I just submitted this comment to IntentBlog, where Deepak Chopra regularly writes.
“The Bhagavad-Gita declares that there are no outward signs of enlightenment,” Deepak says.
I’m sorry but that is quite mistaken. It may be confusing because Arjuna asks the specific question in Chapter 2 (verse 54), but Krishna doesn’t explain the “enlightened” person’s activities (engaging in His loving service) until later chapters, after Krishna reveals His own unique position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This makes sense, as the activities of an enlightened person are in relation to God. The specific external quality is the constant engagement of oneself and one’s possessions in Krishna’s service.
Krishna says in verse 9.13, for example, “Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” These are behaviors, outward signs of enlightenment, that Krishna is describing. Who can deny it?
Personally I don’t prefer to talk of “enlightenment.” Arjuna asks about enlightenment when he doesn’t want to fight, but Krishna tells Arjuna to surrender to Him. Enlightenment is a kind of knowledge, whereas surrender is the practical application of that knowledge. One who has graduated from medical school can call himself a doctor, but it doesn’t mean much until he’s treating patients.
Based on what I’ve read in Deepak’s writing, about a dozen essays this past year, I think he should spend a while hearing Bhagavad-gita from someone who actually understands Bhagavad-gita and reserve his comments for later. As Krishna explains in verse 4.3, Bhagavad-gita can only be understood by His devotees: “That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.”
Without being Krishna’s devotee, no one can understand Bhagavad-gita; so what business does he have commenting on Bhagavad-gita? Krishna concludes Bhagavad-gita telling Arjuna, “man mana bhava mad bhakto, mad yaji mam namaskuru,” having spoken the exact same instructions in the middle of Bhagavad-gita. When Deepak takes these instructions to heart, then he will be qualified to comment on Bhagavad-gita, not before.