We resolve conflicts best when we resolve the inner conflict first

The Bhagavad-gita is a book of conflict resolution. It was spoken when the territorial conflict between the cousins the Pandavas and the Kauravas was about to blow into a full-scale fratricidal war. And that gruesome prospect created an ethical conflict within Arjuna: what was more important – his warrior duty or his fraternal responsibility?

When Arjuna sought guidance, Krishna spoke the Gita. Therein he went to the root of all conflicts: the conflict between human will and divine will. Krishna being omniscient has the best plan for everything; when we willingly and intelligently play our part in his plan, we relish the fulfillment of love and the achievement of success. But if we defy his will, then we become causes of discord and distress – as the Kauravas had become.

Krishna being omniscient has the best plan for everything; when we willingly and intelligently play our part in his plan, we relish the fulfillment of love and the achievement of success.

The Kurukshetra war originated in the Kauravas’ obstinacy. They had defied Krishna, even when he personally petitioned for peace on the most accommodating terms. Those who refuse to correct themselves need to be corrected by others. Accordingly, the responsibility of checking the nefarious Kauravas was assigned by Krishna to the virtuous Pandavas. The Gita (11.33) enjoins Arjuna to become an instrument of the divine will. By letting his own will stop him from implementing the divine will, Arjuna was becoming a part of the problem. Gita wisdom helped him to correct this misjudgment. By making Krishna’s will the topmost deciding factor, Arjuna attained success – not just in the ensuing war, but also in the war against the illusion that keeps people separated from Krishna and deprived of lasting happiness.

Similarly, when we are faced with conflict, we can first harmonize ourselves with Krishna through sincere surrender. Then with the resulting clear mind we can by Krishna’s grace deal effectively with specific outer conflicts and steadily progress towards life’s supreme success.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 11 Text 33

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2 Comments

  1. Krishna says in the above verse that the Kauravas have already been put to death by Him. But, before the war, hadn’t Krishna made a promise to not kill anyone in the battle, and just be a charioteer?

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