Q: Swami, can I get moksha (liberation) in this very birth?
A: You can get it this moment, if you have the required purity of mind (Chitta Shuddhi). The only criterion is purity; birth is not important. God is beyond time—(Kalateeta). The time factor is applicable only to the universe (Jagat) and not to the Lord.
Q: Swami, the mental tendencies (vasanas) of many lives hinder the progress.
A: Vasanas can be changed by discrimination and effort (Viveka and Sadhana). You have to examine every tendency of your inner being, whether it is good or bad, before translating it into action.
Q: Swami's grace must come .........
A: The grace is always there; it neither comes nor goes. You have to tap it with effort.
Q: What is the difference between Dana (charity) and Thyaga (sacrifice)?
A: Charity is giving of money, time or energy for a good cause; sacrifice is giving up of one's bad traits and weaknesses. If sacrifice means just the giving up of hearth and home, many people will do it very easily!
The hallmark of true devotion is this sacrifice—the giving up of one's bad traits and weaknesses. A true devotee should not be deterred by adversities in life. The difference between true and false devotion can be discovered only in times of adversity. A ball of iron and a dry leaf look alike when there is no wind. But when the wind blows, the leaf flies away and the iron ball is not even swayed a little. In times of adversity, false devotion disappears; but a true devotee will think, "My difficulties and problems are in no way connected with my devotion to God. These difficulties are like passing clouds, but God is eternal and so is love for God."
Q: On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna threw away his bow and arrows with a decision not to fight the war against Bhishma, the grandfather, Drona, the preceptor, and other kith and kin. But Arjuna had fought against Bhishma, Drona and others to protect the cows of Virata Maharaja, towards the end of the Pandava's incognito term in exile. What accounts for the difference in Arjuna's attitude?
A: The purpose of the earlier fight was only to protect the cows. It was not a decisive battle. There was no intention on the part of Arjuna to kill Bhishma and Drona. But in the battle of Kurukshetra, the stakes were very high; he had to kill them to win the war. In this situation, attachment to kith and kin plunged him into sorrow.
Q: Was Arjuna overpowered by the fear of fighting against the mighty heroes arrayed against him in Kurukshetra?
A: No, Arjuna was never afraid of fighting against anybody. It was only the delusion of 'I' and 'mine' (moham) that overpowered him.
Q: On the battlefield, Krishna taught Arjuna many aspects of the science of the Spirit. What was the path practised by Arjuna later?
A: The purpose of Krishna was to make Arjuna fight the war and save him from misery and infamy. The knowledge of 'Atma and Anatma' and the truth about the body principle are essential for the performance of one's duties (Kartavyakarma). The most important thing that Arjuna learnt was to perform all actions with a sense of surrender to the Lord. This is the secret of Karma Yoga. This was practised by Arjuna.
Q: The Bhagavad Gita says, "There is no killer nor killed!" On this basis Arjuna is asked to kill men on the battlefield. On the same logic, can anyone kill anybody he likes to kill?
A: Bhagavad Gita exhorts all men to follow their Dharma. Arjuna, being a Kshatriya, had to protect Dharma by killing the evil men. It was his duty. Arjuna was made to know the immortal nature of the Spirit and this enabled him to do his duty with efficiency and perfection. One who has the awareness of the spiritual truth will not enter the wrong path and do wrong things according to one's whims and fancies. He will always follow the moral code of conduct.
There is the story of a murderer, who argued with the magistrate, "There is neither any killer nor killed (according to the Gita). Therefore, why do you propose to hang me?" The magistrate paid him back in the same coin, telling him, "You also cannot be killed. Only your body will be hanged!"