Chapter II, Verse 36
Sri Nerode’s Translation:
Words of scorn shall fly from the lips of thine enemies who shall slander thine strength. What could be more painful than this?
When you avoid your duty you attract vibrations that create obstacles to any success. Every Kshatriya is a leader. When a Kshatriya fails to embrace the leadership role, those whom he should be leading will turn against him and make every attempt at success more difficult.
Krishna is using every material argument available to convince Arjuna to take action. For one consumed by ego, peer pressure and the opinions of others may motivate action.
The yogi and the awakened Kshatriya don’t care what others say about either personal inertia or overwhelming success. If leaders are overly concerned about the opinions of others, then leadership is not possible. Leadership requires the ability to take others to new and unfamiliar territories. A balanced awareness is required to address the needs of followers who are stuck in past mannerisms and ways of thinking, while also progressing the community through the adoption of new ideas. However, to do nothing is not an option.
The struggle between inertia and progress is played out daily in “free” societies and periodically in oppressive communities. Consider consumer examples. In the United States of America high-definition televisions were available more than a decade before they were widely adopted. The established business model repeatedly placed roadblocks in the way of widespread use. Yet, today, no one seeks to go back to the “soft and snowy” images of standard definition television. Similarly, when Steve Jobs launched revolutionary products like the Mac, the Mac operating system, the iPod, the iPhone and others, there was always a backlash. Obstacles were sometimes legal, sometimes business competition threats and for the first few products even slow rates of adoption by the general public.
Though the original of this verse speaks a simple truth about the gossip of others “speaking contemptuously”, the real meaning is two-fold. The first meaning is that both inaction and wrong actions – those against your natural and apparent duty – will create harmful results. The second covers the “words improper to utter”. These “words” are Sanskrit phrases that produce results not appropriate for one’s role.
Balance in leading progressive action is found by following one’s conscience and by cultivating intuitive wisdom through proven meditation techniques. Every member of the Kshatriya caste should practice proven techniques to develop concentration and introspect daily to evaluate how one’s personal behavior has impacted the greater community. Sustained leadership requires consistent, thoughtful action.
Easter Eggs (hidden references to deeper meanings) in the original version of this this verse include:
Mantras create results. If one, for example, practices a mantra to create personal material excess, the increase in wealth will come with a high price. Not everyone can be rich. If riches are sought through the manipulation of a Sanskrit mantra, the corresponding opposite must also be created.
Nearly every Sanskrit term in this verse speaks to the negative impact of creating egoistic mantras for personal gain.
Download a PDF copy of this post.