Crisis Management - A Case Study of Arjuna's Rescue, Relief and Rehabilitation by Sri Krishna


The Lord first dealt  with the problem through intellectual level because the trouble at  hand was a question of conflict between emotion and intellect.  Krishna’s  opening focus was therefore on the mind and not on the body since the  world is as the mind looks at it.  The real war Arjuna had to fight  with his own mind and not with his cousins standing opposite.  This  intellectual focus is called Sankhya  Yoga.   It is also called Jnana  Yoga,  the Path of Knowledge. It encompasses the following ideas. Krishna  starts the sermon by stating that

1. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead.
2. The Self within is eternal, indestructible.
3. The bodies enveloping the Self are ephemeral. They have a beginning and an end.
4. Death is certain for the born and birth for the dead.
5. Beings constantly pass through the repeated stages of unmanifest, manifest      and again unmanifest. So why grieve over the inevitable?6. The indwelling Self remains eternally the same.

Krishna  induces Arjuna

1. To act steadfastly towards the goal of Realization without worldly attachments and remain balanced in success or failure and to keep the mind calm and composed while the body acts dynamically towards the higher ideal.
2.The process of pursuing the supreme goal steadfastly with an equanimous mind is Yoga. Continuing on the path of yoga one sheds vasanas /      desires and the mind turns introvert. An introverted mind alone can      meditate and realize the Supreme Self.

Krishna  then describes the nature of enlightened Soul. The Self-realized soul  revels in the bliss of the Self and stays free from all egocentric  attachments and desires. In the state of absolute fulfillment all  worldly enjoyments fall into insignificance. He is like a river which  has entered the ocean. Having reached that supreme state he has  merged with eternity.


The counsels of Sri  Krishna at this plane are called Karma  Yoga. He points out to Arjuna the difference between desire  ridden actions and desireless actions. Desire ridden actions such as  Vedic Rituals dissipate the minds of the performer who remains  focused on enjoying the pleasures and power in the world and unable  to concentrate and meditate on the Suprem Self.

The  Vedas deal with three gunas – sattwa,  rajas and tamas.  They explain the process of evolution from tamas (indolence) to rajas  (active) and from rajas to sattwa (noble). Krishna advises Arjuna to  free himself from the endless pairs of opposites that plague this  world and rise to the state of sattwa and to free himself from the  mania of acquiring and preserving and instead slowly merge with the  Self. An enlightened soul remains ever in supreme peace and bliss. In  that state he will find even the Vedas as redundant to him as a lake  would be in a flooded village.

Krishna  then introduces the idea of action to Arjuna.  Human beings fall  under two classifications, introverts and extroverts. The introverts,  being contemplative, follow jnana yoga, the path of knowledge.  The  extroverts, naturally inclined to action, take up karma yoga, the  path of action.

Arjuna  collapses emotionally on seeing his elders, relatives and friends on  the battleground. Incapacitated to fight the battle, he ceases to  act. Krishna gives the logic and reason for performing action. He  tries to convince Arjuna on the importance of action by giving a new  meaning to the age-old term ‘Yajna’. According to The Lord Yajna  means performing one’s obligatory duties without indulging in ego  and egocentric desires. The idea is performing of selfless actions  dedicated to a higher and noble ideal.

Krishna  defines what right action is. For the most part people live their  lives selfishly, acting merely to fulfill their egocentric desires  and craving for the fruits of their actions. They cling to actions  for their own personal ends. Instead they must direct their actions  to a greater cause, a higher ideal. The highest ideal one can aspire  for is Self-realization. To work towards it, first choose a field of  activity according to your basic nature. Fix the highest goal, take  care that your personal likes and dislikes do not interfere with your  higher pursuit. Do not waste your energies in brooding over the past  and worrying about the future. Act in the present in a spirit of  service and sacrifice for the achievement of your ideal.

Arjuna  asks Krishna why people abandon virtue and court vice, while knowing  it to be wrong and wishing to remain virtuous. What forces them to  commit such sins? A person who knows right from wrong and wishes to  tread right path and yet he feels constrained to take the wrong  direction by some inner compelling force. Arjuna wants that force to  be identified.

Krishna  replies that the underlying force behind such sinful actions is  desire and its modification, anger. Desire is your greatest foe  which, unchecked, ultimately destroys you. Desires are insatiable  like fire. They conceal the Self and cause mental agitation,  suffering and sorrow. Desire can be physical, emotional or  intellectual. It veils the wisdom in an individual and deludes him.  Krishna advises the practice of self-restraint and pursuit of Self  Knowledge to destroy the enemy in the form of desire.

The  knowledge of Self purifies the mind of all agitations and gives  supreme Peace. Those devoted to Self control their senses and pursue  the Self with consistency until they reach it. The ignorant, ever  doubtful of the Self, lack steadiness of purpose. They will not  achieve anything in this world or the next nor will they find any  enduring happiness. Krishna, therefore, advises Arjuna to gain  knowledge and remove all doubts and delusion and thus become  established in the supreme Self.

Having  practised the Yajnas and gained wisdom, a seeker sheds his vasanas /  desires and develops a dispassion for the world. He enters into a  state of renunciation, an essential pre-requisite for practicing  meditation.


Through  physical, mental and intellectual disciplines one must withdraw the  mind from its preoccupation with the world and direct it to the Self  within and render the mind introvert. As soon as the mind tastes the  bliss of the Self it will know that there is no greater enjoyment.  Being established therein, the greatest sorrow in the world cannot  disturb its equanimity and peace. The practice of Yoga (union with  the Self) is done through complete control of the senses and of the  thought flow which produce desires. This sets the stage for the  practice of meditation and realization of the Self.

The  mind in the state of meditation thinks of the Self. The intellect  holds the mind single pointedly upon the Self without allowing it to  slip into any other thought. Whenever the mind wanders away the  intellect brings it back through supervision and control. By  maintaining single pointed thought of the Self the mind becomes  absolutely tranquil and quiet. The Jnani then experiences the  infinite bliss of Brahman. Thereafter, he sees the Self in all beings  and all beings in the Self. He sees the Supreme Being everywhere.

When  he heard the exposition on how to discipline and control the mind,  Arjuna raises a doubt as to whether the mind can be controlled at  all. He wonders how the mind, a restless, turbulent, strong and  obstinate entity can be brought under control. And even if forcefully  brought under control, how can the mind continue to remain steady and  calm? Krishna assures Arjuna that the intellect can control the mind  through sustained practice and dispassion. Arjuna wonders as to what  will happen to a seeker and his efforts if he fails to attain  Self-realization in his lifetime. Will he not be denied the benefits  of both the material and spiritual worlds?

Krishna  allays Arjuna’s concern and assures him that no seeker falling  short of Realization in his life time will ever suffer either here or  hereafter.  Such a person will gain a heavenly bliss and reincarnate  in a pure and wealthy home or in a family of wise yogis, which will  provide him with an ideal environment for him to pursue his spiritual  goal of Realization in his new life. Therefore, Krishna advises  Arjuna to practise yoga with devotion and determination until he  merges with the Supreme Brahman.

Krishna  explains the immanence and transcendence of Brahman. The vicious do  not know or seek God while the virtuous worship Him in four different  ways. Those deluded from the vision of the supreme Reality seek and  gain limited goals in the world, whereas those freed from delusion  strive for liberation and merge with Brahman.

Krishna  explains the procedure to gain Brahman - how one can reach Brahman  through concentrated yoga and single-pointed meditation, a path which  leads one to the supreme abode wherefrom there is no return. He also  mentions the path of return, a realm of temporary bliss, to which one  is transported, only to be brought back to the world of limitation.

It  is explained how the Self - Atman, pervades the entire world. The  wise seek the Self while the ignorant, disregarding the Self, live a  senseless life with vain hopes and aspirations. They go through the  endless cycle of birth and death. Whatever one strives for, be it  material or spiritual, one attains that particular goal. The ignorant  gain their limited, mundane ends but never find fulfillment in their  lives, whereas, the wise pursue the ultimate goal of Realization and  find absolute peace and bliss in their own Self. Krishna, therefore,  advises Arjuna to seek the Self, to oblate all worldly activities to  the Self until spiritual Enlightenment is attained.

Even  highly evolved persons do not know the origin of Brahman. The wise,  however, pursue Brahman with devotion and steadfastness until they  become one with Brahman. Arjuna stands bewildered at the astounding  knowledge and personality of Krishna. He asks how Krishna (Brahman)  manifests Himself in the world.

Krishna  responds by detailing His (Brahman’s) manifested expressions  analytically and tells how Brahman permeates the whole universe. He  reveals Brahman as the source of the material world. At the end, He  points out to Arjuna that the entire universe is an insignificant,  minuscule fraction of Brahman.

When  Krishna presented His omnipresence, Arjuna requested Him to show His  divine manifestations synthetically in one form. Krishna grants his  prayer.

Seeing  the Lord’s cosmic form Arjuna is struck with awe and wonder. He  sees the entire universe in a single immeasurable form as also His  destructive, all-devouring expression. Fraught with fear and  overwhelmed with adoration, Arjuna surrenders completely to that  colossal form. He bows; he prostrates and begs forgiveness for his  lack of reverence towards Krishna in their past association.

The  vision of the Lord’s cosmic form terrifies Arjuna. He pleads with  Krishna to resume His original form, the form of Vishnu. Krishna  assumes His gentle form. Arjuna regains his composure when Krishna  explains the difficulty in gaining such divine vision. He points out  the way to reach the Supreme Being.

Arjuna  questions: Should one worship God with a form or as a formless  Reality? Krishna answers by giving the relevance of both types of  worship to spiritual development. One caters to the devotional while  the other to the intellectual seekers.

Krishna  then presents the most pragmatic approach to God. For seekers who  find it difficult to practice various spiritual disciplines  (sadhanas), He provides a series of alternatives which cater to the  needs of different levels of aspirants. He concludes by enumerating  the qualities of a devotee (bhakta)  of God. He emphasizes that those who possess these qualities are His  true devotees. Then the enumeration of qualities of a jnani (enlightened  person) follows on the lines of the listing of qualities of a Bhakta  earlier.

The  Lord explains the distinct nature of the three Gunas, qualities –  sattva, rajas, and tamas. These Gunas bind beings to the world and  project them into future incarnations. Bu the one who transcends the  Gunas attains Enlightenment, becomes Brahman. The immanence and  transcendence of Brahman are described. Brahman manifests as  macrocosm and microcosm together constituting the ‘perishable’,  Kshara. Brahman also remains as the imperishable, Akshara, aspect of  the perishable. Lastly, Brahman, transcending the Kshara and Akshara,  pervades everywhere as the Supreme Being – Purushottama.

Bhagavan  further elucidates about the divine and demoniac classes of human  beings. Their respective qualities and ways of conduct are  enumerated. The demoniac always live contrary to scriptural  injunctions immersed in agitation and sorrow. With endless desires  they go through the cycles of birth and death. The divine conquer  their ignorance which is based on desires. They live in peace and  happiness until they reach the goal of Enlightenment.

Arjuna  observes that some persons worship with faith while others conduct  their life contrary to scriptural injunction, yet worship with great  Shraddha, faith. He wanted to know about their spiritual status  whether they are of sattvic or rajasic or tamasic nature. Krishna  clarifies by analyzing the three types of Shraddha. How they relate  to food intake, sacrifice, austerity and charity etc since the nature  of these activities helps determine the quality of Shraddha  indicating the goal of human existence.

Krishna  summarizes the discussion by directing the seeker to the main  spiritual paths of karma-action, bhakti-devotion, and  jnana-knowledge. Krishna appeals to Arjuna to follow these paths and  reach the eternal abode of Brahman. The Lord assures the seekers that  His teaching will help them attain spiritual liberation.

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