Even when a big enemy is out there, the bigger enemy is in here

The Bhagavad-gita is a discussion on a battlefield between a warrior and his charioteer-turned-counselor. Since this conversation occurs just moments before the start of the war, we might expect it to comprise primarily strategies for fighting. But curiously, after describing its setting, the Gita doesn’t discuss a single war strategy.

A further striking example of the Gita’s transcendence to its setting is Krishna’s telling Arjuna (03.37) to know his enemy. Rather than pointing to any of the visible and formidable enemies arrayed right in front of them, Krishna points to lust – lust that degenerates into wrath and acts as the voracious and vicious enemy of virtue.

The essential battle that the Gita asks all of us to fight is against this inner enemy of selfish desire. Such desire fills us with craving for fleeting pleasure and obscures our awareness of our blissful nature as eternal parts of God, the reservoir of all happiness.

If the Gita’s thrust is the inner battle, why does it ask Arjuna to fight an outer battle? Because that battle is essential for empowering people to fight their inner battle. His opponents are led by miscreants who have become captivated by the enemies within them. By thus becoming puppets of their inner enemies, they themselves have become enemies of the world. So they need to be overthrown to provide people a supportive social environment for fighting against their inner enemies.

The Gita’s setting reminds us that no matter how urgent or unsurpassable our external problems seem to be, our bigger problem lies within: our selfish and short-sighted desire which disconnects us from Krishna. By connecting with him through the practice of bhakti-yoga, we can, by his mercy, gain higher happiness and deeper insight, thereby learning to tackle the toughest of outer problems.

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2 Comments

  1. Hare Krsna Prabhu,
    Thank you for the wisdom accessible to us.
    Haribol

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  2. Lust (KAMA) is the biggest enemy inside

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