Gita Life

Three Key Life Lessons from the First Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita

We are summarizing the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita with three lessons that can be applied in our practical lives.

In the last blog, we gave you a brief introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. And if you are new to the topic of Mahabharata, here is a brief summary of the Mahabharata too.

In our Gita podcasts, covering the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, we discussed

  1.  Duryodhana’s entitled mindset
  2. Why Arjuna was the Chosen One
  3. Krishna’s role as a charioteer

Here are three life lessons from the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita:

Lesson 1: I must break my entitled mindset

“Man is not, by nature, deserving of all he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, this is when we start walking all over others to get it.”

Criss Jami

Whenever we think of Duryodhana, he comes across as an envious and jealous person. We have spoken in detail about him in our last blog.

But have you ever wondered that there is a bit of Duryodhana in all of us? We can be jealous, we can be envious, and we want what others have. That desire to get something at any cost is Duryodhana or entitled mindset. Can the Duryodhana mindset be fixed? Of course, the day we learn to make it about others, that mindset is fixed. As they say, “Gratitude begins when the sense of entitlement ends.

Lesson 2: I have learned that I still have a lot to learn

“The truest mark of a seeker is the ability to approach life with the open-mindedness of a child.”

Janet Louise Stephenson

Why was Arjuna chosen for Gita’s wisdom? Some suggest that he was close to Krishna, or he was Krishna’s devotee, and so on. Is it that simple?

No! Arjuna was not chosen. Arjuna made that choice to learn and evolve.

Yudhisthira was inherently wise. He was born with high morality, and he had a strong sense of right and wrong.  Bhima was dim-witted. He was not seeking any knowledge. He was too dense for that. But, Arjuna was always curious about life. He was a life-long student.

And Arjuna surrendering himself to Krishna for wisdom signifies that knowledge does not come to us, instead, we must go to it.

Lesson 3: No job is beneath me if I want to succeed in life

“Leave your ego at the door every morning, and just do some truly amazing work.”

Robin Sharma

When Arjuna asked Krishna to be his charioteer, Krishna happily accepted the proposal. He was not stuck with this notion, “I am the Supreme Being, I am God. Why should I take the role of a charioteer?”

Did he care for ranks, titles, or job functions?

No, because he had no ego.

Perhaps, he knew that if Arjuna failed, the Pandavas would lose the war. And it made sense for him to be Arjuna’s charioteer so he could stay close to Arjuna.

Many times, as we rise through the ranks, our ego starts growing with us. And as our ego grows, we are at risk of ending up in an insulated bubble, losing touch with reality.  We forget that to get things done, sometimes we should be willing to roll up our sleeves and take any role. And that is precisely what the role of Krishna as a charioteer in the Kurukshetra war teaches us.

Did you know?

The conversation between Arjuna and Krishnan in Gita begins from verse 20 when Arjuna asks Krishna to take up a position between the two armies so that he can look across at those he must fight. The sight of all his relatives, teachers, and cousins overwhelms him with a deep sense of compassion, and he starts questioning the war.

Deprived of their rightful share of the kingdom, the Pandavas had been living a wretched life in the jungle. Now, they are fighting to regain the position that is rightfully theirs so that they can find satisfaction again. But Arjuna questions the happiness that they are seeking. He thinks they can never be happy even if they get the kingdom after killing their own clan. “I cannot see how anything good can come from killing my own family in this battle,” he says. 

He expresses that the path of war is so inspired by selfish desire that this will destroy the Pandavas, their family, and the community even if they win this war. He begins to reflect on the matter concerning his dharma or religious duty. He starts questioning the ethics of warfare and if it is ever morally right to kill.

No other speech has explained Arjuna’s argument than Dr. Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize speech,

“Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys the community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

This is how the first chapter ends with Arjuna’s puzzling philosophies that question if war is morally permissible or even obligatory. His questions introduce the conversation that follows and provide a setting for Krishna’s instructions from the second chapter, onwards.

Do not miss Episode 2 and Episode 3 of our Gita podcasts related to the first chapter

In Episode 2, we discuss [1] Can we let go of our desire? [2] What is a creative desire? What is a destructive desire? And [3] Why was Duryodhana so unhappy? BONUS: Do not miss the story of 99 Club. It is one of the best moral stories we have heard in a long time. 

In episode 3, we discuss [1] What kind of person is ready for wisdom – we will discuss why Arjuna but not Yudhisthira or Bhima?  and [2] What does Krishna’s Role as a Charioteer teach us? BONUS: Don’t miss our story from the Disney movie – Ratatouille, Who is Yudhisthira and who is Bhima in Marvel movies? 

We will be back with the second chapter, explaining the Samkhya Yoga and Karma Yoga.


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