Essays on the Gita - Track 902

We must understand that there is a difference between a logical answer and a psychological answer: a logical answer is highly philosophical; a psychological answer can also be philosophical, but it is presented in such a way that it meets the psychological needs of the questioner. And the treatment that Sri Krishna gives to the question of Arjuna is a fundamental psychological imperative. It, as it were leads Arjuna from his state of consciousness where he was, sunk, and brings him up, little by little. And therefore there are waves of answers: it is not a straight answer. You might even say that it is "ups and downs": while He answers at questions at one stage of consciousness, it is followed by another answer which is at a lower level of consciousness, again shots up to the higher level of consciousness as it happens in the psychological state of the listener.

Take for example: at one stage, Sri Krishna says that `you have no right to the fruits of action'; and soon thereafter He says, `if you die you will go to heaven, and if you conquer, if you win, you will enjoy a great kingdom, therefore fight'. Now, in both the propositions, He is stressing the fruits of action: `if you die you will get heaven, and if you win you will enjoy the kingdom.' So, it might seem as if that answer of that kind of a proposition that was being made was at a lower level. But that is because Arjuna himself is asking the question which is at two levels: one is a seeking of an absolute answer which is absolutely right, absolutely true, without any compromise at all, without any personal considerations at all; on the other hand, he is harping also upon the consequences of whatever he was going to do in fighting, as he himself says, `if I fight, I will have to kill my kinsmen; and in killing kinsmen, what is the joy of it? Because the joy is best enjoyed, when we share with our own people; but here, the people with whom we would like to share our joy, are themselves to be killed. So, what is the joy in it!' So, he was harping upon the consequences of his action. He was also asking, `if I fight this battle and people are massacred, there will be a great destruction of Dharma." It is the result of his action. So, his argument was tied up with the results of his action. So, Sri Krishna says that if you are looking towards the results of action all the time, then there are only two results of your action: one is that you will finish yourself and you will go to heaven and if you win you will enjoy the kingdom, if this is your consideration as to what will happen as a result of my action.

So, Sri Krishna's argument is therefore multifaceted. And the Bhagavad-Gita therefore should be read as a whole. If you emphasise one aspect against the other, and not understand the complexity of the answer, then one might legitimately make a criticism as of Sri Krishna is wandering from one point to the other, even self contradicting. Asking first of all not to look at the consequences of action at all, and then immediately saying that if you win, this will be the consequences, if you die, that will be the consequences, therefore you act.

Also there are many other tendencies: for example, there is a tendency in Arjuna's mind, to take resort to the greatness of renunciation. In his whole argument, when he says, "I do not want happiness, I do not want kingdom, it is better to be killed unarmed than killing my own kinsmen". In both the statements there is a spirit of renunciation, and he is extolling renunciation and he is taking advantage of an `apparent' sense of renunciation. Therefore Sri Krishna is also required to answer as to what is renunciation, what is `real renunciation'; when he says, "I don't want kingdom, I don't want happiness", is it really renunciation? When he says, "let me be killed unarmed", is it really renunciation? This also is a question which Sri Krishna is obliged to answer, because in his own mind he was feeling that he is now basing himself on a very high pedestal of sense of renunciation, and his decision not to fight is based upon a great renunciation. That is why right from the beginning there is in the entire argument, right through the 2° chapter up till the 18° chapter, there is constant repetition of this theme: `what is renunciation'. And the ideas which are put forward in this connexion, are those of sannyasa and tyaga. What is real sannyasa is, as Sri Krishna explains latter on, is `tyaga'. Renunciation can be understood in two senses: `outer' renunciation and the `inner' renunciation. But outer renunciation is not the real renunciation; when you simply say, "I don't want kingdom", it is an `outer' renunciation, it is not the `internal' renunciation and that is why Sri Krishna says there is the tyaga. The real sannyasa comes when there is a tyaga, that is the real renunciation; and tyaga is: 'an internal giving up of all desires'. Even when you `desire to give up', it is also a `desire'. You should reach a stage where even that desire should not be. Because here when Arjuna was saying: °I do not want the kingdom", it was a kind of a desire of not wanting the kingdom.

Besides, the real sannyasa, the real tyaga is where there is a renunciation of `egoism': renunciation of `desire' and renunciation of `egoism'. The `true' renunciation is a combine renunciation of desire and egoism.