By Giriraj Swami
All of us–husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, students, and teachers–have duties, and sometime we begrudge the performance of our duties because we think their execution will impede our personal happiness. But duty is duty, and duty must be done. Even in the cold of winter, one must bathe. And even in the heat of summer, one must cook.
Speaking on Bhagavad-gita 1.27, Srila Prabhupada gave a wonderful example of two heroic souls who adhered to their duties even in the most awkward circumstances, and their examples served both to enlighten and to inspire me. Starting from the viewpoint of Arjuna on the battlefield at Kuruksetra, Prabhupada said, “Dronacarya, on the other side, was teacher. He had to be respected. And actually Arjuna did so. Before fighting with Dronacarya, he first of all threw one arrow at his lotus feet, in obeisance. This is the etiquette. ‘My dear sir, you have taught me this fighting science; now it is being used against you–duty–so I offer my obeisances.’ And Dronacarya also threw an arrow, touching Arjuna’s head: ‘My dear boy, be blessed.’ This is duty. How blessed? ‘By killing me. I know you will kill me, so I give you blessings that you kill me.’ This is duty. The disciple is fighting, touching the feet of his teacher: ‘My dear sir, it is duty. Now we are face-to-face to fight. So give me your blessing.’ This is one side. And on the other side, the teacher is blessing, ‘Yes, you have my full blessings.’”
What are our duties–how difficult are they in comparison to theirs? What sacrifices are we asked to make, in comparison to theirs? They did their duties sacrificing their personal happiness and even their very life. But they did so for a higher principle.
As Srila Prabhupada said in another talk, “Why should we waste our time solving so-called problems? So-called problems will come and go. Just like now it is winter. This is also a problem. Just put on a little cover. Again there will be summer; this covering will not be required. So, if there is a little problem, manage somehow, but don’t forget your real problem. ‘Because now it is very chilly, I shall not take bath.’ No. You have to do your duty, even if it is very cold, severely cold. ‘Because it is very hot, we shall not cook, we shall not go to the kitchen.’ No. You have to go. Similarly, the real problem is how to solve birth, death, old age, and disease. And that can be done by Krsna consciousness. In all circumstances, we have to pull on with our Krsna consciousness. Satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vratah [Bg 9.14]. That business do not forget. Then you are missing the point. Satatam, always. Yudhyasva mam anusmara [Bg 8.7]. That is the instruction. This world is full of struggle. That’s a fact; everyone knows. But just like Arjuna was advised [by Krsna], yudhyasva mam anusmara: ‘You fight; at the same time, remember Me,’ similarly, in different fields of activities, you have to fight–this is a world of fighting–but do not forget Krsna.”