15. Krsna addresses Arjuna as ‘Purusarsabha’ – Bull among men. The cow and bull are worshipped in India as they epitomise the principle, ‘Maximum Work Minimum Profit’. Focus on work only, never on profit. As long as you develop merit the result will come to you, whether you seek it or not. The best of achievers have only concentrated on contributing to society. They are then amply rewarded.
The test of spiritual evolution is serenity of mind. The world cannot cater to the demands of just one person. Even if you are brilliant, organised and have all the resources of the world you cannot have what you like all the time. Hence endure the fluctuations. In verse 14 Krsna says bear with them. Here He goes a step further and says do not be affected by them. Be Samam, dhiram – balanced, steadfast – in pleasure and pain. Understand that the inherent value of sense objects is zero.
As a thinker said –
‘Alas the joys that fortune brings
Are trifling, and decay.
And those who prize the trifling things
More trifling still than they.’
You harbour likes and dislikes, create pairs of opposites, identify with them and suffer. This is the absurdity going on. Rise above likes and dislikes. Do not ride on them. Be guided by the intellect. Learn to do what you ought to do, whether you like it or not. Understand that joy and sorrow, pleasure ad pain are a part of life. Endure them. Remain unaffected by them. Have a larger vision. Espouse a higher cause. Broaden your horizon. Then the changes at the physical level will not bother you.
A materialistic person focusses on sense contact. S/he creates desires for wordly objects. When the desires are fulfilled there is joy. When the desires remain unfulfilled it causes sorrow. Thus s/he is tossed by the pairs of opposites.
An inward-looking person pursues the higher and remains unaffected by lower changes. Such a person who is balanced and serene is fit for immortality.
16. Reality is that which persists in all periods of time. The Mandukya Upanisad Karika by Gaudapada says – That which is not in the beginning and end is not in the present also. Though it appears real it is called unreal. By this definition everything we know fails the test of reality. The waking, dream and deep sleep states exist at that moment, not in the past or future. Hence they are unreal, however real they may appear to be.
Arjuna is entangled in the unreal. He is more concerned with passing fancies than the truth. Dharma, righteousness, is at stake and he is speaking of trivial issues. Anything that passes is not worth having. Millikan, an astrophysicist said – A philosophy of materialism is the height of unintelligence!
The unreal does not exist, like horns on a man. The world has no substance. The real will always be. Atman will always remain. Atman pervades the entire universe and exists beyond as well. Enlightened people have understood the essence of both. Tattvatarsis are seers of truth. In the absolute sense they are realised Souls. At the relative level they are authors, poets and thinkers who have had insight into subtler aspects of life.