Arjuna – a profile
The body of writing included under the umbrella name of the Veda is thought to be the most ancient record of ‘life knowledge’. Generally believed, although not certain, to have appeared in north west India via the Aryan civilisation it is said to contain truths, truths cognised at the very beginning of time by the enlightened. The Veda is still today the collective name for the sacred texts of Hinduism the most famous of which are the ‘Rig Veda’ and the ‘Upanishads’.
The great truth of the Veda is its teaching of the unity which underpins the diversity of creation. Reality according to vedic truth is both manifest and unmanifest and suffering, according to vedic wisdom, is the loss of awareness of this knowledge. When this unbalanced view predominates (awareness of only the manifest aspect of life) the evolutionary force of the unmanifest will display itself to redress the balance.
The epic Indian work the ‘Mahabharata’ was finished around the time of the start of Christianity, however its origins predate this as its teaching is the embodiment of vedic wisdom. The Mahabharata contains within it a story called the ‘Bhagavad-Gita’, in English the ‘Lord’s Song’. Arjuna is the central character of this tale. It is the story of the push of evolution to redress ignorance about both aspects of life in the form of the appearance of an avatar (one who has incarnated directly from the unmanifest) Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna’s teaching of vedic wisdom to Arjuna is the subject matter of the book. Some say the Mahabharata is a part of Indian history, others read it as symbolic. It is set on a battlefield (life is a battlefield). Lord Krishna (the representation of universal love which always supports righteousness) and Arjuna (the representation of the human race, the human body existing as a means for individual evolution). The story of Arjuna on the battlefield is still used today in India for spiritual guidance.
Hidden within the story of the battle between opposing families lies the deeper story of Arjuna, a man already in a high state of consciousness, venerated by society, conscientious, a seeker of truth whose integrity, compassion and love for all was the basis of his action. Arjuna, the hero of the tale was a warrior and the most famous archer of his time. This was a skill where steadiness was needed to pull back the arrow in order to have more power and effectiveness (this represents the vedic teaching of turning inward and learning to know the unmanifest side of life in order to have more power, effectiveness and balance in everyday life). His chariot (represents the body, the controller of the senses) the horses that pull the chariot (represent the five senses themselves). Eventually Lord Krishna, whom Arjuna had considered as only his friend, reveals himself to Arjuna as the embodiment of the unmanifest – and as such the ultimate charioteer. He divulged to him the greatest wisdom ever revealed to man. This story of development is the story of Arjuna learning to become free of his slavery to his senses and becoming the most powerful and effective he could be in action. Lord Krishna inspired and initiated Arjuna into vedic teaching in order for him to gain the most elevated state of human consciousness, and ultimately salvation, by realising both the illusory nature of the material world and the unmanifest from which it emanates. He became enlightened and in doing so fulfilled the purpose of vedic wisdom embodied within the Bhagavad-Gita. (When chanted the Bhagavad Gita resonates its essential knowledge and Gita becomes ta-Gi signifying someone who has given up everything for this goal*).
In particular Arjuna’s characteristics of bravery, dynamism, foresight and his willingness to develop are the perfect characteristics to symbolize Arjuna co-operative, its seven ideals and its structure which are based on autonomy, equality and democracy.
Cambridge – 22.11.08.
Bhagavad-Gita – ‘Maharishi Mahesh Yogi On The Bhagavad-Gita A New Translation and Commentary Chapters 1 – 6′ – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – Penguin Books 1969.
* – Ramakrishna And His Disciples – Christopher Isherwood – Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Limited – 1986. (First published as a hardback by Methuen 1965).