Chapter 3 – Introduction
We all saw in the previous chapter that any activity or karma done without the proper attitude will bring us back to samsara through the karma phalam. The only way to get above is to rise above our desires and try to manage it so that it does not lead us to take any bad action. I.e. veeta, raga, bhaya, krodahah which was mentioned in the earlier chapters and how we should not fall into that trap.
After listening to all the teaching by Krishna, Arjuna is still confused. He wanted moksha and not sreyas and he knew that if he does the karma of fighting, it will bring him karma phalam and he will be in samsara. But he did not want that, and he asked Krishna for gyanam so that he does not have to fight that war. Arjuna was thinking that may be Krishna did not have confidence nor was he ready for knowledge. Why was Krishna asking me to fight when I had asked Moksha in the first place? It was like going to a doctor for a person having diabetes and the doctor prescribed him to eat daily 2 pastries. It would mean certain death for the person. So why was Krishna asking me to do karma when I really wanted Moksha.
Arjuna was confused and he concluded that he should go for knowledge as his theory was that instead of doing karma, if he can get direct knowledge why do anything. This was why Arjuna wanted to be a monk, renunciate and dedicate himself to the pursuit of knowledge.
He thought that if he was interested in Moksha, then he should go after that and leave everything behind. E.g. If money is what you are interested, then you will have to go after money only as that is your primary objective. If you want power in politics, then you focus on getting that leaving nothing behind. So Arjuna thought that to seek knowledge to give up karma or action is reasonable as he saw a path to getting Moksha.
But Arjuna’s confusion was based on his incorrect understanding of renunciation. In Chapter 2 Krishna introduced saankhya yoga and also praised Karma Yoga. This apparent contradiction caused Arjuna to pick sannyasa over doing karma. If you recollect Arjuna asked who is a sthithapragya and ka bhasa, Kim carati etc. How this wise person is, how he talks, move about etc. Arjuna was making up his own mind when Krishna was teaching that he should pick that path over Karma.
So this prompted Arjuna to ask this question which becomes the topic of this chapter. Arjuna asks 2 questions and Krishna answers to these questions in subsequent verses which we will see. Throughout Chapter 2 Arjuna was asking question but now in these 2 verses, he is expressing his doubt. First there is a question, then an answer and if you don’t understand, then there is a doubt which can lead further questions. This is what is happening to Arjuna here.
jyayasi ceta karmanas te matå buddhir janardana
tat kim karmani ghore mamniyojayasi kesava (verse 1)
O janardhana – Here arjuna calls Krishna as janardhana
karmanah – than action
buddhihi – knowledge
jyayasi – better
te mata cet – if it is your contention
tat – then
ghore Karmani – in the gruesome action
mam – me
niyojani – why do you impel?
kesava – O’ kesava
Janardana, if it is your contention that knowledge is better than action, whey then you impel me into this gruesome action.
vyamisreneva vakyena buddhim mohayastva me
tadekam vada niscitya yena sreyo hamapnuyam (Verse 2)
vyamisrena – self contradictory
vakyena – with words
iva – seemingly
me – my
buddhim – mind
mohayasi – you seem to confuse
yena – by which
aham – I
sreyah – liberation
moksa apnuyam – shall gain
tat – that
ekam – one
niscitya – deciding for good
vada – tell
If you look at the above meaning, Arjuna is not saying to Krishna that you are confusing me, but he is saying that he thinks he is seemingly trying to confuse him. So the use of words is important here as a direct accusation can bring a problem. E.g. if you don’t accept someone’s argument, you can say to him that I don’t agree bluntly. You also say that you are a person who calls spade a spade. That shows your arrogance and if the other person is also equally arrogant like you are, there is a problem now. You have a hurt ego and it is just a mess. So here Arjuna even though he knows a lot about dharma and is a very pious person, yet he does not confront Krishna saying that he is confusing him. Rather he says that he might have misunderstood what Krishna might have said and is asking for clarification.
His 2 questions are doubts as he is pondering if he should fight when there is a shortcut towards moksha. i.e. by just renunciation of his duties and becoming a sannyasi and go after knowledge.
These 2 questions prompt Krishna to give another dose of knowledge and becomes the discussion of this chapter. We will see the response from Krishna tomorrow.
Om Namo bhagavate vasudevaya.