Karma Yoga Sastra -Tilak
THE DESIRE TO KNOW THE RIGHT ACTION
kim karma kim akarmeti kavayo'py atra mohitah I
The critical position in which Arjuna had found himself in the commencement of the Bhagavadgita, as a result of being caught between two mutually contradictory paths of duty and become doubtful about bis proper duty is not something unique. The cases of persons who, taking up Asceticism (samnyasa), give up the world and live in the woods, or of self-centered weaklings who meekly submit to all kinds of injustice in the world without a murmer, are different. But those great and responsible persons, who have to live in society and to do their duties consistently with righteousness and morality often find themselves in such circumstances. Whereas Arjuna got confused and was filled with this desire to know his proper duty in the commencement of the war, Yudhisthira, was in the same position when he was later on faced with the duty of performing the sraddha ceremonies of the various relatives who had been killed in the war ; and the Santiparva has come to be written in order to pacify the doubts by which he was then puzzled. Nay, great writers have written charming poems or excellent dramas based on such puzzling situations of duty and non-duty which they have either found in history or imagined. For instance, take the drama Hamlet of the well-known English dramatist Shakespeare. The uncle of the Prince of Denmark, named Hamlet had murdered his ruling brother, that is, the father of Hamlet, and married his widow and seized the throne. This drama has portrayed in an excellent manner the state of mind of the young and tender-hearted Hamlet, who on this
Occasion was faced with the puzzle as to whether he should put to death his sinful uncle and discharge his filial obligations towards his father, or pardon him, because he was his own uncle, his step-father, as also the ruling king ; and how he later on became, insane because he did not find any proper path- shower and guardian like Sri Krsna ; and how ultimately the poor fellow met his end while vacillating between " to be " and " not to be ". Shakespeare has described another similar occasion in a drama of his called Coriolanus.
References And Context
- * Gita. 4. 16.
- * " What is doable (right action), and what it is not-doable (wrong action or inaction) is a question which puzzles even sages". In this place, the word "akarma" (not-doable) must be interpreted as meaning 'absence of action' or 'wrong action' according to the context. See my commentary on the verse.