Second point in this teaching is that when you have the ‘true knowledge’, when you want to have ‘true knowledge’; there is one condition to be fulfilled. The capacity to endure both pleasant and unpleasant: titikṣā. If you don’t have the capacity to endure, you cannot attain to the true Self–knowledge. Sri Krishna reminds him that today you are afflicted by sorrow, you are not able to bear the sorrow, and yet you speak of the higher knowledge and you speak like a wise man, but you are not able to bear this sorrow that is now overcoming you; and when you can bear this sorrow or joy, whatever it is, then you can enter into the portals of ‘true knowledge’.
This is the first exposition of the knowledge of Reality. It is this that there is a Reality which is immutable, eternal, which is immortal; it is wonderful. Some people look at it with wonder, hear about it with wonder, they think about it with wonder:
āścaryavat paśyati,(II, 29)
This Reality is actually present in every human body. Although the human bodies are born, they develop and they enter into old age and then they die. This Self does not get either born, does not grow, does not develop, does not enter into death. Therefore, whatever action is to be done is in the light of ‘this’. Simply because somebody is going to be hurt, somebody is going to be transcended, transgressed, is an ordinary consideration. It is not a consideration of a wise person: the wise person always sees that eternal self behind everything, and takes its stand on that eternal Self, looks upon the world “udāsīna: he sits above”. The arguments which are put forward by Arjuna that, ‘I will be killing these people, and therefore there will be sin and sorrow and suffering’, these do not emanate from the knowledge of the Eternal.
Every human being according to this teaching, even after the death, takes a new birth. And as Sri Krishna says, “Even if you do not believe in rebirth, if you simply believe that everybody is born and everybody must die, then what is that to lament about, because that is bound to happen to everybody; so even from that point of view, there is no question either way: either the individual who is dead now will take a birth again, or he will remain dead because it is always so for everybody, so there is no question about it”. This is one set of arguments.
Now, is the other set of arguments, which is at a lower level, lower than this level, but both are appropriate to Arjuna’s questions. One was, as I said, was to destroy the mask of Arjuna as a wise man. Now, he speaks of the consequences: ‘If I kill them there will be sorrow, if I kill them there will be no enjoyment because my people will not be with me’. He is constantly considering the consequences of the battle. Sri Krishna says that, ‘if you want to see the consequences, how can you be sure that these are the only consequences to come?’ So, He gives another account of other consequences that may come about, and He says:
“Considering the specific duty as a Kshatriya, you should not in fact waver. There is nothing more blessed for a Kshatriya than a righteous war.” (II, 31)
svadharmam api cāvekṣya
‘Even by seeing Swadharma, you should not hesitate.’
“O Son of Pritha! Fortunate are the Kshatriyas, who come upon such an opportunity as this great battle which has come to you of its own accord as an open gate to heaven.” (II, 32)
Arjuna had argued that, ‘If I fight this war the consequence will be that I will go to hell’. Sri Krishna says: “O Son of Pritha, fortunate are the Kshatriyas who come upon such an opportunity as this great battle which has come to you of its own accord as an open gate to heaven”.
“If, however, you do not fight righteous battle, you will be deprived of both your own duty and your fame and then you will incur sin.” (II, 33)
It will be the other way around.
“People will speak of your infamy, down through the ages. And for a respectable person, evil fame is worst than the death.” (II, 34)
“The great chariot warriors will think that you have turned away from this battle out of fear. Those who highly esteem you will thus look down upon you.” (II, 35)
“Your enemies will speak unkind words against you. They will doubt your heroism. What will be more painful than this?” (II, 36)
“If you are killed, you will go to heaven, or if you attain victory, you will enjoy kingship over the earth. Therefore, get up with determination to fight, O son of Kunti!” (II, 37)
These are the words which are derived from consideration of consequences. That is because Arjuna himself spoke of the consequences of his actions, and that was the basic argument that as a result of this war, as a result of what I will do, the results will be such and such. Sri Krishna answers the opposite argument, like dialectic: ‘consider ‘these’ consequences!’ It does not mean that Sri Krishna’s teaching is that by seeing the consequences you should act, but this is an argument to meet the argument of Arjuna. ‘If you consider the consequences of action to be your guideline, then consider that as a standard and then consider ‘this’ question, ‘this’ argument, from the point of view of the consequences, ‘this’ will be the consequence, and ‘if consequences are the motive of your action then you should fight’.
It is very important to know that in India, standards of conduct are not uniform for everybody. It is recognised that one who is Tamasic must have a standard of conduct of a Rajasic. One who is Rajasic must have a standard of conduct which is Sattwic. One who is Sattwic should have a standard of conduct which is triguṇātīta, one who goes beyond all the Gunas.