Chapter II: Knowledge

This chapter is entitled Sankhya-Yoga — “The Yoga of Knowledge”. Arjuna’s arguments against war were very plausible to our human understanding. Sri Krishna read Arjuna’s heart. Confusion ran riot across Arjuna’s mind. The unmanly sentiment in his Kshatriya blood he took as his love for mankind. But Arjuna was never wanting in sincerity. His mouth spoke what his heart felt. Unfortunately his sincerity unconsciously housed ignorance. Krishna wanted to illumine Arjuna. “O, Arjuna, in your speech you are a philosopher, in your action, you are not. A true philosopher mourns neither for the living nor for the dead. But Arjuna, you are sorrowing and grieving. Tell me, why do you mourn the prospective death of these men? You existed, I existed, they too. Never shall we cease to exist.”

We have just mentioned Arjuna’s philosophy. Truth to tell, we too would have fared the same at that juncture. Real philosophy is truly difficult to study, more difficult to learn, and most difficult to live.

The Sanskrit word for philosophy is Darshan, meaning “to see, to vision.” Sri Ramakrishna’s significant remark runs: “In the past, people used to have visions (darshan); now people study Darshan (philosophy)!”

Equally significant is the message of the Old Testament: “Your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

Arjuna for the first time came to learn from Sri Krishna that his human belief concerning life and death was not founded on truth. He felt that he was distracted by illusions. He prayed to Sri Krishna for enlightenment. “I am your humble disciple. Teach me, tell me what is best for me.” For the first time, the word disciple sprang from Arjuna’s lips.

Until then, Sri Krishna had been his friend and comrade. The disciple learned: “The Reality that pervades the universe is the Life immortal. The body is perishable, the soul, the real in man, or the real man, is deathless, immortal. The soul neither kills nor is killed. Beyond birth and death, constant and eternal is the soul. The knower of this truth neither slays nor causes slaughter.”

Arjuna had to fight the battle of life and not the so-called Battle of Kurukshetra. Strength he had. Wisdom he needed. The twilight consciousness of the physical mind he had. He needed the sun-bright consciousness of the soul’s divinity.

Sri Krishna used the terms Birth, Life and Death.