02.11 – Are we using religion as a cloak instead of as an armor?
A cloak is often used to conceal oneself; an armor, to protect oneself. When we use our religion as a cloak, we hide our weaknesses under a religious garb.
In the Gita’s first chapter, Arjuna gave in to his weaknesses and used religion to cloak his decision to abandon his duty. [Of course, Arjuna is an eternal associate of the Lord; his apparent misconceptions are arranged by Krishna to instruct us.] Krishna began his instructions in the Bhagavad-gita (02.11) with a penetrating expose of Arjuna’s fallacious reasoning. Thereafter, Krishna offered Arjuna a far more uplifting alternative: using religion as an armor to persevere on the path of duty and integrity in spite of one’s weaknesses. Thus equipped by Gita wisdom, Arjuna acted not just honorably but also gloriously.
A similar empowering switch from cloak-to-armor is possible all of us. When we use religion as a cloak, we misapply the principles of religion to rationalize our shortcomings: “Because I am chanting, it doesn’t matter if I am insensitive to others.” We may even assume a façade of moral superiority: “I am so detached that I don’t care for the emotions of others.”
Gita wisdom helps us make the cloak-to-armor shift by:
- Careful understanding: “Because I am not my body or my mind, my normally insensitive nature is not my actual nature. As a soul, I am a warm and caring individual capable of expressing Krishna’s loving nature.”
- Determined application: “Because I am chanting, I can get the strength to break free from my material nature and act according to my spiritual nature.”
By thus using Gita wisdom as an armor, we can shield our weaknesses, thereby ensuring that they don’t divert or slow us in our devotional journey towards Krishna.