Chapter 1

The Saboteur Within

Each one of us has a good voice and a bad voice within us. We have all experienced multiple instances where one voice tells us to do the right thing while there is another voice that keeps tempting us to do mischievous or negative things.

Along with the bad voice, each one of us also has a saboteur within us. This is the entity that often prevents us from succeeding or being happy or peaceful in life.

Saboteur basically means ‘one who causes sabotage’. In this case, we are talking about that entity within us that is hell-bent on sabotaging our own selves and constantly pushing us towards the path to failure and downfall.

Each of us must have faced the ‘exam fever’ many times in our lives. The good voice within us keeps saying ‘you should stop wasting time and study’. While the saboteur keeps teasing us ‘hey there is still a lot of time for the exam, let’s play for some time or sleep for some time’. Sounds familiar? On a more serious note, there are countless criminals who break down at the time of their trials, saying ‘I don’t know what came over me. I was not myself. I can’t believe I did that’. Well, they are speaking the truth and only describing the painful reality of having been victimized by their own inner saboteur.

Arjuna’s state of mind during the first few hours on the battlefield of Kurukshetra is a perfect example of this saboteur in action. One important thing to keep in mind is that, whenever you face the urge from negative feelings and emotions, you should make sure that they do not land up controlling your actions.

The mystic and saint Kabir explains this beautifully in two lines:

Which means: If your mind wanders, let it . But do not let your body follow your mind (do not act on what the wandering mind is thinking about) . It is like a bow which is stretched to its full limit, but without an arrow (body) it can do no harm .

In the context of the setting for Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna’s mind is playing the reverse trick and forcing him into total inaction. Either way, be it action or inaction, we should not let the wandering mind dictate the terms.

Arjuna advertises this state of his mind as described at the end of the first chapter of Bhagavad Gita.

There are two central themes of the first chapter in the Bhagavad Gita.

  1. Deal with the saboteur within and fight the weakness of mind
  2. Realize that the body is temporary while the soul is eternal. Do not grieve for the body

It would be better for me even if the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapons in hand, kill me on the battlefield while I am unarmed and unresisting .

 Such words coming from the most feared warrior of his times is a classic example of the saboteur within him fully in action. Lord Sri Krishna addresses this saboteur within Arjuna directly in the next chapter.