ज्यायसी चेत्कर्मणस्ते मता बुद्धिर्जनार्दन ।
तत्किं कर्मणि घोरे मां नियोजयसि केशव ॥३-१॥
King Arjuna addressed Lord Krishna thus… ‘O’ savior of mankind, give unto me jnana (wisdom) knowing which I could differentiate between karma and path of jnana yoga! Give me inner understanding to realize that path of jnana yoga was superior to path of karma yoga. And still, if there was no doubt that path of jnana yoga was better than path of karma yoga… why insistence on indulgence in karma, negative karma that may lead to death of my maternal uncle Bhishma Pitamah, my favorite teacher Dronacharya… close relatives and friends.
Bhagavad Gita chapter 3 verse 1 proves beyond doubt absolute faith Arjuna expressed in capability of Lord Krishna. Although Arjuna knew clearly well that path of jnana yoga was superior to path of karma yoga still, he expressed his doubts to hear what Lord Krishna had to say in the matter. Arjuna was not confident about law of karma according to which… what we sow shall we reap! He was totally transfixed on issue of killing his own kinsmen, relatives and friends! If indulging in negative karma, paap karma was not a sin according to Lord Krishna… then what really was paap (sin) committing which one eventually suffered in life.
As per Arjuna indulgence in fierce warfare with his relatives and friends tantamount to negative karma of the highest order! By doing so he thought… he would enter vicious cycle of karma that may mar his future, his entire life forever!
King Arjuna addresses Lord Krishna by name of Janardana, which simply means well-wisher of all, the entire humanity on mother earth. The name Janardana has been used here in a particular context. As Lord Krishna advised Arjuna to indulge in karma yoga that might result in death of his maternal grandfather Bhishma Pitamah, his favorite teacher Dronacharya, close relatives and friends… in the circumstances how could one, a well wisher of all become cause of death of many… masses! Arjuna knew well that if a battle ensued between Pandavas and Kauravas… it would be a fierce fight unto death!
As Lord Krishna never sided with one and was truthful to core, his advice would never be partial… so surmised Arjuna! Still, his advice was not palatable by King Arjuna who asked of Lord Krishna… why he advised following path of karma yoga instead of path of jnana yoga, a path that was summarily considered superior by Lord Krishna. How could death of some… even his arch enemies result in establishing dharma (righteousness)? As per Arjuna… sin was sin and evil should never be countered by evil… rather we must live by forgiving people in Toto! This surmise of Arjuna as per Lord Krishna was totally wrong… prime reason why he gave sermon of Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in the battle of Mahabharata between Pandava and Kaurava kings.
As per sermon of Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna to Arjuna… whenever evil exceeds limits and could not be countered by compassion, love… it should be worked out directly face-to-face in the battlefield. The battle of Mahabharata is termed battle of dharma (righteousness) as it was an all out fight between forces of righteousness (dharma) and lawlessness (adharma). For Arjuna to understand merits of dharma (righteousness)… his undertaking path of jnana yoga was necessitated as per Lord Krishna. Just traveling path of karma yoga no human being on mother earth could exterminate evil in totality. Path of jnana yoga made human beings realize their true potential as soul atman, the spirit within. In Hinduism… a soul is termed atman!
Bhagavad Gita chapter 3 verse 1 primarily deals with Arjuna trying to understand merits of traveling path of jnana yoga against path of karma yoga. Adharma (lawlessness) simply could not be extinguished, eliminated by traveling path of karma yoga alone. Why? We as human beings need to understand, we are primarily cosmic consciousness… a soul atman, the spirit within on its cosmic life cycle of 8.4 million manifestations. We are not a human being manifesting a soul atman, the spirit within! We as a soul atman, the spirit within manifested human form to work out our karma, remove dross impurities within! It is only by traveling path of jnana yoga… human beings finally freed self from clutches of karma forever. Path of jnana yoga is one following which human beings finally gained enlightenment (reached stage of kaivalya jnana) in their lifetime!
Lord Krishna emphasizing on Arjuna merits of jnana yoga compared to karma is the biggest lesson delivered in Bhagavad Gita. The earlier we human beings understood this vital point of life… better for us! The predicament of Arjuna that indulging in karma yoga alone he would succeed in pleasing members of opposite camp, his arch enemies to avoid war was a wrong surmise that came from one ignorant in matters spiritual. One just could not get away from clutches of karma by remaining inactive… behaving cowardly! Arjuna was a King responsible for all the inmates of his kingdom. His actions must be such that his subjects did not suffer. As per path of jnana yoga… we had to indulge in karma or exterminate karma in totality.
For travellers of spiritual path… exterminating karma in totality was an absolute must. But for a King… indulgence in karma relating to day-to-day life was also an absolute must. When the other side, his arch enemies were not prone to compassion or reasoning… the only way out was a full-fledged war. Lord Krishna impressed upon Arjuna limitations of ephemeral physical manifest life. If Arjuna thought indulging in war would result in sinning, as per Krishna… there was no escape from it! For the sake of countrymen, for the sake of re-establishing dharma (righteousness), War had to be fought under all circumstances! And this can only be known, indulged by following path of jnana yoga… never part of karma yoga alone.
Arjuna asking Lord Krishna… why he was pushing him into precipice of karma, the bottomless pit of karma was without valid reason. Everything in field of spirituality stood ground on sound principles of logic, reasoning! It was this logical reasoning Lord Krishna wanted Arjuna to understand before taking final decisions as representative of Pandavas.
Essay by: Vijay Kumar “Atma Jnani”… The Man who Realized God in 1993 – Sep 30, 2012
Selected Books on Bhagavad Gita on Barnes & Nobles
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