May 12, 2013

Stop Pretending You’re Something You’re Not! ~ Vrindavan Rao

Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Keeping it real.

Verse 2.11: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.

In our last discussion, we saw the nature of Arjuna and Krishna’s relationship begin to change from one of friendship to one of teacher-student.

Now, four verses later, the transformation is complete as Krishna assumes the role of Arjuna’s teacher and spiritual guide. And what are His first words to His new student? A chastisement.

Krishna wastes no time in immediately identifying the root of Arjuna’s confusion and anxiety—his identification with the material body and not his eternal spirit soul—and in the process subtly scolds Arjuna. Arjuna has posed himself as a learned man spouting off all kinds of philosophy and Krishna is saying, “Why are you pretending to be someone who is so learned when you yourself are in anxiety? A learned person is one who knows the difference between matter and spirit.”

This instruction is so important, not just for those who want to share spiritual knowledge or those who look for guidance from a teacher, but for all of us.

Krishna is warning Arjuna (and you and me): Don’t try to pretend to be something that you are not.

This is not necessarily the easiest thing for us to think about. It requires some serious introspection and a willingness to encounter things you might not like to find. Most of us would like to think that we are honest and genuine. However, as aspiring bhakti yogis, it isn’t enough to simply assume that we are filled with good qualities.

The path of bhakti is one that actually reveals to us our shortcomings and gives us the process by which we can overcome them.

With introspection, one may find that sometimes the tendency does arise to embellish one’s own qualities. I mean, who doesn’t like to be asked for her opinion? There’s nothing wrong with giving an opinion or advice in and of itself. It’s the mood and consciousness that really matters. If we find ourselves in a position to give spiritual guidance, it is crucial to give credit where it is due.

Although I aspire to write something on the Gita everyday, I always try to do so in the mood of being an instrument. On my really good days, I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of being insignificant and incompetent. It’s wonderful because it provides me the opportunity to realize the import of the beautiful prayer offered before giving a discourse on bhakti yoga:

 mukam karoti vachalam

pangum langhayate girim

yat-kripa tam aham vande

shri-gurum dina-taranam

The translation to this verse is as follows: “I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual teacher, the deliverer of the fallen souls. His mercy turns the dumb into eloquent speakers and enables the lame to cross mountains.”

This attitude humility and acknowledgement helps to put us in our rightful place; that of being an instrument. Any spiritual understanding or realization we may experience only comes from the blessings of one’s spiritual teachers and Krishna.

We ourselves can’t do anything, but with the power of blessings we can do anything.

Similarly, the sincere student should always look for the appropriate qualities in a teacher. Don’t let yourself be fooled by a vibrant and eloquent speaker who glorifies his/her own self. True lovers of God always look upon themselves as recipients of God’s grace and feel themselves to be very low. Despite their humility, their actions will always reflect their true dependence on God and His empowerment. Practically, the manifestation of that empowerment will be felt by how they inspire and empower you.

Such teachers are real bhakti yogis and teachers who can help us to not only love God, but teach others to love God as well.


Vrindavan Rao was born into the bhakti tradition and grew up enveloped in it. However, her personal discovery of the bhakti path began in 2004 when she had the opportunity to go to a Vedic College in Belgium and since that time she has embraced it completely. Her love for travel has given her the opportunity to study Vedic texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita, in places such as India, Canada, Belgium, Ukraine and the United States under the guidance of several advanced practitioners.

She especially loves the Gita and refers to it as her “Guidebook for Life” since it contains practical answers for complicated questions and is currently writing a daily blog on every verse of the Gita. In addition, you can keep track of all the happenings of Everyday Bhagavad-Gita on Facebook and viaTwitter.

Her background is in science and she not only has a Bacherlor’s degree in Biochemistry, but also a Masters in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology. In her free time she loves to write, read, give presentations, sing and work out.

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Editor: Thaddeus Haas

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