Arjuna Teaches Us How to Serve the Spiritual Master in His Absence

Krishna on battlefield

I ran across this interesting compilation of quotes this morning on the Prabhupada News website, by Vidura Prabhu. This is a nice reminder that Krsna is present today, through His spoken words on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, and by chanting his holy names. And that Srila Prabhupada is also present today, through his words and instructions. I have done some slight editing (highlighting), and have included the full text and purports to SB 1.15.27-31 at bottom of post. -Vyasasan das

Arjuna Teaches Us How to Serve the Spiritual Master in His Absence
by: Vidura dasa

Oct 23 2011, USA — “The Lord left behind Him the instructions of the Bhagavad-gita not for the benefit of Arjuna alone, but also for all time and in all lands(1). […]The problem which arose in the heart of Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra was solved by the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. […]The merciful Lord left behind Him the great teachings of the Bhagavad-gita so that one can take the instructions of the Lord even when He is not visible to material eyesight(2). […] Thus the Bhagavad-gita, or any authentic scriptural sound representation of the Lord, is also the incarnation of the Lord. There is no difference between the sound representation of the Lord and the Lord Himself. One can derive the same benefit from the Bhagavad-gita as Arjuna did in the personal presence of the Lord.” (SB 1.15.27)

“Arjuna began to think of the Lord’s instructions to him on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. Only those instructions began to eliminate the tinges of material contamination(3) in the mind of Arjuna.” (SB 1.15.28)

“As soon as Arjuna turned his attention towards the instructions of the Lord, as they are inculcated in the Bhagavad-gita, his true color of eternal association with the Lord became manifest, and thus he felt freed from all material contaminations.” (SB 1.15.29)

“As soon as Arjuna took up the instructions of the Bhagavad-gita, expert as he was, he could at once eradicate the material conception of Lord Krishna, his eternal friend. He could realize that the Lord was still present before him by His instruction(4), by His form, by His pastimes, by His qualities and everything else related to Him. […] One is not able to feel the presence of the Lord in all circumstances until one is endowed with the required transcendental vision made possible by devotional service prescribed in the revealed scriptures. Arjuna had attained this stage long before on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, and when he apparently felt the absence of the Lord, he at once took shelter of the instructions of the Bhagavad-gita(5), and thus again he was placed in his original position*.” (SB 1.15.31)

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Kṛṣṇa-kathā, Part 2

Srimad Bhagavatam

The position of Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Śukadeva Gosvāmī is unique. Mahārāja Parīkṣit is the right person to hear about the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī is the right person to describe them. If such a fortunate combination is made possible, then Kṛṣṇa-kathā immediately becomes revealed, and people may benefit to the highest possible degree from such a conversation.

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The Passing Away of Bhismadeva

Lord Krishna and Bhismadeva

…The dealings of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Bhīṣmadeva on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra are interesting because the activities of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared to be partial to Arjuna and at enmity with Bhīṣmadeva; but factually all this was especially meant to show special favor to Bhīṣmadeva, a great devotee of the Lord. The astounding feature of such dealings is that a devotee can please the Lord by playing the part of an enemy.

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
First Canto, Chapter 9, Text 38

The Passing Away of Bhismadeva

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Lord Krishna’s Merciful Glance

…The Lord diminished the duration of life of the opposite party by His merciful glance. It is said that all the fighters who assembled on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra attained salvation by personally seeing the Lord at the time of death. Therefore, His diminishing the duration of life of Arjuna’s enemy does not mean that He was partial to the cause of Arjuna. Factually He was merciful to the opposite party because they would not have attained salvation by dying at home in the ordinary course of life. Here was a chance to see the Lord at the time of death and thus attain salvation from material life. Therefore, the Lord is all good, and whatever He does is for everyone’s good.

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 1, Chapter 9, Text 35

The Passing Away of Bhismadeva in the Presence of Lord Krsna

sapadi sakhi-vaco niśamya madhye
nija-parayor balayo rathaṁ niveśya
sthitavati para-sainikāyur akṣṇā
hṛtavati pārtha-sakhe ratir mamāstu

sapadi—on the battlefield; sakhi-vacaḥ—command of the friend; niśamya—after hearing; madhye—in the midst; nija—His own; parayoḥ—and the opposite party; balayoḥ—strength; ratham—chariot; niveśya—having entered; sthitavati—while staying there; para-sainika—of the soldiers on the opposite side; āyuḥ—duration of life; akṣṇā—by looking over; hṛtavati—act of diminishing; pārtha—of Arjuna, son of Pṛthā (Kuntī); sakhe—unto the friend; ratiḥ—intimate relation; mama—my; astu—let there be.

In obedience to the command of His friend, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa entered the arena of the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra between the soldiers of Arjuna and Duryodhana, and while there He shortened the life spans of the opposite party by His merciful glance. This was done simply by His looking at the enemy. Let my mind be fixed upon that Kṛṣṇa.

Purport

In the Bhagavad-gītā (1.21-25) Arjuna ordered the infallible Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to place his chariot between the phalanxes of the soldiers. He asked Him to stay there until he had finished observing the enemies he had to face in the battle. When the Lord was so asked, He at once did so, just like an order carrier. And the Lord pointed out all the important men on the opposite side, saying, “Here is Bhīṣma, here is Droṇa,” and so on. The Lord, being the supreme living being, is never the order supplier or order carrier of anyone, whoever he may be. But out of His causeless mercy and affection for His pure devotees, sometimes He carries out the order of the devotee like an awaiting servant. By executing the order of a devotee, the Lord becomes pleased, as a father is pleased to carry out the order of his small child. This is possible only out of pure transcendental love between the Lord and His devotees, and Bhīṣmadeva was quite aware of this fact. He therefore addressed the Lord as the friend of Arjuna.

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Advent of Bhagavad-gita


The Advent of Bhagavad-gita

Today is the anniversary commemorating the day when Sri Krishna spoke Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, at the place known as Kurukṣetra.

Traditionally devotees go to Kurukṣetra (dharma-kṣetra, a place where religious rituals are performed) ) and recite Bhagavad Gita from early morning until the next morning, perform arati to Bhagavad Gita and to Krishna and Arjuna upon the chariot, offer lamps, and discuss the significance of the Bhagavad-gita.

Devotees who cannot get to Kurukṣetra, can honor the blessed event by reading or reciting the Bhagavad-gita, and discussing the subject matter of Bhagavad Gita in the association of devotees.

Distribution of Bhagavad-gita’s on this day is also a very auspicious activity to perform.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is – Macmillan 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca
dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre
samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva
kim akurvata sañjaya

dhṛtarāṣṭraḥ—King Dhṛtarāṣṭra; uvāca—said; dharma-kṣetre—in the place of pilgrimage; kuru-kṣetre—in the place named Kurukṣetra; samavetāḥ—assembled; yuyatsavaḥ—desiring to fight; māmakāḥ—my party (sons); pāṇḍavāḥ—the sons of Pāṇḍu; ca—and; eva-certainly; kim—what; akurvata—did they do; sañjaya—O Sañjaya.

Translation

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: O Sañjaya, after assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do, being desirous to fight?

Purport

Bhagavad-gītā is the widely read theistic science summarized in the Gītā-māhātmya (Glorification of the Gītā). There it says that one should read Bhagavad-gītā very scrutinizingly with the help of a person who is a devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and try to understand it without personally motivated interpretations. The example of clear understanding is there in the Bhagavad-gītā itself, in the way the teaching is understood by Arjuna, who heard the Gītā directly from the Lord. If someone is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gītā in that line of disciplic succession, without motivated interpretation, then he surpasses all studies of Vedic wisdom, and all scriptures of the world. One will find in the Bhagavad-gītā all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gītā. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

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Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra

Bhagavad-gita As It Is
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra

Duryodhana clearly felt that the victory of the Kurus depended on the presence of Bhīṣmadeva. He was confident of the full support of Bhīṣmadeva and Droṇācārya in the battle because he well knew that they did not even speak a word when Arjuna’s wife Draupadī, in her helpless condition, had appealed to them for justice while she was being forced to strip naked in the presence of all the great generals in the assembly.

…it is already concluded that all of them would die in the Battle of Kurukṣetra for joining the party of the sinful Duryodhana. Duryodhana was, of course, confident of his victory on account of the above-mentioned combined strength of his friends.

TEXT 1

TRANSLATION

Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: O Sañjaya, after assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukṣetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do, being desirous to fight?

PURPORT

Bhagavad-gītā is the widely read theistic science summarized in the Gītā-māhātmya (Glorification of the Gītā). There it says that one should read Bhagavad-gītā very scrutinizingly with the help of a person who is a devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and try to understand it without personally motivated interpretations. The example of clear understanding is there in the Bhagavad-gītā itself, in the way the teaching is understood by Arjuna, who heard the Gītā directly from the Lord. If someone is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gītā in that line of disciplic succession, without motivated interpretation, then he surpasses all studies of Vedic wisdom, and all scriptures of the world. One will find in the Bhagavad-gītā all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gītā. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

The topics discussed by Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Sañjaya, as described in the Mahābhārata, form the basic principle for this great philosophy. It is understood that this philosophy evolved on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, which is a sacred place of pilgrimage from the immemorial time of the Vedic age. It was spoken by the Lord when He was present personally on this planet for the guidance of mankind.

The word dharma-kṣetra (a place where religious rituals are performed) is significant because, on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present on the side of Arjuna. Dhṛtarāṣṭra, the father of the Kurus, was highly doubtful about the possibility of his sons’ ultimate victory. In his doubt, he inquired from his secretary Sañjaya, “What did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do?” He was confident that both his sons and the sons of his younger brother Pāṇḍu were assembled in that Field of Kurukṣetra for a determined engagement of the war. Still, his inquiry is significant. He did not want a compromise between the cousins and brothers, and he wanted to be sure of the fate of his sons on the battlefield. Because the battle was arranged to be fought at Kurukṣetra, which is mentioned elsewhere in the Vedas as a place of worship—even for the denizens of heaven—Dhṛtarāṣṭra became very fearful about the influence of the holy place on the outcome of the battle. He knew very well that this would influence Arjuna and the sons of Pāṇḍu favorably, because by nature they were all virtuous. Sañjaya was a student of Vyāsa, and therefore, by the mercy of Vyāsa, Sañjaya was able to envision the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra even while he was in the room of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. And so, Dhṛtarāṣṭra asked him about the situation on the battlefield.

Both the Pāṇḍavas and the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra belong to the same family, but Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s mind is disclosed herein. He deliberately claimed only his sons as Kurus, and he separated the sons of Pāṇḍu from the family heritage. One can thus understand the specific position of Dhṛtarāṣṭra in his relationship with his nephews, the sons of Pāṇḍu. As in the paddy field the unnecessary plants are taken out, so it is expected from the very beginning of these topics that in the religious field of Kurukṣetra where the father of religion, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, was present, the unwanted plants like Dhṛtarāṣṭra’s son Duryodhana and others would be wiped out and the thoroughly religious persons, headed by Yudhiṣṭhira, would be established by the Lord. This is the significance of the words dharma-kṣetre and kuru-kṣetre, apart from their historical and Vedic importance.

TEXT 14

TRANSLATION

On the other side, both Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells.

PURPORT

In contrast with the conchshell blown by Bhīṣmadeva, the conchshells in the hands of Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are described as transcendental. The sounding of the transcendental conchshells indicated that there was no hope of victory for the other side because Kṛṣṇa was on the side of the Pāṇḍavas. Jayas tu pāṇḍu-putrāṇāṁ yeṣāṁ pakṣe janārdanaḥ. Victory is always with persons like the sons of Pāṇḍu because Lord Kṛṣṇa is associated with them. And whenever and wherever the Lord is present, the goddess of fortune is also there because the goddess of fortune never lives alone without her husband. Therefore, victory and fortune were awaiting Arjuna, as indicated by the transcendental sound produced by the conchshell of Viṣṇu, or Lord Kṛṣṇa. Besides that, the chariot on which both the friends were seated was donated by Agni (the fire-god) to Arjuna, and this indicated that this chariot was capable of conquering all sides, wherever it was drawn over the three worlds.

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