Chapter II, Verse 10
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
While Arjuna was engulfed in anguish between the two armies, Sri Krishna spoke with a smile on his face. (When the Soul is on the path of doubt, the spirit within clears the path.)
The devotee yogi straddles Spirit and Nature. He waits in a state of sorrowful concern and regret over his past choices. Krishna corrects the devotee.
Arjuna is consumed by ignorance and Krishna laughs. The Sanskrit “prahas” is often interpreted as “smiling”, but for this commentary I am translating the usage as “corrects.” There’s not a great English translation for the concept of Krishna’s attitude towards Arjuna in this verse. For example, prahas in this context could also mean “derides,” or “mocks.” The Western mind is so sensitive that even its language does not have a word that expresses the concept of being corrected with an attitude of love and joy. “Instructs” or “teaches” are not correct either, since Arjuna is already aware of the concepts that Krishna is about to review. “Remind” and “review” do not convey the strength behind Krishna’s words of truth.
Consider a similar situation from personal experience. A friend lays out several rationalizations to support his excuses to not embrace a positive change. Maybe the friend is in tears and first needs a hug. Once the emotions have passed, a discerning counselor will then lay out the reasons why each rationalization is false.
“Don’t take yourself so seriously. Let me explain another way to approach your concerns.”
For the next 43 verses, from verse 11 through verse 53, Krishna states basic truths about the nature of the individualized conscious energy (or soul, or Atman) and its relationship to the illusion of creation.
While these verses contain disciplinary power, the intent behind the correction is like a loving mother who has to repeatedly grab her toddler’s hand to prevent the child from touching a hot skillet.
In essence, the devotee Arjuna is destroying himself with wrong thinking. Krishna firmly grabs Arjuna’s thoughts and redirects Arjuna’s will to keep him from self-destruction.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
O, Bharata (Dhritarashtra) – Addressing the blind mind as King & Ruler. The intellect is in charge of this verse.
Hrishikesha “Lord of the Senses” – Krishna is many things. As “Lord of the Senses”, he is completely in control of the five elements and the five material senses. (See the Epithets of Krishna for a more detailed explanation.)
Prahasant – From the Sanskrit “prahas” with variations that apply to this verse ranging from “smiles” or “bursts into laughter” to “to laugh at,” “to deride,” “to mock,” and “to ridicule.” English does not contain a word that means “to correct another with the highest joy and greatest love according to unquestionable wisdom”.
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