Yoga of despondency of Arjuna

N Balasubramanian

Thy right is in work only not in the fruits at any time. Let not the fruits of action be the motive - Gita

The message of Bhagvad Gita is not addressed merely at Arjuna. Like Arjuna who became despondent and confused at a crucial juncture of his life, there comes many a times when all of us face such crucial moments when we have to decide between two competing and confusing choices presented before us.

At such times of dilemma, despondency and confusion set in. It is necessary to clarify that the despondency of Arjuna is not the despondency of a failed and defeated man. His despondency is different in the sense that it is self-caused. He did not want to commit sinful actions even for gaining the pleasures of kingdom, riches and reign of the three worlds. His despondency was due to this nobility of his mind and righteousness of his means. It was certainly not due to any fear of defeat.

He was confronted with a choice between two competing Dharmas -- One dharma prohibiting his slaying of kinsmen, guru, elders and others and the second Dharma enjoining him to vanquish unrighteousness and establish righteousness. Most certainly it was a choice between the ‘devil and deep sea’. Hence Arjuna’s grief or predicament is considered as “Vishada Yoga” or “Yoga of despondency of Arjuna”.

Arjuna was fortunate and blessed to have had Lord Dharma himself physically present to guide him to a dharmic decision. But, who will guide us mortals? Lord Krishna declares that He is the indweller in the hearts of all beings, he is the inner Self and the inner Voice in all beings. In such predicament situations, therefore, we should be guided by our inner voice.

It is stated in Gita that the mind tends to attach itself with the result of actions. How, then, do we practice detachment of mind from the result? Can we ever act without expectation? Is it correct to act disinterestedly? Is it always possible to act selflessly? These are the vital questions to think about.

When the result of your action falls short of or even goes contrary to your expectation you feel disappointed, sad and miserable. We must intellectually convince ourselves that action and reaction are equal and that every action has a corresponding result. Then why is there the gap between one’s expectation and the actual result? The gap is because your expectation is predetermined. Whereas, action required is undertaken on your assumptions. There are only two ways of closing the gap -- one, by improving the action-side of the equation or by scaling down your expectations.

In the equation 1+1=2, when you have fixed the result side as 2, what is in your hands is only the left side of the equation to work with. This means even in a predetermined result, it is only the action part of the equation you are concerned with, so focus on your actions without wasting time on the result.

Only action is in the present and so we must just do our part sincerely and dutifully. Result is in the future and just a creation of your action. So, all your focus should be on the cause of result , i.e. the action. We must intellectually convince ourselves that we can only reap what we have sown , that we can only get what we deserve and what we deserve will always be appropriate to our efforts.

With such positive attitude, even when the result is short of your expectation, you will either be contended or you will focus on putting your best efforts to get to your desired result. In either case, peace of mind is certain.

The central theme of Gita is to guide Man’s evolution to a higher and enhanced spiritual state of being, and to ultimately help him attain freedom and Bliss Absolute.

N Balasubramanian is an old time honours graduate in economics and has vast experience and expertise in human relations and resources development. A devotee of Sage of Kanchi - Maha Swamigal, N Balasubramanian is living a quiet and meditative life based upon the Guru's teachings. An avid reader of philosophy in his younger years, he wholly devotes his energies presently, in discovering insights and practical wisdom from ancient Indian scriptures. Based upon his understanding of Acharya's discourses and writings on spirituality, N. Balasubramanian shares these thoughts on to just provoke your thoughts and kindle your interest in spirituality and philosophy.  

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