Do you know why this life has been given to you? It is not for searching for food all through nor for eking out a livelihood, but it is to enable you to search and search for God
The basis for dharma is truth and truth is something which is permanent and so dharma is also something which is unchangeable. Today some people give a meaning to dharma which is different from the original meaning. But at the time when Krishna lived, he was explaining the meaning of dharma in a different way. Today we want to interpret dharma by saying that such and such a person is entitled to be happy, and such and such a person is entitled to all comforts. Today’s question is why should a wealthy person alone enjoy life? Why should a rich man alone enjoy the pleasures of life? Why should not a poor man also be given wealth? The wealth should be distributed equally between the poor and the rich people. These questions constitute what we call socialism of today.
In today’s socialism, we find a hidden and concealed intent of wanting to provide prosperity to only a certain kind of people, and not wanting the same prosperity for another category of people. But the embodiment of dharma in the human form of Krishna was one who desired the well-being of the entire humanity. The true interpretation of dharma is to ask for the well-being of the entire human community in the universe. In this context, you may begin to argue that Krishna himself behaved as if he wanted to like some people and favour some people and dislike other people. But the situations were such that Krishna, who was all-knowing, had to make the determination of taking a certain line of action. We should look back and see what Krishna said when Arjuna, in a state of great despondency, refused to go to battle against his own kinsmen, kill them, see their blood and yet become a ruler. Krishna told Arjuna, “I am giving the future of Dhritharashtra and his family. Listen to it. He has one hundred sons but they are all selfish. There is no place for selfishness in this world, and all these must be killed. Even though Dhritharashtra had one hundred sons, there will not be even a single son left to perform the obsequies for him when he dies. Good or bad, punya or papa are not something which others will give you. These are simply direct results of whatever actions we perform.” What Krishna said and agreed to was that under such circumstances, to fight a battle was the right kind of dharma. The reason for this is that these people were born to destroy such a nice family. For this process of destruction, the one, who is born of a slave, has become the help. And in order to add fuel to this fire, there was Sakuni. The battle that was going to come up, the fire that was about to rage was something that cannot be stopped. If you want to save the world and the destruction thereof by this fire, battle cannot be avoided. You have to accept the power of the battle and of the arrows. The fire of adharma has spread and taken possession so much that if you want to remove this fire, the only way that can be done is to have a heavy rain and not just ordinary drops of shower. Also this rain must be the rain of arrows. Krishna believed that the battle and this shower of arrows was necessary to stop the fire of adharma engulfing the whole world.
The youth of today may get a doubt. Krishna wanted the peace of this world and yet he encouraged this big battle in which forty lakhs of people were killed. Is this called himsa (violence) or ahimsa (nonviolence)? Even then, Krishna gave an appropriate answer to this. He said, “Arjuna! Let us take the case of a cancerous growth on the body. This cancerous growth gives pain to the whole human body, although the growth itself is confined to a localised area. In that cancer, you have so many small germs present in the wound. When the doctor performs an operation on this cancerous growth, he will no doubt kill millions of germs. He will not think that he is going to kill a million germs and therefore stop the operation. If he does not perform the operation, the germs will be saved but the patient will suffer. He will surely kill the diseasecausing germs and save the patient.” Krishna further said, “In this body of the world this is the situation now. The cancer has come in the form of the Kauravas who are ruling. The whole world has got upset, and a state of anarchy is prevailing in the world now. There is also a decline of dharma. All families who are living peacefully are being broken up. Therefore, I will be the doctor, with Arjuna as the compounder. I will perform the operation of cancer in the form of the battle of Mahabharatha. In this battle or the operation, 40,00,000 (four million) of disease-causing germs will be killed for the benefit of the world. Is this bad or is this good for the world?”
We can also look at this from another angle and we will see that all kinds of attachments and relationships are only bodily relationships. God is present in everyone and some people suffer because of their past actions while the others will not suffer because of the good actions done by them. In this context, we cannot decide what is right and what is wrong. Right and wrong depend on the actions. One body gets relationships with another body because of the bodily relationship, but there is no such relationship between one atma and another atma. There is only one atma in every human body.
In our body there are several organs. Although the body is composed of so many organs, if one of the organs gets sick and has to be separated, we will be prepared to cut it away and remove it. In the same way, if we recognise that the very ancient jiva (individual soul) who has entered this body, taking it as a temporary residence; and if a portion gets diseased, there is nothing wrong in cutting away and removing the diseased part of the body. Here Krishna is only demonstrating his authority.
It is a very difficult matter to recognise and accept authority. There is a small example for this. In a hospital you may find a very proficient and capable doctor. He may be a very reputed person in his field. He comes to a decision that for a particular person an operation has to be performed at a particular time the next morning. This will be notified in the notice board and all concerned relatives will be informed. There is no secret about this. Everybody will know about this and the patient will be carried into the operation room. The doctor takes him into the operation room and performs the operation; but due to some misfortune, the patient dies. As a result of this, the police will not come and arrest the doctor. In the same context, if two people enter into a quarrel and one of them inflicts a small wound on the other man with a razor blade, the police will immediately come and register a case and arrest the man who has caused the injury. In the second example, the person does not have the authority to inflict a wound with a razor blade while in the first case, the doctor has the right to perform the operation, even in public.
Sometimes we interpret and call one of these as a help or a good deed while the other one is called a harm. We take the case of a diabetic patient with a wound on his hand. The wound may not heal and may spread to the whole body in the form of gangrene. The doctor will have to come and say that to prevent further spreading of this, the hand will have to be removed. He will then amputate the whole hand, and this is a good deed done to the body.
In another case, if there is a lady who is wearing bangles on her hand, a thief may come and decide to take away the bangles by cutting the hand and taking away the hand with the bangles. While the thief and the doctor have both done the same thing, what the thief has done is harm and what the doctor has done is good.
When there is a young child who unknowingly sets fire to a house, we think that he has done great harm and we begin to punish him. However, when Hanuman burnt down the whole of Lanka, which was as prosperous as heaven itself, we not only did not punish him but we regard him as a sacred person. The reason for this is that in the first case something good was burnt down while in the second case what Hanuman burnt down was the sin itself. He caused injury to the demons and the Rakshasas while the small boy caused injury to good people.
Thus, in order to remove or promote the demoniac qualities in us, we have the complete right and power. It is in the context of recognising these various conflicting situations, in order to preach the inner meaning of these conflicting situations, Krishna gives various instances which will proclaim to us what good things are. Krishna was a selfless person, and he always desired the well-being of the human community. In that context, whatever he may have done, was always good, and there was never anything bad in what he did. He himself conquered many kingdoms, but he never became a king of any of these kingdoms. He gave those kingdoms to several people. Whatever he may have done, there was always an inner meaning. All his actions were directed towards preaching an inner meaning. To take another instance, the battle went on for eighteen days, the Kauravas were defeated and the Pandavas were victorious. In the victory, Krishna was the charioteer and Arjuna was in the chariot. After the victory, they came back to their mansion. Arjuna was in the nature of a human being and there was a little remnant of ego in him. As is the common practice even today, the driver of a car is expected to come and open the door of the car when the owner will get down from the car. In the same way, on that day also, when the chariot came and stood in front of his house, he insisted on Krishna getting down first and opening the door. Krishna did not agree to this; and, in fact, in somewhat strong language, he admonished Arjuna, asked him to get down first and go inside. Not recognising the inner significance of what has been given to him as a command, Arjuna still indulged in an argument with Krishna. Arjuna thought that in the battle, victory was on their side because of Krishna; and he was afraid that some danger might come to him if he enters into an argument with Krishna; and so somewhat reluctantly, he finally accepted what Krishna has said. As soon as Arjuna got out and no sooner did Arjuna go inside, Krishna, in one leap, jumped out of the chariot. As soon as Krishna jumped out, the entire chariot was in flames. All the Pandavas who were witnessing this were surprised and asked Krishna why the chariot had burnt away like that. Then Krishna explained that during the battle, very powerful weapons were sent by heroes like Karna, Bhishma, and others and all these weapons were subdued and kept under his feet. If he had not got down first, the weapons would have exploded, killing Arjuna and the others. Krishna explained that this was the reason for asking Arjuna to jump out first and his jumping out later.
In order to save his devotees, God plans so many different actions in several different ways. Devotees, not being able to recognise and understand the inner meaning of such actions, misunderstand and think that God is giving them unnecessary difficulties. Man has only external vision. God has inner vision. Paramatma is always caring for the well-being and good of his people. Whatever he does, he does it for the well-being of his devotees. Even if a son, who has been brought up very carefully by the mother, makes a mistake, the mother will punish the son by giving a slap. When we see this, we feel that a mother who has brought up the son with such care, love, and tenderness is harsh in beating the child; but the mother who beats the child does so with affection. In the same manner—God, the universal father, will punish his devotees, when need be with prema and with love. Just as a consequence of that, we should not get the idea that God is wanting to punish people. God is always full of grace. He never gets angry. However, at times He uses words which are harsh, but He is not harsh. It is only the words that are harsh, His heart is soft like Amritha (Divine nectar).
We must first acquire competence to understand the kind of love and tenderness which God entertains towards His devotees. Pleasure comes out of pain. We should recognise that all pain will ultimately end in pleasure. Because the Pandavas were in the jungles for twelve years and were hiding themselves unrecognised for another year, the people had an opportunity to see their divine qualities.
Because of the many obstacles and troubles that came to Prahlada, and because of the punishments that were given to him, it was possible for the rest of the world to know how great Prahlada’s devotion was. Prahlada never had tears in his eyes and he never exhibited any pain when the Rakshasas were harming him. He was only uttering the name of the Lord and was asking the Lord to come to him. Because of such a situation, he was able to promote devotion and show others what real faith and devotion can do. On the other hand, had Prahlada been looked after by his father with care and tenderness and if he took him in his lap, how would Prahlada’s devotion and faith be known to the rest of the world?
So all the pains and difficulties that we get will ultimately turn out as means of getting happiness and pleasure. Even a quality diamond does not get its value unless we cut the facets on it. Even pure gold will not be turned into a beautiful ornament unless it is repeatedly beaten hard and put into fire. In all pains and troubles, we should recognise only paths for getting ultimate happiness. So we should be prepared to accept pain. To seek pleasure alone and not to welcome pain is not right. This sacred content of the Mahabharatha and the sacred teachings of Krishna regarding the conduct of devotees and other aspects will be given to you from tomorrow. I hope that the students will listen, understand, and benefit by this story of the Mahabharatha. I will bring this discourse to a close now.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Summer Roses on the Blue Mountains, 1976