Transforming a battlefield into a classroom
Teachers sometimes use experiential learning methods to teach more effectively. For teaching the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna uses the ultimate experiential learning method by transforming a battlefield into a classroom. He teaches through a real-life experience, in fact, one of the most intense of real-life experiences: a battle.
With the war about to start, the battlefield atmosphere is bound to be frenzied. However, Krishna’s tone is neither frenzied nor hurried. His words are precisely reasoned; his demeanor, unflappably composed.
Actually, the physical battlefield is the less distracting of the two battlefields that Krishna transforms. The bigger battlefield is in Arjuna’s mind, where the battle between emotion and reason has already started and emotion has caught reason in a stranglehold.
In the Gita’s first chapter (01.28), Arjuna confronts the heart-wrenching prospect of participating in the annihilation of his whole clan. He suffers an emotional breakdown. Though he attempts earnestly to reason his way out, emotion trumps reason. In despair, he turns to Krishna: “Help!”
Krishna, by his presence and presentation, lifts Arjuna out of both the outer and the inner battlefields. The supreme teacher takes his student to magnificent summits of wisdom that the world has rarely scaled before or after. When they return to the battlefield at the end of the Gita, Arjuna is intellectually illumined, spiritually strengthened and emotionally enlivened.
By thus transforming a battlefield into a classroom, Krishna demonstrates that he can utilize every circumstance as a setting for education. To offer us round-the-clock counsel, he makes himself constantly available in our own hearts. If we accept him as our teacher by meditating on the Gita and on his indwelling presence, he will use the unlikeliest of settings to impart the most unforgettable of lessons.
When we thus make Krishna our mentor, our life-journey will transform into an adventure in ever-increasing wisdom.
“Arjuna Said: My Dear Krishna, Seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.”