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Thoughts on the Bhagavad-Gita Chapter Three: Text One

February 17, 2016

Thoughts on the Bhagavad-Gita Chapter Three: Text One

Bhagavad-gita As It Is (1972)by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


image Chapter Three:. Karma-yoga

arjuna uvāca
jyāyasī cet karmaṇas te
matā buddhir janārdana
tat kiṁ karmaṇi ghore māṁ
niyojayasi keśava
arjunaḥ—Arjuna; uvāca—said; jyāyasī—speaking very highly; cet—although; karmaṇaḥ—than fruitive action; te—your; matā—opinion; buddhiḥ—intelligence; janārdana—O Kṛṣṇa; tat—therefore; kim—why; karmaṇi—in action; ghore—ghastly; mām—me; niyojayasi—engaging me; keśava—O Kṛṣṇa.

Arjuna said: O Janārdana, O Keśava, why do You urge me to engage in this ghastly warfare, if You think that intelligence is better than fruitive work?

The Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa has very elaborately described the constitution of the soul in the previous chapter, with a view to deliver His intimate friend Arjuna from the ocean of material grief. And the path of realization has been recommended: buddhi-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sometimes Kṛṣṇa consciousness is misunderstood to be inertia, and one with such a misunderstanding often withdraws to a secluded place to become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious by chanting the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa. But without being trained in the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it is not advisable to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa in a secluded place where one may acquire only cheap adoration from the innocent public. Arjuna also thought of Kṛṣṇa consciousness or buddhi-yoga, or intelligence in spiritual advancement of knowledge, as something like retirement from active life and the practice of penance and austerity at a secluded place. In other words, he wanted to skillfully avoid the fighting by using Kṛṣṇa consciousness as an excuse. But as a sincere student, he placed the matter before his master and questioned Kṛṣṇa as to his best course of action. In answer, Lord Kṛṣṇa elaborately explained karma-yoga, or work in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in this Third Chapter.



One of the most important things to remember when reading any holy book of spiritual teachings is that the book should be here to assist every individual as a tool to use in their day to day life. Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out how to do that, if the texts are ambiguous in any way, or very historical in their presentation. But this text seems to me to be pretty obvious in at least one of its lessons.


Arjuna, the main character here, is trying to use the idea of religion to cop out of his life as a career soldier. He is trying to avoid going to battle because of who his opponents are. And while that may seem like a reasonable idea to the modern man who regularly changes his mind and career choice, in the world of spiritual lessons, it’s not wise.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I try to run away from something I don’t want to do, wherever I go, the thing I was trying to escape is always waiting for me in another form wherever I end up. It seems to be the nature of the beast. And so I’ve learned not to bother to try to run away. I may delay the inevitable but I know I’m just going to have to face it eventually.
So here in this verse and this chapter, we are given the idea that religion can’t be a cop-out from life. It can be an assistant, but not an excuse to run away. Especially if you are already ensconced in a solid career, like our main character is here.
It’s one thing to have a calling and head out into sacred life and be a nun or monk or priest etc. It’s another thing to just use it as an excuse to run away.


Spiritual teachings should help us to deal with the rough things in life not give us a hiding place where we can stick our heads in the sand.
It’s ok to stop and meditate and talk to God, like Arjuna is doing here, but you eventually must deal with the situation. And that can be done more easily with the help of God. We have a little form of God inside us–whom the Christians call the Holy Spirit—who is always available to listen to and talk with us. The Vedas teach us that this entity is called Paramatma. It is a mini version of the great soul of God, tucked in the hearts of every living creature, and available to us as our own Personal God.


It’s difficult sometimes to talk to what we imagine as a huge entity somewhere in the Great Beyond. But it’s much easier to talk to a being who is right inside of us, watching what we do. If you could imagine two birds sitting in a tree. One doing all sorts of things, singing and building a nest and raising a family etc. And then there is this other bird, sitting in the same tree, watching, and offering bits of wisdom when the first bird asks for it.
Well, we all are living in this situation even though most of us do not know it.
We have another bird, another entity, living in our own tree of life, our body, and it is there to talk to us and listen to us and watch us. It is our friend and it is eternal, just like our own soul.


So, before you decide to skip town because things are really rough around you, sit down and be still and talk to God, the little bird within your own tree, and ask God what to do.
Don’t run away. Nothing will change. Your lesson will still be waiting for you at the end of the road. You can’t use religion as a cop-out. It won’t work.


God will always be there. You just have to talk to Him/Her. You just have to speak and ask and then most importantly, you must listen.
One thing I’ve noticed is how quiet the voice of God is, and how peaceful. The Christians refer sometimes to the idea of “soaking” in the Spirit, and I have experienced that. It’s like being totally immersed in peace. Like a really great Reiki treatment. Relaxing and so peaceful. So when you talk to God, listen for the voice that makes your soul feel at peace. That is the voice of God.


Hare Krishna,
Abhidheya dd

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