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Your approach towards Truth decides how life treats you || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagvad Gita (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
9 min
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ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम्।

मम वानी वर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः॥ ११ ॥

ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāns tathaiva bhajāmyaham

mama vartmānuvartante manuṣhyāḥ pārtha sarvaśhaḥ

According to the manner in which they approach me, I favour them in that very manner. Oh, son of Pritha, human beings follow my path in every way.

~ Shrimad Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 11.

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Question: What is the meaning here? How do we follow Krishna’s path in every way? And if that is the case, is there any change possible from one’s immediate state?

Acharya Prashant (AP): This is an expression of the absolute Freedom that the Absolute gives even to the ego. From Krishna comes the jiva; from Ātmān comes Aham. And this is not myth, this is based on observation. Right? Aham wants to repeatedly, incessantly return to its origin, to return its nothingness, to return to Peace. And therefore it is said that - "Aham arises from Ātmān; jiva arises from Krishna." These are analogous statements. So, the nature of Ātmān, or Krishna, is very much the same as the nature of Aham, or jiva, or jivātmān.

You come from somewhere. Therefore, your nature is identical to the place you come from. The one you come from has absolute Freedom as His nature. Therefore, your nature too is absolute Freedom. You have absolute Freedom in choosing whatever you want to choose.

You can choose to think this way, that way, act this way, that way. You may even choose to not to be; you can even choose to end your life someday. It’s just that the one you come from, chooses without any regard for results, and we choose with a desire for results. That’s the only difference. Otherwise, we too have all the freedom to choose. And we exercise that freedom every day, don’t we?

So, Krishna is saying, “According to the manner in which they approach me, I favour them in that very manner.” It is not a very exact or a very soulful translation. I’ll narrate it for you.

What Krishna is saying is, "The way they look at Me, I look back at them in the very same way.” Or, “Arjuna, they are to Me, exactly as I am to them. They are to me, Arjuna, exactly as I am to them. So, I give them the Freedom. You decide what is it that you want to see. You decide what would be Truth for you.” Krishna is saying, “I let them choose their Truth.”

The only true Truth is Krishna, but there are an infinite number of...?

Questioner(Q): False truths.

AP: False truths. And Krishna is saying, “I let them choose their Truth. And the way they choose their Truth, is the way the Truth treats them.”

So, you choose false truth, and life will treat you in the falsest way possible.

It’s beautiful.

You have all the freedom to choose whatever you want to choose, because when we choose something, we take it to be the Truth. Right? You believe in something, it’s your truth. And that’s also the way the ego loves to talk. Have you not heard people say, “Well, you know, there are multiple truths. To you, your truth, and to me, my truth, and let’s celebrate this diversity!”? I mean, intellectuals can go to any extent of stupidity. Multiple truths! Diversity!

Krishna is smiling at them and saying, “You choose whatever you want to choose, you will get back exactly what you have chosen. Arjuna, I look at them exactly as they look at Me.”

So, if shallowness is your truth, then shallow will be your life. Simple. You are choosing it for yourself. Fate has not decreed it for you; it’s not in your horoscope. It’s a matter of your choice. Look at your daily choices. Are you not choosing shallowness at every step? And if you’re choosing shallowness at every step, then Krishna says, “Fine! If shallowness is what you want, shallow shall be your life.”

This is the import of this verse.

Krishna will not impose himself upon anybody. He will say, “You are free to look at Me the way you want to. After all, are not all the shallownesses too an expression of Me? Is not even Maya my own creation? So, if instead of Me you want to keep yourself busy with my Maya, then fine! I will not interfere. It’s your choice.”

You had the option to be with Krishna and you had the option to wallow in Maya. It’s Maya that you chose, fine. You’ll get Maya.

This is also the law of Karmaphala (fruit of action).

You have all the choice in all the matters of your life; nobody’s going to stop you. And if somebody comes over to stop you, you have the choice to not to be stopped, and you have the choice to be stopped. Nobody can take away your power to choose. At the same time, having chosen what you have chosen, now you have no choice in choosing the results.

Having chosen what you have chosen, now you have no choice left in choosing the results.

“You looked at Me in one way, right?” Krishna is saying, “Now I look back at you in the same way.” You ignored Krishna all your life, now why are you aghast that Krishna ignores you? Krishna will immediately invoke chapter 4, verse 11. When you say, “Oh God, why have you forgotten me?” pat will come the reply, quick rejoinder: “Who started it?”

“O Krishna! Why have you forgotten me?”

What’s the rejoinder?

Q: Who started it?

AP: Who started it!

"Who started this game of forgetting? You forgot Me first, and it’s My commitment to you that I’ll treat you in the same way as you treat Me."

"You forget Me; I’ll honour your forgetfulness."

"You forget Me; I’ll forget you."

"You remember Me; I’ll remember you."

"You honour Me; I’ll honour you."

"You dishonour Me; life will dishonour you."

Getting it?

"But I’ll not stop you if you’re dishonouring or forgetting Me. You have all the freedom in…?"

Q: Forgetting.

AP: "Forgetting Me, or dishonouring Me. You can do that. Do that!"

"But then, just as you have all the Freedom in forgetting me, I too have all the Freedom in forgetting you back. Then don’t complain."

Then, the questioner is saying, "Why does Krishna say that human beings follow my path in every way?”

Because even when you think that you are not choosing Krishna, it’s just that you’re not choosing Krishna directly. You are then choosing Krishna indirectly. When Krishna says, “Choose Me, or choose My Maya,” then even Maya belongs to Krishna himself.

So, either you can choose Krishna directly, or you can choose Krishna via his Maya; it depends on how you want to choose Him. You want to take the simplest, most direct route, straight line. Or you want to take a most convoluted and tortuous route via the.....Maya.

Q: Maya.

AP: Maya.

So, Krishna is saying, “Fine! Ultimately you have to come to Me. You could either come directly or you could circumambulate the entire universe 4000 times, and then come to Me. In either case, there is nobody else to come to. I’m the only Truth.”

As Jesus says, “I’m the Truth, life, light and the way; you’ll reach the Father only through me.” There he’s saying, “You’ll reach the Father only through me,” here Krishna says, “I am Father himself. There is no Father but Me. I am the Father, the son and the holy spirit.” Getting it?

“But it depends on you. And I’ll honour your wish. Come to Me directly, or go through the endless cycle of birth and death. Maybe after 40,000 years you’ll realize that you need to come to Me. I’ll be available! Time does not exist for Me. Take your time! Time is all yours.”

Then the question is, “If in whatever way we act we are going to Krishna, then why is change needed, or is change possible at all?” No. There is no change needed if you are talking only of the ultimate destination and the ultimate happening. The ultimate happening is that - you are bound to reach Krishna. But there is one variable in which you enjoy some discretion. That variable is called 'time'.

You are destined to reach Krishna, but how much time will you take and how much suffering you will tolerate, depends on you. Spirituality is about taking the direct route that involves the least time and least suffering; worldliness is about taking a very long-winded route to Krishna that involves a lot of time and a lot of suffering. So, choose.

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