Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (September 2000, Super School Auroville) - Track 9

Now here Arjuna argues and says that if I kill my origin, that is my grandfather who is also on this battlefield, opposed to me, all my brothers who are also derived from my origin and if I kill them, sin will fall upon us. It's also a Hindu idea, also this sin is there, papa as it is called in Sanskrit. This papa, there will be sin. Only in India, there is no idea of eternal hell. That hell will come, afterwards you'll be in the hell, it is very very troublesome but you can afterwards come out of it. There is no idea of eternal hell. In any case this idea of Hell, sin, has been present in many religions. And here also you will see here:

..sin alone would take hold of us in our slaying these hostile aggressors. It is not therefore befitting of us to kill these sons of Dhritarashtra, our own kinsmen. 

So now here the argument is: it's not right that I should kill my people because sin will come. Killing my brothers, killing my grandfather in itself is wrong. Therefore if I do it, it would be sinful. Therefore, I'm not doing it. So here so far the argument is only based upon categorical imperative: it's not right for me to kill some people who belong to my origin. But again, he falls into Hedonism or Utilitarianism in the argument. 

How can we be happy having slain our own people?

So you can see that after using the word sin now he goes to another level of argument, again utilitarian argument. How can you be happy having slain our own people?

Now comes another argument: to commit sin with knowledge or to commit sin without knowledge, without intention. He says:

..these people who are my enemies. They also want to kill us therefore they also will be committing sin, but they are ignorant; They don't know that they are going to commit sin.

 But we, at least I have now become awakened and I now see that it's a sin. Having known that it is a sin to commit such sin is much worse. Those who don't know it's a sin and yet commit it, there is no intention of committing sin. But in my case I have now come to realize that I will be committing sin therefore it is a double sin as it were. To commit sin just like that is all right, is less harmful, but having known that I am committing sin is like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth murdering the king with an intention to kill him. With a knowledge, this would be a murder. So he says:

..even if these, these enemies, because their consciousness is clouded by greed they don't see any guilt in the destruction of the family. They don't see any crime but why should we who have the wisdom, who have the knowledge and also the knowledge to draw back from such a sin, I am capable of drawing back (when) I am not obliged to commit this sin. I know it is a sin. I am not obliged to commit a sin therefore having done all this knowledge about it, having had all knowledge about it, how can I commit to sin?

Now, he says again an argument in which utilitarianism and categorical imperative both are mixed up. When the mind is bewildered, you don't keep even on one argument, you fluctuate between one argument and the other, you mix up many arguments because the mind is not stable. It mixes up lots of ideas. So sometimes it is pure Hedonism, sometimes it is Utilitarianism, sometimes categorical imperative. These three arguments are constantly fluctuating. So when I say let us examine the argument we must see which argument pertains to which level, then you will see which argument is missing. These three arguments are all the time fluctuating but there is one argument which is not present at all in this whole argument. So in his answer Sri Krishna will tell him which argument is absent and how his arguments are all mixed and from where that mixture arises and he points out these mixtures of his ideas arises from weakness, cowardice. That is his answer, Sri Krishna's very first answer is: you have become seized by weakness, do not yield to impotence. He says: yield not to importance. This is the sharp vision of Sri Krishna and is able to detect immediately in the argument. Sri Krishna was not only a philosopher but a man who had the highest wisdom so he could immediately penetrate into all these arguments and cuts essence of this argument at one stroke and he says what is his weakness and he says you look as if you are wise man, that is he says you speak the words of a wise man, but really wise people speak quite differently, not like you. Then he will point out how a wise man will argue. 

So here he says: the annihilation of the family the eternal Dharma of the family is destroyed with the collapse of dharma, adharma overtakes the whole family. 

Now he brings another idea of Eternal Dharma, up till now it was enjoyment, pleasure, sin. Now comes a new idea in the argument.

In the annihilation of the family the eternal dharma of the family is destroyed.

Now Dharma, I have discussed with you what is Dharma − is a law of life which keeps your life sustained and I said that actually Dharma is based upon states of consciousness, the states of consciousness which are stabilized in the form of virtues that is Dharma. Dharma is a state of consciousness, which is stabilized in virtues. So there are states of consciousness of virtues which are eternal. So this eternal Dharma will be destroyed. Now if Eternal Dharma is destroyed, adharma will arise. Now, this is Utilitarianism, a consequence will follow. 

Now he says further:

when adharma predominates, the women of the family become corrupt. 

This is also the argument of Utilitarianism this would be the consequence. Whenever we refer to the consequence, not in itself, it is Utilitarianism. The women of the family become corrupt, the women corrupted confusion of order arises, all this is utilitarian argument but the idea of Dharma itself is categorical imperative. So there's a mixture. He doesn't say that if adharma arises it is itself wrong, in itself, but no, if adharma arises then women of the family become corrupt. This is the consequence. It is an argument again of Utilitarianism. If you had to say adharma itself is bad in itself, it will be an idea of categorical imperative. But he says if adharma arises then this consequence will follow which is not bad, which is bad then it is a theory of Utilitarianism. 

Then he says now this confusion leads to hell. So Arjuna also speaks of hell: ..this confusion leads to hell. As a result of that the ancestors fall. If you go to hell, not only you go to hell but you bring, drag, also your origin also into the hell, which is worse. If you alone are to go to hell it's all right, but if you bring also your ancestors also into the hell, it's much worse. Again, the argument is utilitarian. 

Then he says:

And men whose family's dharma is lost they live for an indefinite period in hell. It's something like the Christian religion. For not forever but indefinite period, your living in hell will become for an indefinite period. You can't terminate easily. 

And he says:

..thus we have heard

 This is what you have heard. Now so far, you have seen that all these arguments basically are hedonistic and utilitarian. Only one argument was from categorical imperative, namely the idea that we should commit sin but then immediately after arguing on the base of categorical imperative, he again turns into all the arguments which are utilitarian. 

He says:

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

What a sin we are going to commit only because we desire pleasures of kingdom, looks very wise. So why should we have pleasures of Kingdoms, Because if you have pleasures of kingdom then we shall have a pain of Hell ultimately. It is also equally utilitarian. If you have this pleasure so that you have avoidance of lots of other pains. So basically you are looking for greater pleasure because pleasures of the Kingdom are only short-lived. The pain of the hell is long, indefinite period therefore avoid it. Even though it is not as pleasant as the present pleasure of enjoying kingdom now, but on the whole it's a greater pleasure.

Then he says: is more for my welfare. 

He said:

. It is more for my welfare that the sons of Dhritarashtra, armed, should slay me, unarmed

Even if I am now unarmed, I will not fight at all. Let them kill me. It is much better for me because I won't go to hell. So the burden of the whole argument is basically utilitarian. So in the scale of arguments, you can see it's not a very high level of argument. It is flown in a language which seems very high.

I think we stop here today. We have gone beyond the time.