Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (September 2000, Super School Auroville) - Track 6

There is a difference between problem and crisis. There are many problems which you find can be resolved, can be found. You can overcome the difficulty but crisis is a problem which is so acute that whichever way you turn to solve the problem, it can't be solved. So crisis is a problem, a situation of a problem, which faces you in such an acute form that whatever solution you can suggest to yourself is unworkable and yet you must do something. A crisis is a situation where something must be done and yet it is impossible to do. Therefore the situation of Arjuna is supposed to be called critical situation, the situation of crisis. Since every human being at certain time comes across a crisis therefore people turn to Bhagvad-Gita to read because there was a crisis in the life of Arjuna and ultimately the crisis was resolved. So people turn to Bhagavad-Gita to find out by what means the crisis was resolved. So now let us analyze the crisis first, the dilemma first. Now I have read out the argument. I will ask each one to give me at least one argument. There are many arguments which have come up. They all constitute one argument basically. We shall build up the argument ourselves now. We shall start from here.

What was the first argument? You want me to read out again? Yes?

Seeing these my own people, O Krishna, thus eager for battle, my limbs failed and my mouth is parched. My body is quivering and my hair stands on end. 

The argument is here are my own people, that is the argument. That means if some other people were there it would have been all right, but these are my own people. So mark this aspect of the argument: my own people. He makes a great distinction between my own people and other people.

Now next. What is the second argument?

He says, (I shall read for you):

I see, O Keshava, O Krishna, adverse omens and do not see any good in slaying my own people in the battle.

What is the argument?

Good. That is to say he would agree to kill his own people which is the first argument: How can I kill my own people. Now, he says even if I kill my own people some good should come out of it. But I see no good coming out of it. You can see the further argument. It is now one step further.

The first argument was I cannot kill my own people.

The next argument is even if I kill my people, if it was to produce good, I would not mind it. But I see no good coming out of it.

Now comes the third argument.

Now it is your turn.

O Krishna, I desire not victory, nor kingdom nor pleasures. What is kingdom to us? and what enjoyment? or even life?

What is the argument?

I desire not victory, nor kingdom nor pleasures. What is kingdom to us? and what enjoyment? or even life?

When he came to the war, he knew that he was fighting for kingdom, for victory. Now he says: I desire not victory, nor kingdom, nor pleasures.

What is the argument in it?

He says I desire not. There is an argument involved in it.

The argument is you live life normally for victory, for kingdom, for pleasure but he says since I desire none of this the question of my entering into the war does not arise. This is the argument which has given a sign as it were that Arjuna was so uplifted, so high, so noble, so great, all these things which are trivial −kingdom, pleasure, victory − they are trivial things. What is this? Why should people work for trivial things? It gives an impression that now Arjuna is so much uplifted, he desires no victory nor kingdom nor pleasure. And he says, what is this enjoyment? What is even life? One of the most important questions of human life is what is life. So he raises the most fundamental question − what is life? Why should one live at all? You normally live for victory, for pleasure, for kingdom but if you don't desire at all, what's the point in life. And he claims: I have now no desire. Imagine the claim that he makes: I have no desire, nakankshe vijayam (that is in Sanskrit). Nakankshe vijayam − I do not desire victory. He is now uplifted above all desires. He has become now a saint. It might seem freed from all the bondages of life. 

Now comes the next one. Now be prepared, your turn. No?

Those for whose sake we desire kingdom, enjoyments and pleasures are all standing here in the battle abandoning life and riches. Teachers, fathers, sons and grandsires, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, as well as other kith and kin.

Is it different from the first argument where he says: seeing here my own people. Now there is any further argument because here also it seems he's only saying that these are my own people but there is a further development of the argument. Now read again. Hmm.. 

Those for whose sake we desire kingdom, enjoyments and pleasures 

Normally your own people you would not like to kill but then particularly if for whose sake you want to enjoy and if they are themselves going to be killed what is the motive of action? Right? It's not only question of "my people" now comes another argument "for whose sake we would like to enjoy world and kingdom" and then further argument. 

They are all standing, abandoning life and riches. 

When they are here, they know that they might be killed. Therefore they have given up the desire for riches. So when they're given up the desire for riches and for victory, they have given the desire for life then if I don't give up my desire for life and riches I'll be lower than them. They are much higher. They have already given up hope for riches and life and still if I continue to work and to live for enjoyment. I'll be much lower.

Is that clear? Yes?

So there is a further argument then he says:

These I would not like to slay though myself slain even for the kingdom of the three worlds. How then for this Earth?

Is there any further argument development of the argument you find?

These I would not like to slay though myself slain

Brothers. Yes!

These I would not like to slay though myself slain

You're quite right that even if I am killed.. good!

Now further argument:

What pleasure can be ours on killing these sons of Dhritarashtra. What pleasure can be ours.

That is to say.. any new argument in this? No?

What pleasure can be ours on killing these sons of Dhritarashtra.

He grants that even if you get pleasure you can kill them but he says: "what pleasure can be ours. If some pleasure were to come it will be all right, but when I'll be killing my own people, there'll be no pleasure at all. Therefore, I cannot kill." And then he says: 

..sin alone would take hold of us. 

Now, this is a new argument. 

Sin alone would take hold of us. 

There'll be sin. It's a new idea, which is now being introduced. The idea of sin. It's a big problem of life. Is there anything like sin? What is sin? It's a lot of associations with this word sin in the whole history of human thought this word has often come up. So we shall have to discuss this question:

What is sin?

This is argument. He said: if I kill them sin alone would take hold of us. We shall be called sinners. Not only called but we shall be sinners. To be called sinners is another thing but we shall be ourselves sinners. 

..sin alone would take hold of us in our slaying these hostile aggressors.

Now comes the next sentence. You can see the writer of this book must be so powerful and so intelligent, in seeming repetition of ideas how the argument proceeds, onwards. It's not as if the same statements are made. No! Every time a new statement is made, a new argument is introduced. Now, the whole argument stands on another line. Up till now he was only saying it will give us no joy, "how can I kill my own people?" Why should we live at all?

Now comes a new argument − sin. If I kill them, there will be sin. Then he says:

even if these..

that is to say my adversaries, my enemies, 

..with their consciousness clouded by greed do not see any guilt in the destruction of the family and no crime in hostility to friends. Why should we not have the wisdom to draw back from such a sin? We who see the evil in the destruction of the family

He expounds the idea of the sin:

..even if these with their consciousness clouded by greed

These enemies are clouded by greed.Their minds are not clear. They are not able to see things as clearly as I am seeing now, they 

do not see any guilt in the destruction of the family

They do not see any sin. Sin of what? Sin in destruction of the family. This is according to him: sin means destruction of the family. So here sin means killing one's own people is a sin. You can see that the whole argument now lifts up on a higher level. Up till now he was only arguing "my own people I don't want to give because it will give no pleasure" but now he says "I will not kill because it will cause sin", pleasure, no pleasure is a different matter. Particularly the sin is committed when you are conscious of it. There is no sin if you are not conscious. If by chance I happen to disturb you then there is no sin. But if I desire that you should be disturbed, if by consciousness if I disturb you, then there is a crime. It is a sin. So he says I am conscious that I am going to destroy my family and therefore there will be a great unhappiness, not only unhappiness but a sin. It is a crime. It is guilt. Having known this, how can I do it? They do not know that this will be a sin therefore they can fight if they want but I, who know it, I who have consciousness, it will cause so much of sin. How can I do it? Very saintly proposition, no?

..even if these (that is my enemies) with their consciousness clouded by greed do not see any guilt in the destruction of the family and no crime in hostility to friends. Why should we not have the wisdom to draw back from such a sin?

Seeing this as sin, I should draw back. It's called wisdom. Now comes another argument. Now listen:

, in the annihilation of the family, the Eternal Dharma of the families destroyed

Now, you see a further argument. Not only I will commit a sin but the Eternal Dharma of the whole family is destroyed. It's a greater sin. If only I am destroyed it doesn't matter, it is a sin but it's a minor sin. But when the Dharma of the whole family is destroyed it's a greater sin. Why? Because with the collapse of dharma, adharma overtakes the whole family. When dharma, when the lawlessness, what is order, harmony, the law that keeps a family united, if that law is destroyed then lawlessness will overtake the whole family. This is a greater sin. So the first argument, earlier argument, was there will be sin. Now the argument is a greater sin will be committed. Now a still greater sin is still to be announced. He says not only greater but a greatest sin now will be committed. He says when adharma predominates the women of the family become corrupt and when the women are corrupted the confusion of the orders arises. This confusion leads to hell. Now you see a father sin when adharma predominates. That means there will be no law. Now why does he say women of the family become corrupt when he says adharma even men become corrupt, but he says women will become corrupt. There is a reason behind it because children are born only from women. If men become adharma, they have lawlessness, it is one thing, lesser evil, but if women become lawless than children will be also lawless. It will be a greater evil and when children become lawless then disorder arises in the whole generation, the entire next generation becomes corrupt. Therefore, this is the greatest sin. So he says this confusion leads to hell. So there is a sin, greater sin and the greatest sin. You can see the argument how it develops. By these offenses the eternal laws of the race and the dharma of the family are destroyed. It will affect even a larger community, not only our own family, whole race. So even this is greater than greater sin.

And now he goes on to an argument which is according to the belief of that time. Man whose family's dharma is lost they live for an indefinite period in hell. This is an idea like sin, this is another idea of hell. We should discuss this idea. Also here is only the argument and that too for an indefinite period to go to hell is (one) one thing but to go into hell for an indefinite period, if you commit sin you will go to hell, but if you commit this kind of greatest than greater sin, then it will be for indefinite period. Now, he has become so wise that he says: "alas! a great sin was about to be committed. Now I refrain from it."

Alas, a great sin have we set ourselves to committing, we who are endeavouring to kill our own people from greed of the pleasure of kingship.

Our motive is only to have pleasure but having seen the whole gamut of argument, he realizes what a terrible thing (was to do, was) he was going to do. Having said this he sat down in the chariot.

Now, the same argument is repeated to some extent. So he says:

O Krishna how shall I strike Bhishma and Drona with weapons in battle both being worthy of worship. Those who are to be worshipped by us instead of worshipping, how should I kill them? 

This is another argument: to kill even friends would be pardoned, killing other people is of course pardoned, but people whom you worship to kill them? Then he says even by slaying these gurus, I would be tasting only blood-stained enjoyments of wealth and desire in this world.

But now (the) comes a question:

We do not know which for us is better that we conquer them or they conquer us?

Then he admits:

It is poorness of spirit that has smitten away from me my nature, my whole consciousness is bewildered in its view of right and wrong. I ask thee what may be right and good that tell me decisively.

Having argued, having been convinced that he was about to commit sin, now he has realized that he should not. Even then he is not sure whether it is right for him to withdraw from the battle or whether to fight. 

We shall stop here today and we should analyze this argument still further tomorrow. It's a very important argument in the history of thought. Very rarely you'll come across a formulation of an argument in so many layers. We shall see what are the layers and then we shall try to resolve the problem ourselves if possible. So it is a very interesting argument and in doing so we shall be solving many problems of our own life because such arguments come up before us very very often. All right. Thank you.