Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 5

Part 4

5 Bandha

5-1 Introduction
Bondage is the English equivalent of Bandha. Bondage is by way of suffering and conflicts in life. There are two types of suffering: physical and mental. For physical suffering like disease and old age, medical science provides treatment. Vedanta is not concerned about physical suffering. It is about mental suffering. They are in the form of sorrow, grief, jealousy, likes and dislikes, general dissatisfaction, and disenchantment in life. In the case of the loss of a close family member, there is an emotional setback and suffering. Heavy loss in business shakes a person and he suffers mentally. Vedanta is an answer to such suffering.

5-2 Arjuna Vishad 1(28 to 47), 2(1 to 6)
The armies of Kauravas and Pandavas are arrayed face to face. As the battle is about to begin, Arjuna asks Sri Krishna to take the chariot near the foe’s army so that he can have a good look at it. Sri Krishna drives the chariot to a spot from where Arjuna sees Bhisma and Drona. This is the trigger for Arjuna’s sorrow. He has profound respect, love, and affection for Bhisma and Drona; the former is his grandfather, and the latter is his teacher. He also sees other family members. He is overwhelmed by grief at the prospect of fighting against them.

Arjuna expresses his grief in verses 28 to 47 of chapter 1 titled ‘Melancholy of Arjuna’ (Arjuna Vishad) of Gita. The grief manifests physically too. His mouth has become dry, limbs have become weak and are shaking, skin is burning, and his mind is whirling at the sight of family members assembled to engage in battle, and bow (Gandiva) is slipping from his hand. He explains why fighting is not desirable and rationalizes his views. He expresses fear of bad omens and argues that killing his own people will not result in any good and that he is averse to such victory leading to a kingdom of even three worlds and associated pleasures. He does not want to kill the Kauravas even if he is killed. He holds that killing them is a sinful act and will cause remorse subsequently though he is aware that the Kauravas are on the wrong path and are bent on fighting.

Arjuna tries to reinforce his arguments- battle ruins the family, causes destruction of traditional values, and corrupts progenies thereby paving the path to hell. He condemns the kingdom gained at the cost of the lives of kith and kin. He questions the correctness of fighting against Bhisma and Drona whom he adores and argues that it is preferable to live on alms instead of killing noble elders since any enjoyment from victory will be tainted by blood. He also casts doubt as to who will be victorious, Pandavas or Kauravas. After arguing at length, Arjuna casts aside his bow and arrow and sits in a corner of the chariot.

On completion of 12 years in the forest and one year incognito, Pandavas demanded their kingdom back, but Duryodhana refused to give. He does not accept the request of Pandavas to give five villages. Sri Krishna’s efforts to negotiate peace have also failed due to Duryodhana’s rigid stand. The efforts for a peaceful settlement have failed. There is no option for Pandavas except to fight and claim what is legitimately due to them. It is a righteous war because not fighting will cause more harm by setting a wrong precedent. Non-violence does not mean complete non-injury. It is relative and means minimum injury. Not fighting against injustice is adharmic. Arjuna is overtaken by attachment, and he fails to see that it is a righteous war. No sin will accrue to him by fighting against Bhisma and Drona as they are on the side of adharma. Arjuna has initially consented to fight the war. But seeing his nears and dears he forgets his duty and justifies living on alms which is the duty of a monk.

5-3 Ignorance and consequence 3(36 to 41), 5(15)
There are six enemies of the mind, namely, desire (kama), anger (krodha)), greed (lobha), pride (mada), attachment (moha), and jealousy (matsarya). They are negative traits and obstruct spiritual progress. A human being is endowed with intellect. He comes to know from different sources, such as parents, teachers, society, surroundings, and scriptures what is right and what is wrong. Despite discriminating power, it is surprising that he indulges in evil deeds. It is a riddle.

In verse 36, Arjuna has asked a pertinent question. Why does even a good-intentioned person engage in evil action as though he is under the influence of some unseen force? He does not want to do wrong action, yet he engages in it. Sri Krishna clarifies that the two enemies are desire and anger. On further analysis, desire and anger are found to be two sides of a coin. Desire alone gives rise to anger. Verses 38 to 41 discuss it further.

Desire is because a person feels incomplete and thinks that an external object will make him complete. Incompleteness is due to ignorance. Ignorance of his true nature, Self. It follows that Self-ignorance is the real cause of suffering. And the cure is Self-knowledge. Knowledge is veiled because desire covers the discriminative power. Three metaphors are mentioned: smoke covering fire, dust covering a mirror, and embryo covered by amnion. What is worse is that desire has a peculiar quality of insatiability. It is oblation poured in the sacrificial fire. Oblation enhances the intensity of fire, and it wants more of it. As fire destroys its locus, desire destroys the mind. It is necessary to control of sense organs because they corrupt the mind by feeding the food of sensory objects. It is the start of the fall. A person keeps fulfilling desires irrespective of the consequences. A stage comes when he has no guilt complex.

In 5(15), the topic of ignorance is visited from a different angle. Atma is action-free and does not enjoy the result of action. As a result, it is above punya and papa. If Atma does not have punya or papa, why is there suffering? The answer is that a jiva forgets that he is Atma. It is ignorance of Atma, the higher self. Instead, he thinks of himself as body-mind, the ego, the lower self. It is ignorance (avidya) and there is superimposition (adhyas) of mind-body on Atma. Consequently, a person takes himself as limited instead of limitless Atma. Suffering is the inevitable result.

5-4 Non-discrimination 3(32)
Sri Krishna has earlier talked about people who follow his teaching. Those who do not follow His teachings are indiscriminate people lacking the rational faculty and fail to learn from experience. To follow the scriptures requires effort and discipline. It is easy to not follow the scriptures because then they can lead a life as per their whims and fancies. Consequently, they move away from a righteous and spiritual life and get trapped in the cycle of birth and death and suffer.
Contd (Part 6)