not yet fully discovered -- that the highest happiness for man comes from a transcendental fulfillment of one's life, and that such fulfillment is always associated with times of dire struggle, calling forth all of man's moral capacity and mental ingenuity.

This might also explain why presentations of the Theosophical philosophy frequently strike a casually interested public as being "cold." Like Krishna, all those whose effort is to represent Pure Theosophy aim to assure each "warrior" that he does not need sympathy, but requires additional means to increase his stamina and perceptiveness. Generations who have turned to conventional religion for sentimental solace will undoubtedly find something missing in, let us say, the public presentation at the United Lodge of Theosophists of the Theosophical perspective. But what is missing is the same thing that was missing when Krishna refused to give Arjuna any encouragement in believing that he was really not the man for the battle. Krishna may be said to appear in many guises, and there is all the room in the world for human warmth and understanding within the context of human relationships among those who are dedicated to the Theosophic life. But Krishna's most inspiring embodiment, and therefore the embodiment responsible for all persevering happiness, is that of the Disdainer of Weakness.

All this might be correlated, in turn, with Wm. Q. Judge's suggestion on page five of the Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita -- that the scripture needs to be studied "by the light of that spiritual lamp -- be it small or great -- which the supreme soul will feed and increase within us if we attend to its behests and diligently inquire after it. Such is the promise by Krishna." Man, to fully know himself, must be thrown back fully upon himself. He must not rely upon someone else's formulation of truth, upon religious utterance or ritual. Nor must he rely upon his supposed former acquisitions of knowledge, for real knowledge relates to an unfolding present which always requires modifications in the formulation of what has been learned before. Arjuna cannot even fall back upon whatever "goodness" he has attained as a worthy man, for Krishna informs him at once that the volunteer in spiritual warfare must transcend all of the "human" qualities, including that of goodness.

If this were the whole task Krishna set for himself in instructing Arjuna, the Bhagavad-Gita could be contained in a very few pages. But Krishna's discourse makes possible the study of that philosophy and psychology which intensifies the power of soul, and illustrates some of the first principles of such a philosophy. For the warrior-soul who sufficiently understands his calling, every principle discovered by the combined lights of spirit and mind becomes a worthy weapon, part of his equipment in "fighting out the field." The dissemination of philosophy differs in this respect from the dissemination of religious teaching. The latter can only preserve, while it is within the natural province of the former to create.

If we are to inquire about the light of that "spiritual lamp" which may be increased by the Supreme Soul, we come to the necessity for what has been termed the Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine. That men are all touched with the grace of a mysterious divinity has been a common intuition of most religions, but the secret of establishing further communion has too often been closed away behind theological doors. The "light of the spiritual lamp" is increased as the disciple Arjuna perceives all things in Krishna, as well as Krishna in all things --and when he establishes a view of spiritual evolution made possible by the communal relationship of all beings. Our perceptions, therefore, never grow by "grace," nor do they grow automatically: they expand as we reach out toward and penetrate other beings. This is the philosophical basis for the religious formulation holding that we "receive the most when we give the most to others," for in the act of giving we are best able to see another in his or her true light.

In a later section of Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, Mr. Judge does hold forth one kind of encouragement, for he says that "reliance and pressure upon our inner nature, in moments of darkness, are sure to be answered by the voice of Krishna, the inner guide." And so it was with Arjuna. No matter how difficult and complicated was the task of battle selected for him by Krishna, he was enabled to feel sure of one thing -- Krishna, himself, would always be there.


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ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS
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