Bhagavagd Gita - Session 2- Track 203

Therefore duties collide with Dharma. And Dharma is supposed to be even higher than the duty. In the case of Arjuna, both his duties demand that he should fight. His Dharma also demands that he should fight. In his case both the things coincide: his duty and Dharma. There is no conflict. But the conflict is between Dharma and Dharma. It is his Dharma as a Kshatriya to uphold the right; not only to fight as a soldier in the battle: “independent of the battle, I must always stand for the right”, that is the Kshatriya’s Dharma. But it is also Dharma to see that the whole society follows Dharma, and he sees that very Dharma by which he would be enjoining into war, would ultimately lead to a degeneration of the society because of the massacre. Dharma collides with Dharma. Therefore he says, “I will not fight”.

And the fourth argument is: ‘it is better to be killed unarmed than to kill the brethren: it is a noble sense, noble sentiment’, he says, ‘I will not use the arms, they may be armed and they may kill me even though I may remain unarmed, un-opposing’. This last sentence is very important because it arises from the tradition of India, which had developed around that time, in which renunciation was regarded as a very important element in the culture: “you must renounce”. Renunciation is greater than enjoyment, and that streak of the argument is throughout, sewn in the whole dialogue of Arjuna with Sri Krishna at that time. Even in these few arguments which are placed in the second chapter which we read out just now, is a repetition of the argument of the first chapter.

This noble sentiment is laughed at by Sri Krishna: and one might wonder as to how Sri Krishna, one who is a teacher of divinity, of divine life, He would laugh at this great sentiment which Arjuna is expressing. There must be some deeper reason and that is what He explains. He says (II, 2): “How did you develop this kind of dejection during the crisis of war? It is not followed by great person, it does not lead to heaven and it is disgraceful”.

The reason is that…there are three reasons for renunciation: the renunciation can be Tamasic, can be Rajasic, can be Sattwic. It is Tamasic when under the great pressure of the events, you do not want to take a decision and you take resort to a Tamasic withdrawal. It is Rajasic when you become disappointed even when you want to do lot of things but you see that everything is opposed to you so powerfully that you would like to escape from it. The Sattwic is when you want to follow a great ideal, and ideal which collides with your present duty, and therefore you would like to withdraw from the duty and follow the ideal.

In this case, what is the cause of the recoil? Is it Sattwic, is it Rajasic, is it Tamasic? It is not Sattwic because, although he seems to be saying, “I want to renounce”, what is the ideal that he wants to follow? Compare it with the renunciation of Buddha. When the Buddha decided to leave his home, He was transgressing His duties: duty as a son, as a prince, duty as a husband and duty as a father. He trampled upon His duties, and He renounced the world, ─ but what for? He had a great question in His mind: ‘What is death? What is life? What is birth? What is old age? What is this misery in this world? Can misery be conquered?’ These were His great philosophical questions for which He had no answer; and He could see that these questions cannot be answered ordinarily: it was a Sattwic renunciation.

It is not Rajasic either: in Rajasic, you are disappointed, you are about to be defeated, you are not equal to the fight, and therefore you want to withdraw. But here, that is not the case: he knows that he is very brave man; in fact the whole war was fought only because Arjuna was a basic factor, a central factor; you minus out Arjuna and the whole war falls down. He knew that it was not out of any kind of feeling of defeat.

The reason is Tamasic. He wants to come out of it because there is a great conflict in his mind; there is too much of a clouding in his mind; he is not able to decide, although he says “I will not fight”, it is a decision, but the argument that he puts forward, if you analyse that there is a lot of confusion in it, and he speaks the language of a Sannyasin, but there is no wisdom of a Sannyasin in it, as Sri Krishna Himself will point out in due course. When Sri Krishna says, “you speak the words of wise, but the wise do not clamour, do not become sorrowful, as you are becoming sorrowful. You speak as if death is final; you speak as if for sorrow’s sake or for joy’s sake that you should fight. Who told you that joy or sorrow has to be the cause of the motivation of war? You speak of ‘my people’ and you say that you are speaking the language of a Sannyasin, ‘my people’. For a Sannyasin there is no ‘my people’”. Therefore it is evident that it is a Tamasic recoil, disgraceful. Tamasic recoil is the worst recoil; it is disgraceful and also much worse: it is cowardice. And that is why Sri Krishna says in two sentences: “How did you develop this kind of dejection during the crisis of war, it is not followed by great persons, does not lead to heaven and it is disgraceful” (II, 2). He refers to heaven because in the argument of Arjuna, he said, “I know that if I engage myself in this war I shall go to hell”, and he has given the reasons as to why he will go to hell because he will be perpetrated of Adharma and whoever perpetrates Adharma goes to hell. Sri Krishna says, “Do you think that now if you withdraw from the war you will go to heaven?” And then He says in a severer criticism, “Do not heed to cowardice”:

klaibyaṁ mā sma gamaḥ(II, 3)

“Do not heed to cowardice! This does not behove you, O destroyer of enemies! Give up this feebleness”, this is Tamasic, “Give up this feebleness of the mind, stand up and fight!”

This is the straight answer, first of all that he should fight.

This is the straight answer, first of all that he should fight.