“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)Download this episode (right click and save)
How do we know that the promise of an afterlife is true? Prominent scientists say that it is a fairytale. Science is the real way to establish the authenticity of something. Observation and experiment. This is what we are told. Of course, easily forgotten is the existence of senses other than sight. Sound gives proof of the birds sitting in the tree. Taste indicates the presence of salt. Touch gives information of other living entities nearby. Smell gives proof that the Spring season has arrived, with the blossoming flowers and the growing grass.
Skepticism as a policy doubts everything that is heard. Yet even the skeptic asks that others believe them based on their word alone. This proves that there is faith extended no matter what. A good way to be certain of the truth of the afterlife is to extend faith to someone who has been right about so many other things. The speaker of the Bhagavad-gita is one such authority figure.
1. The changing of bodies
Krishna tells Arjuna not to lament over impending death. Arjuna is about to embark on a journey that, if successful, will surely lead to others being killed. Those “others” include dear ones, like teachers, friends and family members. The Pandavas are aligned with righteousness, and though being the leading warrior for that side Arjuna is afraid of the consequences.
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
Krishna explains the truth of reincarnation in a single verse. The embodied soul continually passes. There is boyhood, youth, adulthood, and then old age. We know that those changes occur and that the individual remains the same throughout. Krishna spoke these words five thousand years ago on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The words were true then and they are true today. We don’t need a microscope to understand. In the same way that the soul continually passes in this life, at death it passes on to another body.
2. Lust leads to anger
In a pre-match interview, a tennis player is calm, kind, and composed. They say nice things about the opponent, they smile, and they behave nicely. A few hours later, that same player is cursing on the court and throwing their racket. Interspersed is yelling, showing lack of control in behavior. The cause is lust, which is known as kama in Sanskrit.
Krishna explains that lust turns into anger. The reason is that material desires often go unmet. In the example of the tennis player, the desire is to play well. That involves hitting the ball in the preferred way. The problem is that the desire is met many times. Just think of how many tennis balls are struck in a match. Then when one or two shots aren’t executed correctly, there is frustration. That anger eventually leads to bewilderment and loss of intelligence. Breaking the racket and screaming out loud will do nothing to change the situation. Yet that is the behavior, and it is due to kama, about which Krishna is correct.
3. Too much eating and too much sleeping is bad
Krishna reveals the process of yoga. This is connecting the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. One consciousness linked to another. The result is blissful, and so every person should strive to be a yogi. The issue is that the result is not easily achieved. Control of the mind is required. To control the mind the senses should be restrained. We can think of the senses like horses, and if they are not restrained they can lead the chariot in all sorts of directions.
“There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
Krishna says to be a yogi, a person shouldn’t eat too much or sleep too much. The extreme at the minimum should be avoided, also. Basically, don’t stuff yourself and don’t starve yourself. Sleep a decent amount, but don’t spend the entire day in bed. Based on the focus on health in the modern day, we see that Krishna is indeed correct. Control in eating and sleeping is vital to good health, to extending life.
4. What great men do, others will follow
Arjuna is confused over whether or not to work, which is known as karma. If all results are due to the material nature, why should the living entity act at all? The teaching from Krishna is to follow prescribed duties, but with detachment. This will benefit both the individual and others, for it is known that great men set an example for others.
“Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)
One example given is King Janaka. He was known throughout the world as a transcendentalist. He was Videha, or without a body. Of course he had a physical body, but there was no attachment to it. He was always in yoga. Yet he wasn’t living in a cave. He hadn’t renounced his whole family. He lived as king of Tirahuta, and he faithfully carried out his prescribed duties. Despite being detached from the world, he still had tremendous attachment to his daughter. He named her Sita, and she was the goddess of fortune’s incarnation on earth. Sita is the wife of Rama, and together the pair make an ideal object of worship for those looking for clarity of the afterlife. Rama is the same Krishna, i.e. the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
We know from experience in the present day that people follow what great men do. The “greatness” may come through exceptional ability in athletics, acting, or politics, but there is attention all the same. Thus it becomes important for a leader to show ideal behavior.
5. The spiritual master’s ability to impart wisdom
Though He is God Himself, Krishna plays the role of spiritual master, or guru, to Arjuna. The idea is that man’s mental speculation can only take him so far. There is observation and experiment pertaining to the natural world, but to understand the essence of life the only path is to approach someone who already knows. Transcendental knowledge descends, whereas speculative knowledge ascends.
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
Approach a spiritual master. The self-realized soul has seen the truth; they are tattva-darshi. By rendering service and inquiring submissively, the guru can impart real knowledge. Krishna gave this recommendation to Arjuna, and we see proof of the claim from many examples subsequent. So many people have approached a spiritual master coming in the line of Arjuna and been saved as a result. They were rescued from the ignorance of maya, or illusion. Their doubts were cleared up. They not only gained firm belief in the afterlife, but they lost all personal desire as well. Through ascending the different stages of spiritual life, they reached the pinnacle, where they only wanted attachment to Krishna and His service, life after life.
How to be sure of afterlife without sight?
Trust Krishna and many times He’s been right.
How detrimental to eat and sleep too much,
And anger coming from kama just a touch.
How the spiritual master real knowledge giving,
Example of reformed souls, past and today living.
People following what great men do,
Like Prabhupada, Janaka and others too.