Being an unalloyed devotee of the Personality of Godhead, Marshal Arjuna was able to discuss the transcendental philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā even on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. We modern men have no time to get into the details of the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, even in the midst of our much more ordinary daily duties. But just to teach us, Marshal Arjuna tried to understand the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā at a time when a moment was virtually impossible to spare. All this he did for the sake of people like us, and he fought the battle with full vigor once he had understood the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā.
Affinity for family relations, which Marshal Arjuna displayed overwhelmingly in the manner of the typical modern man, is the sign of our lack of transcendental knowledge. But attaining transcendental knowledge does not necessarily mean renouncing the duties of our ordinary life. After Arjuna had understood the spirit of the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, never advised him to give up his seemingly ordinary duties. On the contrary, Arjuna fought the battle with even greater energy and vigor after he had obtained the transcendental knowledge imparted by Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The real spirit we attain through transcendental knowledge is self-negation and the determination to render transcendental service unto the Personality of Godhead. The purport of Bhagavad-gītā is this and nothing else.
When Marshal Arjuna was unable to solve the problem posed to him by the impending battle of Kurukṣetra, he surrendered himself as a disciple to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in all submissiveness to hear his problem's solution. At the outset, the Personality of Godhead talked with Arjuna just as a friend talks with a friend. But such friendly discussions generally end in friendly—and fruitless—debate. Thus, Marshal Arjuna surrendered himself as the disciple of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, for a disciple cannot disobey the orders of his spiritual master. That is the relationship between a disciple and his master.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, imparted to Marshal Arjuna the vitally important teachings of Bhagavad-gītā only when He saw that Arjuna had surrendered to Him without any vanity regarding his own erudition, and without any other reservation. It is very common for us, like Arjuna, to try to dissipate our disillusionments by our own devices, culled from our own mundane experience. This attempt to remove our daily bodily and mental difficulties is always misdirected. Unless one tries to solve his problems from the perspective of eternal varities, there cannot be any peace whatsoever, either in this life or in the life after death. That is the supreme teaching of Bhagavad-gītā.
This spiritual subject matter, which is transcendental to the hankerings of the material body and mind, is our supreme need. Unless we reach this transcendental plane of activities, we cannot achieve real peace. This spiritual, transcendental plane is the plane of eternal life, without which the material body and mind would have no existence. However, at present we do not possess any information of this eternal life, although we have much pride, even vanity, about our material knowledge.
We are more or less absorbed in the external material designations, the external dresses that now cover the eternally living soul. And because we have absorbed ourselves in these external designations of the spirit soul, we encounter so much disunity and turmoil. When we are free from such designations—when our real nature will be uncovered—then and only then will we attain our dream of real happiness and peace. Our present attempts to remove the difficulties of the material world—through the pretensions of erudite scientists, great statesmen, and mahātmās—do not reach the spiritual, transcendental plane, but simply garb the body and mind with various colorful dresses. And thus these attempts will be always frustrated. That is the intrinsic instruction of Bhagavad-gītā.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, rebuked Marshal Arjuna, so to say, when Arjuna surrendered unto Him as a disciple, being unable to solve the problems that always confront us in our material existence. Lord Kṛṣṇa said, "Arjuna, I see that you are talking like a learned man, but you may know that you have very little knowledge—because I see that you are lamenting over something for which no one would lament if he were truly learned."
A learned man never laments over a subject which appears and disappears as a matter of course. The material body, which we get from the womb of our mother, becomes transformed after some time into ashes, earth, or stool, as the case may be. And the subtle mental body, which is also material and composed of false ego and intelligence, likewise vanishes when the soul is lixberated. Therefore, those who are truly learned do not give much importance to this material body and mind, or to the happiness and distress that pertain only to the material body and mind.