While Krishna praises the trait of detachment and contentment, he emphasizes the need for hard work. At the risk of sounding paradoxical, he says in the Gita – I’ve achieved everything, yet I continue to work (BG 3.22); If I fail to work tirelessly, humans will blindly follow my example and sit idle (BG 3.23); If I didn’t work, the worlds would perish and I would become the cause of chaos (BG 3.24).
The uniqueness of sanatana dharma is its universality. Three cardinal features confer upon it its universal character. These three are however not mutually exclusive; they, in fact, nourish one another.
In the Bhagavata Purana, there is the moving episode of Kuchela’s visit to Krishna’s palace. Kuchela and Krishna were classmates in the gurukula of Sandipani. Kuchela leads an impoverished life while Krishna is a king. Kuchela visits his old friend with a view to ask him for help but when he actually meets him, he is unable to bring himself to ask for a favor.
Whenever I'm asked to speak about Hinduism to a Western audience, who is typically unfamiliar with our tradition, I like to use a simple acronym to highlight the core values of sanatana dharma, the eternal truth. But before that, I usually mention these four important points about our tradition:
Krishna speaks about bhakti so often in the Gita. He goes as far as to say – sincerely worship the supreme in any form you like; I will strengthen that faith (BG 7.21). But what of Krishna himself? Is he a devotee? Or is he an arrogant god?
The basic idea of the Gita was to convince Arjuna to fight the war and kill his enemies. Krishna tells Arjuna without mincing any words that he has to face his enemies and march ahead. And in the course of this persuasion, he uses various lines of argument (see for example, BG 2.31-33, 11.34). But this is not an empty exhortation. Krishna himself has killed others. He has killed his own people too. He killed his own maternal uncle Kamsa because the latter was not adhering to dharma and was ruling over the kingdom as a tyrant.
If you grew up in India or if you were associated with Indian culture in any form – literature, music, dance, or films – you would have heard the word dharma. Most Indian languages have this word as is or at least have the concept (for example, in Tamil, we use the word aram, which is similar to dharma).
The difference in meanings of ऋत and सत्य is unequivocal in the following mantra of the Vedas:
ऋतं त्वा सत्येन परिशिञ्चमीति सायं परिषिञ्चति |
सत्यं त्वर्तेन परिशिञ्चमीति प्रात:|
अग्निर्वा ऋतम् |
अग्निमेव तदादित्येन सायं परिशिञ्चिति |
अग्निनाsदित्यं प्रात: स: |
Krishna gives a wonderful formula for peace in the Gita. He says that when a person overcomes desires, lives without craving, and is rid of ego and a sense of ownership, he attains peace (BG 2.71). But this is precisely what Krishna has done in his own life in order to attain peace.