Sri Krishna’s answer to Arjuna, as I said in the first place is to say: “Look there is the ‘Perishable’, and the ‘Imperishable’, and you are giving a greater importance to the ‘Perishable’, than to the ‘Imperishable’”: that was the first answer to Arjuna’s bewilderment.
The second answer is that, “You are giving such a great importance to the ‘fruits of action’, without realising ‘action’ itself…what is the ‘motive’ of action”. If you analyse the whole argument of Arjuna, the whole argument is based upon the 'consequences’, upon ‘the fruits’. The argument is that, “If I win this battle, I will have rājyaṁ and sukham, I will have the kingdom and the happiness and the pleasure”: that is one consequence. Then he says, “I don’t want this, why? Because I will have killed my people, and this kingdom will be blood–splattered, and it is that, which I do not like to enjoy”, (it is again a fruit of action), “How can I enjoy this kingdom, when it is blood–splattered kingdom?” It is again a question of consequence. Then, he says, “Killing is called a sin, if I do this it will be called a sin”. And then, there is the fear of the sin, that is the consequence of a sin: “If I engage myself into the war, then there will be a destruction of Dharma, the whole kulanaśam, the whole clan will be destroyed; the Dharma of the kula will be destroyed”, and then he says, “it is śuśruma, it is said that those who are responsible for it, they go into hell”, again consequence, the fruit of action. All his arguments are based upon ‘fruits of action’.
Sri Krishna says that, “when the Buddhi is incited by ‘desire’, then it constantly thinks of the ‘results’, ‘consequences’, ‘fruits of action’”. To such an extent that real action and the motive of action are as it were hidden; they are obliterated; they are not brought in the focus of our attention. That is why Sri Krishna says that “First of all realise that even the wisest do not know what is ‘action’, what is ‘inaction’ and what is ‘wrong action’: karma, akarma, vikarma. First of all, before you go to the consideration of the consequences, the fruits of action, first of all consider what is action, what is inaction, what is wrong action. It is only then that your question will have an answer”.
In other words you can see that Sri Krishna goes to the fundamentals. If the situation was simple, then a simple answer is possible, if the situation is superficial, a superficial answer is possible; but here, the question that was raised by Arjuna was fundamental, and therefore it cannot be answered superficially, or simply: it has to be answered fundamentally.
In the 2nd chapter basically with these two propositions: the distinction between the ‘Perishable’ and the ‘Imperishable’, and secondly the consideration of what is action, what is inaction, what is wrong action, which takes us into the question of what are the fruits of action, and how one must deal with the fruits of action and with the action itself.
With regard with these propositions, in the current ideas, there are four basic, very important philosophies: philosophies of Sankhya, of Yoga, Vedanta and Vedavada. And all the four are in picture in this 2nd chapter; and normally we are not very clear about these four things therefore, the whole chapter becomes difficult. If you read Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Essays on the Gita’, in his exposition, before starting the exposition of the Yoga of Buddhi, Yoga of intelligent will, he has deviated as it were, from the main course of argument of the Gita, so as to expound quite largely, also as he says, quite superficially, the ‘Sankhya and Yoga’, and ‘Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta’, in which he has also included the consideration of ‘Vedavada’. These two chapters are introduced specially, so that the reader may be able to understand the arguments of the 2nd chapter. With my own exposition with you, I omitted to described what is Sankhya and what is Yoga, what is Vedanta, what is Vedavada, and we entered straight into the argument, which is very good, because then you really understand that there is a difficulty in understanding this chapter, because there is this background lacking, so at the right moment we can give the background. The difficulty is further compounded, because these words, Sankhya, Yoga, Vedanta, Vedavada, are even being used, in our own times.