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Ignorance is the Cause of all Sorrow

What is the meaning of arjuna ? It means sacredness and purity. For such a noble person as Arjuna to lay down his arms and resolve not to fight a battle in which righteousness was at stake could only be due to ignorance. The Lord, being fully aware of the nature of this disease, resolved to eradicate it.

At the very beginning of the Gita, Krishna could have taught the principle of devotion and the commitment to duty and selfless action. But Krishna chose not to do so. In fact, he started speaking only after listening for a long time to Arjuna's weeping and lamentations. While Arjuna was carrying on, Krishna did not interfere at all. He patiently waited while Arjuna verbalized his confused state. Finally Krishna asked, "Arjuna, are you done? Have you vented all your feelings?" It was only at this point that Krishna started teaching.

Just as students become empty after writing their examinations, Arjuna also became empty after airing all his concerns. Then Krishna told him, "This awful defect of weak-mindedness has sprouted in you. I know how to deal with it. I will cure it! It is ignorance which is responsible for this infatuation. This ignorance is causing your weak-mindedness." Then Krishna started instructing Arjuna in the highest wisdom, the knowledge which distinguishes the true self from the false self, the eternal from the ephemeral, the sentient from the insentient.

When a person is overcome with anguish and is suffering from ignorance, what should be done to free him from his delusion? He is like a patient who is in great danger. The first thing the doctor must do is to see to it that the patient gets out of danger. After that the doctor can undertake longer-term treatments. Suppose the patient is in immediate danger of losing his life, then any treatments the patient is given will prove to be useless unless he is first brought out of the emergency. Once he is out of danger, then many therapeutic procedures can be undertaken. For example, if a person is drowning in a river, you must first bring him out of the water, lie him down on the bank, and give him artificial respiration. Then you can start your other treatments to bring up his circulation and get him over the shock. You certainly would not start those treatments while he is in the water, drowning.