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Relativity of right and wrong PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

sanjaya uvaca
tam tatha krpayavistam
asru-purnakuleksanam
visidantam idam vakyam
uvaca madhusudanah

Sanjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of kindness and very sorrowful, his eyes brimming with tears, Madhusudana, Krsna, spoke the following words.

sri-bhagavan uvaca
kutas tva kasmalam idam
visame samupasthitam
anarya-justam asvargyam
akirti-karam arjuna


The Bhagavan said: My dear Arjuna, how have these impurities come upon you in such a wrong time? They are not at all befitting a man who knows the progressive values of life. They do not lead to higher planets, but to infamy.

klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
ksudram hrdaya-daurbalyam
tyaktvottistha parantapa


O son of Prtha, do not yield to this degrading impotence. It does not become you. Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.

Second chapter starts with the description of state of Arjuna. He is full of kindness and tears in his eyes. We should remember that Krishna was against war when every one in Pandava side including Arjuna were ready for war. Krishna even went himself to the Kauravas to negotiate. He wanted the bare minimum in return. And, that did not materialize; the war thus followed. Now the situation is that the war has been officially declared and Arjuna’s love for peace takes over. Arjuna comes up with all the right logic for not going to fight. It is very difficult to say that Arjuna is wrong on any of the points he makes. Moreover, Arjuna is expecting Krishna to agree with him since Krishna had been saying the same kind of wordings before the two sides gathered in the battlefield. What is right and what is wrong is the question.

Sanjay is describing Arjuna’s state of being; he says that Arjuna is full of kindness. Sanjay does not use the word compassion. This difference should be understood. For kindness to happen there should be some one to feel kindness for. The other is required. It is closer to the word pity. A rich person feels pity for a beggar and he gives him money. A beggar is a requirement for the rich person to feel pity for. The other important difference is that kindness and pity fulfill your ego, however subtle the ego may be. If it makes you feel good, your ego has to be touched somewhere. It is easy to understand that Duryodhana is full of ego because he wants the war and he is enjoying the whole scene. It is harder to realize the ego of Arjuna, because he is talking the language of a saint, a language of sacrifice. But, a deeper level this is still satisfying ego. We will explore the equation of ego further as Gita progresses further. (verses). Compassion on the other hand is an inner flowering and will be there even when there is nobody around.

Earlier on in the column in Duryodhana’s perspective I mentioned that Gita might be viewed as a Shashtra of different perspectives. We have discussed Duryodhana’s and Arjuna’s perspective. Now we are entering the perspectives of Krishna. Krishna does not have one perspective; he has a multitude of perspectives. That is unique; it makes it harder to really understand Krishna. By the time you grasp the perspective of Karma yoga, he is talking about Gyan yoga and so on.

It is time for a prayer,
Not just in written words
But a song from the heart
For now I am at a loss
As to how I would be able to understand you
How can I interpret your words
And how can I truly convey your message

So, Krishna, Hey Bhagwan
Help me understand you
Help me describe your words
And help me express you to all
Help me help me help me

I will urge all readers to pray for me. The reason is simple. Sanjay calls it Bhagwan speaks. Sanjay does not say Krishna speaks; he is deliberately using the word Bhagwan. I feel that the only way I can try to explain Bhagwan’s words is if I have His compassion and his company. I am truly convinced he is with us.

So, now let us try to understand what Sanjay means when he says Bhagwan uwach (Bhagwan speaks). It is easier to understand by common example. I am a doctor. I sometimes go and play golf and talk to players there. They see me as a person, Krishna Bhatta. The same player has a medical problem and comes to see me in my office. What does he say when he goes back and talks to his wife? He says to her, “The doctor said, I should take it easy.” This is a simplistic example of a professional talking. Krishna has been Arjuna’s friend for a long time and may have talked with him, played with him and done many things together. He may have been just a true friend and talked to Arjuna as a friend. But here in Gita when Krishna speaks, it is not just a friend talking it is the Parmatma talking. And that is why Gita became Bhagvadgita (a song sung by Bhagwan).

Krishna starts at the base level. He starts at the level of Arjuna. Arjuna’s level is close to our level. We all want to do what is right and not do what is wrong. Duryodhana thinks he is right in fighting the war and Arjuna thinks he is right in abandoning the war. The other thing we all want is to look good, be appreciated by others and go to heaven if there is one.

Krishna does not say to Arjuna that he is wrong nor does he say that Arjuna is right. Krishna does not even get in to any discussion with Arjuna regarding the points he raised. He simply brings another dimension in the whole equation. This dimension is so important, so practical and so simple. We have talked about how Simplicity is the hallmark of Gita. This statement is so true here. Krishna says to Arjuna how the timing is wrong. Timing is so important. The same logic that Arjuna is giving might have been right when the effort for peace was going on and yet it is so wrong when the war is going on.

If we understand this simple technique and importance of timing, we can lead our lives much more effectively. This can be very useful in our day-to-day life. A child needs guidance and help in growing up. He needs independence when he grows up. There are many people who do not want to give the independence when it comes to the child growing up. They still want to keep the control. Timing is important in politics, it is important in war, it is important in office and it is important at home. Many of the domestic struggles are nothing but wrong timing of right argumentative logic. Lekha my wife has a simple technique that works all the time. When I am down or on a track of being down, she will simply say why don’t you come out from where you are. It works. There is no point trying to answer all the points that the mind raises, the main point is to come out of that mode of being. It can be done easier than to satisfy an unsatisfiable mind. Krishna is similarly asking Arjuna to get out of his state of being and arise to the occasion.

All our actions and thinking happen in the realm of time. And as we know now time and space are related, in fact time-space may be treated as one. Krishna starts making his point in the domain of this time and space. Soon he will take Arjuna beyond the confines of time and space. By bringing the time in the equation he has also slowed down the momentum of Arjuna’s thought process. It is an important technique. Arjuna is obviously on a wrong track. His mind is giving his all the supporting logic on the wrong track. Krishna has to slow Arjuna down before he takes him on a different track. Krishna also picks up on the subtle ego of Arjuna and further says that such an act is unbecoming to Arjuna and that he would not go to heaven. Krishna appears to be talking about mundane things but to me he is also preparing the grounds for further journey where a take off would be appropriate.

In two simple verses, Krishna has decreased the momentum of Arjuna’s thought process, touched his ego and brought in an important point of timing of thoughts. Rather than talking about right and wrong, Krishna talks about right timing and wrong timing. We can loosely call it relativity of right and wrong.

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