Words of Wisdom – Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 1: 32-37

Arjuna speaks to Krishna:

Krishna and Arjuna
Krishna and Arjuna

“O Chief of Cowherds [Krishna was a cowboy in his youth], I have no desire to win this war for the sake of kingship and happiness. What to us is kingly power and the pleasures it brings?

In these verses we see how Arjuna has begun to view this war. He assumes that it is all about having rulership of a kingdom, and having the power and the perks that go with it—pleasure and enjoyment.

“Those for whose sake we desire these things—kingship, pleasure and enjoyment—they are all here ready to do battle, willingly abandoning their lives and riches:

“Teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers in law, grandsons, brothers in law, thus kinsmen.

We read this list before in the previous issue, but now Arjuna is now getting a reality check on who is on this roster. He is coming to realize that the major players on both sides are descended from the same ancestors—everyone is related to everyone else, and every reason they have for getting into this war in the first place is going to leave no one to enjoy the spoils. They are going to kill each other.

“I have no desire to kill them for a kingdom, even though they are bent on killing us, Slayer of Madhu*, not even for the sovereignty of the three worlds.

* Slayer of Madhu – An epitaph of Krishna who is an incarnation of Vishnu, the Sustainer, who killed the demon Madhu (‘destroyer of delight’).

“For the Sovereignty of the Three Worlds”

Arjuna uses this statement to emphasize his opposition to the war, for most would willingly fight for this alone, but Arjuna says no, “not even for the sovereignty of the three worlds”. What is the significance of the ‘three worlds’, and why would anyone covet rulership over them?

The sovereignty of the three worlds refers to rulership, or control, of the body, the emotions and the mind. I think we would agree that most people would see this as a desirable goal worth fighting for, but Arjuna is saying that not even for this will he go forward with this terrible war. This is how affected he is by the realization of who and what he is up against.

Three Worlds

The three worlds are earth, sky and heaven, the worlds of humans, ancestors and gods.

The earth is the body. The sky, or atmosphere, is emotions. Heaven is mind-no-mind.

In the body, the earth is below the diaphragm, the sky is above the diaphragm, and heaven is above the third eye.

The body is the physical plane, the earth. The feelings are the atmosphere, the astral, or emotional body, which permeates and extends beyond the physical body. Mind-no-mind is heaven, the etheric, or causal body that permeates the head and brain.

These are some of the different ways the concept of the ‘three worlds’ is thought of.

“What joy would there be for us in striking down the sons of Dhritarashthra, Krishna? Misfortune would surely cling to us by having killed them.

“Therefore we are not justified in killing the sons of Dhritarashthra, our own kinsmen, O Janardana*. How, having killed our own people, can we be happy?

* Janardana – ‘Agitator of Men’, an epitaph of Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, the divine sustainer, maintainer and protector of life. Arjuna is throwing it in Krishna’s face in this verse—Krishna is the Sustainer of Life, yet he is urging a war.


In a very short time, Arjuna has talked himself out of going forward with the war against his enemies. He cannot justify it. He sees it in terms of his own history, what he knows, and what he has been taught, and it just doesn’t add up. He sees it as logically wrong—remember Drona (‘reasoning’)? He was Arjuna’s teacher, but he is fighting on the side of Arjuna’s enemies.

You will recall that the “sons of Dhritarashthra”, the “enemies”, represent the desires of the mind. Arjuna has begun to doubt the wisdom of doing away with them. After all, if there are no desires to fulfill, whence comes happiness?


The enemy armies outnumber Arjuna’s, and Krishna’s army is among them. But Arjuna has chosen to have Krishna drive his chariot over having the use of His armies—Arjuna has put God in the driver’s seat.

Durga Ma

Beautiful Krishna Images courtesy of rajbgm.wordpress.com


This post and text is original research material and is copyrighted. You are allowed to share this material for personal, non-commercial and educational use with the proper citations, references and links / tags back to my website. Clicking ´Share´ on FB or ´Reblog´ on WordPress would be most appropriate.Please obtain written permission from Anandi first if you want to use this material on your workshop, blog, organization, webpage, book, seminar or for any commercial purpose. All information provided, be it through sessions conducted or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel. How you choose to act on this information is up to your own free will and is entirely your responsibility.

IV:22-23 The Spiritual Adventure of Gain By Chance

One must take up the spiritual journey as an adventure and enjoy the process. Adventures do have their challenges (that’s what makes them adventures), but with this spirit, challenges are exciting omens of excellent progress. One can then grow old with much contentment and many good stories. 

Content with gain by chance, beyond duality, desireless, indifferent in success and failure, even though one has acted, one is not bound. 

“Content with gain by chance”
This is a lovely way to describe ‘adventure’. Can you imagine a life where everything is known in advance and always in your comfort zone? This would be a good definition of ‘boredom’!

When you are not acting with will, purpose and intent as Krishna has directed, you don’t know how things will turn out. When you are not acting deliberately for the purpose of getting things to be a certain way (this describes the norm of daily life), the results of your actions are unpredictable, and adventure is afoot!

Two Ways to Truth

There are two ways to proceed in seeking the Truth: (1) You can try to prove the Truth to be as you believe it to be by trying to validate your belief, or (2) you can subject yourself to the Truth Itself and find out first hand what it is. Wouldn’t you prefer the latter?

The first way, the way of modern science and religion, is safer for the ego, but if your theory is wrong, you end up with nothing. If on the other hand you subject yourself to Truth/God, you will experience for yourself what That is. You won’t be able to prove it to anyone else, but you will know for yourselfThis is one meaning of “self-knowledge”.

Know Thyself
Self-realization, self-knowledge,
knowing Truth for yourself.

It is the second way that this verse is suggesting is the proper way to seek Truth: Surrender to Truth/God. It is a gamble, so you will have to cultivate some trust in what you are seeking to not let you down. It may be a gamble but it is the only way you will ever know through your own experience what is True and what is not. This is something any good explorer understands. He thrives on the adventure, as do I.

“Beyond duality”
This can be taken generally or specifically. ‘Beyond duality’ might mean that one finally grows up, becomes mature and over the emotional age of two when everything is either right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing. Specifically it refers to the two opposing life energies in the body, prana and apana, becoming united (yoga) and functioning together as kundalini to step up the evolutionary process.

This may seem difficult, but it is a natural outcome of getting “beyond duality” as described above—with the advent of yoga (union), one is fulfilled so ‘desire’ naturally no longer exists.

“Indifferent in success or failure”
Indifference is an obvious characteristic of desirelessness. So, even though you may think it is impossible to be indifferent, that you must succeed, in a desireless state you won’t care one way or another about success or failure. This is learned through meditation.

In Surrender Meditation, when fulfillment arrives, you are desireless and therefore indifferent. Even though it may last for only a few minutes, because you now have this knowledge and have taken note of your experience for what it is, it continues to present itself, and grows exponentially.

To be content is to be satisfied, fulfilled. The three above — (1) beyond duality, (2) desireless and (3) indifferent in success and failure — are naturally present in contentment. So think of these three components as descriptors of contentment rather than as ‘shoulds’. This simplifies the verse thus:

“Content with gain by chance, even though one has acted, one is not bound.”  

When you find yourself in a moment of contentment, have a look at the components of this state. Are you busy trying to figure something out? Is there a desire yanking your chain? Are you engaged in trying to achieve something? And so forth. I think you will find that contentment is void of these intruders.

If you can take a chance on God — submit yourself to God, surrender to God — even if only for an hour a day, you will come to understand these teachings for yourself, even though you may spend 23 of your 24 daily hours otherwise. How much better can it get?

Unattached, liberated, wisdom-consciousness established, action as sacrifice vanishes completely. 

By adhering to the teachings of the previous verse you get to this one. You become unattached, free, and wise to the truth about action through your own personal experience.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

Consider using my music as a shaktipat medium:
Music for Relaxation, Meditation & Rejuvenation

Your Tax-deductible Donations are very much appreciated. I do not work elsewhere for a living, but have devoted my life fully to yoga sadhana and sharing this wonderful adventure with others. Your contributions make it possible for me to do this work for you, which gives me great joy. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.