At a particularly important point in his life, Arjuna decided that his friendship with Kåñëa was  actually causing him a lot of problems. Of course, the problem was not of Kåñëa’s doing. It was Arjuna who was not able to derive  proper advantage of being so close to Kåñëa.

Arjuna was shirking his duty as a warrior. Even though the Päëòavas were wronged and this was a just fight, he was overwhelmed with compassion when he saw all the assembled soldiers on both sides. Lord Kåñëa tried to pacify Arjuna and encouraged him to regain his composure, but in the end Arjuna simply cast aside his weapons and held his  head in grief.

If both of them were such close friends, why was Kåñëa smiling when Arjuna was in such distress?

This is one of the pivotal  moments of this divine narration, Bhagavad Gita. A child, for example, may be crying in distress, but the father is in complete knowledge of the situation and is therefore quite composed. This simple everyday event throws light on the foundations of Vedic culture – the
guru-çiñya relationship. The guru-çiñya (teacher-student) relationship in spiritual life is slightly different from its counterpart in the material world. In our mundane world, the student may have no reverence for his teacher, and it perhaps does not matter. But in spiritual matters, the disciple has to very carefully choose his spiritual master, and the spiritual master in turn has to impart knowledge to a
competent disciple.

Arjuna’s objections in the first chapter of the Bhagavad-gétä were not successful in  gaining transcendental knowledge. But by  rejecting even an unrivalled kingdom fit for the demigods in heaven, Arjuna showed himself to be eminently qualified as a person fit to be a bona fide disciple.

Inquiry comes first, followed by a service attitude. Without inquiry, we cannot make advancement. In school a student who makes inquiries from the teacher is usually an intelligent student. It is generally a sign of intelligence when a small child inquires from his father, “Oh, what is this? What is that?” We may have a very good spiritual master, but if we have no
power to inquire, we cannot make progress. Nor should the inquiry be of the nature of a challenge. One should not think, “Now I will see what kind of spiritual master he is. I will challenge him.” Our inquiries (pariprashnena) should happen with a service attitude. Without service, our inquiries will be futile, but even before making inquiries, we should have some basic prerequisite qualification. If we go to a store to purchase gold or jewelry, and if we know nothing about jewels or gold, we are likely to be cheated. If one goes to a jeweler and says, “Can you give me a diamond?” he will understand that this one is a fool. He could charge us any price for even a dummy. This kind of search will not help at all. We first have to become a little intelligent, for it is not
possible to make spiritual progress otherwise.

The first injunction of the Vedänta-sütra is athäto brahma-jijïäsa. “Now is the time to inquire about Brahman.” Atha indicates that one who is intelligent, who has come to the point of realizing the basic frustrations of material life, is capable of making inquiry. In the
Çrémad-Bhägavatam it is stated that one should inquire from a spiritual master about subjects that are “beyond this darkness.” This material world is by nature dark, and it is artificially lighted by fire. Our inquiries should be about the transcendental worlds, which lie beyond this universe. If one is desirous to find out about these spiritual worlds, he should seek out a spiritual master; otherwise  one’s search is in vain.

This is an interesting case of where a friendship limited someone’s progress. A friend should be a well wisher; he should bring out the best in us. Therefore, Kåñëa smiled to see that His friend Arjuna was accepting Him as guru.

– Shyämananda Däsa

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