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The turning point PDF Print E-mail
Gita - Gita Articles

sri-bhagavan uvaca
asocyan anvasocas tvam
prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca
nanusocanti panditah

 

The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.||2:11||

Arjuna is gripped with grief. He cannot hold on to his Gandiva (bow) and he has tears in his eyes. He surrenders to Krishna to guide him through and admits that he is in no state to fight the war. Krishna had tried to tell Arjuna that his timing was wrong but this did not convince Arjuna at all. He came in with a counter argument about how can killing respected ones like Bhishma Pitamah and Guru Dronacharya be considered wrong or right timing. According to the shashtras killing of Guru is wrong and it has nothing to do with time. I must say this argument is quite strong. Krishna was blunt then when he said about the timing issue (covered in my article, “relativity of right and wrong”) and comes out more blunt this time when he says to Arjuna that his whole line of thinking is wrong. Arjuna is disturbed with possibility of killing his loved ones and Krishna comes out, smiles and says that Arjuna, you are on the wrong track. In one sentence (asocyan anvasocas tvam) Krishna discounts all the arguments that Arjuna has presented so far not forgetting that Krishna does not console Arjuna about the grief he is going through. This is a very brave step. There is difference between being blunt and straightforward and being rude and sarcastic. To my opinion Krishna is not rude to Arjuna and neither is he sarcastic. He is not chastising Artjuna either as expressed by Prabhupad in his version of Gita As It is. Being blunt and firm is sometimes necessary in our day-to-day life. It often is harder to do this than just to say things that satisfy the ego of the other person. A great love and compassion is needed to be able to be so straightforward. You can remember this from your life too. Most of the times you are politically correct at work and do not bother getting into a conflict. You do not risk saying what you mean. But you may be a different person at home with your son. You will call a spade a spade when it comes to your son whom you love dearly. Krishna has been a long time friend of Arjuna and he loves the guy and therefore he can be so firm with him in this moment in time. Krishna wants to stop the thought process of Arjuna’s mind and is in the process of replacing Arjuna’s thought process with his own. Krishna is going to take Arjuna on a different tract. What follows is still harsher a statement than the ones so far. He tells Arjuna that he is on the wrong track and is talking like an expert (prajna-vadams ca bhasase) in that field. Arjuna has taken a stand that he is not going to fight and then requests Krishna to guide him. Arjuna is hoping that Krishna will agree with his stand. Arjuna is talking like a pundit, he is quoting shashtras to support his stand. This is so significant. Arjuna is quoting shashtras to Krishna who is the very source of all the shashtras. Krishna had to smile on this contradictory statement and stand of Arjuna. What Arjuna did then is done by all of us most of the time. We take our stand and then rationalize it by quoting from one shashtra or the other. It is interesting to note that we as docotors often see patients that do this as well. There are many patients who go to the internet and acquire a great deal of information about their illness. And then the person will make up his mind as to what the treatment should be for his illness. The next step is to do doctor shopping and find the one who agrees with him. I had one patient recently who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and since has seen three urologists who have all advised him to have a treatment. But, he is still looking for someone to tell him that he does not need any treatment. He is taking all the information that he has gathered and is trying to find support for what he has already decided. Me or any doctor has to smile and be firm with such a patient to be able to provide him with the correct treatment. There are enough information in our shashtras that you can find support for any stand you take. And in Krishna’s view, Arjuna is doing just that. The problem is that it is not going to work with Krishna. Krishna can see right through to the core of Arjuna’s being, and he is going to work on the being and is simply going to ignore the Arjuna’s spoken words. It must have been very hard for Arjuna to take it. In just two simple yet blunt and harsh sentences Krishna turns the whole argument to a different track. This to me is the turning point in the Gita and from here on it is the poetry of Parmatma, the gita from the Bhagawan and hence it is appropriately called Bhagvadgita. So what is Krishna referring to when he says to Arjuna that he is on the wrong thinking track. Arjuna is concerned about death; death of his loved ones. His whole state of being is affected by the possibility of impending death of his friends, relatives and respected ones, for which he may be responsible. When he is talking about death of others, I am sure the possibility of his own death must have crossed his mind. If he believes that Drona or Bhishma could be killed, he must believe by default that Arjuna could be killed as well. The root cause of the thinking process of Arjuna is the fear of Death. We shall explore this in our next column, "Fear of Death." Krishna is saying to Arjuna that the thinking about death is the wrong thinking because no one really dies. Death of the essence in Bhishma or Drona or anyone else is not possible. Krishna is changing the whole focus of thinking. He is going to talk about life, about the life energy and convince Arjuna that no one can ever be killed. When Bhishma’s body dies the essence in Bhishma (Atma) lives on. Krishna is going to elaborate on this further in Gita as we go along. The next question is, "so what?" What is the connection? Even if it is granted that the essence is beyond killing, why should Arjuna fight? Why should he kill the bodies in front of him? Why is Krishna encouraging Arjuna to fight? This brings us to the importance of Mayaspace. Even though the Mayaspace is all a stage for drama, it is an important stage. It is important because every one has to go through this space to get past to the Brahmaspace. If this space is full of people like Duryodhana, Chengiz Khan and Hitler, it will be impossible for Gautam Siddharth or Mahavir to take birth and flourish. Even today one has to take a firm stand against the cropping up of terrorism. We cannot allow the whole mayaspace to be filled with terrorists. The whole cycle of life-to-life journey will be disturbed. The value system of the Mayaspace, Dharma has to be maintained and upheld. Arjuna has to be encouraged to fight for upholding the Dharma.

Tad idam geetashashtram samastvedarthsar-sangahabhutam durvigyeyartham.
Shankarabhashya.

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