Successive generations have read the Bhagavad Gita since time immemorial; some to gain an understanding of the distinction between right and wrong and some, to look for inspiration and motivation. But a question that not many have asked is why Lord Krishna chose Arjun to impart this mystical wisdom to and not any other character in the Mahabharata.
Krishna did not impart this message to Bhim, who, in his rage, was already hell bent on fighting the battle. Nor did he choose Yudhishthir who was already so composed before the battle that he did not need any guidance. Some may say Arjun was chosen because of the special bond and friendship that he shared with Krishna. But the real reason maybe the entire genesis of the Bhagavad Gita. Just before the battle, Arjun was caught in a grave dharmasankat. He was confronted with the task of slaying his elders, kin, and teachers. Why should he kill his loved ones for a piece of land? Would a grand victory in the battle justify the untold death and destruction? With this dilemma deluding his mind, Arjun turned to Krishna for guidance.
kārpaṇya-doṣopahata-svabhāvaḥ pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ
yac chreyaḥ syān niścitaṁ brūhi tan me śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam [Chapter 2 verse 7]
I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of faint-heartedness. I beseech You to guide me for certain as to what is my Dharma. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me, mentor me.
At that crucial time, Krishna guides Arjun to the right path. For the learning process to happen, the student has to be receptive and aware of gaps in his knowledge. Arjun knew that his mental prowess was inadequate to cope with the range of emotions and doubts that were tormenting his mind.
Decision and Timing
Nobody else on the battlefield apart from Arjun was confused about their purpose to fight the war. This would mean that people who are not faced with a grave situation in life may find the Gita to be just some spiritual mumbo-jumbo. This also explains the timing that Krishna chose to impart this wisdom to Arjun. The fact that He preaches the right path to Arjun just before the battle also signifies the importance of making the right decision at the right time; provided the individual receives the correct guidance. Arjun is symbolic of a confused state of mind, an individual at very difficult cross-roads in life requiring correct guidance. A person stuck at a similar juncture; and who reads the Bhagavad Gita will be able to make a righteous decision, weighing the principles at hand.
Which Path to Take?
People, in everyday life, face many such similar situations when they are compelled to choose between different paths; not knowing what is best for them. When people read the sacred text in such difficult times, their situation compares with that of Arjun, and that is when they may receive an answer to their questions just as Arjun did.
The Bhagavad Gita, much like other religious texts such as the Quran and the Bible, preaches to the misguided soul the correct or the righteous path, so that they can make a proper decision when faced with a dilemma.
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