Chapter II, Verse 9
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
So Arjuna spoke to the Lord of the Senses, “I shall not fight”, and held his silence.
“Master, I refuse to fight.”
The lowest point that a devotee can reach is to refuse action, but the rock-bottom of the ego presents the greatest opportunity for improvement. (When a society hits rock-bottom, there’s a high likelihood of a revolution.) Change happens. A person who refuses to make an effort is guaranteed to progress more slowly than one who strives to improve.
The variations in this string of verses from verse 4 through this verse 9 have a deeper meaning when using the Bhagavad Gita as a Sanskrit primer. However, there are also nuanced meanings for the casual reader. Consider the following three reinterpretations of each verse. First, consider two possible casual, surface meanings:
“My past has given me good, if not great results, I will repeat my past.”
“My experience reveals that life is ambiguous, so who am I to judge this life? I will continue as I have done in the past, aware that nothing is perfect.”
“I cannot kill those who might kill me as long as I am weak in my personal identity.”
“I want to live, but I don’t want to kill, even in self-defense. I need help to make a decision.”
“If I kill all of my enemies, don’t I essentially become my own enemy? What is existence without contrast?”
At last Arjuna surrenders. He refuses to fight and waits for help. In verse 7, Arjuna cried for help but was still full of his own ego. In verse 9, Arjuna sets aside his own ego and is truly receptive to Krishna’s counsel.
“I can’t figure this out on my own, I need wise guidance to make the correct choices for progress.”
Perhaps the casual reader struggles with addiction. Recapping this group of verses with a nod to the psychology of addiction and the beginning of recovery, following is a second example of the insights provided by this group of similar verses:
Arjuna repeats past addictions because they have served him satisfactorily.
Through some contemplation, Arjuna compares his experiences to each other. He rationalizes that his addictions are okay even if they have conflicting outcomes.
Arjuna compares his addictions to the addictions of others. He justifies repeating his own because no other addiction has produced better results.
Confronted with the option of either choosing to follow the addictions of another or choosing death, Arjuna doesn’t want to make the choice. What’s the point of replacing one addiction with another? He seeks a way out of this unreasonable choice.
Arjuna argues that replacing one addiction with another, so-called better, addiction is a dead end.
At last Arjuna surrenders. Only when Arjuna sets aside his own ego, he becomes truly receptive to a recovery program.
If a meditating devotee has developed an awareness of the subtle centers of conscious energy (the chakras), then this group of verses may increase the understanding of each. For example:
Arjuna contemplates the coccygeal chakra. The center focused on the earth element is all consuming in the ignorance it creates. The coccygeal chakra is the tiniest prison of the soul.
Arjuna contemplates the sacral chakra. The water chakra suggests movement and transformation, but wherever water goes and whether it is a solid, a liquid or a gas the element is still just H2O.
Arjuna contemplates the lumbar chakra. The fire element offers to destroy what has been and replace it with ash and a release of energy. This change may or may not be beneficial, so why embrace it?
Arjuna contemplates the dorsal chakra. Air, the associated element can contain aspects of fire, water and earth. Air is potentially a medium for greater self-expression, but the ego resists the freedom air offers.
Arjuna contemplates the cervical chakra which is the center of the ether element. Ether reveals that the lower four elements are born from this pervasive ingredient. The blind intellect rejects this simplicity and reasons that if “it’s all the same, then what’s the difference”.
Arjuna arrives at the medullary chakra. The limitations of creation meet the unlimited willful, conscious energy at the medulla oblongata. The previous revelation that all of creation was born from ether, now confronts the knowledge that ether is a product of willful, conscious, energy. Essentially, creation is self-created from consciousness.
For a scripture to address humans at all stages of development, it must have layers of meaning that offer insight into one’s current needs. The Bhagavad Gita certainly meets this definition. When it is studied carefully, the tale expresses concepts that can be applied to every aspect of human development.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra – Author/narrator to the blind mind – this verse addresses the material aspects of wrong reasoning and unwillingness
Hrishikesha – Krishna in form as “Lord of the senses”
Parantapa – Arjuna both in need of encouragement and receiving needed encouragement from Krishna.
Govinda – Krishna in form as the One who herds and protects the average human.
The impact of the Sanskrit combinations suggested in this verse is destructive through non-action. The meter returns to the standard of eight syllables per line in verse 9.
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