In this discourse Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha Ji helps us understand the true nature of spiritual excellence and how one can achieve it by enriching one’s mind and intelligence.
The pivotal message is that the mind is the core of one’s personality and it can be refined. It is the inner instrument that comprehends the external world as well as helps us look inward to realise our Self. It is capable of building the inner personality and giving the impetus for excellence.
Swamiji dwells on the many aspects of how the Self activates our inert and insentient body and makes it capable of sensing and comprehending things. The Self activates our mind and intelligence, which in turn activates our senses that lead to our actions.
When talking about experiencing life, Swamiji places major emphasis on our mind, which is quintessentially spiritual. He calls it the crux of human personality and existence, and goes on to say that, “Our mind is not a part of the physical body, it is associated with the body. The mind is not physical or material. Every experience belongs to the mind, and our life is experiential. Life is equally interactional; all interactions arise from and terminate in the mind.”
Our mind is the fulcrum of our life, all our experiences are in the mind.
The essence of the first part of Swamiji’s discourse is: “Excellence comes from the right appreciation and analysis of our experiential and interactional life. We must want to be excellent in all that we think, speak, and act. Our thoughts, words, and actions emerge from within the mind. Excellence is a coordinate of our own personality, the mind and the intelligence. It does not belong to inanimate objects.”
So for any kind of excellence, we need to refine our inner personality, enrich it, empower it, elevate it, strengthen it, and expand it. That is the only way.
In the second half of the discourse, Swamiji takes us back to the Kurukshetra War. Two armies have assembled in the battlefield and war cries have been raised by both. When it was almost time for the discharge of arrows by both the sides, Arjuna asks Krishna to steer the chariot to the forefront and station it there so that he could survey the enemy lines. Krishna drove the chariot and positioned it before Bhishma and Drona. Seeing his beloved grandfather and his venerable preceptor right in front, Arjuna crumbles.
The invincible hero Arjuna is overcome by grief and distress at the prospect of having to kill Bhishma and Drona in the imminent war. A heartbroken Arjuna loses his composure and resolve. The powerful Gandiva slips off his hand. His skin burns; throat gets parched. He sits down deluded and devastated, almost giving up. After thirteen years of preparation for this war, he now finds the same war sinful. He tells Krishna that he wants to retreat. He contemplates leaving everything behind and becoming a monk, living off alms. During the course of the dialogue that ensues, Krishna advises (Bhagavad Gita 2.38):
सुखदु:खे समे कृत्वा लाभालाभौ जयाजयौ |
ततो युद्धाय युज्यस्व नैवं पापमवाप्स्यसि || 38||
sukha-duḥkhe same kṛitvā lābhālābhau jayājayau |
tato yuddhāya yujyasva naivaṁ pāpam avāpsyasi || 38 ||
“Fight, but treating alike happiness and distress, loss and gain, victory and defeat. Fighting in this way, you will never incur sin.”
Swamiji explains the entire scene with matchless power and reason, emphasizing how Krishna touched Arjuna’s inner resources, provided him with clarity, and resolved his torment and confusion.
He redeemed Arjuna from the constrictions and delusions of his mind to the level of reason and rationality, inspiring him to overcome his internal conflict and march forward with a purpose. Krishna thus sets Arjuna on a path of performance and excellence.