Essays on the Gita

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Buddha had this personality very prominently in him. Actually if you examine the crisis through which Buddha passed, and the crisis which Arjuna passed at this stage of battlefield, you will get a very clear idea as to how the two crises are different, and at two different levels. Buddha is prepared to spend years and years in the search of 'what is true?' before asking the question of 'what should I do?' If he withdrew from his home, it was only to get time to reflect on this. It was not that he decided that this was the right thing for him to do and therefore  he left. It was to gain time to reflect so that here now I have to reflect on this question. And this circumstance does not permit me to reflect. So unless I withdraw completely and go into a great seclusion and reflect and  go from teacher to teacher and ask questions. Unless I do it, I will not be able to come to the real conclusion. Of course, he was highly ethical, therefore he really ultimately wanted to do what was right, but what he wanted to find out was the basis of doing the right thing. So he has a very powerful and very wide philosophic nature and ethical nature, both together.

In the case of Arjuna, the philosophic element was not so wide as in the case of the Buddha. The philosophic element was not absent but that philosophic element  was highly moralistic, highly inclined to do something and to follow some law of action so that he can apply and say that well, I have done the right thing. That is his basic inclination. So you might say that Arjuna was ethical, Arjuna was practical, third element in his personality was that Arjuna was 'emotional'. Now here again there is a conflict between intellectuality and emotionality. Again we cannot say that he was not intellectual but that intellectual element was subordinate to the emotional element. In an emotional personality, there is always a great consideration to enjoy with others; it is a sense of expansiveness, in which you share your joy with large number of people, you feel happy in the happiness of others. If somebody is unhappy, or sick, or troubled, you feel very much overpowered. It is said that Indians by nature are more emotional than many people of the West; a simple appeal of a poor person can melt most of the Indians, more easily; an argument may not actually interest many people in India as much as a mere experience of emotional stir. Now Arjuna was a personality that could be moved very powerfully through emotions. "He is my uncle, he is my grandfather, oh! he is my companion, oh! he is my comrade" and to share with them. Whatever you enjoy, even your victory should be shared with these people, who are your own people. Now the appeal of this – my own people, and sharing with the people, is extremely important for an emotional personality and that was the mark of Arjuna. Finally he was a sensational man, again I use the word sensational not in the ordinary sense of the term. A sensational person is one, who gets greatly affected by what one sees and what one hears. There are people who understand a thing when one `hears'; there are people who get much more convinced  when one `sees', not only hears but when one sees. There are people who are convinced when they `read' in printed word, somebody saying, or somebody `seeing' is not so important as when one reads in printed words somewhere. Some get convinced only when they read again and again, three times, four times, five times to be absolutely sure. They require so much of evidence in writing then only one gets absolutely certain. This last category cannot be sensational, they are really hard rationalists, who want all the evidence on paper, in writing, and they need to read again and again to be sure that what is said is true and then only their action will follow out of what they read. They need lot of time to reflect, they do not normally get affected immediately by what they hear and what they see. On the other hand there are people, who even if they have read ten times, and they have got all the evidence in writing  but they are not absolutely sure until they have seen or heard somebody saying something. This is a mark of sensationality, one who gets very much seized by sensations.

Now having analyzed this, let us start with the sensationality of Arjuna. I was so far building up the case for the sense of crisis which overcomes Arjuna rather suddenly. Arjuna is brought in the arena in the chariot by Sri Krishna. He knew that he was going to fight against the arrogance and violence which was symbolized and manifested in Duryodhana. He was sure that he was doing according to what a Kshatriya ought to do, there was a law of a Kshatriya  and the Dharma of Kshatriya is to fight for justice and to establish what is right, he knew this very well and he was moved by this law of action and he wanted to do it. He knew also that in this great conflict, people of different parts of the country or different countries were to participate; he knew also that among them, there were all people of his own clan; he knew that in the opposition there were also people of his own family, not only of his clan but of his own family; among his opponents were his Gurus, like Dronacharya, Kripacharya, he knew all this. And now he is brought into the arena and as soon as he watches all this, what happens to him? What he knew was experienced sensationally by him; he sees with his own eyes – Bhishma standing here, Dronacharya there, and his brothers, his comrades, friends, peers, people who have been working with him and for whom he was working, all those people are arraigned before him. It is 'this sensation' which overpowers him, and all his thoughts are generated by this sensational experience. This is the true psychology of what happens to Arjuna. He knew otherwise, he knew all this, these are the two parties and this is the battle, what is it that changes him suddenly? What was new situation by which his whole mind is changed  completely? He had come to fight, he wanted to see everybody, like a majestic master of the whole situation, and suddenly he changes, what is it? The only explanation we can give is that he was a personality which can be affected by sensations. What you knew in theory, in thought, it was not so real to him, if he was a theoretical person, if he was a philosopher then what one thinks becomes highly real but because he is a pragmatic, practical, emotional, ethical and sensational, therefore what comes through sensations seizes him very powerfully. And then not only it seizes but immediately the current of  thoughts passed through him so powerfully and he says: 'my limbs', his physical organs – sensational experience  – they become numb, it is a sensational experience:  sidanti mama gatrani, (I, 29), my organs of the body they simply become numb. Now, these experiences lead, lead him to a series of thoughts...

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