“Sanjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.” (Bhagavad-gita, 1.46)Download this episode (right click and save)
The teaching is that no one falls from the spiritual world. The promise comes directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. From the highest planet to the lowest, there is repeated birth and death. You go to heaven but eventually have to come back. You suffer in hell, even for a long time, but at some point get a chance at redemption.
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.16)
Those who go to God’s abode don’t have to take birth again. Krishna is God the person, the detail behind the abstract. His image clears up the confusion about what God looks like, what His preferences are, and what His outlook towards the many living entities is.
The idea is that if you are with God then you won’t want to enjoy separate from Him. The definition of falling down is the presence of the negative. That is the original sin, if you will. As long as the desire remains, there is rebirth. The presence of that desire is monitored specifically at the time of death in the form of consciousness. From this we get another promise. Whoever thinks of Krishna while quitting the body does not have to take birth again.
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
The bow warrior Arjuna was with Krishna quite a bit. This was during Krishna’s time on earth, where He descends either personally or in an incarnation form. Arjuna risked sin by refusing to fight in a great war in which so many people counted on him to uphold justice. How could this happen considering that God was right there next to Him?
1. To teach about the Supersoul
Krishna was there, but as the charioteer. The Supreme Lord was not directing everything from the start. This shows another amazing aspect to God. He holds His devotees so dear that He allows them to command Him. This is in stark contrast to the image of an old, vindictive man watching disapprovingly from above.
Arjuna’s temporary lapse in judgment was arranged by Krishna to teach many things, including the nature of the Supersoul. God is actually always with us. Not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. He was there on the chariot with Arjuna, but He was also in the hearts of each and every fighter, on both sides. The good guys and the bad have the presence of the Divine within them.
Arjuna righted the wrong only after humbly submitting before Krishna, who then changed roles. He went from friend to teacher. The guru is similar to God. He is the spiritual master, representing the same interest. In this way the guru is like an incarnation of the Divine, coming to rescue in the same way that Krishna was there for Arjuna.
The Supersoul is within everyone, sanctioning and permitting. We make the decision to act, but there is no guarantee the chosen action will occur or have the intended result. This can be for something as simple as deciding to speak. Some people lack the ability. The external cause is material nature, inhibiting the individual through the makeup of the body. The original cause, hidden in the background, is the Supersoul, who allows and denies based on karma, or fruitive activity.
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
This doesn’t mean that the Supersoul will never step in. The key is to make the approach, which Arjuna did. Only then were his doubts cleared. He learned that acting with detachment is the proper way. To follow prescribed duties is to stay above sinful reactions. The best path is to act according to Krishna’s directions, for then the karma turns into bhakti, thus relieving the burden of future births.
Illusion in the material world is often referred to as maya. This has a negative connotation. The lengthened form of the same word is mahamaya, which provides a more complete definition. Maya is an energy coming from Krishna. We can think of it like the amusement park operator. The individual makes the decision to enter the park, and someone else is responsible for the construction. The operator is there to make sure the experience goes as desired.
Mahamaya ensures forgetfulness of God, which is the root of all problems in a material existence. Arjuna’s case was a little different. Since He was so dear to Krishna, he was under the influence of yogamaya. There is illusion in this as well, but the effect is always positive. Yogamaya is so strong that a person can be with Krishna all the time, witness His amazing ability, and still not be consciously aware of His divine nature.
This is intentional, to increase the enjoyment from the relationship. In Arjuna’s case, yogamaya helped to spark a wonderful discussion, today known as the Bhagavad-gita. This “Song of God” has lessons applicable to all age groups, cultures, and time periods. It starts by revealing the basic distinction between body and spirit and ends with the promise of full safety through total surrender in devotion, which Arjuna followed.
So unsure that weapons to drop,
Case of self-doubt Arjuna got.
But how when Krishna right there standing,
Should not duty behavior commanding?
A lesson on Supersoul position to see,
Permitting, but keeping choices free.
Over devotees special energy to overtake.
Illusion for more enjoyment’s sake.