Those who bow before the altar of hate can’t bow before the God of love
Some people, being driven by misdirected religious zeal, become inimical and violent towards others. Such people claim to be worshiping God, but they contemplate their hatred for others much more than they contemplate God. What is enthroned in their heart is hatred, not God.
Having negative experiences with such religious violence, some people become apprehensive on encountering the Bhagavad-gita’s battlefield setting. However, their apprehension is misinformed because the Gita essentially calls not for violence, but for transcendence – for raising human consciousness from the material level to the spiritual level.
The Gita explains that the supreme spiritual reality, the all-attractive supreme person, Krishna, is benevolent towards everyone (05.29), and he wants his devotees to become similarly benevolent (12.13). We are meant to assist him in spiritualizing society by contributing according to our social position and psychophysical disposition.
If spiritual consciousness is to be fostered in society, the Gita recognizes with hard-eyed realism that elements who are inveterately anti-spiritual and anti-social need to be neutralized. Such neutralization ultimately benefits those elements too – it stops them from doing further bad karma and reaping its concomitant suffering. The Gita’s setting reflects an exceptional situation when the devotee was a warrior and the opponents were incorrigible. For most of us in our daily lives, these exceptions hardly ever apply.
Reflecting its essential message of spiritual compassion, the Gita (11.55) stresses that only those who work without aversion to anyone can attain life’s supreme destination.
When we understand the Gita’s salutary essence, we practice bhakti-yoga and harmonize ourselves with the God of love, thus driving hatred out of our heart. With our consciousness thus purified, we are guided to act with spiritual compassion towards everyone, even those who provoke us. Far from becoming agents of hate, we become agents of love.
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