What we perceive as life existed even before we took this particular form of human body. When a baby is born, for instance, we do not know what it was before its birth and how many births it has gone through and similarly when a man dies we do not know where he goes and how many more births he had to undergo. So what is visible to us of the whole universe and all beings in the universe is only a small portion compared to the whole existence as such. So Krishna says why should there be any grief over the loss of lives or entities in this world.
Not only will happiness and fame elude Arjuna if he disregards his duty as a Kshatriya but the whole world will chastise him and speak of his act of disgrace in public as well as in private. They will say Arjuna was a coward for when the battle was about to begin he gave only excuses and retreated hastily from the battlefield. Lord Krishna is telling him that forever history will brand him for cowardice. If Arjuna was to reply that what the public think is of no consequence to him, Sri Krishna neutralises that by stating that for a person of honour possessing the qualities of heroism, determination, strength, courage etc. which are all contrary to cowardice to have to accept infamy is worse than death. An action by itself is neither good nor bad; the motive behind the action makes it so. Once we choose the right motive and inspire ourselves into action the achievement would be spectacular and rewarding. We all must act diligently, tirelessly, constantly and joyously. This results in increased efficiency and better results.
“If you are killed in the war you will attain heaven and if you gain victory, you will gain the kingdom. Thus righteous warfare would result in good, both here and hereafter. So you should be prepared to wage war, otherwise you risk losing both.” says the Lord. Krishna’s call to war can be understood to be a general call to each and every one of us to shed our inhibitions, negative attitude and lethargy and go forward to work hard for any righteous cause including our duty as a good son/daughter, parent, citizen or employee. By discharging one’s duty, one makes advancement in this world and other world. It means that by discharging one’s duty and by abstaining from what ought not to be done; one attains perfection here as well as hereafter.
Running away from problem is cowardice and the result always will be defeat, shame and sorrow. Facing the difficult situation needs courage and with courage you have a greater chance to succeed. Everyone should discharge his duty earnestly and efficiently, whether he has a desire or not for its fruit. By refusing to be affected by favourable and unfavourable circumstances, the mind becomes steady. So treating the two equally, one should discharge one’s duty. Moreover, one should not perform an action for the sake of pleasure, and refrain from another, for fear of its pain. But your aim is not to think of victory and defeat, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain, but your goal is to discharge your duty by treating the agreeable and the disagreeable, alike.
There is a huge difference between the mentality of those who are involved in actions with their intelligence seeking fruits of reward and the mentality of those spiritually evolved engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and totally devoted to the Lord Krishna. In the case of those enacting actions with desires of rewards, their thoughts are endless due to their desires being endless. We forget that enjoyment of pleasure is not the goal of human life, but its supreme object is the attainment of perfection and God realization, and all the circumstances, whether favourable or unfavourable, they are placed in, are means to attain perfection. The fact is that worldly pleasures and objects are not real obstacles to God-realization, but attachment to these, is the main hindrance. So long as, this attachment continues, not to talk of God-realization the people cannot even make up their minds to attain God, because their minds are drawn away, by worldly pleasure and prosperity etc. There are endless universes and there are endless pleasures in them. But if they are renounced and one becomes detached from them, they come to an end. Similarly there are endless desires. But if they are renounced, they come to an end and the man becomes desire less.
You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty. The Lord advised that Arjuna not be inactive, but that he performs his prescribed duty without being attached to the result. One who is attached to the result of his work is also the cause of the action. In this verse there are four points which need attention-(i) your right is to perform your duty (action) only. (ii) Never lay claim to its fruit. (iii) Do not be the cause of the fruit of action. (iv) Let your attachment be not to inaction.
Renunciation of attachment will result in evenness of mind. A man should be even-minded, in favourable and unfavourable circumstances, in honour and dishonour, and in praise and reproach. To give up attachment one should be free from desire and aversion. Then success and failure do not affect him. Whatever comes is accepted with equanimity. Then he concentrates only on the work at hand. In the state of equanimity, a man while living in the world detaches himself from the world, and remains untouched by virtues and sins, as a lotus leaf by water. When one does all actions as karma yoga, without attachment to the result, it means that his mind is free from desires and his actions are not desire motivated. Thus he attains the evenness of mind. Then he does not accumulate fresh karma by his actions. His past karma which has not yet started giving result is demolished by his shedding off his ego as a result of evenness of mind. Those with spiritual intelligence, who relinquish all desires for the results of all actions, perform in righteousness activities as an offering unto the Supreme Lord are blessed with self-realisation. And being released from the bondage of birth and death they being liberated attain the eternal and everlasting spiritual worlds of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Those who perform activities as a matter of duty, free from conceptions of gain and loss, unconcerned about the resultant rewards are assuredly delivered from the bondage of birth and death in the material existence and are liberated to the spiritual realms.
There is no end to sorrow, calumny, dishonour and unfavourable circumstances, in this world. But a man of wisdom remains unperturbed, because the aim of his life is to discharge his duty to the best of his ability and capacity, for the welfare to others, without having any desire for its fruit. So, he always remains happy and unperturbed even in the most unfavourable circumstances. He does not crave for any kind of pleasure such as praise, honour and favourable circumstances etc., nor does he have a desire to prolong, such a state. He remains unruffled in the midst of favourable or hostile circumstances. He remains untainted and unaffected by good and bad, favourable and unfavourable circumstances. Experiencing good or pleasant, he is not delighted. The term, ‘wise man’ has been used, for the man who practises self-control, who performs his duty without attachment and desire for its fruit, one who discriminates between the real and the unreal and who thinks of the welfare of all creatures.
Brooding on the objects of senses, leads to attachment; attachment leads to desire; desire to anger; anger to delusion; delusion to loss of memory; loss of memory to loss of reason and finally, loss of reason leads to utter ruin. This is the best scientific explanation for the downfall of a man. It may be further submitted that since it is impossible to control the senses who by their very nature tend to be drawn towards senses objects, it would be extremely difficult to overcome these defects; so where is the possibility of attaining steady wisdom. Apprehending such doubts Lord Krishna states that one who is free from both attachment and aversion although amidst sense objects attains the mercy of the Supreme Lord. All sorrows are only due to the agitation of mind concerned with acquiring the objects of desire and preservation of them and the grief on losing them. All experiences whether joyous or painful bring only sorrow, former because of their fleeting nature and the latter because of their being unpleasant. When the mind is in equanimity neither the pleasure nor the pain affects the person. Then the mind becomes established in Brahman immediately.
In the Discipline of detached Action, control over the mind and senses is important, because without control, desire persists and with the persistence of desire, the mind does not get fixed. Therefore, it is obligatory for an aspirant following the Discipline of Action to control his mind and senses. Without being happy there is no possibility of concentration of the mind. Without concentration of the mind there can be no meditation and without meditation it is not possible to have inner awakening or soul-cognition. Therefore it has been declared that these things are not possible for one without concentration.
As enemies are curbed by superior force, similarly, the senses can be curbed not by any human endeavour, but only by keeping them engaged in the service of the Lord. A man of stable wisdom has not the least sense of mine, with men, things and even his body and senses, because he has received them from the world. Therefore, they belong to the world, not to him. Beauty is for admiring; Knowledge is for giving; Mind is for thinking; Life is for living. Let’s enjoy every minute of living our life.