04.02: The harmony of the sword and the word.
Our society is characterized by paranoia for violence in the name of religion. We tend to fear theocracies, governments formed specifically for fulfilling religious agendas, because they will be intolerant towards all those who don’t agree with their sectarian agenda.
We may extrapolate that same fear on to the Bhagavad-gita when it talks about saintly kings who harmonize their lives with its wisdom (4.2). However, the Bhagavad-gita bombs our sectarian categories right at the start of its message. It declares that we are not our bodies, but are eternal souls who have no intrinsic connection with the bodies that we presently inhabit. Bodily misidentification is the basis of all sects, including even sects with religious nomenclature like Christians, Muslims and even Hindus.
Gita wisdom takes us beyond all our sectarian superficial notions of identity to our universal essence as souls. It urges us to act on that soul for our and others’ holistic upliftment – and to use the word and the sword for that universal purpose. (The word signifies our intellectual resources and the sword, our administrative resources.)
The Bhagavad-gita illustrates this holistic dynamism through the example of Krishna, who is actually God himself speaking the Gita. In the context of the Mahabharata, Krishna plays the rule of a prince, an administrator who uses the sword when necessary to protect dharma, moral and spiritual order. But in the context of the Gita, he accepts the role of a spiritual intellectual who empowers the warring prince with the word that raises the consciousness from the material to the spiritual. The Gita offers the word as the recommended way for going beyond sectarianism and uses the sword only as a last resort against those who have not only buried themselves in sectarian materialism but are bent on similarly burying the whole society.
Sectarian violence in the name of religion may sometimes makes us feel helpless and even godless, but if we empower ourselves with Gita wisdom, then we can strike proactively at sectarianism by using the word to take our consciousness far beyond petty sectarianism.