18.73 – The sacrifice of life, the life of sacrifice
Those who become martyrs for a noble cause often awe others. For most people, nothing is as dear as life. So, martyrs inspire awe.
We may lament that our life was never so exciting as to provide us a chance to become a martyr. Accompanying the lament may be the fear that if actually confronted with such a challenge, we would probably shrink from it.
We rarely recognize that a similar glorious challenge is open to all of us. That challenge is the life of sacrifice: to sacrifice our self-centered interests for a cause greater than ourselves, moment-after-moment, throughout our life.
Gita wisdom invites us to the best possible cause: the cause of becoming instruments of compassion for Krishna, who is the greatest benefactor of everyone. The Bhagavad-gita (18.73) reports Arjuna’s steely resolve to embrace a life of sacrifice: karisyhe vacanam tava (I will do your will).
The life of sacrifice may not be as dramatic as the sacrifice of life, but it is tougher and nobler.
Tougher because a life of sacrifice requires not a brief passion for heroism but a sustained determination to reject selfishness and embrace divine selflessness.
And nobler because the world is changed only by the living, not by the dead. The world will become better only when people become selfless. People will be inspired towards the best selflessness only when they see living examples of those selflessly devoted to Krishna. Even the sacrifice of devotee-martyrs contributes to this world only when it inspires others to live for Krishna. Even Krishna uses living devotees to do his will in this world.
By remembering that every moment beckons us towards a glorious life of sacrifice for Krishna, we can motivate ourselves to curb our lower desires and stay fixed in our devotional principles.