CONTEMPLATION ON BHAGAVAD GITA
Updated: Jun 3
When we think of friendship, we remember Arjuna and his love for Krishna. Nara Maharśi and Nārāyańa are reborn as Arjuna and Krishna respectively. No matter how many difficulties they faced, the Pāndavās always upheld dharma. They had Sri Krishna’s blessings because they had bhakti. Just thinking about such great devotees bestows merit (punya)
dharmam vivardhati yudhiśthira kīrtanéna pāpam prańaśyati vrukōdara kīrtanéna śatru vivadhaśyati dhananjaya kīrtanéna mātrī sutau katha yatām na bhavanti rōgāha
Contemplating on Dharmarāja (Yudhiśtira) increases our dharma buddhi. By contemplating on Bhīma (Vrukōdara) our sins will be washed away. When we praise Arjuna, our enemies will be destroyed. By discussing about Nakula and Sahadeva, we will gain good health. These are the benefits of contemplating on the great devotees. Let us discuss about Arjuna in a little more detail.
When natural calamities strike, we must contemplate on Arjuna. When there are heavy rains with thunderstorms and lightning, and we are scared, we chant arjuna phālgunā kirīti pārthāni Even if we do not know all these names, in times of floods, just chanting ‘arjuna phālguna’ is said to be enough. How did Arjuna become so powerful? The answer to this question lies in the udyōga parvam of the Mahabharata.
eśah nārāyańa krishnaha phalguńāśca nara smrutaha nārāyańo naraścaiva satvam ékam dvidākritam
Nara and Narayana Maharishis
To protect devotees and to ensure welfare of the world, Bhagavān takes many avatāras. To ensure the world’s well-being, Sri Hari took the avatār of Nara Maharśi and Nārāyańa Maharśī in Badarika ashrama. In dvāpara yuga, these Maharśīs came back in the form of Arjuna and Krishna. One Śakti became two parts. We may think Arjuna and Krishna are one, but by taking two forms, the Lord is teaching us the importance of bhakti.
The importance of Bhakti
Once, a brahmin came to Arjuna seeking help since someone had stolen his cows. Arjuna was in a fix whether to follow the rule laid down (for him personally) or to help the Brahmin get the cows back. Finally, he decided that helping someone in distress in the kingdom (prajāséva) was more important than following a rule that applied only for himself. Worrying about following a rule which applied to him would only be selfish, so he decided to help the Brahmin. Yudhiśtira was pleased with Arjuna’s decision and said that since Arjuna’s act was done to uphold dharma, he need not suffer for breaking the rule.
Arjuna said na vrājena charét dharmam iti ne bhavataha śrutam na satyāt vicaliśyāmi satyéna āyudha mā labhét
“Oh brother, I have learnt from you that in matters of dharma excuses should never be made. Since I truthfully obtained these weapons, I must atone for breaking the rule.” Arjuna performed great penance (tapas) and had the vision of Lord Shiva. Shiva blessed him with the weapon pāśupāstrāńi. The other gods also blessed him with various weapons. Arjuna also emerged victorious in the tests which Urvashi subjected him to. Because he was in complete control of his senses, even the curse which he received (during the one year in disguise) became a blessing. Arjuna was not just an accomplished warrior, but he also always upheld dharma. This is why Sri Krishna offered his sister – Subhadra’s hand in marriage to Arjuna. From then on, they became brothers-in-law. Arjuna became Krishna’s ātma and vice-versa.
God always makes devotees his family members. Krishna gave up svargaloka for Arjuna, and Arjuna was willing to give up his life for Krishna. Their bond was so strong. Arjuna’s unwavering devotion to Krishna earned him a place in God’s heart.
When the war was about to begin, both Arjuna and Duryodhana went to meet Krishna who was sleeping. Duryodhana thought himself a very great man, and could not imagine sitting at the feet, so he sat near Krishna’s head. Arjuna with complete devotion sat at Krishna’s feet, and felt very blessed to be able to sit at His feet. When Krishna woke up, He naturally saw Arjuna first since he was sitting at His feet. So He asked Arjuna to choose whether he wanted an unarmed Krishna or His army during the war.
"Krishna, i want only You!"
Duryodhana was very worried that Arjuna would ask for the army, which would mean a sure shot victory for the Pandavas. At that point, Duryodhana only saw Sri Krishna as an ordinary person, and thought an unarmed ally would be of no use in the war. He figured the power of Krishna’s army would be more valuable. But Arjuna saw Krishna as God and said “Krishna, I want only you. There is nothing else we need. You just be by our side. We will handle the rest.” Duryodhana was so relieved on hearing these words. He went away happily knowing that he had the power of Krishna’s entire army.
People who ask God for wishes are like Duryodhana. They deem the objects they desire more important than God Himself. With this bhōgāśakti, they do not realize how much they are losing. If God asks someone whether they want gold or Him, many people would choose gold.
Krishna then asked “O Arjuna, why did you choose Me?” Arjuna replied “Krishna, there is nothing more important than You for us. Whether You take up arms or not, You are our savior. We seek Your protection. You just stand by us.”
On the battlefield seeing his teachers and relatives, Arjuna became perturbed. He said, śiśyas te ham śādhi mām tvām prapannam “Krishna, I am Your disciple. Please advise me on what to do.” Saying these words, Arjuna held Krishna’s feet.
Arjuna’s sharańāgati – complete surrender at the feet of the Lord – benefitted the entire world. We have all been blessed with the Bhagavad Gita. Since these words were spoken by Bhagavān, this Gita is known as Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna’s greatness lies in receiving the upadeśa of Bhagavad Gita from Sri Krishna. This is why in the 10th chapter titled Vibhūti yoga, Krishna says pāndavānām dhananjayaha (10.37) Amongst all the Pandavas, I am Arjuna.
It was because Arjuna had so many wonderful qualities that he was blessed with the Viśvarūpa sandarshana – the Vision of the Cosmic form of the Lord.
yatra yōgéśvarō krishnaha yatra pārthō dhanurdharaha tatra śrīr vijayō bhūtihi dhruvā nītir matir mama – Bhagavad Gita (18.78)
Wherever the Yogeshwara Krishna is present, and where the archer Arjuna is present, Goddess Lakshmi will reside there, and victory and auspiciousness will reign. When we completely surrender to the Lord, He will take care of us in times of difficulty and see us through. Like Arjuna, if we are on the path of dharma, and if we behave in a manner that pleases Him, He will certainly bless us. By listening to this story, May the form of bhakti that you choose from the nine forms of bhakti reap benefits. May Lord Sri Krishna’s blessings be with you always.
Niyamas relevant today
There are a few rules (niyamās) given during the ancient times which I want to tell you about. These are very beneficial in this time of Corona.
akrutvā pāda yoho śaucam mārga tōna śucir bhavét
This verse in Padma Purāńa says that when we come back from outside, we must first wash our feet properly.
We must completely change out of the clothes we wore outside once we come home. This has been mentioned in the anuśāsana parvam of the Mahabharata.
anyatéva bhavét vāsaha śayanīyé narōttama anyat rathyāsu dévānām ārcāyām anya dévahi
The clothes we wear while sleeping, while performing puja and the ones we wear when we go outside must be different. The clothes we wear when we go to work must be different from what we wear at home. When we come home, we must completely change out of these clothes including the inner garments. Many people retain the same vest (which they wore outside) and wear a clean dhoti and sit for puja. This is of no use because all the dirt and germs you picked up from outside are still on you. in fact, when you come back from outside, you must take a bath and then sit for evening puja. If you cannot take a bath, at least wash your hands and feet properly. If all this was quoted way back in the Mahabharata, surely, they must have known what sort of dangers lay ahead in the future.