In my wisdom is my courage!

Dvitiiyaad vai bhayam bhavati br up I.iv.2

One of the most famous scenes, which spring to our mind when we think of the Mahabharata, is that of Arjuna asking Krishna to advise him. It is not understood why Arjuna did not want to fight and many reasons are offered. But the fact was that at that time Arjuna was struck by the evil consequences of war. All the reasons given by him are perfectly legitimate there is no weak pacifism in his thought. And history has shown how wars are followed by exactly the type of social catastrophes that he foresaw. But Sri Krishna showed him how such evil consequences are the lesser of two evils and the blind appeasement of evil will lead to destruction of the world. Once he was convinced of Sri Krishna’s teaching he was able to fight “without fever” (vigatajwarah). Sri Krishna, the Divine Physician, considers all forms of avidya to be an illness.

Arjuna was not scared of the opposing forces though they greatly outnumbered his army. He had fought the Nivatakavachas and other Asuras, but then why does Sri Krishna speak so harshly to him?

Kutastva kashmalam idam vishame samupasthitam
Anarya ajustam aswargya akirtikaram Arjuna
Klaibyam masma gamaha Partha naitatvayyupapadyate
Ksudram hrdaya daurbalyam tyaktavauttishta bparantapa!

From where has come upon you this weakness, unAryan, disgraceful and which will block your attainment of heaven. Do not yield to unmanliness, Partha. It does not become you. You are the scorcher of your foes, so arise, casting off this mean faint-heartedness!

This is because evil comes in many ways and very often it comes in the garb of righteousness. In 1984, a few days after Operation Bluestar, we asked Sri Sathguru about this. “Will not all the Sikh terrorists who died fighting the Indian Army attain the Viraswarga mentioned in the Shastras, as they were fighting for their religion? After all they were fighting only because their Gurus told them to do so.”

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Sri Sathguru said, “Evil comes in many forms. There were other ways to fight for their religious rights. Only after all those avenues have been closed can one take up arms. Sometimes in this Kaliyuga, evil beings come in the garb of Gurus to lead people in the wrong path.”

We asked, ”But isn’t it true that they will attain to Viraswarga since they died fighting for their religion?”

Sri Sathguru said, “Viraswarga is only for those who fight a Dharmika war, not for those who die in an Adharamika war. Krishna Himself mentions that happy are those Kshatriyas who are called to fight in an battle that comes unsought and is an open door to heaven. When you fight it most be for a Dharmika cause. Many of the people who died there died thinking they were fighting for their religion but that does not alter matter. Whether you fall unknowingly off a cliff, whether you are pushed or jump off to commit suicide, you die. That they had the mind to sacrifice everything for God was laudable but discrimination must be there. Sometimes this may be a trap by the Asuric forces to draw simple-minded people into their fold.”

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Arjuna’s mistake was in assuming that that the evil consequence of the war was a lesser evil. He was not able see which was dharma, to look after the interests of the praja, or to fight a war to redress a major wrong, both of which are Kshatriya duties. Later convinced by Krishna he was able to fight successfully. In the first stage we believe yato dharmas tatha krsna. Later when we surrender more and more we understand that in reality it is yato Krishnas tato dharma. Sri Sathguru says, “The Guru may say many things, which you do not understand. As you grow in surrender and Gurubhakthi, the Guru’s actions or words become clearer to you. Finally you have so much trust and surrender that you don’t care about the meaning of His actions. And then the understanding of His nature and actions become clear to you.”

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