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Gita Lesson - 0401: Smile of Lord Krishna

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 04
Lesson - 0401: Smile of Lord Krishna
By Raja Subramaniyan

After Arjuna surrendered, Lord Krishna started talking with a smile. We may wonder how one can smile after listening to a pitiable story of another.

Example: A child is playing with a balloon and suddenly the balloon bursts and the child starts crying. An adult watching it will obviously smile.

When Arjuna cries, giving a 'valid' reason, Lord Krishna smiles due to the same reason. Although both Lord Krishna and Arjuna appear to be mature adults, there is a sea change between them with respect to knowledge.

Arjuna is an expert in many fields. However, he, like most of us, does not have the knowledge with respect to himself. Since he has not learnt formally about himself, he is similar to a child. Most human beings have self-awareness but they do not have self-knowledge. Only when we gain self-knowledge, we become wise and grow out of the childishness that is displayed in all our dealings with the world.

Lord Krishna was waiting for Arjuna to meet the last qualification to receive the ultimate knowledge, which is to surrender to the teacher. Since Lord Krishna wants to help Arjuna, he smiles showing his happiness that finally Arjuna confessed his inability to end the suffering and surrendered. This is the second reason for his smile.

Lord Krishna gives the summary of the entire Gita in his opening remark (Verse 11) by saying 'wise people do not suffer'.

Teaching 1: Wise people do not suffer

From Teaching 1, we derive the following six statements:

1. Wise people do not grieve the death or possibility of death of a near and dear one because they know who they are. (They have gained self-knowledge.)

2. Undesirable events like death will continue to happen in the lives of both the wise and the ignorant.

3. There is a big difference between how such undesirable events are faced by the wise and ignorant.

4. Ignorant people suffer due to reasons like death just as a child suffers when his balloon bursts.

5. Wise people do not suffer because they know the facts with respect to death, just as an adult knows about the nature of a balloon.

6. Ignorant people will continue to suffer as long as they remain ignorant.

This teaching indicates that Arjuna is suffering because he is not wise. Therefore, the solution to the problem is to become wise. Gita shows the path for the ignorant people to become wise, which is the solution to all the problems.

'Death' is a cause of suffering to all the human beings. If it is proved that this most important reason for suffering is not really a cause of suffering, then we can understand that no situation in life could be a cause of suffering.

The situation that caused grief in Arjuna is mainly due to the possibility of death of his teacher and grandfather. All of us assume that death is a cause of suffering. It is not so.

Example: In the TV news, it is shown that a plane is being hijacked. Our hearts do not break and we do not plunge into deep sorrow immediately. We enjoy the music program that follows the news clipping. However, if we learn that someone very close to our heart is in that plane (which is being hijacked) then we are shattered.

From this example, it is very clear that the death or the possibility of death of human beings have no impact on us until the words 'I' and 'mine' are associated with the event.

If we analyze all the miserable situations or sorrowful occasions in our life, we will invariably find that the words 'I' or 'mine' are associated with all of them and that we are not unduly perturbed by similar happenings in life of strangers. This shows that sorrow is not inherent in any event.

Teaching 2: Attachment is the cause of suffering

Thus, 'death' is not the cause of the suffering. Our association with the event like death is the cause of suffering. We need to gain the knowledge about the words 'I' or 'mine' or in short, we need to gain self-knowledge.

The difference between the ignorant and the wise is the presence or absence of self-knowledge. If we can show the event that happens is not connected with ourselves then we are not affected by the event.

Example: The medical report shows that I have cancer. I am affected deeply. However, if it is shown that the report pertains to someone else with the same name as mine, then I am relieved. I am no longer affected by the event.

Thus, if it can be shown that we are not really associated with the events that we face, and then we will not be affected by such events.

Chapter 2: Wisdom is the solution [Verses: 10 - 11]

2.10 Sanjaya said: Oh Dhrtarastra, at that time Krishna, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.

2.11 Lord Krishna said: You are grieving for those who should not be grieved for. At the same time, you are speaking the words of the wise. The wise do not grieve for the living or for the dead.

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