In Summary – Part 1 & 2
This Part 3 in the series, Krishna & Neuro Linguistic Programming, picks up from where we left off in Part 2.
In Part 2, we very briefly mention that Arjuna, on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, surveys both armies lined up on the battlefield and he falters. He is prepared to give up the mission he’s been entrusted with.
We propose in Part 2 that Krishna is a master Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner. Just so the context is clearly understood, we digress a bit and explain the basic tenets of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).
In Part 2, we also speak about the role Krishna plays and distance ourselves from sprituality and religion, despite the fact that we lean on a spritual text as a reference. We do this to ensure that we don’t bring in any spiritual overtones and stay true to the subject of NLP.
We then draw parallels or establish a ratio between the roles of Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield, by comparing the situation to similar situations faced in the corporate world.
In Part 1, we talk about common dilemmas that many of us we face in day to day life, about battles in the mind and we alsp provide the backstory on which this series is based.
We use this backstory as a springboard into our topic, Krishna and Neuro Linguistic Programming. We also speak about the time, place, circumstance, situation, the power of words and actions under different conditions.
Examining the Mind of Arjuna
We are now at a point in time where Arjuna is unable to act!
We use Arjuna’s own words to dive deep into his mind. A mind that conjures up a variety of reasons (read excuses) why he should not fight.
Some of the reasons cited by Arjuna seem entirely plausible, even noble, on the face of it and yet others are overtly frivolous.
As far as roles go, let’s reiterate that Krishna is the Chairman of the Board, setting direction and Arjuna is the Chief Executive, holding a mandate, one that he’s very reluctant to carry out.
Dilemas of the Mind, Rationalization & Excuses
We Indians usually find it difficult to be decisive. That we struggle to deliver appropriate or hard messages is a given. This, even when we receive unwelcome, persistent, awkward advances or attention from a person. We find it difficult to say “no”. Little do we realise, that inability to say “no” can be construed (assumed) as a “yes”.
We choose to be polite. We choose not to shut down such advances firmly and conclusively. Instead we sidestep the issue or then delay conveying the appropriate message.
In doing so, we run the risk of a continuance of this behavior, which can further escalate to obsessive behavior. We do not understand the motivations of such people and we choose not to be alert.
With certain people we can deliver the message in a gentle or roundabout manner. However with others we need to be very firm and even blunt.
If we’re smart, with the benefit of hindsight, we realize that our choice to be needlessly polite, encourages inappropriate behavior. Behaviour that can potentially have dire consequences.
However, in my experience we often choose not to be smart and shy away from taking necessary steps, or using the right words and instead, continue to remain needlessly polite.
We owe it to ourselves to maintain our self-respect and our mental well being as opposed to worrying how our responses will be perceived.
Personal Experiences & Realizations
Throughout my life, scores of people have sought out my counsel (parties of the first part). Almost in every situation there is a person of the opposite sex involved. By now, I can guage the situation almost before the entire story unfolds. it is the situations, the words, the instances and manner in which the episodes are narrated, that send the alarm bells ringing in my head. It is usually about a girl or a guy, who has made voluntary or involuntary decisions (sometimes under guidance), to sever association with people who are a bad influence. People choose to eschew and give up abominable (bad) habits, with a view to make personal improvements. At such times, the inappropriate associations we elect to spend time with react negatively. They make it very difficult for persons to better themselves. Neuro Lingusitic Programming is not just a means to help others. The study and practice of NLP techniques is also a great means of self help. It promotes self-analysis and clarity of thought. It assists in making changes, we must most certainly make to become a better version of ourselves. Oftentimes we realise that we are in a downward spiral. However, we are so steeped in negative association and bad habits, that we take that to be our normal state. As a result we fall back on the very sources of our negativity (association and bad habits). We begin to believe in our minds, that we actually are better served to remain in that state.
Here is a short video on the subject of association and intoxicants.
Before we verbalze our excuses, we usually concoct something that we are able to accept in our minds (rationalization and excuses). Once this self-convincing is done, we sell this to the ones we’re dealing with.
After all, what is the best way to sell a concept to a buyer? Sell it to ourselves first!
That is exactly what Arjuna does!
He defends his lack of resolve by citing lofty ideals and notions. He cites a litany of justifications (excuses) and bases them on the following tenets (foundations).
- compassion and kinship
- not wanting to cause misfortune.
- not wanting to deprive relatives and friends of property, etc..
- wanting to avoid sinfulness associated with taking lives.
- wanting to follow social and family traditions.
- be forgiving as opposed to punishing.
- not deprive people of happiness.
- considering dynastic angles.
- not destroy the male population and thereby not leave women and children destitute and unprotected to ensure that exploitation of women and children does not ensue due to the dearth of male protectors. (see Aside # 1 below)
- ensuring that offerings and obligations continue to ensure that they receive salvation. (see Aside # 2 below)
- not enjoying at the expense of others and preferring self-sacrifice.
- not bring about the advent of irreligion.
Aside # 1
As an aside, the institution of multiple marriages in Islam was an outcome of the Crusades.Multiple Marriages in Islam
This was done so that women and children who lost their fathers and or husbands or brothers in the Crusades, would be under the protection of surviving males.
Aside # 2
In India, we offer “dan” (pinda) to our departed forebears during a period called “shraddh”.Shraddh Rites
Mental & Bodily Manifestations
The practice of NLP, as we say in Part 2, involves observations of behaviour and also bodily reactions.
Arjuna exhibits classic behaviour and bodily manifestations (reactions).
Hi is overwhelmed. He prefers compassion to war, He is in despair and grieving. His limbs quiver. His mouth is dry. His body trembles. His skin burns. He gets hot flashes, The hairs on his body stand on end. His limbs are uncoordinated.
His famed Gandiva bow slips from his hands.
We see how Arjuna, at the beginning has gusto. He sounds the battle cry on his conch shell and then comes the damp squib, when he lays down his weapon.
Anatomy of Indecision
The verses from the Bhagavad-Gita describe verse after verse, how Arjuna does a volte face (changes his mind).
This is a perfect case study for someone who wishes to understand how we permit our minds to play us.
Before leaping into action, Arjuna wishes to survey the situation and therefore he says to his charioteer, Krishna……
Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.Bg. 1.21-22
The visual that greets him is as follows…..
There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers.Bg. 1.26
Weakness to Excuses & Escuses to Rationalization
Arjuna’s statements are revealing and his arguments compelling.
Initially perhaps, we will agree with Arjuna and be hoodwinked by his logic. However, when Krishna responds to Arjuna we will realize how to put such dilemmas in the right perspective, such that we are able to deal with them.
This is the genesis of Arjuna’s breakdown and the step by step revelations of his mind. I've reproduced the relevant verses verbatim from the online version of the Bhagavad-Gita from Vedabase, which is a great resource for a deeper study. This resource contains the Sanskrit shokas (verses), the meanings of the words, the transliteration and the purport (disertation).
When the son of Kuntī, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus.Bg. 1.27
Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.Bg. 1.28
My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gāṇḍīva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.Bg. 1.29
I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Kṛṣṇa, killer of the Keśī demon.Bg. 1.30
I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Kṛṣṇa, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom or happiness.Bg. 1.31
O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusūdana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra?Bg. 1.32-35
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra and our friends. What should we gain, O Kṛṣṇa, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?Bg. 1.36
O Janārdana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?Bg. 1.37-38
With the destruction of the dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion.Bg. 1.39
When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Kṛṣṇa, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, comes unwanted progeny.Bg. 1.40
An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped.Bg. 1.41
By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.Bg. 1.42
O Kṛṣṇa, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those whose family traditions are destroyed dwell always in hell.Bg. 1.43
Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen.Bg. 1.44
Better for me if the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield.Bg. 1.45
Sañjaya said: Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.Bg. 1.46
Arjuna said: O killer of enemies, O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhīṣma and Droṇa, who are worthy of my worship?Bg. 2.4
It would be better to live in this world by begging than to live at the cost of the lives of great souls who are my teachers. Even though desiring worldly gain, they are superiors. If they are killed, everything we enjoy will be tainted with blood.Bg. 2.5
Nor do we know which is better – conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield.Bg. 2.6
This is the point at which Arjuna takes Krishna as his Guru and asks for guidance and instruction.
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.Bg. 2.7
I can find no means to drive away this grief which is drying up my senses. I will not be able to dispel it even if I win a prosperous, unrivaled kingdom on earth with sovereignty like the demigods in heaven.Bg. 2.8
Sañjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Kṛṣṇa, “Govinda, I shall not fight,” and fell silent.Bg. 2.9
If we eliminate the grave nature of Arjuna’s dilemma and dial it down several notches, we are able to apply a ratio and examine several incidents in our lives that are contextually comparable.
These incidents may relate to friends, relatives, parents, kids, acquaintances, work colleagues and significant others.
Enter Krishna – Friend, Philosopher, Guide
What do we do at times when we are unable to handle the situation by ourselves?
We seek counsel, advice and guidance from people wiser than us and perhaps from people who have far more experience than us.
In this instance, of course Krishna is at hand and hears Arjuna’s desperation, his angst and his cry for help.
Krishna’s responses and guidance to Arjuna are nothing less than epic and thus the great epic the Bhagavad-Gita comes into being.
When two erudite people have a discussion, the narrative and the lessons are available for a larger audience and that is what the Bhagavad-Gita is. A guidance for us all, in the form of a dialogue between a confused Arjuna (Us) and an all knowing Krishna (our learned guides, mentors, teachers, Gurus).
Coming Up In Part 4
The next part in this series deals with how the master Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner deals with the vacillating Arjuna. As I’ve said in previously, he tackles Arjuna is a variety of ways and uses textbook NLP techniques and strategies. He listens, he coaxes, cajoles, chastises, encourages, reasons and finally gets Arjuna back on track and enables him to arrive at the conclusion that there is no option left, but to fight.
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