Sakthi Vikatan - 22 Jul, 2014


Gita's Teachings

Sēvāratṉā Doctor T.S. Narayanaswamy     Images: Aras.

Bhagavadgita supports the words, ‘Tree in the Seed,’ and is described as the ‘Songs of God.’ Nothing we know of that falls in the category of ‘Songs of God.’

All know the Tattva that ‘life is for living.’ Living without knowing its purpose means living is for death only. Bhagavad Gita stands in the forefront in its guidance to the path of good living in all its auspicious ways.   'வாழ்க்கை வாழ்வதற்கே’ =  ‘Life is for living.’

Hesitance of Arjuna

At the beginning of Kurukṣetra war, the Kaurava-Pāṇḍava armies stood in formation. Arjuna’s chariot driven by Bhagavan Krishna came to the forefront of Pāṇḍava army.

Arjuna is the most powerful among the Pāṇḍavas. The bow, he carried, was equal to Gōthaṇḍam of SriRama. He was the possessor of arrows such as Braḥmāsthiram, Varuṇāsthiram… acquired because of Tapas. He was ready to sacrifice his life as the defender of Dharma. More important, Bhagavan Krishna was his charioteer.  Before war began, Arjuna lamented like a coward. The eyes were brimming with tears. His hands and feet were trembling. His bow and arrows slipped from his hands and fell on the battleground. He lamented falling like the rootless tree at the feet of Bhagavan Krishna.


“Krishna, from me, it is a no to the war.  I do not desire a victory in war by killing the near and dear. Killing of the elders against the Kuladharmam is sin. The name and fame earned from victory, I reject. I am afraid to engage in this mean act.” He supplicated to Bhagavan Krishna.

In this discourse, Arjuna himself presented Dharmic principles to Kaṇṇa.  He was teaching Dharma to Krishna, when it must have been the other way. For that reason, the first chapter goes by the name ‘Vīṣāda Yogam.’ (Litany of grief)

As the fear and sorrow ascended, he never picked up the bow and arrows and sat there diffident and lacking courage. There is a reason for the hesitancy of the incompetent. How could an all-around competent person with fallen crest be brought back to his self?

Hearing what Arjuna said, Krishna answered with a touch of anger, “Arjuna! Your fear and cowardice are not in line with Katriya Dharma. The battle has begun. There are none in this theater of war with your mental confusion. You must have come to a deliberate conclusion. You are already in the battlefield and now try to change your mind and determination discovering new reasons. This is not the ethos of a warrior.

Tiruvalluvar says:

குறள் 467:

எண்ணித் துணிக கருமம் துணிந்தபின்

எண்ணுவம் என்பது இழுக்கு.

Think, and dare to act. Once deed is in motion

Reconsideration is disgrace.  Translation V. Krishnaraj

Sāṁkhya Yogam

The second chapter in Bhagavadgita expounds Sāṁkhya Yogam as done by Bhagavan. Krishna surmises the reasons for his hesitancy.

Desire, affection and gratitude.

Bhīṣma with the relatives and Gurunāthar Droṇa stand in the enemy camp as foes. Gratitude towards them was at its highest. How could he kill them?  He may likely be killed by them. If his brothers were killed, it is hard for him to bear the loss and suffer sorrow.  Krishna having surmised the agonies of Arjuna began his advice.

Is fear relevant?

Is fear necessary for life? Don’t we need fear in observing probity? The elders taught us, “Fear sin. Then, a path for a pure life will come into view. That being so, fear will appear necessary in the conduct of events. What are the consequences of fear on the body, mind and soul? Knowing it will help advance one’s forward march.

A multitude of people fear not for what should be feared. They fear for unnecessary things. Most people fear for adverse economy. Since people lack mutual trust, fear replaces trust.  An untoward experience creates that fear.  Fear haunts us thinking about an eatery, once we experience stomach ailment from eating there previously.

Most of us do not entertain such fears. Some fear darkness. Some others can perform well in the darkness. Fear is a negative thought. If we think that way, fear will disappear. People fear illness and death. Will death disappear, if we fear death? Since death is a certainty in the future, that fear should be put to rest. In the battlefield, what afflicted Arjuna was fear of death. The Arjuna’s fear was causing death or suffering death in the battlefield.

To dispel this fear, Bhagavan gave instructions on Ātma Bōtham.  “Body is perishable; Ātmā is imperishable.” It is birthless and deathless. Ātmā is deathless, birthless, neither killed nor diminished. The body changes clothes. Ātmā is changeless.  (As a person changes clothes, the soul changes bodies: embodied soul)

Ātmā can’t be cut, is not burnt by fire, not wet by rain and scorch-free.  It is motionless, immobile, eternal and imperceptible by the senses. Thought cannot control it. The in-dwelling Ātmā is God.  ‘Aham Brahmāsmi’ is a tattva. Krishna said to him, “Do not be disheartened by the thought you will annihilate them all in the war.  You are a mere instrument.” The scientists said this, ‘Nothing can be created; nor destroyed. But, one thing can be converted into other.’ For example, water becomes steam on boiling. Liquid water disappears. When the steam cools, it becomes water. If the water is further subjected to cooling, it becomes a block of ice. Ātmā is such an entity.

Bhagavan Krishnar stressed to Arjuna, “Don’t be confused thinking of causing annihilation or creation of anything.”

The tree grows.

Thrashing and embracing are one.

          A saṁnyāsin walking along a country path, stepped on the foot of the village headman by mistake. Realizing his mistake, he asked for forgiveness from the village headman.

He was a rank ruffian. Mustering anger, he scolded the Saṁnyāsin with scalding words. He hit him with a stick.  The fragile Saṁnyāsin fell in a swoon. The village headman with disregard left the premises.

Luckily, the disciples arrived in time and rendered first aid to him.  One disciple challenged the Saṁnyāsin, “Do you know who the first responder is?”

He responded, “O yes, I know it! The very same striking hands are now rendering service to me.”

Yes! To a Jñāṉi, the smiting hand and the embracing hand are the same. The reason being, the Saṁnyāsin does not look at people.