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Krishna, Gita, and Terrorism (final): Anasakti PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

In our last column we learned that Krisna is as much for peace as is Jesus, Buddha, Dalai Lama or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, but when war becomes inevitable, Krishna is willing to travel the extra mile that others (mentioned above) are not prepared to. A Krishna can play his flute for peace, love and happiness, but will have no hesitation in picking up his sudarshan chakra, if he has to. It is impossible to imagine Jesus, Buddha or Mahavira with a flute or a weapon. Krishna will stay on in the middle of the war (karma kshetre) to make sure that the value system of the existence (Dharma) is applied to war and the war is fought for the upholding of this value system.

Some who are in the camp of peace do agree that justice should prevail. People committing a crime should be punished. But then who really is the judge and what is a crime. Eight christians have been caught in Afghanistan who are charged with the crime of trying to convert muslims to Christianity. Is this a crime? May be in some people's eyes. That may be the law of the land. Revenge is an easier topic. Most moralist agree that action should not be taken for revenge only. But, most agree that the terrorist should be brought to justice. And then the problem arises. The whole moslem world at present is asking for a proof. If a cime can be committed without being caught, the criminal can walk free.

Krishna's focus is totally different. He definitely is against hatred and revenge. It would have been easy for him to excite Arjuna by reminding how the Duryodhana brothers insulted Draupadi and it could have worked. No, Krishna did not want Arjuna to fight out of hatred, anger or for taking revenge. Krishna also is not interested in bringing Duryodhana to justice. Duryodhana has to die because he has been the instrument to deterioration of Dharma. And every one who is on his side has to be taken care of as well. There were some very nice people on Duryodhana's side. And that was one of Arjuna's main dilemma. Why should he be the cause of death of such good people?

Krishna does not want any attachment to be part of this war. He wants Arjuna to fight without any attachment. For taking revenge you have to have some attachment. If love is attachment, hatred is reverse attachment; if helping is attachment, revenge is also a reverse attachment. Even when you think of justice, an attachment is necessary. No, Krishna wants Arjuna to drop all attachments. The reason for Arjuna to fight then is only to uphold the Dharma.

This anasakti (non-attachment) needs to be understood. Non- attachment does not mean detachment. The Mahabharata war was a unique war. At the end of the day, people crossed into enemy camps to meet each other. Both camps visited Bhishma who was in the Kaurava camp regularly. The two mothers stayed together and mourned for deaths in both camps. Krishna was in the middle of the war. This can be hardly called detachment by any standards. It appears that there is too much attachment with each other. So, what then is anasakti.

Let me try to explain it from medical point of view. There is a friend of mine and his son was shot in an event and my friend had to take part in the surgery of his son. He could see his son’s life slip away in front of his eyes. I could understand his situation and so could most of you. No doctor wants to be in such a situation. It is one thing to operate on somebody who you are not attached to than on somebody you have a deep relationship to. This does not mean that there is no love or feeling for patients. There is always a relationship and doctors always want to do what is best for patients. Attachment, however, is a hindrance in a Doctor’s work. And Krishna knows very well that Arjuna’s attachment to anybody will have deleterious effect on his performance of fighting.

Asakti (attachment) and choices are closely related. Non attachment allows one to become choice less; decisions are independent of attachment and come from this choicelessness. It is very close to being established in adwaita. But I must emphasize that this is not a negative approach to life. Krishna is not only spritual but he is also practical. Attachment clouds judgement similar to kamana (desires) clouding action. Arjuna is confused because of his attachments. He respects his Gururs, he loves his cousins and feels for the people in the enemy camp and then the question comes as to how he can kill them who he feels so close to. Attachment factor clouds his brain and he is willing to quit from fighting.

Krishna is not teaching Arjuna to become ruthless. A choice less person can never be ruthless. Ruthlessness can only happen to a person of attachment, attachment to killing. A ruthless person simply enjoys being ruthless. Krishna will have no attachment to killing; killing has to take place because the value system Dharma is in danger. The law and order has to be maintained.

We discussed that non-attachment does not mean detachment. This also does not mean running away from duties and responsibilities of relationship. Krishna maintained his relationships with every one on both sides on the fighting teams. He met with Gandhari or Kunti as much as he met with Draupadi. He did not have any qualms in meeting with Duryodhana or Karna at any time. Krishna tired to remind every one of these relationships. Humanity was cared for all the time. Injured were helped at the end of the war by all. No body tired to gouge out the eyes or cut the ears in hatred. Duties and responsibilities had to performed and taken care of. But, when it came to the war, non-attachment was necessary in Krishna’s approach.

Krishna tried his best for peace. When war became inevitable, Krishna stayed in the middle to make sure that the war was fought for upholding of Dharma. He instructs Arjuna to fight without any attachment, and if you do not have any attachment, there is no possibility of a desire and when there is no desire there is no expectations. Any result is expected and welcome. When there is no attachment, there is no desire and there are no expectations, there is no fear. And when there is no fear, who can defeat such a person. Krishna wants a fearless Arjuna who can protect Dharma by his fullest capabilities.

In summary, Krishna, in my view, will have following suggestions to India and the USA at this time of crisis.

  1. Stay on the side of Dharma (value system of existence)

  2. Be strong – A weak cannot make any difference. Even talking about peace by a weak person has no weight.

  3. Act with anasakti (non-attachment) - There is no need to hate Pakistan or Afghanistan. But the institutions or persons in the business of producing people who are danger to the value system must be dealt with.

  4. Appropriate political posturing is necessary. Mama Shakuni was a shrewd politician. He knew how to exploit the goodness in Yudhisthir. And the Pandavas needed to know that and also had to know how to counter his moves. Krishna was a great political strategist. As long as this is meant for upholding of the value system (Dharma), it is o.k. to play games.

Dharmam Raksham Karisyami
Krishnam Sharanam Gachchami

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