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The Shield of Devotion and the Armor of Wisdom

In battle, warriors wear shield and armor. This gives them some protection against the powerful weapons that are shot at them by their enemies. In the spiritual battle which you must fight, you must also wear a type of shield and armor. Here the shield is devotion and love for God, and the armor is wisdom. In an ordinary war relating to the world, the fighting may last only a few days, or it may drag on for a few months or even some years. But the spiritual battle goes on continuously; it never ends. It has been fought by mankind unceasingly, right from ancient days. Since time immemorial there has been the fight between good and bad, between virtue and sin, between attachment and detachment.

Humanity has been waging an endless war with its feelings of I ness and my-ness, with its feelings of hatred and jealousy and other evil qualities that have taken shelter within it. Egoism and attachment, in particular, have extraordinary strength. They are really dreadful. Compared to them, you, the individual who is fighting them, are not so strong. You are really quite weak. In fact, you have become so dominated by these negative qualities that, like Arjuna, you have identified yourself with them. Now, to fight such powerful enemies and qualities, you have to follow the directions of the indwelling Lord and you have to wear a very strong shield and armor. The mighty shield and armor that you have to wear in this spiritual battle are devotion and wisdom. They will protect you from such formidable enemies.

When you have a parasol to shade you, you are not troubled by the hot sun. When you wear sandals or shoes, you are not concerned about stepping on a thorn. When you wear a shield and armor, you are not too much bothered by the weapons being hurled against you. "Therefore, Arjuna," Krishna said, "in this inner battle you must don your spiritual shield and armor." When Krishna lifted Arjuna out of his despondency at the beginning of the Gita, he gave Arjuna the armor of wisdom. That was the first teaching that Krishna offered.