We are after all in a world where everything is not sweet and pleasant. There are many bitter and unpleasant situations here. There can be personalities, our own mother and father, brothers and sisters, sometimes wife and husband. What are you to do in the matter of dealing with all these conflicting situations? I think Mahabharata has an answer, a model and an example for everything.
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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
In the evening, we are discussing the third chapter of Bhagavad Gita, where in response to Arjuna’s enquiry, Krishna is explaining the whole philosophy about why a man should become active and should not shun his activity. It is not one point of view that Krishna presents, but several - From a personal level, family and lineage level, societal level, from the universal level, from the spiritual level, from the level of shreyas which was the main point of enquiry for Arjuna right from the beginning. There the emphasis is:
Therefore, being an asakta, having no clinging, delusional clinging to what you do or what outcome it will bring about, do consistently whatever is meant to be done, whatever is required to be done, consistently.
Tasmād-asaktaḥ satataṁ kāryaṁ karma samācara. What are the two points here? Consistently be doing work and while doing so, asaktah, that is the mental discipline, reformation or refinement. And what is the karma that you will do? Kāryaṁ karma, whatever is necessary, whatever is warranted, whatever is expected to be done. So is it not a free license for doing everything that is necessary? Make sure it is necessary and do it without any delusional clinging.
Asakto hy-ācaran-karma param-āpnoti pūruṣaḥ. In the next line he says, asakto hy-ācaran-karma. There he doesn’t say necessary karma. If you perform your activity as an asakta, param-āpnoti pūruṣaḥ, you will not lose; you will gain the Supreme in life.
So, for getting the supreme gain of life, what are the points we have to note? Whatever is necessary be doing, do it in an asakta manner and understand that by so doing, you will attain the Supreme. I would like you to take up this verse and organize and channelize your introspection in these lines.
I am writing Mahabharatam, I am not able to get time. So yesterday I started. I am in the Mahabharata war. After Bhagavad Gita gospel was given, Arjuna was alright, he took up his Gandiva, raised it and he was ready to fight any number of battles he said. That part is over. Suddenly, Yudhishthira was seen keeping his bow and arrow down, proceeding fast to the opposite camp. Arjuna thought, “What a calamity it is! My brother is going to surrender before the opposite army.” He became panicky. Krishna said, “Keep quiet. Your brother is not like you. He has no fear as you have had. You know, before commencement of the war, it is up to any good man to go and pay respect if elders are there, even in the opposite army, and take their permission and blessing. Your brother will not do anything wrong.”
The same Krishna who became eloquent before Arjuna’s discomfiture, he did not have anything to say. He hushed Arjuna’s agitation. Yudhishthira went there and he was paying respect, one after the other to Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Shalya etc. The process would take some time. Krishna suddenly takes that time to go to Karna. Karna had a problem with Bhishma. Bhishma always used to say that Karna was a chatterbox, he is a tall-talker and every time he used to speak about that. Karna felt so humiliated. He felt he was a great and unconquerable warrior and he was waiting for Mahabharata war to confront Arjuna and outwit him. “This old man always puts me down, humiliates me.”
So, in spite of his compelling friendship with Duryodhana he said, “As long as Bhishma is in the battlefield, I will not come. When Bhishma withdraws or falls, then I will come.” Krishna goes to him, taking that little leisure and said, “Karna, you have made a vow that you will not come to the battlefield and fight for Duryodhana though you have great fondness and friendship towards Duryodhana. Such a great and valorous warrior like you, is it right that you keep quiet as long as Bhishma is there in the battlefield? Why don’t you come and fight for Pandavas? For a warrior like you to keep quiet is not right at all! How will you be happy when the war is going on, you are keeping quiet? Will not your hands itch to take the bow and arrow? So, you want to fight after all. So you don’t fight when Bhishma is there on his side. Why don’t you come?”
I am wondering and wondering and wondering. What is this Krishna out for and what is the meaning in all these activities? Wherever he gets an opportunity, that opportunity he uses in a masterly manner. Not minding what Karna would think, what others would think and what people like all of us would think, even after centuries and millennia of the act, but he went there. Karna, as expected flatly refused, “I stand by Duryodhana though I may not fight with him, I will not do anything against him. So please go back.”
I would like you to think as to why did Krishna go there and tell Karna. Did he ever think that he would come and fight on the side of Yudhishthira? This Mahabharata is full of human episodes of this kind. It describes the behavior of unfriendly people, enemies, half-hearted friendship, people those who have everywhere.
Now Krishna, the same Krishna, when the last-ditch battle was going on, and Karna’s wheel went into a slush, and he got down from the chariot and wanted to lift up the wheel, right at that time, according to normal rules of warfare, he should not be fought. So Arjuna was a little reluctant to discharge arrows. Then, Krishna goads him up saying, “Don’t spare. Fight him right now”.
Then Karna started speaking to Krishna, “What is it that you are saying? Give me a little time, give me a little time. Let me lift up the wheel and then you can have all the battle. I also want it.” Then Krishna insinuatingly speaks to him saying that, “What happened to your patience and time-seekingness when you did this? When you did that? Did you give any time for anybody in the open assembly when you asked, goaded, goaded, goaded Duryodhana to ask Draupadi to come and sit on his thigh? What all things you said? Did you ever give any respite?” And the whole incidents he was narrating one after the other. “So you have no right for mercy or consideration or anything like that. Face the battle here and now. Heroes will never withdraw”.
Now, what are these contrasts? He says to Yudhishthira, “Arjuna is a great friend of mine. For his sake, I will cut my body and give. You need not be dejected. You have your brothers. I am there. When I go to the opposite camp, none in the army will return to their sheds. I will myself kill this old man, Bhishma, when he was proving a terror.”
Once the war began, each team will want to win. To ensure victory and to defeat the opponent, whatever is timely to be done has to be done. Why did he go to Karna and tell him “Fight till Bhishma falls, on the side of Pandavas.”? See, something very interesting which will make people think. We are after all in a world where everything is not sweet and pleasant. There are many bitter and unpleasant situations here. There can be personalities, our own mother and father, brothers and sisters, sometimes wife and husband. So many things will be there. What are you to do in the matter of dealing with all these conflicting situations? I think Mahabharata has an answer, a model and an example for everything.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.