Bhagavad Geeta a part of Mahabharata, is almost in its entirety the dialogue between two individuals, Lord Krishna (Counsellor) and Arjuna (Patient) in the battle field (everyday wars we face in our lives) of Kurukshetra. It has 18 yogas (chapters), the first one being “Arjuna Vishada Yoga” (Sorrow of Arjuna) and the last one “Moksha Sanyasa Yoga”(Nirvana and Renunciation).
I would urge the reader to understand the Bhagavad Gita in whatever wisdom he/she would like depending on their belief systems and cultural-religious background. A fiction story or a piece of history dating back to about 4000 - 5000 B.C. or part of mythology dictated by Sage VedaVyasa and written by Lord Ganesha! What is more important and relevant is NOT WHAT IT IS BUT WHAT TRANSPIRED in those 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita; the process and content of the dialogue; its usefulness as a model of counselling and possible contemporary application value to current day psychological therapies.
The first chapter, Arjuna Vishada Yoga, narrates the expression of Arjuna's sorrow, anxiety, fear and guilt leading to a state of inaction after seeing his kith and kin (Gurus, cousins, uncles, nephews, friends…) lined up in the enemy camp in the battle field-Fighting this war, to win the kingdom, means killing all these people whom Arjuna respected and loved; a sin of commission from any angle. Overwhelmed by the acute state of sadness and guilt, Arjuna drops his weapons (Gandiva) and turns to Lord Krishna, his SAARTHI, for help and guidance.
The Therapeutic Background:
- Arjuna is the patient and Lord Krishna the therapist.
- Single session therapy. No specified “Time limit of 45 – 60 minutes”.
Counselor is a relative of the patient.
Therapist stays with the patient through out the crisis.
Patient has immense belief in the therapist and considers him a friend, philosopher, guide (Guru-Sishya Relationship).
Therapist Lord Krishna: A long-time friend, relative, well wisher of the patient, highly respected in the community, supposedly with supernatural powers, legendary mediating skills, mischievous lover boy in his younger days, with tons of common sense and in the contemporary language a kind of Go-Getter.
Personality of Arjuna: Pandava Prince, no significant neurotic traits, maladjustments or faulty coping pattern; a great warrior and veteran of many battles, in the recent past he fought against the same army and won the battle (Uttara Gograhanam). Proactive role in the preparation for the current war and he drove into the battlefield with great enthusiasm to fight and win.
Descriptive psychopathology of Arjuna:
1) Anxiety: Seedanthi mama gatrani mukham cha parisushyathi vepathus cha sarire me roma-harshas cha jayate (Weakness of limbs, Dryness of mouth, Shivering of the body, Goose skin). Gandivam sramsate hastat tvakchaiva paridahyate na cha saknomy avasthatum bhramati va cha me manah (Gandivam slips from the hand, “Burning” of skin, Unable to stand, “Dizziness”/Confusion of Mind).
Negative thoughts: Na kankhse vijayam Krishna na cha rajyam sukhani cha Kim no rajyena Govinda kim bhogairjivitena va. (Do not desire victory, Neither kingdom nor pleasures why kingdom, why luxuries, why this war).
Guilt: Ahobatha Mahatpapam karthum vyavasatha vayum Yadrajya sukhaobhena Hanthum Swajana mudyatham (Preparing for the sinful act of killing our own kin)
Death wish: Yadi Ma Mapratheekaram asastram Sastrapanayah Dhartarashtra rane hanusthanme keshmatharam bhaveth (Even if I get killed in the war by my enemy it will be good)
Cognitive / Rational emotive Approach: Discussion on the natural inevitability of birth and death of life cycle, immortality of soul, performance of your own Dharma (duty) otherwise running the risk of shame and public defame. Goal of therapy is removal of guilt and remotivate for action.
Action and Renunciation: The one concept in Bhagavad Gita that received exceptional respect and applause from several great scholars is the emphasis on KARMA (ACTION). Intelligent action (Gnana Karma) without performance anxiety and without the greed for the fruits of the work (Nishkama Karma) and never to have the choice of nonperformance of duty (Akarma) emerges as a key point in the teaching of Bhagavad Gita.
Karmany evadhikaras te
Mma phalesu kaddacana
Ma karma-phala-hetur bhur
Ma te sango’stv akarmani
(You have the right only on Action, Not on the fruits of your work. Never own responsibility to the result. Must never lose interest in work)
Humanistic school: Emphasis on the power and capabilities of individual self, and how the person alone will be responsible for his actions, growth or otherwise. “You are your choices”. “You are your destiny”
Uddharedatmana’tmanam atmanam avasadayet atm’aiva hy atmano bandhur atm’aiva ripur atmanah (Self-Empowerment, No inferiority, Your “Self” can be your friend or your own enemy).
Hypnosis: Is the therapist inducing a state of hypnotic trance at this point!
Pasyame Pardha Rupani Sathasotha Sahashrasu...(Arjuna, Look at my Hundreds and Thousnds of forms…)
Trust (Bhakthi): Trust (Faith) remains a single most important element in the therapeutic relationship; not just in psychology but the medical practice in general.
Therapy Successful :))
Bhagavad Gita has immense value with enormous intellectual depth that analyses and explains a variety of life's experiences, and attempts to reach out to everyone with any kind of intellectual and philosophical background.
What mattered is not so much the content of a person's beliefs / religions but whether or not they led to personal transformation of a positive kind.