Essays on the Gita

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The real renunciation is something quite different, there is the vital impulse to embrace that which is attractive; it is the same vital, which recoils from that which is attractive. They are only the two faces of the same vital. The one towards which you are attracted at a certain stage, and that which you embrace, at a certain stage you find that this is a terrible embrace. And then you return and you say, "I don't want to do anything with that object which was attracting me so much." And you may, in doing so, use the language of morality and virtue, saying: `I do not care, I do not wish, I have no desire', actually it is simply a recoil of the same vital, instead of attraction it is  repulsion. It is not renunciation; it is only `repulsion', you are repelled. So When Arjuna says na kankshe rajyam, "I do not wish the kingdom", it is not the words of renunciation, it is a recoil, it is the loss of faith in the object of attraction.  This very thing Sri Aurobindo analyses earlier, in his book (Essays on the Gita, chapter III The Human Disciple), it is page 25, in the middle of the paragraph Sri Aurobindo writes about this Arjuna’s state.

 “The revolt itself is the most elemental and simple possible; sensationally, the elemental feeling; vitally, the loss of attraction and faith in the recognised and familiar objects of action and aims of life; emotionally, the recoil of the ordinary feelings of social man, affection, reverence, desire of a common happiness and satisfaction, from a stern duty outraging them all; morally, the elementary sense of sin and hell and rejection of “blood–stained enjoyments”; practically, the sense that the standards of action have led to a result which destroys the practical aims of action. But the whole upshot is that all–embracing inner bankruptcy which Arjuna expresses when he says that his whole conscious being, not the thought alone but heart and vital desires and all, are utterly bewildered and can find nowhere the dharma, nowhere any valid law of action.”

This is analysis of the situation. Now that being very important, I would like to go once again through the argument of Arjuna, in the original in the Bhagavad Gita. sīdanti mama gātrāṇi the limbs of my body get shrunk, sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaḿ ca pariśuṣyati, my mouth gets dried up; vepathusca śarire, my whole body is full of shudderings; roma–harṣaśca jāyate, and my hair stand on end". This is all sensational revolt; this is the description of the sensations:

sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaḿ ca pariśuṣyati (1,28)

vepathuś ca śarīre me roma–harṣaś ca jāyate

gāṇḍīvaḿ sraḿsate hastāt tvak caiva paridahyate (1,29)       

gāṇḍīvaḿ sraḿsate hastāt, my bow, Gandiva, slips down, hastāt, from my hand and tvak caiva paridahyate, and my skin is on fire; na ca śaknomy avasthātuḿ, I am not even able to stand; bhramatīva ca me manaḥ and my mind seems as if wandering. (I, 30) nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava, and I see all around, viparītāni adverse, nimittāni omens, O Keshava. na ca śreyo ‘nupaśyāmi,  I don't see anything good, na ca śreyo ‘nupaśyāmi hatvā svajanam āhave, in this battle; āhave, in the battle; having killed, svajanam,...Now from sensation he moves towards the vital condition, hatvā svajanam – but it is egoistic: svajanam, it is my own people, having killed my own people in this battle, I see nothing good. Now, this vital recoil up to now a sensational revolt, now comes the vital revolt. (I, 31) na kāńkṣe vijayaḿ, there is a vital recoil, instead of attraction there is now a repulsion; na kāńkṣe vijayaḿ kṛṣṇa na ca rājyaḿ sukhāni ca, nor do I wish the kingdom, nor the happiness; kiḿ no rājyena govinda kiḿ bhogair jīvitena vā, what is the use of the kingdom, what is the use of enjoyments, what is the use of living: this is all vital reaction. It is not the renunciation of a Yogi, it is a pure revulsion, because it is preceded by svajanam āhave hatvā, it is my people whom I am about to kill and therefore I am shrinking from there. yeṣām arthe kāńkṣitaḿ no rājyaḿ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca (1,32) for whose sake yeṣām arthe kāńkṣitaḿ for whose sake we desire our kingdom, no rājyaḿ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca (1,32), and enjoyment and happiness; ta ime ‘vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāḿs tyaktvā dhanāni ca, it is these very people who are standing before me. You can see the attachment to these people: personal egoistic attachment, – ta ime ‘vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāḿs tyaktvā, they have already given up their lives, `see how better they are than myself, they are already there, having given up their own lives, dhanāni ca, all wealth they have given up, their lives they have given up and they are standing and it is for whose benefit and for whose enjoyment I would like to do anything in life'. You see the scope of the life and the scope of the motive of life: `what do I live for, for svajanam, for my people I live'. That entire idea of the duty, of the righteousness, of the people being oppressed by the evil forces, all this has disappeared, it is not in the field.

yeṣām arthe kāńkṣitaḿ no rājyaḿ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca

ta ime ‘vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāḿs tyaktvā dhanāni ca

ācāryāḥ pitaraḥ putrās tathaiva ca pitāmahāḥ (1,33)

who are these people? They are teachers, ācāryāḥ pitaraḥ, teachers, fathers, putrās – sons, and also pitāmahāḥ, the grandsires, the grand fathers mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ, those who are ...in whose relationship I am a son in law mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ pautrāḥ, even my grandsons, śyālāḥ, my brothers in law, sambandhinas tathā, all kinds of relatives. (I, 34) etān na hantum icchāmi, I don't wish to kill them. Now, you can see that from vital, there is a further development of what is called `emotional': emotional revolt. There is the vital recoil: from sukham, and from rajyam, and then comes the emotional attachments to all the people whom he describes and says: `how can I suffer this, suffering of my, my people, emotional attachment with whom I  have so great'. etān na hantum icchāmi ghnato ‘pi madhusūdana, even if I am killed, ghnato' pi, even if I am killed O Madhusudana, I don't wish to kill them; api trailokya–rājyasya hetoḥ, I do not wish to kill them even though I may be killed for the sake of the kingdom of three realms, trailokya–rājyam, that is earth, heaven and the Supreme, whatever is the highest and everything combined together, even for that sake I am not prepared to kill them; kiḿ nu mahī–kṛte, what is this only for the sake of the earth? Even three kingdoms, if I have to be given by killing them, I won’t do it. What is the question of having only this earth in return to this victory?

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