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Foresight and Compassion - Qualities found in a Pure Heart

You might wonder why the Gita was taught to Arjuna. Among the Pandavas, some of the other brothers, such as the oldest one, Dharmaraja, who was the very pillar of virtue, might be considered better qualified spiritually than Arjuna. Why was the sacred Gita not taught to Dharmaraja who was known for his outstanding moral strength? Or if you were to consider physical prowess, then Bhima, who was the most powerful among the brothers, would surely have qualified for the teachings. Krishna could have given the Gita to Bhima, but he did not. Why not? Why did he give it only to Arjuna? You have to understand the inner significance of this.

Dharmaraja was the embodiment of righteousness, but he did not have foresight. He did not think about the future consequences of his actions. Only after events had already occurred, did he think about their consequences and feel sorry for what he had done. He had hindsight but not foresight. If you take Bhima, he, of course, had great physical strength, but he did not have much intelligence. He was able to uproot a tree, but he was lacking in discrimination. Arjuna, on the other hand, had foresight. For example, Arjuna told Krishna, "I would rather be dead than fight against these people. It will mean so much suffering later on, even if we win the war."

In contrast to Arjuna's anguish about all the suffering that would be brought on by this war, Dharmaraja was quite ready to get on with the battle, although later he felt deeply depressed about all the killing when the war was over. Years earlier, Dharmaraja had been pulled in to a royal game of dice, in which he lost everything, including his wealth, his kingdom, and even his wife. Afterwards, he was filled with great anguish and remorse. Whenever a person without discrimination and foresight is called upon to make a decision while in the midst of difficult circumstances, he invariably regrets his actions later on. This was also the nature of King Dasaratha, who was the father of Rama, the divine incarnation 5000 years earlier. King Dasaratha lacked foresight and discrimination.

Early in his reign, Dasaratha had to fight a war to defend and preserve righteousness. In this war he took his young queen, Kaikeyi, with him. Kaikeyi had been a princess in a warrior kingdom and had been well schooled in the art of warfare. It was Kaikeyi, in fact, who taught Rama archery and some of the methods of waging war. When Dasaratha was fighting during the war, one of the wheels of his chariot started coming off. Kaikeyi used her finger to keep the wheel from separating itself from the axle. In so doing, she saved Dasaratha's life, as well as her own.

After having achieved victory, King Dasaratha noticed that her hand was bleeding profusely. Seeing her plight, he was so overwhelmed with infatuation and so pleased with her courage and sacrifice that he told her, "Kaikeyi, you can ask for two boons. Ask for anything that you wish, and I shall do all in my power to grant them to you!" He granted the boons in gratitude for her heroic act in saving their lives. But his infatuation with her blinded him to her weak-mindedness. He did not specify what kind of boons she should ask for nor when they should take effect. He blindly granted the promise of boons without thinking of any of the possible consequences.

Kaikeyi waited until the time when Dasaratha decided to hand over the kingdom to Rama. At that point, Kaikeyi asked for Rama to be banished to the forest, and for her son, Bharatha, to be put on the throne instead. Then Dasaratha felt desperately sorry for having granted the boons without any pre-conditions. But it was too late to retract them, and the resulting grief brought on his death.

We know that Krishna had a great deal of affection for Arjuna, but is that the reason he taught the Gita to Arjuna and not to one of the other brothers? No. Krishna looked at all the consequences, all the implications, and found Arjuna alone qualified to receive the Gita from him. Arjuna foresaw what was going to happen after the war, and therefore declared that he did not want to fight, because the consequences would be very bad. He was not feeling sorry after the war was over, but before. That attitude of feeling sorry before taking action, instead of afterwards, can only be found in a pure heart. Arjuna certainly had such a pure and sacred heart and that is why Krishna was so fond of him.