‘War’ is the conflict between the riches of divinity and the devilish hoard that represent the two distinct, contradictory impulses of the mind and heart. Its final consequence is the annihilation of both. The sphere where the above war is fought is the human body, a composite of the mind along with senses.
Lord Krishn taught the preachings of the Bhagavad Gita exactly at the time of the outbreak of the warfare and the operations of weapons (pravrtte śastrasapāte, Chapter One, Verse 20) because he knew it well that there can never be eternal peace and accord in the material world. Even after killing millions of people the victors are bound to be gloomy and feel to be losers. So he introduced such a kind of eternal battle which goes on everlastingly in human life through the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. If this battle is won, a victory which is everlasting is attained and along with it, an imperishable abode is obtained which is ever accessible. Such a battle is between the Kshetr (sphere) and Kshetragya (knower of the sphere) , a struggle between nature and Soul. This battle forever kills that which is inauspicious within layers of mind and senses and thus it becomes the means of realization of the divine Self.
Embodying the whole means of ultimate liberation, the Bhagavad Gita is self-contained. There is not a single point in it that may engender any doubt. But since it cannot be grasped on an intellectual plane, there may arise what only appear to be doubts. So if we fail to comprehend any part of the Gita, we can resolve our doubts as did Arjun by sitting devoutly by a sage who has perceived and realized the essence.
The right action requires the waging of war by concentrating on the Self and the Supreme Spirit. But what is the need of war when the eyes are closed and a man’s thought is centered on contemplation, and when the senses are all confined within the intellect?
According to Lord Krishn, when a seeker sets out on the path of worship, desire and anger, and attraction and repulsion appear as frightening hurdles in his way. To fight and overcome these negative impulses is war. Entering progressively deeper into the state of meditation by gradual elimination of the demoniacal, alien impulses of Kurukshetr is war. So this is a war which rages in the state of meditation.
Glancing at the Gita as a whole, it is in Chapter Two that Lord Krishn exhorts Arjun to fight because the body is destructible. He should fight because the body is ephemeral. This is the only concrete reason for fighting given in the Gita. Later while explaining the Way of Knowledge, war is said to be the only means for achieving the most auspicious end. Lord Krishn has told Arjun that the knowledge he has imparted to him is related to the Way of Knowledge. The knowledge is that Arjun should fight because it is profitable for him in victory as well as defeat. Later, in Chapter Four, Sri Krishn will tell Arjun that, resting firmly in yog he should sever the irresolution in his heart with the sword of discrimination. This sword is the sword of yog . There is no reference to war at all from Chapter Five to Chapter Ten.
In Chapter 11,Sri Krishn only says that the enemies have already been slain by him, so Arjun has just to stand as a proxy and earn glory. The enemies have been killed even without his killing them; and the power which drives all beings and objects will also use him as an instrument to effect what he wishes. So Arjun should stand up boldly and kill his enemies who are nothing but living corpses.
In Chapter 15, the world will be compared to a mighty-rooted Peepal tree and Arjun will be directed to seek spiritual perfection by cleaving the tree with the axe of renunciation. There is no mention of any war in the later chapters, although in Chapter 16 there is an account of demons who are doomed to hell. The most detailed portrayal of war is thus found in Chapter 3. Verses 30 to 43 are concerned with the setup of war, its inevitability, the certain destruction of those who refuse to fight, the names of enemies who have to be killed, weighing of one’s strength, and the determination to slay the enemies. The chapter thus identifies the enemies and, at the end, also provides the required encouragement to the seeker to destroy these enemies.
In Chapter three of Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishn sings:
“So, O Arjun, contemplate the Self,
surrender all your action to me,
abandon all desire, pity, and grief,
and be ready to fight.”
Arjun is told to fight, restraining his thoughts within his innermost being, surrendering in a meditative state all his deeds to the God, and in absolute freedom from aspiration, pity, and sorrow. When a man’s thought is absorbed in contemplation, when there is not the least desire of hope anywhere, when there is no feeling of self-interest behind the act, and when there is no regret over the prospect of defeat, what kind of war can a man fight?
When thought is withdrawn from all sides
into the innermost spirit,
against whom will he fight?
And who is there to fight against?
In fact, however, it is only when you enter into the meditative process that the true form of war emerges. It is only then that it is known that the throng of unrighteous impulses, of desire and wrath, attraction and repulsion, and of hope and hunger, all deviations from piety, which are called kuru, are the great enemies that create attachment to the world. They obstruct the seeker of truth by launching a vicious assault. To overcome them is real war. To subdue them, to contract oneself within one’s mind, and to achieve the state of steady contemplation is real war.
Lord Krishn adds:
“Unquestioning and devoted men
who always act according
to this precept of mine are liberated
Freed from illusion and possessed of feelings of adoration and self surrender, men who always act in conformity with Sri Krishn’s precept that “one should fight” are also liberated from all action. This assurance of Yogeshwar Krishn is for all of humanity. His doctrine is that one should make war. It may appear from this that this teaching is for warmongers. Fortunately there was the setup of a universal war before Arjun.
But, when we are confronted by no such prospect why do we seek resolution in the Gita or why do we so adamantly insist that the means of liberation from action is available only to fighters of a war?
The truth is quite the contrary. The war, of the Gita is that of the heart-the innermost Self. This is the war between matter and spirit, knowledge and ignorance, Dharmkshetr and Kurukshetr. The more we try to check our thought by meditation, the more the unrighteous impulses emerge as enemies and launch a terrible attack.
Vanquishing their demoniacal powers and restraint of thought are at the very centre of this war of the divine song. The one who is rid of illusion and engages in the war with faith, is perfectly liberated from the bondage of action, and of birth and death. But what happens to the one who retreats from this war?
Lord Krishn further sings:
“Know that skeptical men,
who do not act in keeping with this precept of mine
because they are devoid of knowledge and discrimination,
doomed to misery.’’
Deluded men, drunk with attachment and lacking in discrimination, who do not follow the teaching of Lord Krishn, or who, in other words, do not wage war in a state of meditation in which there is complete self surrender as well as freedom from desire, self-interest, and grief, are deprived of the ultimate bliss. If this is true, why don’t people invariably do so?
Lord Krishn accounts for it thus.
“Since all beings are constrained to act in conformity
with their natural disposition
and the wise man also strives accordingly,
of what avail can violence with nature be?”
All beings are dominated by their governing property and act under its compulsion. The sage who is blessed with perception also makes his efforts in accordance with his nature. Ordinary men abide in their actions and the wise in their Self. Everyone acts according to the inescapable demands of his nature. This is a self-evident and incontrovertible truth. It is for this reason that, according to Sri Krishn, men do not follow his teaching even though they know it. Unable to overcome desire, self-interest, and sorrow, or, in other words, attachment and aversion, they fail to act in the prescribed way.
Lord Krishn also points out another reason.
“Do not be ruled by attachment and aversion,
because both of them are the great enemies
that obstruct you on the way to good.”
Attraction and repulsion lie within the senses and their pleasures. One should not be dominated by them because they are formidable enemies on the way that leads to good and liberation from action; they ravish the seeker’s worshipful attitude. When the enemy is within, why should one fight an external war? The enemy is in league with the senses and their objects-within the mind. So the war of the BhagavadGita is an internal war.
The human heart is the field on which there are marshalled the divine and devilish impulses – the forces of knowledge and ignorance, the two aspects of illusion. To overcome these negative forces, to destroy the devilish by fostering divine impulses, is real war. But when the unrighteous forces are annihilated, the utility of righteous impulses also comes to an end. After the Self is united with God, pious impulses too are dissolved and merge with him.
To overcome nature thus is a war that can be fought only in a state of contemplation.Destruction of feelings of attachment and aversion takes time. Many seekers, therefore, forsake meditation and suddenly take to imitating some accomplished sage.
~ Revered Gurudev Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans ~
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