The Inner Dilemma Print E-mail

The Bhagavad Gita is about celebration of life, not asceticism and denial. It encourages us to find the Higher while remaining in the world, not running away from it. Though 5000 years old, it is timeless. The inner space of doubt and indecision, emptiness and unfulfilment that Arjuna faced is one we all know. The eternal principles enunciated in the Gita have inspired generations of young seekers across the world in search of success, happiness and spiritual growth.

 

The first chapter of the Gita begins with Arjuna’s grief. Krsna says there is no place for grief in life. He speaks of joy, cheer and exhilaration. Yet everyone is in grief. If you are grieving, it is because of wrong identification and attachment. You have identified with the body, mind and intellect and have got attached to them. Identify with Spirit. Attach to Spirit. All problems will vanish.

 

The Gita is conveyed to us by Sanjaya who was endowed with the privilege of watching the proceedings at Kurukshetra from the palace in Hastinapur, a distance of about 120 kms. Dhrtarastra, the blind king and father of the Kauravas, asks Sanjaya what his sons and the sons of Pandu are doing. The root of all conflict and war is a feeling of separateness – mine versus yours – which Dhrtarastra displays. Pandu was his brother and Pandu’s sons were like his own. Yet he differentiates between them.

 

Dhrtarastra epitomises the mind, the abode of emotions and feelings. The mind is blind. Gandhari represents the intellect, the realm of judgement and discrimination. The intellect can see. However, when the intellect gets smitten with emotion it gets blinded too. This is indicated by Gandhari blinding herself after being married to Dhrtarastra. The result is devastation and destruction.

 

Sanjaya begins his narrative by reporting that Duryodhana approaches the revered guru Dronacarya with arrogance. It is arrogance that blocks the intake of knowledge. Duryodhana disregards the wise counsel of elders like Bhisma and Dronacarya to embark on this foolhardy battle.

 

Duryodhana reveals his fear and diffidence. His military strength is at least one and a half times that of the Pandavas. Yet he is insecure. Insecurity stems from viciousness, wrongdoing and a feeling of otherness. A warrior’s strength comes from noble ideals. Duryodhana has nothing but his selfishness and foolishness to fall back on.

 

Arjuna is battle-ready and asks Krsna to drive him between the two armies so he may see those who have assembled there to please Duryodhana. Krsna drives Arjuna in front of Bhisma and Drona to show that not everyone is out to pander to Duryodhana. He wants to inspire Arjuna to follow their example and just do his duty. Arjuna, however, succumbs to sentiment. He sees in the enemy lines his beloved ancestor Bhisma who had renounced the kingdom for which they were fighting. He sees his guru Dronacarya who had taught him archery. He sees relatives when he should be seeing warriors. When emotion comes in the way of intellectual conviction he falters and falls. He makes absurd arguments to justify his stand and displays false vairagya or dispassion. Confused and exhausted, he collapses, unable to stand, his mind whirling, mouth dry, body trembling and hair standing on end.

 

Thus the mighty Arjuna breaks down, overcome with frail pity, oblivious of his obligation as a ksatriya, ruler, to uphold dharma, righteousness. When we lack a higher vision we are weakened by wavering emotions. We tend to get bogged down by petty considerations. The intellect gets clouded and we embark on a disastrous action plan. This is Arjuna’s state.

 

Arjuna had not asked for the war. Yet he has to play a central role in it, one that he is least prepared for. He has to first resolve the conflict between his head and his heart, both of which are saying different things. The stage is set for Krsna to teach Arjuna, and through him, all confused and troubled souls down the ages. Millions of people have turned to the Gita in their hour of need and found the light of wisdom that shows the clear path out of darkness to Truth. And so will we if we listen to Krsna’s advice with an open mind.