Beach 8: One's Nature vis-à-vis one's Duty
Wave 2: The Secret of Secrets from the bhagavad-gItA
Drop 1: The five arguments of Krishna
The story of Arjuna's hesitations at the start of the Great War between the Pandavas and the Kauravas is a well-known episode from the mahA-bhArata. It was Arjuna's confusion and psychological collapse at the crucial moment that occasioned the preaching of the bhagavad-gItA by Lord Krishna, who had condescended to be the princes's charioteer in the 18-day war. The various arguments that Lord Krishna advances to dispel the confusion of Arjuna can be classified as follows:
- The most fundamental one is the philosophical argument. That is the one with which Krishna begins his whole sermon. Nothing is permanent in this ephemeral world. The only permanent thing is the Self which is untouched and uncontaminated by anything that happens to the non-self.
- The second argument, which may be called the svadharma argument, is based on the duties of one's varNa and ASrama. Though this is mentioned very early in the second chapter itself of the gItA, Krishna makes a real issue of it only in the eighteenth chapter where he links it up with his
- third major argument, namely, the argument of Detached Action as a karma-yogi. This third argument is the topic of elaboration all through several chapters - from the middle of the second to the end of the sixth.
- The fourth major one is the argument of Faith. There is not a leaf that moves in this world without the sanction of the Lord of the world and so let no man think that he is the doer. This argument runs through several chapters - from the seventh to the fifteenth - supported by all the metaphysical technicalities that Krishna chooses to bring in. Among these technicalities, there is one that sprouts forth, even as early as the third chapter, as
- the fifth major argument, namely that it is really Prakriti that is the doer of everything. The relationship between this argument and the earlier one that the Lord is the Prime Mover of everything is explained elaborately by the Lord in the thirteenth, fifteenth and eighteenth chapters.
There are a few other arguments like the commonsense one, which says that whoever is born has to die and so forth. But Krishna does not stay long on these minor arguments. The five major arguments however, are unified and crystallised in the eighteenth chapter and brought to a consummation in the carama Sloka (Verse No.66) of that chapter.
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April 10, '99 Copyright Ó V. Krishnamurthy