Being correct is not enough; we need to be correctly understood

Sometimes when we speak something important or insightful, we may think that we have done our part. But if others haven’t understood what we have said, then we haven’t done our part fully. And if we justify our unclear communication by claiming that their incomprehension is their problem, then we have failed to understand the purpose of communication, especially spiritual communication on Krishna’s behalf.

Krishna himself demonstrates how to take responsibility for effective communication. After speaking the stupendous wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita, he doesn’t rest on his laurels, expecting Arjuna to be impressed and to shower praises. Instead, he concludes his talk with a concerned, compassionate enquiry: Has Arjuna heard attentively and has his illusion been dispelled? (18.72) Erudite Gita commentators such as Srila Vishvanath explain that Krishna’s enquiry reflects his willingness to re-explain any portion of the Gita that Arjuna hasn’t understood – or to even repeat the full Gita if necessary.

Following Krishna’s example, resourceful Gita teachers have for millennia explained it in a way intelligible and appealing to their contemporary audiences. Thus, they have ensured that the Gita remains a living book that speaks to people, generation after generation.

By similarly taking responsibility to communicate intelligibly, we too can play our part in continuing the Gita’s living tradition. Of course, we can’t make people accept, but we can do our best to remove the cognitive obstacles on their path to acceptance. Even if they don’t accept, we will become spiritually fulfilled by contemplating the Gita’s message, as happened to Sanjaya, the Gita’s narrator. Though his sharing the Gita didn’t transform Dhritarashtra’s heart, still it enriched his own heart with ecstasy (18.76-77).

Our mood in sharing the Gita can be: If people don’t accept, that is their problem; but if they don’t understand, that is our problem.

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2 Comments

  1. Dandwat !!! Very well written article. !!!

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  2. Listen do not just hear
    Listen with heart not just ears
    Listen with open mind with Krishna in the center and his rays emitting his Blessings
    Listen to share the learning, the Grace and as the Marathi saying advises ‘Share even one sesame seed with seven persons (original Marathi saying – ek til saat janaat vaatun khaavaa)
    Shubha Din

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