On the brink of the Mahabharata war, Arjuna was overwhelmed by misdirected compassion and was about to abandon his duty. Krishna could simply have corrected him and ordered him to fight. Yet Krishna spoke the entire Bhagavad-gita to help him understand the philosophical and devotional rationale for doing his duty.
We can follow Krishna’s example when we see someone about to make a wrong choice. At such times, we often feel inclined to correct them. If we are their official guides, we may even feel duty-bound to correct them. Still, we can do our duty better not by correcting them, but by connecting them. Connecting them with what? With their God-given intelligence and with God who is the source of all intelligence (Bhagavad-gita 15.15).
Won’t they already be connected with their intelligence? Yes, and there’s always room for improving that connection. Intelligence is a tool for thinking; it’s like a sword for cutting through confusions. Just as a sword-owner can fight more effectively by learning how to use the sword better, a person with intelligence can think more clearly by learning how to use their intelligence better. We can help them connect more with their intelligence by explaining the basis and process for sound decision-making. Being thus connected , they will not only make the present right choice with greater conviction but also make better future choices.
And how does connecting them with God help? Though he guides everyone, our receptivity to his guidance increases when we become devotionally connected with him (10.10). We can help others connect with him through bhakti-yoga practices such as prayer. When they practice bhakti-yoga, the resulting devotional connection will link them to an abiding source of inner guidance.
Correcting others can help them make the right choice presently, connecting them can help them make the right choice regularly.
May 15, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium