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The Cure for Ignorance

Krishna, therefore, gave Arjuna a strong injection of courage to save him from drowning in sorrow and dejection. His immediate first-aid treatment was to teach Arjuna how to discriminate between the true self and the personal self. He said, "Arjuna, as long as you are overcome with fear and anxiety, you will not be able to accomplish anything. Be courageous! Know that you are the atma, not this body; then you will be fearless. I can help you to achieve great things, but only if you base your actions on true knowledge and remain fearless." At this point Krishna was smiling, but Arjuna was weeping.

The one who is always smiling is the Lord. The one who is weeping is man. Krishna is the true self, Arjuna is the false self. One is the embodiment of wisdom and the other is filled with ignorance. Krishna said, "I would like to explain some things to you which are very important. Right now we are behaving in different ways. I am smiling while you are crying. But we could both be alike; either I could become like you or you could become like me. If I should become like you, then I would become weak-minded. But that is impossible! Weakness can never enter into me! On the other hand, if you were to become like me, then you would have to follow me and do as I say." At this Arjuna replied, "Swami, I will do exactly as you say. I will follow all your commands implicitly!" Having given Arjuna sufficient encouragement and strength of purpose, Krishna enabled Arjuna to recover his strong resolve. From that point on, Arjuna undertook to fight, following the directions given by the Lord.

Krishna started his wisdom teachings with some important truths relating to the body and mind. He said, "Arjuna, you think that these people are your relatives and friends. But, what is meant by a relative or a friend? Does it refer to the body or does it refer to the indweller? Bodies are just water bubbles; they come and go. These relatives and friends which you are so attached to now, have all existed before, in any number of births. But were they your relatives and friends then? No. You too have existed countless times before, and I as well. The body, the mind and the intellect are all just so much apparel. They are like the clothes you wear; you change them now and again. They are mere instruments. Why develop a close relationship with these things, getting infatuated with them and then having to suffer so much sorrow and grief?

"Do your duty! All the honor that is due to you as a prince will be bestowed on you. But on the battlefield there cannot be room for any feeling of weak-mindedness and feeble-heartedness. Fighting boldly to preserve righteousness and shrinking in weakness are completely incompatible with each other. To have this timidity on the battlefield is not becoming of a great hero. Your cause is just and you have come to fight. Therefore, fight!" With words such as these, Krishna cured Arjuna of his despondency and helped him to find his strength and courage. When Krishna finished his teaching on the battlefield, Arjuna regained his noble ideals and faced the upcoming fight with renewed valor.