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be a hero

Be a hero in the fight

The Gita enshrines a noble ideal of culture, an ideal which inspired the great universities of India long ago. “Seek then wisdom, O Arjuna!” says Sri Krishna to his devoted disciple. India’s universities had this ideal before them.

Arjuna asks, “What is wisdom?” Sri Krishna says, “Arjuna! Wisdom is conquest.” The ideal of the university life in ancient India was: live heroically! True wisdom is conquest. True wisdom is for them who would be heroes in the field of life.

Arjuna asks the question, “Master! I wish to understand how wisdom is conquest.” Sri Krishna says, “My child! This conquest is the conquering of desires, conquering of trishna.” There is a conflict between “desire” and “protest”. I am attracted by a particular object. I desire to possess it, and a protest rises within me: “Do not gratify your desire!”

When there is a conflict between “desire” and “protest”, I go through a number of experiences. Do I satisfy my desire? I suffer. I experience pain. I suffer, again and again, until it dawns upon me, the idea that I must keep clear of pleasure, for after pleasure cometh pain. I begin to understand that in pleasure is the seed of pain. So, there is the evolution of my consciousness. So, there is the building up of my moral muscles and so wisdom comes to me, at last, that I must conquer desires.

Arjuna asks, “Master! Tell me how desires may be conquered.” Sri Krishna says: “My child! In order to conquer desires, you must take care of the instruments of the Atman.” The Atman has entered the field of evolution here and the Atman functions through instruments. “What are they?” asks Arjuna.

“Live heroically! Learn self-control! Restrain your desires! Be pure and be creative!”

And the Master tells Arjuna that the first instrument is the physical body, the sthula sarira. Take care of the body—keep the body pure and keep the body strong. The eyes, the ears, all the indriyas, senses, must be kept pure. Another instrument is the inner body, the subtle body, the sukhshama sarira, the body of desires (trishna), the body of emotions. Desire, trishna must be kept under control. There is yet another body, the mind, the manas. The mind is as a monkey—the mind wanders hither and thither, the mind must learn concentration. Arjuna, learn to control the monkey-mind. Then there is the fourth instrument of the Atman: it is the buddhi, willpower. Arjuna, build up your willpower aright, see that your will is strong and pure.

The world’s piteous need, today, is of men who have not only strong wills but pure wills, wills dedicated to the service of humanity, loka sangraha, the welfare of the people.

When these instruments are well-trained, the jiva (individual) attains gradually to what the Gita calls Brahma-Nirvana, the peace that passeth understanding.

An artist has painted a picture of a roaring waterfall descending, and near the waterfall is a tree on which a bird is singing. The roaring waterfall is the world, and near it is the Tree of Wisdom on which the bird jiva is singing, serving humanity with peace (chitta-shanti) in his heart.

Over and over again, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna: “Be a hero in the fight! Live heroically!” This ideal of heroic living was emphasised in the ashramas of India, in the culture-centres, and the universities of ancient India. This teaching was given to students, “Live heroically! Learn self-control! Restrain your desires! Be pure and be creative!”


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