40. Common people need a rallying point like the Ganesha Chaturthi or Diwali festivals to bring the family together. Families thus bond through rituals and customs. The philosophy of Vedanta and the Bhagavad Gita has been preserved through the ages because of these customs. Intellectuals, however, do not need rituals.
Arjuna is referring to this in the verse but attributes the cause of immorality to physical death. It is lack of values that causes a decline in ethics and the Kauravas have brought about this downfall. Dharma has been thrown to the winds by Duryodhana and party. The battle is being fought to restore Dharma.
Arjuna’s intellect is clouded and reasons wrongly, a clear case of a tamasika intellect.
41. Women in India have traditionally been given pride of place as they maintain values in society and build the foundation for future generations. Arjuna sees it the other way round.
Human thought has been categorised into three gunas or traits – sattva purity, rajas passion and tamas apathy. Everyone is a mix of these three gunas. Depending on the proportion of these gunas humankind was divided into four varnas or castes. These were not water-tight compartments with higher castes exploiting the lower castes. It was intelligent vocational guidance where each person was encouraged to identify and pursue his own talent. Thus the Brahmana or intellectual was a visionary, predominantly sattvika with a little rajas and traces of tamas. He naturally took to fields like teaching, science, research, poetry, music etc. The Ksatriya was the ruler, warrior and administrator, primarily rajasika with a little sattva and increased tamas. The Vaisya, business class/trader had more tamas and less sattva and rajas. The Sudra was mainly tamasika with some rajas and a touch of sattva. He was the labour class, artisan. Each person was encouraged to find his caste and reach the highest state of Realisation through his or her individual field of interest and capability. It was not meant to give privileges to the Brahmanas or to put the sudras down. Society had a high sattvika content with Brahmanas being the leaders and role models. Over time people deteriorated and to preserve sattva in society the Brahmanas were segregated. Over time they also lost their sattvika content and exploited people rather than serve society. This was the downfall in India.
Arjuna says that with the corruption of women there would be a decline in sattva and disintegration of castes. People would not try to evolve through their fields of talent. However, values had already deteriorated and the battle was to restore values. Arjuna has completely missed the point.