Every ekadashi day is important for all Vaishnavas, and Mokshada ekadashi is particularly important. It’s specially important for me personally. It’s the exact day two years ago when I had a – quite literally – life-saving operation.
But my life was saved before that, way back in 1973, when someone placed into my hands a magazine containing an article by Srila Prabhupada: “With Arjuna and Krishna on the Battlefield of Life.” The article was accompanied by photographs of the author and his disciples walking across fields in England in the early morning sunshine. Two years later, I had not only read the Bhagavad-gita – the book for the battlefield of life – but had also walked in the early morning sunshine with the author.
Srila Prabhupada made the Bhagavad-gita easy to understand, not merely because he translated it into English, but because he insisted on keeping to the original intent of the speaker of the Gita, thus adding ‘As It Is’ to the title of his translation and commentary. His monumental efforts in delivering the Bhagavad-gita – as it was meant to be heard – changed my life and that of a million more readers.
But it all began many centuries ago, when Krishna spoke for around one hour to his friend, the archer and warrior Arjuna. That hurried conversation was born from his intense anxiety just before the commencement of battle.
Could the battle have been avoided? Lord Krishna tried three times. Acting as messenger and peacemaker He went to and fro between the two camps until it became clear that war was inevitable. But he took no part in the fighting itself; yet He agreed to act as the chariot driver of His old friend Arjuna.
As he views the vast armies drawn up for battle, Arjuna questions the actions he is about to take. So Krishna speaks: on morality, the nature of the innermost self, the forces that cause us all to act in certain ways, what happens when we die – and why. He speaks of happiness and why it eludes us, and describes techniques for experiencing eternity. He talks of the many layers of consciousness and the nature of God. And then He reveals His true identity to Arjuna, that He Himself is that same Supreme Personality of Godhead who comes to Earth in many forms and has done so since time immemorial.
Krishna’s conversation with Arjuna has changed the lives of untold millions down through the centuries. As you are reading this, many more are reading Bhagavad-gita for the first time in their own language. Today is the very day that the Gita, that holy song, was spoken. Let’s all read the Gita today and tomorrow and, like Arjuna, find our own enlightenment on the battlefield of life.
Below: The setting of the Bhagavad-gita – The Mahabharata – has been told through puppetry, theatre and film. Here’s a promo from the latest television version.