I am always amazed at the fact that Bhagavat Gita Shastram is considered to be universally relevant for every human being and for all times to come.
How is it that something that forms part of history is considered to be relevant for even times to come ?
How is it that a war time advise given by श्रीकृष्णः to अर्जुनः a warrior, is of relevance to everyother human being on earth, irrespective of his/her occupation or area of engagement. (I would have used the word प्रवृत्तिः here.) ?
It was अर्जुनः who did not want to fight the war in which he would have to himself kill or become a witness to the death of his loved ones, his kith and kin, who included his mentors, teachers, caretakers, elders of his dynasty and cousins.
Although the plot that demanded Krishna’s intervention and guidance was a war situation, Krishna’s response was not one of war related advise.
Krishna did not motivate Arjuna into the war by means of evaluating the pros and cons of not waging the war. Krishna did not impress Arjuna with the possible gains from going ahead with the war. What Krishna did was not a pep talk to power-up Arjuna into fighting.
After saying everything that had to be said, Krishna give’s Arjuna complete freedom to act. We can know this by the following words of Krishna.
इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्गुह्यतरं मया। विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु।।18.63।
To you has been imparted by Me this knowledge which is more secret than any secret. Pondering over this as a whole, do as you like.
Hence, definitely Krishna’s advise to Arjuna was not about compelling him to fight.
What then was the nature of Krishna’s conversation with Arjuna ?
Krishna merely removed all source of confusion and lack of clarity from Arjuna’s mind, that enabled him to take the right decision. We can know this from the below words of Arjuna.
नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत। स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।
Arjuna said O Achyuta, (my) delusion has been destroyed and memory has been regained by me through Your grace. I stand with my doubt removed; I shall follow Your instruction.
In life, everyday we have to make many decisions. We go wrong on many occassions owing to lack of clarity and lots of confusion. The root cause of the confusion and lack of clarity is मोहः।
Krishna therefore worked upon removing the source of all confusion, source of all sorrow, source of all lack of clarity.
That is what Krishna asks arjuna, after having conversed with him for a long time.
कच्चिदेतच्छ्रुतं पार्थ त्वयैकाग्रेण चेतसा। कच्चिदज्ञानसंमोहः प्रनष्टस्ते धनञ्जय।।18.72।।
O Partha, has this been listened to by you with a one-pointed mind? O Dhananjaya, has your delusion caused by ignorance been destroyed?
Shri Adishankaracharya further elucidates in the भाष्य as follows:
शोकमोहादिसंसारकारणनिवृत्त्यर्थं गीताशास्त्रम् , न प्रवर्तकम्।
Krishna’s advise was not to impel arjuna into the war. Gita’s purpose is to remove ignorance and delusion, diffuse confusion and bring in clarity of understanding and knowledge.
Is there any human being who is not affected with the challenges of confusion, lack of clarity, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge ? Definitely not.
This is what makes the Bhagavat Gita Shastram – Universally relevant for all times to come. Its power is in being able to dispel ignorance, confer true knowledge and instill clarity of thought. It clarifies to every individual what his स्वधर्मः is.