Essays on the Gita - Track 903

Now, what Sri Krishna points out is that in all your pronouncements of renunciation, there is a great emphasis on `your' renunciation: `you' are renouncing. In other words there is a great emphasis on yourself; that `you' are responsible, `you' are taking the decision, that `you' decide that `you' do not want kingdom, it is `your' decision. You are not considering from the point of view of the `entirety' of the world; you are only looking to your own happiness, you want to be happy because you say that happiness consists in sharing your enjoyment with the people whom you allow, and these are the people which have to be killed; so, what is your judgement, what are the criterion of your judgement; it is `my' happiness and since 'my' happiness consists in sharing `my' joy with all the others and since they are going to be killed therefore `I' will have no joy, therefore `I' do not want joy. It is purely an egoistic statement that you decide as to what is your happiness and you are actually seeking your own happiness, and since your own happiness consists in giving up this fight, therefore you decided; it is not out of a great renunciation, it is actually your own joy that you are seeking by giving up this fight.

It is Sri Krishna who discovers this subtlety of what we may be called `rationalisation' or even `self deception': in order to escape from the problem that one faces, the usual psychology of individuals is to find dignified excuses, so you do not have to fight, you do not have to act. The problem becomes so difficult, you cannot face it; what is being demanded is so difficult, you do not want to face it, you do not want to do it; there is a great weakness, klaibyao. But you do not want to admit to yourself that it is out of weakness. Therefore, there is a kind of rationalisation or a kind of self deception. You create a golden plated argument in which what you say seem so dignified and so wonderful, and in India the idea of tyaga is regarded so great that if you declare that you are doing this because of sacrificing something, it looks wonderful. Taking advantage of this idea, Arjuna is rationalising and says, `I do not want kingdom, I do not want happiness'. But it is not this, actually he wants happiness but he says my happiness consists in sharing the joy with my own people; it is not really that he does not want happiness. If you read the argument, it is very clear that he wants happiness but happiness consists according to him in sharing the joy with your own people; the emphasis is on `my own people', svajana, that is the word used svajana, `with my own people, I want to share the joy and these are the very people whom I am asked to kill; so, how can I have enjoyment? Therefore I do not want the kingdom; I do not want the happiness'.

In the whole statement of Arjuna, there is first a `confusion of values'. Secondly there is a `subtle egoism'. There is a `desire'. There is even `Tamasic

inertia': I do not want to fight' has within it a very subtle kind of inertia, Tamas. All these elements put together gives a state of mind that Arjuna had. And Sri Krishna unveils all these aspects sometimes ruthlessly, sometimes very quietly so Arjuna may really see for himself where exactly his arguments were wrong and fallacious.

So, first statement will be that the Gita should be understood as a whole and we should not press one statement against the other and try to see how the different statements are made by Sri Krishna at different times, in what context and how they all aim together from an ultimate highest point of view. If you don't do it we shall fall into some kind of a difficulty. And this difficulty is fond in the fact that the Bhagavad­Gita had been interpreted in so many different ways. As a result today in India, we really do not know what the Bhagavad-Gita's message is. There are several interpretations and different people are giving different messages out of the Gita. And this being such an important work, something that is so much revered in the country that if you have, in regard to this great work different interpretations, it really creates a tremendous confusion in the country.

Therefore it is necessary to reconsider, to review the whole of the Gita and try to see his entirety. Take for example: there is a view that the Bhagavad-Gita teaches an emphasis on the path of Knowledge. There is another view which says that the Gita teaches only the path of Devotion. A third will say that the Gita teaches only the path of Action. And each advocates, believes that although the other two elements are present, those two elements are subordinate and ultimately to be transcended. According to those who believe in the path of Knowledge, there is a general theory that Action can prepare you for salvation but cannot give it, that is to say: you can use action up to a certain point like a crutch or like a ladder; you rise from one point to the other but having reached a certain point you throw it away and only when you throw it away you can really enter into liberation. So, the highest path is ultimately the path of Knowledge; action is only a kind of a crutch, a kind of a help in the beginning for some time. Now, if you read the Bhagavad-Gita throughout, you will find many sentences which will confirm this view.

Sri Krishna uses the word niyatao karma: do the work which is prescribed niyatao karma. Sri Krishna uses the word nirvana: you go into complete extinction of all karma. Therefore, taking advantage of these propositions, one can conclude therefore the Bhagavad-Gita says that if you want to do action what I am asking you to do is niyatao karma, is prescribed for you: "you are a Kshatriya, you should do this work, but ultimately, having done it, the only salvation lies only in nirvana. You resort to the path of knowledge and enter into complete silence of your being and that is your ultimate salvation, your perfection". Now, this is one interpretation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Now, this interpretation does not give adequate place to the constant exhortation that Sri Krishna makes in the `beginning', in the `middle' and even at the `end', on `action'. Even after giving the supreme secret, in Sri Krishna's own words, Sri Krishna says: "Act and now fight". Even after giving the supreme secret, that when you reach the supreme stage of your consciousness, the ultimate thing to be done is to fight and to act. Now, this emphasis is subordinated by those who believe that the teaching of the Gita is for the path of Knowledge. And therefore, there are controversies of all kinds, whether this statement by Sri Krishna are subordinate statements, or major statements or principal statements. And who can decide this? Unless you make the whole study thoroughly, you yourself come to the conclusion as to what is the really the upshot of all what Sri Krishna has to say.