Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita (September 2000, Super School Auroville) - Session 5 (29 September 2000)

There is another aspect of the argument of Arjuna, which is not explicitly stated but which is behind our argument. We had to build that argument also into the forefront and there is a still deeper question of what is the action from the argument. As I told you to examine an argument you should know what it states, but also that which it does not state, sometimes what is not stated is known but sometimes what is not stated is not even known. So my second point is regarding what is known but not stated. The third point is that it is not even known by Arjuna and therefore not stated. Now about sin and hell we shall see later on because it's a long proposal and I have to deal with that problem at a very deep level. So let us see if I can finish it today and come to that problem. Otherwise when I come again, we shall take it up. Let us come to the second point. What is known to Arjuna which is behind the whole argument but which is not explicitly stated. Arjuna knows that he is a kshatriya. This is a word, again a Sanskrit word, that must be understood − kshatriya. As you know Indian Society was consciously organized and in this organization the society was fourfold; there were four orders of the society. And each individual of the society was supposed to belong to one of these four orders and each order had a name − kshatriya was one of the orders and the other three orders were brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra. So either one was a brahmin, or a kshatriya, or a vaishya, or a shudra. And each one was supposed to be led to the highest if he followed the law of his own order.

The brahmin was one whose very natural inclination was to pursue knowledge.

Kshatriya was one who by his very nature would like to rule, would like to protect, would like to fight, and would like to fight for justice.

Vaishya was one who by nature would like to accumulate, to exchange, to enrich by productivity, by cultivation and by means of merchandise.

Shudra was one who would like to serve, who would like to obey, who would like to submit automatically by his own nature. Now ideally everyone should have all the four. Everyone, actually, everyone has all the four elements. But sometimes, or very often, in fact in general human beings tend to have one of these four more prominent. So according to the prominence he would be called a brahmin, or a kshatriya, or vaishya, or shudra. So it was said that if a brahmin pursues knowledge and also gives knowledge then he can rise to the highest. Namely he can reach the Divine. If a kshatriya rules and rules properly, right way, not merely for dominations sake but rules properly, if he protects the weak and the oppressed, if he secures justice to the people, if he fights for injustice, then he can reach the highest, he can reach the Divine.

A vaishya is one if he does the work of production, cultivation, of exchange, of accumulation and distribution then he can also reach the Supreme. And shudra even if he not learned, even if cannot rule, even if he cannot protect, even if he does not produce, but he simply gives his hand as a servant, works even in the lowest kinds of activities (in the eyes of God there is no lowest activity) the people sometimes called them lowest activities, like sweeping the room, like washing the clothes, various kinds of services which are rendered. So if he does these services then he can also reach the highest. Now, this is the idea of Indian Society. Now, behind this activity there were two supreme ideas in a society. One, money should not become the Lord. This is a very powerful element in Indian social makeup. And secondly there should be minimal conflict.

These are the two great ideas which have to be served by this kind of formation of a society. Minimum of conflict or no conflict. If conflict arose, even there, there was to be a great restriction. Brahmin was not supposed to accumulate wealth; that was not his Dharma. If he was in need of money then a law was imposed that the ruler, or the rich, Vaishya, should support him. So even if he had no money his life would not be affected. So money does not become the Lord. Basically it was only the vaishya who was supposed to collect money and he could become very rich, very powerful only because of money. But then it was laid down that his life should be given to giving; that was his Dharma. If he only accumulated wealth he was not a true Vaishya. A true vaishya is one who earns and gives and gives profusely. Even kshatriya was not supposed to earn money but because he protected the oppressed, because he served the weak even by fighting for justice, he had the right to take the money from vaishya and vaishya was supposed to support the king and the prince. So once again money was not the Lord. Similarly for the sake of reduction of conflict in society it was laid down that even though kshatriya must fight he must fight only after making utmost effort by peaceful settlement. That was his duty. It would not be as if whenever conflict arose he would immediately plunge into war and try to settle everything by muscle power. He was required to see that all conflicts are resolved peacefully, amicably. It is only when you fail to do it and when you find that if you do not fight, the weak will be trampled under the feet of the oppressor then only you should raise your sword and fight. That was the Dharma of the kshatriya. As a result the conflicts in society were minimal. Even though the life of human society was full of wars as we might have read, but the surprising fact is that Indian society, among all the nations of the world, was the only society which had a continuous survival. This is the only society which has remained continuously linked with the utmost past. There was no other nation in the world which had such a long history and such an unbroken history. That means the society could remain somehow united although unity was sometimes very weak, sometimes very powerful, but still could survive. The secret of it was this − money was not the lord and conflicts were minimum. It is only when the foreign invasions became powerful that both these elements came into picture very powerfully.

Money became very powerful and conflicts began to be raged and wars began to be raged without imposition of the law of harmonisation. Since then Indian society has become weaker and weaker and weaker. And now when we rise again we have different systems. We are now thinking of restructuring and you will see that the two important words that the Mother has used in her dream. You must read the Mother's small article called 'The Dream'. I don't know if you have seen it? One day you should see. It's a very short article. You've seen? You've seen it. 'The Dream' Read again. Even if you have read, read again. Doesn't matter. It requires to be read again, 500 times, 1000 times. And you will see in this article of the Mother there are two very prominent factors, which she has underlined − Money shall not be the Lord. That is a powerful element in this particular document. And she says that the impulse to conquest, impulse to fight, instinct to fight should be replaced by the impulse to do better. These two elements Mother has again got into the picture for the New World. If today's world is very difficult to run it is because − money-power and violence. People are simply violent in their nature, in their temperament. And they allow violence to go haywire in fact. If these two things are controlled, society can be more and more perfect. The Indian society had managed these two things through this particular kind of a system. Surely it was not ideal because so many loopholes were there in the system. Everybody did not follow all this system and they could not find out the ways by which this system can be worked fully and perfectly. It deteriorated, degenerated, all this is because the system was not ideal. Therefore, it is not supposed we should go back to this kind of formation but we must appreciate what was good in it and how it helped the evolving society and try to understand the truth behind it. And even in reconstruction the truth should be brought again back in another form. As Sri Aurobindo has said: it is not possible now to go back to this system. But in the modern world there is one very good tendency that has arisen; we should take advantage of it. All over the world there is a movement towards what is called classless society, a society where there are no classes, classless society, a society in which there are no classes, no castes. As a result, everyone is supposed to do any work that comes in his hand. Now sometimes it is very disadvantageous when wrong work comes in your hands because you're not fit for it, but the advantage is that you are obliged to develop a quality, which you did not possess earlier. Your work demands quality. If war breaks out then everyone whether he is a hero or not, whether he is a soldier or not, he is supposed to fight. Everyone. In early India only kshatriyas were allowed to fight, others were not allowed. So when the war broke out only the kshatriyas were allowed to fight. Women were not allowed at all. But now, in the present world, if war breaks out every citizen is supposed to join the Army and everyone has to participate in one way or the other in the war effort. So even if you are not meant for fighting, you have to develop the faculty of fighting. This is the demand of the modern world. Now this has disadvantage but also advantage that even if you do not have capacity you develop that capacity. So if you want to develop a new world you take advantage of this system of classless society where whatever work is given to you should be able to do. This can happen only if we develop the qualities of all.

And this is Sri Aurobindo's proposal. He has spoken of a fourfold personality. Everyone has to become brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra; everyone. You develop your qualities to such an extent. Sri Aurobindo has said a yogi can do any work that is given to him. Once in my class I was asked a question: do you think Sri Aurobindo was a philosopher? Now, Sri Aurobindo himself has written, "I am not a philosopher, not a philosopher, not a philosopher." And yet I was teaching philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. So she asked me the question whether Sri Aurobindo was really a philosopher? Sri Aurobindo's answer to the question was that I am not a philosopher yet I wrote philosophy, and became the most reputed philosopher in the world. That is because of a fourfold personality. Sri Aurobindo had developed a fourfold personality and he has written a yogi asked to do something he can do that work and marvellously and perfectly. If you read the small book called The Mother. I don't know if you have seen that book, a small book called The Mother. Have you seen it? Yes? It is written about the Divine Mother herself and Sri Aurobindo said fourfold personality of the Mother, isn't it? She was at once Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati. It is a fourfold personality. If you read the description, you will find the supreme knowledge, the supreme power, that is Mahakali, supreme Love, supreme power of exchange, supreme power of opulence, wealth, Mahalakshmi and supreme power of perfection every little work even at the ground level, everything is perfect, which only shudra can do that is the ideal of a shudra. Every little work, as Sri Aurobindo said, when all work is finished for Mahasaraswati, nothing remains forgotten; nothing remains omitted. Everything is done. Everything is perfect. So that is the greatness and glory of the shudra. That is Mahasaraswati.

Shudra is the son of Mahasaraswati. So instead of thinking of the shudra as something low, no! In the eyes of God, there is nothing higher, nothing low. Everything is a manifestation of the Divine. So that is Sri Aurobindo's solution of that for the modern world, you develop every individual to develop maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, mahasaraswati, every student should have all the four that is why in the education system that we want to develop we speak of integral education system. All the four qualities, four personalities should develop. It's a very big program. Unless you do that modern society cannot be built. If today modern society is suffering, it is because while on one hand you ask anybody to do any job we are not providing that education by which one can do it therefore education should be such that every individual gets all the aspects of his personality and again on the lines of his predominance. You should not impose upon the child, but ultimately you grow in such a way that all of the four faculties develop in him or in her. Now, this is the background I wanted to give which is in the Bhagavad Gita where very often you hear the word Dharma of kshatriya because Arjuna was a kshatriya and Arjuna as a kshatriya had come to the war because he knew very well, what was the Dharma of the kshatriya. The kshatriya whenever there is injustice, he should come forward. He should not say it's not my job, I'm not called upon. No! Even if you are not called upon the moment you see injustice in front of your eyes. It is your function to protect the oppressed. You should work for the balancing of justice. You should not wait to be invited. It is your own Dharma. It is your work. It is your, your breath of life.

So Arjuna when he saw there was so much injustice being done by the Kauravas, they had restrained themselves greatly, that was also part of Dharma. Conflict should not be invited. If conflict is there you should try your best to settle the conflict amicably. They're done everything for that purpose. Ultimately that failed. So the only way out was now to fight. Arjuna was one of the principal actors in this, trying to settle the battle without fighting, he had failed and therefore a decision was taken jointly by all the Pandavas and all the friends of Pandavas that now fight is the only method of settling so as to secure justice. This was the decision. Therefore in this argument that you read although he doesn't say any time, "I know that my Dharma is a kshatriya's Dharma and I must fight." This argument you don't find in these statements which I read out to you. He doesn't say I know very well that I must fight but if you read the whole argument it is present every time. He knows that he has to fight and yet when he finds he cannot fight there is a reason. You see the conflict. He knows the Dharma that he must fight and yet the situation is such where he is constrained to say, "I cannot fight. I will not fight." The Dharma is categorical imperative. If you see the three things, which I had given you yesterday − hedonism, utilitarianism and the categorical imperative, − Dharma is categorical imperative. Why should you fight? You must fight because that is a Dharma; whether you succeed or you don't succeed it's not for success that you fight. It's your Dharma to fight. It's not for the consequences. He knows very well that he has to fight. He has come here to fight. Some people who don't read Bhagavad Gita properly think that Arjuna forgot his Dharma and he tried to escape and then Sri Krishna came and said, look, you have forgotten your Dharma. Then he remembered and then he joined the war. This is a very simplistic argument. Arjuna did not forget his Dharma. But he had now before him a new Dharma presenting itself. And there's a clash of two Dharmas when he says, "if I kill I will commit sin because if I kill my ancestors, my grandfather, I am deviating from my origin and if I kill the origin it would be sin. It was another categorically imperative. Do not kill your origin. So kshatriya Dharma was also categorical imperative − fight, because you are a kshatriya. Now comes before his eyes another categorical imperative − don't kill your origin. If you do so it's a sin. The other arguments are minor arguments. The major argument is this that if I kill my originator, I will commit sin. Now this sharpness of the conflict makes him paralyzed. When you should do one thing and you should do exactly the opposite, two contradictory things are demanded of you at the same time. What do you do? That's why Arjuna says, "My mouth is parched, my limbs are quivering, the hair on my hand and my feet stand on my end because of this great conflict of two Dharmas. It is this conflict that Sri Krishna answers. So this is a very important argument which we have to detect from all these words which are there. Why is Arjuna arguing so much? He had only one simple argument, "I must fight, I am a kshatriya." Why is he arguing, labouring, so much? Because now he is confronted with a situation with other ideas that arise in the mind, which are in conflict with the Dharma. It showed that even the system was not capable of answering the question. If you follow the system, the answer was very clear to him. So Sri Krishna even says, "don't bother about the system." If you see the whole of the Bhagavad Gita at the end, you will find Sri Krishna saying, "Do not worry about this system. There is something still higher when the two Dharmas' conflict. There is something else to be done."

There's something else that was not in the view of our Arjuna at all. It's a third element in this whole argument. When two Dharmas collide, what must be the solution? Both are good Dharmas, both are correct Dharmas. It was not as if Dharma was known to him and he forgot it and now he had to be reminded of it. Sri Krishna's answer is not that look you are kshatriya therefore you must fight. That is not his answer. Although at certain times, he speaks about it also, but that is not his final answer. His answer is to give up all Dharmas. When Dharma's collides he says give up all Dharmas. And that which is not known to you now, which you are not even referring to, which you must refer to actually if you want a solution to the problem is the Divine's Will. Now, you see the whole argument: the word "divine" does not appear. You read the whole argument the word "divine" does not appear at all in the whole argument. He doesn't speak of the Divine's Will at all.

And yet he speaks the language of a very wise man. Therefore when Sri Krishna begins the answer, is very nice to read the answer that Sri Krishna gives. At least the first few words. If you want to read the whole thing, which will come later on but even the first few words are very, very important. He says, Sri Krishna says, (this is eleventh verse in the second chapter) he says thou grievest for those who should not be grieved for. And yet speakest wise seeming words − you speak as if you are very wise.

Then the enlightened man does not mourn either for the living or for the dead.

He puts up a new proposition.

And then as he expands further, he says, "You forget which the wise men never forget that there is Immortality. In your whole argument you are only claiming killing, dying. But look the wise men are aware of the immortal."

In your whole argument there is no reference to immortality at all, because you are not referring to immortality and the consequences of immortality.

If you know that there is immortal even in death, that even when the death occurs the immortal does not die then the whole consequence would be different, argument will change. It's a new element that Sri Krishna introduced in the argument. So now let us recapitulate.

Arjuna's argument has three elements − one is that he brings out arguments which are based upon Hedonism, based upon Utilitarianism and based upon the categorical imperative. There are three elements we have seen, which argument is what? The argument of sin is the argument of categorical imperative. The argument where he says that I am not pleased is hedonistic argument. When he says that I cannot enjoy properly because the people with whom I have to share, they will no more be there. It is a utilitarian argument. All the three arguments are also in collusion with each other. If you take one and merge the others then also there would have been a solution, but all the three arguments are put together and they are in collusion. They are themselves in conflict. There is not one standard by which he is arguing, three standards all pell-mell put together.

Therefore the argument is a confused argument. There is confusion in the argument. So that is one part which you can see very easily. There is another part which is behind it, which he knows but which is not explicitly stated. That is he should have said that I know that I am a kshatriya and I must fight and that is my Dharma but it is implied in the whole argument that is present. The very fact that he is labouring to put up a separate point of view is because behind him is this knowledge that he has come here to fight, it is his Dharma to fight and yet because of the presence of other arguments which have just come up on his mind at that time. And since we cannot reconcile at least the two categorical imperatives, one according to which you must fight, the Dharma of fighting, the other do not kill the originator of your own self because that will be a sin.

So do not commit sin is another categorical imperative. The two categorical imperatives are in conflict. The third element which I said is not even in mind of Arjuna and if that was in the mind of Arjuna the whole conflict could have been resolved by himself, therefore is not in the picture at all. That argument is absent. He does not refer to the idea of immortality. He does not refer to the idea of the Divine's Will. So it's absent, in the whole argument that is absent. What Sri Krishna brings forth in answering the question was first to establish the idea of immortality and bring out the consequences of the idea of immortality. If soul is Immortal, so that even when the body is killed, the soul is immortal, what are the consequences of that proposition? Philosophically it's a very important statement. Secondly all the time Arjuna speaks of his idea, of his will, what I think, what would please me. He does not refer to what would please the Divine. What is His Will? Therefore Sri Krishna says, "your problem can be resolved only if you go beyond these two categorical imperatives, which are in conflict with each other and arrive at the Will of the Divine." It is said that Bhagavad Gita is a great book of Karma Yoga and I'll tell you what is karma yoga. So let us revise it. Karma yoga has an aim, there's an instrument and then there is the method. All right! The aim, the instrument and method or process. Now the aim is in Karma yoga, the aim is the discovery of the Divine Will. We had said that the Jnana Yoga aims at the discovery of the Divine Knowledge. Karma Yoga is a discovery of the Divine Will. Karma Yoga is the discovery of the divine Knowledge and divine Being. This is divine Will. The divine Being is the aim of the Jnana Yoga. And Bhakti Yoga, what is the aim? To enjoy, to discover the joy, the love of the Divine. Now, this book is basically a book of Karma Yoga although it is also Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. But primarily it is prominently the Karma Yoga, the greatest Gospel of Karma Yoga as known to the ancients has been described in the Bhagavad Gita. Therefore, if anybody asks you what is Karma Yoga? Best exposition of it? It is in the Bhagavad Gita. What is the instrument of Karma Yoga? Instrument is desire and will and then comes the process.

The process which I told you is actually described in the Bhagavad Gita is very, very fully. First give up the desire for the enjoyment of the fruits of action. Secondly, renounce the idea that you are the doer of action. Do not be like the dog under the cart. Right? Give up the idea that you are the doer of action then third is offer your actions to the Divine and fourth is allow the divine's Will to manifest to you without obstruction, right? This is the process that Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna and all the other chapters from second chapter to the eighteenth chapter is a description of this process. When we have time we shall do the whole of the Bhagavad Gita one day. It's one of the greatest gospels of Karma Yoga.

Very often people say, “why should I act in the world at all?'' Even in Auroville there is a question: there are people who do not see why one should be working. I was very surprised when I heard that some people in Auroville do not want to work. According to Bhagavad Gita to remain without work itself would be a terrible blow. Not for anybody's sake, categorically, that you must work is more than categorical imperative. It is a Divine's Will. So once you know this, it would be impossible for you to remain without working. Sri Krishna, in fact, there is a great statement made in the Isha Upanishad that you should continuously go on working and you should desire at least for a hundred years to go on working and yet if you work, you are free from work. It doesn't burden you. You should not say, "O, I have too much work." grumble about it, I want to reduce it. No! You want to increase the capacity of work. So now we have seen the whole argument in totality.

I wanted to deal with that question of sin and hell. So you have to wait a little. All right? When I come again, you raise this question when I come. We shall deal with that question. All right, then we shall go back to The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga.