“He for whom no one is put into difficulty and who is not disturbed by anxiety, who is steady in happiness and distress, is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.15)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friend1: Let’s talk about the qualities of a devotee.
Friend2: Kavi. That is one I like.
Friend1: That means “poetic,” right?
Friend2: Or learned. Someone was asking me about that the other day.
Friend1: About what? How a devotee can be a kavi?
Friend2: They wanted to know how a person practicing bhakti can automatically become eloquent. What if they are a scientist, who just does research all the time? What if they are not skilled at composition? How do they become that way through practicing devotional service?
Friend1: What was your response?
Friend2: I didn’t say anything. Time ran out.
Friend1: What would have been your response?
Friend2: Oh, that’s easy. Goswami Tulsidas addresses this in the beginning of his Ramacharitamanasa. There is Sarasvati Devi, the goddess of learning. To this day people in India pray to her for success in their studies.
Friend1: Quintessential demigod worship.
Friend2: So Tulsidas says that when Sarasvati is called to an area and finds out that the help she’s giving is not for glorifying Hari, or God, she becomes disappointed. When it is for bhakti, she becomes happy that her blessings will be used for the right purpose.
Friend1: It is help from above. That is how a bhakta becomes kavi.
Friend2: Exactly. It’s interesting if you think about it. The Supreme Lord helps you to glorify Him. He sees the effort, and from there He guarantees success.
Friend1: That’s really nice. I know there are other qualities, too. Kind, gentle, compassionate, intelligent, and the like. And devotees can be found in any body or occupation.
Friend2: Yeah, what you do for a living doesn’t matter. Every individual is a spirit soul, part and parcel of God. The qualities of the body are only temporary and they don’t determine whether a person can become a devotee or not.
Friend1: Alright, I’m glad you said that. Let’s talk specifically about the kshatriya. The warrior/administrator, and not just in the inherited sense.
Friend2: A kshatriya by quality.
Friend1: You can find those everywhere. There are heroic people in every society. There are those who are willing to risk their lives to protect the innocent.
Friend2: Absolutely. We owe them so much.
Friend1: Here is a contradiction I came upon. In one verse in the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that someone who does not put others into difficulty is dear to Him.
Friend2: Makes sense. You shouldn’t bother people unnecessarily. This includes killing innocent animals. Every soul is going through the same struggles; they are travelling through the evolutionary chain of bodies that ideally culminates in bhava, or spontaneous ecstasy in devotion to God the person.
Friend1: If we take this verse literally, doesn’t it mean that a kshatriya can never be dear to Krishna?
Friend2: Umm, you realize that this was spoken to Arjuna, the quintessential kshatriya? No one is more dear to Bhagavan than Arjuna, the great bow-warrior and leader of the Pandava army in the Bharata War.
Friend1: Of course I know that. Arjuna was the direct recipient of the words from Krishna. But doesn’t a kshatriya put others into difficulty? Didn’t Arjuna fight in the war and win it? Didn’t he cause injury to the other side?
Friend2: This is very easy to explain. The literal definition of kshatriya is “one who protects against injury.” Arjuna’s fighting was for protection. The Kauravas, the opposing side, had put others into difficulty. Duryodhana was the embodiment of the inverse of the quality found in the verse you mentioned.
Friend1: Meaning that he always put others into difficulty.
Friend2: He tried to kill Bhima by feeding him a poison cake and then dropping him in a large body of water. He tried to burn the Pandavas to the ground by intentionally making a flammable house for them to live in. He took their land. He tried to get Durvasa Muni to curse them in the forest. You can’t really find much worse than Duryodhana.
Friend1: But there is still the issue of difficulty. Don’t warriors cause harm to others?
Friend2: It’s not harm. It’s the just reward. It’s actually mercy. If I get punished for doing something wrong, there is benefit to me in the future. It also gives a clear understanding to society that such behavior will not be tolerated. Just look at Arjuna’s behavior. He was on the side of good and yet he was still hesitant to proceed. He was thinking like you are, that there was no need to cause difficulty for the other side. Krishna cleared his doubts. When on the side of dharma, there is no sin incurred. It’s almost like you are not acting. You are merely an instrument for the Divine will, and so you always stay dear to the person whose opinion matters most.
Never to others in difficulty or strain,
He a preferred position to gain.
Looking good in Supreme Lord’s eyes,
But what for warrior who in battle tries?
Harm the name of the game,
Through destruction honor to gain.
In dharma, works for Krishna does He,
Benefitting all, of sinful reaction free.