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maya=network of ego PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

tam uvaca hrsikesah
prahasann iva bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
visidantam, idam vacah

O descendant of Bharata, at that time Krsna, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.||2:10||

Pandavas and Kauravas are facing each other in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Both sides have declared the war by blowing of their respective concshells. And, at this stage Arjuna comes to a definite decision that he is not going to fight. Situation is pretty grim for the Pandavas. Krishna is on their side and he simply smiles.

Why did Krishna smile will always remain a mystery? There can be many speculations, but why did he really smile, to my understanding, will remain a question. Therefore, instead of pretending that I know why Krishna smiled I am going to propose more than one reason he could have smiled. There may be many more reasons that I do not know, but one thing is sure that now Krishna is about to take the conversation on a different plane. A friend of ours, Padmakant Khambati, who has aired the Gita on a Houston radio station more than once, believes that the real Bhagavadgita starts after this smile. His view is base not only on what he feelas and thinks but is also substantiated by Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s and Swami Ramanujacharya’s interpretations.

But before we get into our speculations about the smile, let us examine if a smile or even laughter in the situation of crisis, can help. May be it will lighten the whole conversation. May be it will allow little time to think by giving a break in the intensity of the gravity of the situation. A break in the momentum of the thought process is sometimes very important. May be during that break the answer is going to be revealed. My feeling is that a smile in a desperate situation can be very healthy and also very helpful. The only way to find that out is to practice it. Try to smile when all your chips are down. Take a break, however momentary it may be, and see if that works for you. I must say it works for me. The only problem I have faced is that other people around sometimes do not like it. They seem to say, “It is not funny, and you should not be laughing.” I usually smile again and say to them showing my sincerity and seriousness that I am not laughing because it is funny.

Was Krishna being sarcastic to Arjuna? A better question is, Could Krishna be sarcastic? I do not believe so. He loved Arjuna as a long time friend. Krishna knew Arjuna very well. If it were a conversation with anyone else, I would believe that sarcasm might be a factor. But, Krishna being sarcastic goes against his own teaching. I think that Krishna can only be a realist. It should be really understood very well. When Krishna says to Arjuna that:

Sarva Dharman Parityjya mamekam sharanam vraja
Leave all other paths and come to me.

He is not being egoistic. If his smile and the following shloka are interpreted as sarcastic then the above shloka can be interpreted as egoistic. No, Krishna is beyond sarcasm and is certainly beyond ego, and that is what he is trying to teach. But he has to be a realist. When Krishna smiles, he just smiles. When Krishna says that he is the ultimate, he is the ultimate. There is no need to impose our values on Krishna.

Did Krishna smile because he could see what is happening to Arjuna? Let us see what really is happening to Arjuna. His mind is wavering. At one time he mentions that he is surrendered to Krishna and wants Krishna to guide him as a Guru and two shlokas later he declares that he definitely is not going to fight. That was his final decision. Arjuna does not have the clarity. Krishna can see that much clearer than what I can describe here and this definitely is worth the smile.

Krishna perhaps could see a little deeper as to what was happening to Arjuna. Arjuna’s love for his friends and relatives got very intense. As if Arjuna’s whole being has been abducted by this desire. Duryodhan’s being has been abducted by his desire for the kingdom; Arjuna’s being has been hijacked by the desire of saving the lives of his dear ones. This again is worth the smile.

Krishna also knows not only what is going on with Arjuna but also what is going on overall. If I have to speculate the reason of Krishna’s smile, I would like to think that his smile had nothing to do with Arjuna’s statement. We have used an interesting adjective to Krishna’s life. There is no autobiography of Krishna. There is no life story of Krishna. Actually, we call his life story Krishna Leela. It was just a drama on a stage. Krishna was just acting out.

And who else could understand the theory of Maya more than Krishna? Krishna smiles at this whole Maya that was going on at the time. To Krishna every thing was a drama on a stage. And, Krishna definitely took his role very seriously. For others it was a question of life and death. For Krishna, what is life and what is death. He knows what is life and what is death, and that explanation follows his smile.

There are differences in view points as to where did Gita really start, 2:11 or 2:12. I can say it started from 2:10 but does it matter. The real issue is when does Gita start in our lives? When do we start practicing the techniques outlined by Krishna? When does Gita start flowing for us?

So, what is Maya? We examined development and dropping of ego in our column, ‘Is Ego really bad.’ We also looked briefly into image building and value system. Here we will try to understand what is Maya. To understand Tyag (renunciation) we have to understand the dropping of ego, to understand Maya we need to understand the accumulation and holding on to the ego. When we say Sansar (the world) is Maya (illusion), whose Sansar are we talking about? We are not talking about the trees and the rivers and the Oceans of the world. We are talking about the network of ego that an individual has developed and calls it his own, that is his Sansar, and that is Maya.

When you are born, you get a name. This name becomes you and you start accumulating a range of ego around this name. You leave your home and go to school. You drop your school and go to college. And then you go to start work in a corporation. Perhaps you leave yur country to go to another country to work. You have dropped your house, your shchool, your college and your country to get to where you are. But, you still call it your home, your school and so forth. The attachment is still there. The feeling that it is your hometown is still there. You have created a network around you and so has every one else. The trees grow, the rivers flow, the sun shines and the birds chirp. They are all natural. They are unaware of what ego is, leave alone the network of ego. A man is a different story. He builds this network of the ego system. When he dies, the network is suddenly gone from him. The dead man is gone but we still keep our network with him going. My father is dead. His sansar is gone but we cling on to him with our network of ego system. Man is born again and starts building another fresh network and life continues. The nature has this mechanism whereby; the memory of the network of one life is not carried at conscious level to the other life.

The network is not only individual but also social. I used to live in my small village Balbandh in Bihar. The ego system of my village, now looking from outside, was amazing. The village has small sections called tolas. And people from these different tolas were and to some extent still are willing to kill each other for some trivial matter. They are not rich economically but are very rich in collection of their ego. Let me make it clear that I am not saying that ego system and value system are bad or good. I am examining as they are. This has to be understood. Once you can stand outside, you can see the network. Once you can see the network, you can still live within the framework of the network, but a certain clarity will be there. We shall be examining that clarity further as we go deeper in the Gita.

You go on the cyberspace. You use it and then switch the computer off. The space is still there. Millions of people are accessing it and using it. But, you can still be outside of it. Network of ego that we call Maya can be taken similarly for understanding purposes. The question is, “Can you stand outside of this network?” The answers including the techniques are there in Gita and we shall explore it as we go along. But surely, when I go to my village now and see those tolas talking about their what I feel as petty matters, I can smile too. That is in no way sarcasm or an insult to them. My horizons have widened, I have seen more of the world and I can see them from outside. I am not as involved as they are. If you are in it, you cannot see it. You have to be standing outside of it to be able to see it.

Krishna is always standing outside of the network of Ego. He can see the whole picture. If you are inside a house and look from a window on the east side you can see the sun rising while if you look from a window in the west you can see shadows. Krishna is standing outside on the peak of the mountain. And he can smile on what he sees. Krishna is going to take Arjuna out from the house and bring him on this peak. We shall try to follow the happenings in our future columns.

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