Krishna Reloaded. Bhagavad Gita Ver 2.0!
Recently, I saw a television program in which a famous self-styled saffron-cladded Swami giving a talk on Mahabharata War and Bhagavad Gita. This is what he said:
“Just before the war, seeing his grand fathers, fathers, sons, grandsons and all other relatives in Kurukshetra war field, Arjun became faint hearted. He told Lord Krishna he would not fight. Krishna then explained why is it Arjuna’s duty to fight and how he must fight in order to restore the Dharma (righteousness). Kill all those non-righteous people even if they are relatives, said Krishna….For that, you have to fight with a detached mindset and control emotions and five senses, which are represented as the five horses in Krishna’s chariot….”
Swami continues: “This is a Dharma Yudha and only Dharma will win….Through Karma Yoga, Krishna urges Arjuna to fight like a brave warrior. Arjuna’s Karma is to fight. If you win the war, you will get Shreyas, Krishna said. The Gita ends with Krishna telling Arjuna he must choose the path of good or evil, as it his duty to fight the Kauravas for his kingdom.”
I was really shocked to listen this. Why should this guy mis-interpret Mahabharata? Is it new version of Mahabharata or Gita?
I don’t remember reading anywhere that Krishna urged Arjuna to go for war!!! My bad? So I went through few verses again (I am quoting those verses in this article) to cross check.
To start with, the chariot of Arjuna didn’t have five horses. It was given by the god of fire Agni, when he burnt the Khaandavavanam as an offering to Agni. Chithraratha, king of Gandharvas, gave him four horses. There are NO five horses. Lord Krishna was charioteer of four horses. I don’t know from where the Swami got the idea of five horses.
Arjuna didn’t faint seeing his grand fathers, fathers, sons, grandsons. (Note that Veda Vyas, who wrote this epic, used plural not singular or dual). First of all, there were no grandfathers (except Bhishma Pitamaha) in the war field… And Arjuna’s father – Indra or Pandu, whoever – was not there. (If you mean to say his fathers-in-law that were mentioned separately). Yes, his sons were there, but he didn’t have a grandson when he came to the battlefield.
Is it that Vyasa went wrong here? Even if the entire world goes wrong, Vyasa can’t. It is said ‘Vyasochishtam jagatsarvam’. (Vyasa pervades everything in the Universe) you cannot equate even gods with Vyasa’s skill.
So the TV Swami is wrong, not Vyasa. Arjuna might have seen himself as a grandfather or grandson and felt empathy for them, not fear. He is not a coward to feel chicken-hearted.
Arjuna have already had a war with all of them and won it. When Arjuna was in exile as Brihannala in the kingdom of the Matsya (King Virat), he single handedly defeated the Kaurava army led by Bhishma, and having esteemed warriors such as Drona, Kripacharya, Karna, Duryodhana, and his 99 brothers plus the huge army of soldiers.
So it was unlikely for Arjuna to be frightened or confused. That too, when the Lord himself was near to him! So it’s the TV Swami’s interpretation that he got frightened. Arjuna might have felt empathy when he saw himself in every body. That means the presence of Lord made him more matured, enlightened and aware! Matured Arjun understood that the real war is with-in, not outside.
GITA IS AGAINST WAR. Where in Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to fight? No yogas – like Bhakti or Jnana – recommends violence or fight.
This swami said: “Karma Yoga recommends fight. Arjuna’s Karma was to fight like a great warrior”
In Karma Yoga, Arjuna asks very clearly: “Krishna, are you urging me to engage in this ghastly warfare? Please tell me decisively what is most beneficial for me…. By what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Gita Chapter 3. Verses 1- 1, 2 and 36)
Krishna didn’t answer: “Okay Arjuna, you go ahead and fight.”
Instead, he said: “The reason for war is not me; it is lust only, Arjuna, which is born out of the identification of yourself with the manifested. It is then transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” (3.37)
So Karma yoga clearly says that lust (Kama) is your enemy. So fight with lust.
Not only that, In Santhi Parva, Krishna repeats: “Arjuna, I had advised you Jnana during Kurukshetra war. You mistook it for war!”
There are two more Gitas in Mahabharat:
1. Anugita (in Asvamedhika Parva): Similar dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, here again Krishna doesn’t justify the war.
2. Uttara-Gita: Arjuna was still in dilemma. Here, again Krishna warns him against war (violence) and teaches him about Brahmam.
The TV Swami quote Krishna as saying: “Arjuna, you will get Shreyas if you fight like a brave warrior…”
What you will get after a war? Real estate and wealth! Those are immediate material good. There is a separate Sanskrit word for that – ‘Preyas’. Shreyas is lasting good. It means “welfare and happiness”. Preyas is the transient and shreyas, the enduring. The intelligent ones choose shreyas over preyas and fools choose preyas hoping to attain and retain things.
Can Vyasa go wrong here? Didn’t he know how to use suitable words? Vyasa through Krishna didn’t advice Arjuna to go for Preyas. Had they advised, the war is justified. Instead, Gita urges Arjuna to do his dharma for shreyas. Vedic wisdom tells us that management based on the path of preyas will eventually lead to disaster whereas shreyas will lead to lasting good.
Swami’s words again: “Krishna said this is Dharma yuddha and Dharma will win”. Yes, Krishna talks about dharma but he never meant war.
Was Arjuna able to restore Dharma by Killing? Mahabharata says “No”. History says NO.
The next King, Arjuna’s grand-son, Parikshith was Adharmic – he played pranks like putting a dead snake around the neck of the Saint. And what happened to Krishna’s family and community, the Yadava clan? All of them became alcoholic, adharmic and fought each other’s to death.
In few years after the war, Krishna departed his physical body. (See http://www.udaypai.in/18-february-5115-years-after-krishnas-bodily-departure/) The date marks the beginning of Kali Yuga when Adharma became more dominant! The weakest point in the history of mankind.
What more evidence you need to prove that the Duo (Krishna-Arjuna) was not able to establish a Dharma Rashtra (Righteous Nation) as told by the Television Swami.
How can anybody restore dharma (righteousness) by ahimsa (violence)? Krishna clearly says about the re-birth too: “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail” (8.6) That means dead man will re-incarnate with the same adharma!
“Whenever there is a decline of Dharma, and the rise of Adharma, then, I re-incarnate myself to teach dharma,” Krishna declared in the Gita (4.7) And people like TV Swami interpret it as Krishna’s next avatar coming in horse to kill villains! Krishna never said “whenever and wherever there is a decline in Dharma, I will descend on the back of a Horse as Kalki”. A gross mistake of interpreters.
Krishna also says in Bhakti yoga, who is dearest to him: “A person who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself as a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me—such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me”
How can such person go for war? Let alone war, Krishna doesn’t even support you being angry. “From anger proceeds delusion; from delusion to confused memory; from confused memory to ruin and then he perishes “(2:63)
It’s not that Krishna didn’t involve in any war or fight. Krishna used violence to protect non-violence. But in Gita he doesn’t propogate war.
The noblest of all Slokas in the Bhagavad Gita is: “Abandon all that variety of dharma and just surrender. You will attain Moksha (eternal peace). Do not despair (18.66)”
Bhishma Pitamaha (Centre figure of Mahabharat) also told the same thing to Yudhishtira in the presence of Krishna. Bhishma was lying on his deathbed. His irreplaceable wisdom, based on the experiences of his long life of virtue, righteousness and devotion, was about to be lost to the world. Hence, Yudhishthira sought Bhishma’s advice on the easiest and best means by which mankind can attain lasting happiness, peace of mind, and relief from all bondage and sorrows.
Bhishma’s answer: “Surrender to Keshava (The Supreme reality)” (See http://www.udaypai.in/the-power-of-surrendering-and-idiotic-beliefs/). And he asked Yudhishtira to recite Vishnu Sahasranamam.
Isn’t it the gist of Mahabharata? Gita? Or any other scripture? The Gita teaches us to equip oneself for the battle of life. Without self-preparation the battles of life cannot be waged successfully. Krishna’s Gita is an invitation – a powerful invitation to eternal happiness and everlasting peace (Moksha). (Read Interview with Krishna in http://www.udaypai.in/interview-with-krishna/)
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