Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (September 2000, Super School Auroville) - Track 8

Now continue the argument. It says:

II see, O Krishna, adverse omens.

 The signs which I am seeing are all adverse means the consequences of my actions will bring about unhappiness. When you say: I see bad omens means what? I think that the consequences of my actions or my surroundings will be unhappy. So not only my condition is unhappy, now the argument moves forward, even the consequences of my action, which I am going to perform will be adverse. Therefore this argument is having the basis in Utilitarianism. You should so do work that the consequences are good or should be happy. So this whole argument it's not only hedonistic, it is further utilitarian: I see adverse omens and do not see any good in slaying my own people in the battle when he says "I do not see any good" means what? "I do not see good consequences in slaying my own people in the battle." So again, this is a statement based upon Utilitarianism. 

Now comes another argument: how to avoid all this undesirable things. So he says:

I desire not victory nor kingdom nor pleasures.

So he says: if because I am desiring this good consequences, happy consequences, therefore, I am miserable but supposing I don't seek pleasure at all, I don't seek victory at all? Then he says:

What is kingdom to us, what enjoyment, or even life?

These are consequences? Even if I do this fighting, I will get Kingdom. All right. I'll get enjoyment. All right. I'll continue to live. All right. So what? In other words he now takes a stand which goes beyond Utilitarianism. I don't seek all this at all. I don't seek any consequences at all. Since I am not seeking anything at all, I don't need to fight. That's the consequence. That's the implication he makes. He makes an argument: I will not fight because I don't want kingdom. But again, you can see that the whole argument is based upon Utilitarianism. Although he says that I don't want, I want to go beyond all consequences but behind it the argument is basically Utilitarianism: I will not fight and if I don't fight then I don't any miserable condition at all. So ultimately I am seeking the results which will really be pleasant to me. He's almost hedonistic again and utilitarian, so he pleads that one should go beyond hedonism one should go beyond utilitarianism, but behind it the argument is because I don't want to be miserable. There is also a consequence. So you can see the complexity of the argument and when Krishna will answer, he's a master mind, Sri Krishna's mind is sharp; it knows very well all the complexities of human mind, the methods of argument and he'll pick out all these things. You say you do not want this but still you want to be quite happy. What about that condition that you want to be happy, it's hedonistic. Although you use a language which seems to be very high, very noble, very great − I don't want kingdom, I don't want pleasure but why? Because you don't want to be miserable. Sri Krishna will point out the weakness of the argument afterwards and you will appreciate Sri Krishna's argument much better if you know these three words. Normally people argue only on the grounds of these three words about right and wrong. Wherever there is a question of right or wrong, you can apply these three arguments − hedonistic, utilitarian or categorical imperative. 

Now he expounds is argument further and you see the inner motivation which is still utilitarian. He says:

Those for whose sake we desire kingdom, enjoyments and pleasures are all standing here in the battle.

 "For whose sake" − that is again utility. We seek pleasure for whose sake? So that we can enjoy it better with all the people, maximum pleasure of the maximum number of people. This is the utilitarian argument. You should seek the maximum pleasure of the maximum number of people. So he says that if I fight there will be pleasure for me but not the maximum pleasure for me because maximum pleasure lies in sharing of the maximum pleasure with maximum number of people but these maximum number of people will be killed. So sharing with them will be diminished. So there'll be no happiness. So once again you can see it is an argument of Utilitarianism. You can see  in what horizon's the argument of Arjuna is moving. It is treading only on a limited scale of argument. Basically, he wants pleasure, he wants stability of pleasure, as long as pleasure can be obtained, no miserable condition at all, and he wants maximum pleasure of maximum number of people. It is a hedonistic argument basically and a utilitarian argument. 

Now he continues  the argument. Says:

these I would not like to slay, though myself slain 

"I would not like", the word like is very important. "Like" means I would not be happy, I would have no pleasure, I would not be happy, I would not have pleasure to slay. So because slaying will not give me pleasure therefore I should not do it. He's seeking his own pleasure. So basically the argument of Arjuna even though it seems to be something very grand when he says "I don't want kingdom, I don't own pleasures, I don't own enjoyment, I don't want to success" but why? Basically what is the reason? I would not like to slay because if I slay them my pleasure will be so much diminished. I cannot share the pleasure with the maximum number of people which is my real pleasure. He says even for the kingdom of the three worlds, even if I get three worlds pleasure, is nothing because I can't share the pleasure with my people with whom I would like to share that is my greatest pleasure. So he says, what's the point in a winning three kingdoms?

Now comes the next argument: 

..what pleasure can be ours on killing these sons of Dhritarashtra?

Sons of Dhritarashtra are all Kauravas. So he says: what pleasure can be ours on killing these sons of Dhritarashtra, what pleasure? Again the question of pleasure: what pleasure can be ours? 

But now comes the next sentence which is very important: 

..sin alone would take hold of us.

Now the argument changes. The concept of sin is very important. Last time, yesterday also I spoke of this word sin. Sin has nothing to do with pleasure or pain in itself, or either my own pleasure or maximum pleasure of maximum number of people. 

What is sin? I give you general definition of sin. Sin is an action that proceeds from deviation from your origin. There is an origin of each one. Every individual has an origin when you deviate from your origin, when you try to cut your connection with your origin, if not physically at least mentally, when you cut your origin, when you cut yourself from your origin, and after cutting yourself from your origin whatever action proceeds is called sin. Now, you can see here the whole argument changes. Yes in Christianity also the same meaning we can apply. Hell that I'm coming to. First let us try to understand the word sin. Any action that proceeds from deviation from separating oneself from your origin, whatever that origin may be, then that action is called a sin. Now, it does not depend upon whether it gives you pleasure or no pleasure, it doesn't give you any whether maximum pleasure or maximum number of people, this is useful or not useful. No! The whole argument now is lifted up. It brings in the idea of sin. He says this action that I am going to do can be done only if I deviate from my origin. Now the argument is no more whether I like or not like. 

Pardon? That's right, being of your person or you may have many origins; you may think many origins. My mother is my origin. Now when I revolt against my mother and deviate from her and do some action people say it is sinful, not because pleasure or pain, that doesn't arise, that question doesn't arise merely because your reaction proceeds similarly if I deviate if I say God is my origin and I separate myself from God and then do action after separating myself from God, It's sin. Even the act of separating yourself from God itself is sin. In Christianity, that is the idea. This is called original sin. In Christianity, there is an idea of original sin. The original sin is when one deviated from the Divine to deviate yourself from the Divine, who is your origin, from God who is the origin. And it is said according to Christianity that the original man under temptation, he ate the fruit of knowledge against the will of the Divine and once it happened he fell from Paradise. That is the original sin. There was a will of the Divine, it was opposed under some temptation, deviated from the will of the Divine and that is the original sin and everything that happens now in the world is sinful. So according to Christianity we are living in a constant sense of sin. That is a Christian idea of sin. 

Yes, pardon? Yes. also..

So he says if I kill my brothers, if I kill all these people who are there, this kind of action can come about from me only if I have deviated from my origin. My origin is my grandfather and now I'm here ready to kill my grandfather. Now the question is not whether it gives me pleasure or pain or anything of the kind, to deviate from my origin is in itself sinful. Now this arises from what? From a general proposition − you must not deviate from your origin. This is categorical imperative. You must not deviate from your origin. Now here there is no question of seeking pleasure or maximum pleasure of maximum number of people, no. Even if it gives you pleasure to deviate from your origin, you must not do it. Why? Because it is not right in itself, it is wrong in itself. This categorical imperative is an imperative − you must not do this. Why? Because it is not right in itself, intrinsically it is not right.

Of course, this also is turned now into utilitarianism. Even this basic argument of sin is very often turned into utilitarianism. If somebody says why should I not commit sin? The real answer is you must not do it because it's not right. That should be the answer. But people don't understand that answer, they don't appreciate this answer. So they say if you commit sin, you will go to hell. If you commit sin you'll go to Hell and Hell is a fire and then the whole theory of Hellfire has come into existence in the world and many people who preach they want people to do the right thing by telling them by creating fear in their mind. If you do something wrong, they don't argue is wrong therefore don't do it. No, that is not their argument. If you do a wrong thing, you will go to hell and there is an eternal hell, not only you'll go to hell it will be eternal hell, forever and ever and ever, you'll go to the hell and remain there. There was one preacher who used to say: "imagine a little burning on your skin. How do you feel? Do you like it? No. Now imagine that your whole body is on fire. Will you like it? No, much worse, isn't it? Supposing you are thrown into a pool of oil which is burning what will happen to you? Would you like it? It's much worse to be thrown into the pool of oil which is burning. How will you find it? Now suppose it is only for a second, even that, how horrible it is. Even for a second. Suppose for a minute, suppose it is for one hour, suppose it is for one year, supposing ten years, but suppose it is forever and ever and ever. Therefore don't commit sin. Therefore do be a good child."

This is the kind of teaching which has been quite widespread in the world.

To make people virtuous, this is the argument which is given.

Not the argument of the categorical imperative. It is categorical imperative which is in origin but which is made utilitarian for the sake of propagating the good action. That is why many people in the West and in the East they have denounced this whole idea of sin, and denounced the idea of hell and eternal hell. That is why in Christianity it is said if you want to avoid it, be good. And what is the point in being good? Accept Christ as your saviour.

If you accept Christ, that is the only that is only good thing. If you do that, then this consequence will not come about.