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The Transformation from Kinsman or Friend to Disciple

In those days people lived much longer than they do today. At the time of the great war, Krishna and Arjuna were already quite advanced in years, by today's standards. For over 70 years, Krishna and Arjuna had been inseparably together. Although they were together for so many years, at no time during all those years did Krishna teach the Gita to Arjuna. Why was this so? During all those years Arjuna treated Krishna as his brother-in law and his close friend. Krishna did not teach the Gita to Arjuna as long as Arjuna was living with body-consciousness.

The moment Arjuna surrendered and accepted discipleship, then Krishna became his teacher and Arjuna became Krishna's student. Only after this act of surrender on the part of Arjuna did Krishna teach him the Gita. This means that if you really want to acquire spiritual knowledge from another, you have to relate to that person as disciple to spiritual teacher, before the transfer of knowledge can flow freely.

In the ancient scriptures there is a similar story of a great teacher. At that time there was no greater teacher than he. But he sent his own son to another teacher to attain spiritual knowledge. The father himself would not teach his son. He took this step because he knew that as long as the son considered him the father, the boy would not relate to him fully as the teacher, and therefore, the boy would not have been properly instructed in the highest wisdom. This was also the situation with Krishna and Arjuna. As long as the relationship of brother-in-law existed between them, Arjuna could not receive knowledge from Krishna. But once this feeling of brothers-in-law left his heart and the feeling of being in the presence of the supreme divinity entered Arjuna's heart, then Arjuna was able to learn from Krishna.

After Arjuna had surrendered completely and developed the feeling that Krishna was divine, he said to Krishna:

You are my mother,
You are my father,
You are my nearest kin,
You are my dearest friend,
You are my wisdom,
You are my treasure,
You are my everything,
You are my Lord, my loving Lord.

It was then that Krishna accepted him as a disciple. At that point Krishna said, "You do my work. Do everything for me and I shall take care of you." The most important thing that Krishna did was to free Arjuna from the feeling of body-consciousness. So long as body-consciousness persists, regardless of what path you follow, whether it is the path of selfless service or the path of devotion or the path of inner inquiry, you will not be able to practice the required disciplines that will lead you to the goal. Body-consciousness and the attachments resulting from it will constantly pollute your heart. Without emptying the heart of its dross, it is not possible to fill it up with sacred feelings. If a tumbler is full of water, how can you fill it with milk? You first have to empty the water. Krishna said, "Arjuna, you are full of body-consciousness. First you must completely rid yourself of this. Only then will I be able to fill your heart with sacred thoughts."