Musings on the Bhagavad Gita 10: Redefining Meditation

Gandhi’s illiterate wife once asked him, “You keep saying that all men are brothers, then the British are our brothers too.  Why do you want them to leave the country? Let them rule.”

The Mahatma, the great soul, admits that he could not reply her immediately, it took him a while, “Yes, we all are brothers. And, they have their own house to live. I am just asking them to let us live in our house peacefully, while they live in their house.”

A fight against injustice or an unjust corrupt legal system is certainly not against the law of the land, indeed, it is to uphold the law of the land, justice, and above all the human dignity. Rules, regulations, and legal systems are made to facilitate peoples, not to exploit them.

Krishna Tells Arjuna:

“Meditate!” On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, while facing the enemies, Krishna’s injunction seems to make very little sense, or perhaps no sense at all. How does one meditate in such a setting, under such circumstances?

“My mind is disturbed, Krishna…..” Arjuna wants to scream, but he is holding himself. He doesnot say what he actually wants to say, “You are not making sense, Krishna. What meditation?” His words remain unsaid, unuttered.

But, Krishna understands Arjuna’s dilemma, hence the advice: “Meditate!” Krishna’s meditation is not the same as the modern definition of the word “meditation”. It is not about withdrawing from the world and go to some secluded place.

No, Krishna’s Definition of Meditation

is to “Go Within! Enter the seclusion of your self. Find out the reason of your reluctance to face the challenges of life. Meditate, meditate upon your reluctance, upon its reason….

“Arjuna, you are afraid of the unknown. You fear the adverse consequence of your action. This is your weakness, Arjuna. Face your weakness, face your fear.

“Overcome this fear, this weakness, by knowing your true nature, the true nature of the Self that pervades all. Once you realize That – the True Self – you shall know that you are here to play your role.

“Indeed, Arjuna, to play one’s role is Yoga!”

Krishna’s Yoga

as his meditation, is about fulfilling one’s responsibilities, about playing one’s role efficiently and effectively while focusing upon one’s true identity, and not allowing the mind to distract.

The mind gets distracted and is easily disturbed by thoughts of gain and loss, of success and failure, of pain and pleasure, and etcetera. And, with a disturbed mind, one can never ever be able to execute one’s duties effectively and efficiently.

Hence, Krishna’s injunction, “Meditate! Live Yoga…. transcend the vagaries of the mind, and play your role.”

Arjuna is Still Confused:

“How do I transcend the mind? How do I subdue it? The mind is so unsteady, so powerful – it is easier to control the direction of the wind….”

He is still unable to grasp the meaning of Krishna’s advice to fix the mind upon one’s true identity. One’s true identity is higher than the vagaries of the mind, indeed, higher than the mind itself.

Fixed upon the “self” – one’s true identity – the mind is transformed into buddhi, consciousness, into pure intelligence (not to be mistaken for scholarly academic intellectualship).

Krishna Responds….

“Yes, indeed, the mind is unsteady. It is powerful and difficult to control – but, not impossible. With intensive and repetitive efforts it can be controlled. It can be transformed into buddhi, consciousness, pure intelligence.

“And, then, Arjuna, you shall doubt no more….”

Arjuna asks: “What happens if the mind is not yet transformed into buddhi, into consciousness, into pure intelligence – and, life comes to an abrupt end.”

He is Still Fearful.

He is still thinking about the outcome of the war ahead, “What if I die while the mind is still not subdued?”

“No effort is lost,” Krishna assures him, “life is a continuum. It does not end with the physical death. Life continues. You, Arjuna, shall be born again to pick up the thread you leave in this life….

“But, why? Why do you think about that possibility? You are a warrior, you have won many wars. You can subdue the mind, you can overcome its vagaries in this very life. Fix your mind upon something of a higher nature – your true self – and gain added strength, added courage…. Face the challenges ahead!”

Thus Ends the Sixth Chapter,

wherein Krishna repeatedly reminds his cousin, his disciple and friend, Arjuna, to meditate upon one’s self, to realize one’s true identity, and draw all the strength from such realization to face the challenges of life…..


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