Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 1 (Part-2) - Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna

3.  This chapter is entitled “Arjuna Vishaada Yogah: The Yoga of Arjuna’s  despondency”. How despondency or grief can be yoga?

The  word Yoga means to join. Any conscious attempt on the part of an individual to lift his  present personality and attune it to a higher, perfect ideal is called Yoga.  The title of this chapter is  self-contradictory. It is named as the Vishaada Yoga or Yoga of  Arjuna's grief, depression.   If 'grief'  could be Yoga, everybody on the earth would be Yogins. It cannot be so  for obvious reasons.

Arjuna’s  condition of utter despair is the most appropriate mental attitude wherein the  seeds of the Gita can be ideally sown for their glorious flowering. The  scriptural texts by themselves cannot help any one unless the seeker’s mental  condition is prepared to absorb their teachings. Therefore, even the initial  mental condition of Arjuna is called as Yoga as this darkness of the  soul is an essential step in the progress to spiritual life.

“Most of us go  through life without facing the ultimate questions. It is in rare crises, when  our ambitions lie in ruins at our feet, when we realize in remorse and agony  the sad mess we have made of our lives, we cry out “Why we are here? What does  all this mean? Where do we go from here? My God, why have you forsaken me?”  Draupadi cries “I have no husbands, no sons, no kinsmen, no brothers, and no  father, not even You, O Krishna”.  Arjuna  passes through great spiritual tension. When he detaches from his social  obligations and asks why he should carry out the duty expected of him by  society, he gets behind his socialized self and has full awareness of himself  as an individual alone and isolated. He faces the world as a stranger thrown  into a threatening chaos. The new freedom creates a deep feeling of anxiety,  aloneness, doubt and insecurity. If he is to function successfully, these  feelings must be overcome”. - Dr. S. Radhakrishnan

Thus for  learning and living the Gita, the Arjuna-Syndrome is the initial Sadhana,  a pre-requisite and hence his grief is considered as Yoga.

4. Why in the  courts of law in India does one take the oath by putting one’s hand on the Gita  and not on the other scriptures like the Ramayana?

The main reason  for this practice is that the avatar of Krishna is considered as Purnavatar i.e. a complete and perfect incarnation.   Krishna is multi-dimensional, touching all aspects of human personality  while Rama is a maryada purushottam. The dictionary meanings of the word maryada are mark, landmark, boundary, limit,  end, goal, strictly defined relation, bounds of morality, moral law. Thus maryada  purushottam implies a uni-dimensional nature possessing one note and  hence its appeal is bound by the limits of such nature while Krishna’s appeal is  universal. A thief, a dancer, a Gopika, a cow-herd, a warrior, an enemy, a rakshasa and of course a jnani, a saint uniformly are crazy about him from their  own points of view.

Krishna is like  an orchestra where many instruments are simultaneously played and each one is  bound to fall in love with the note emanating from the instrument he likes.  That is the reason why all people like some part of Krishna and nobody knows  the whole of Him as the Gita itself says. To put it in terms of music  performances, Rama tattva is like a solo performance while Krishna  tattva is like a jugalbandi with a bout of sawal-jawab.

Generally only  disputants go to the courts of Law. If anybody really swears by or believes in  Rama he would never go there. For him courts are redundant. But a person coming  before a court can love Krishna because Krishna is accessible even to the sinners  and opens the doors for criminals also as the Gita puts it. Therefore it is the  practice to use the Gita text for the purpose of taking oath. However, opinions  on this point may differ.

1.  Explain the significance of the background in which the message of Gita was  delivered by Sri Krishna.
2.  Explain the psychological condition of Duryodhana in the battlefield.
3.  What was the reason for Arjuna's grief and despondency?
4.  What were the arguments put forward by Arjuna to support his view for not  fighting the battle?
5.  Explain the central philosophy of the Gita.
6.  Short notes on:

1. Dharmakshetra-Kurukshetra
2. Panchajanya
3. Devadatta
4. Significance of Arjuna's chariot and its charioteer
5. Arjuna syndrome and Krishna cure.

We shall take up Chapter 2 next time.


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