Shri Bhagavaan Uvaacha:
ashochyaananvashochastvam pragnyaavaadaamshcha bhaashase |
gataasoonagataasoonshcha naanushochanti panditaaha || 11 ||
Shri Bhagavaan said:
You are grieving for those who are not worthy of sorrow, yet seemingly speaking words of wisdom. The wise grieve not for the departed, nor for those who have not yet departed.
ashochyaan : not worthy of sorrow
anvashochaha : grieving
tvam : you are
pragnyaa : wisdom
vaadaam : words
cha : yet seemingly
bhaashase : speak
gataasoon : departed
agataasoon : undeparted
cha : and
na : do not
anushochanti : grieve
panditaaha : wise people
In the verses so far, Arjuna thought he was wise in lamenting the war by making a plea for peace. But Shri Krishna here pointed out that Arjuna “seemingly spoke wise words”, i.e. in reality what Arjuna said was not correct. His assessment of the situation was clouded by emotion instead of being driven by logic and reason. On one hand, he was displaying grief, on the other hand, he was trying to display logic. Logic and grief cannot go together.
There are several instances in life where what we thought was correct knowledge, no longer applies. For example, let’s say you get promoted to your first managerial job. It is your first day at work and you get invited to 10 meetings from different teams. If you were at a job right out of college, you would ensure that you attended all the meetings that you were invited to, and doing so would be the right thing to do at that stage in your career. But as a manager, you have the advantage of seniority to choose which meetings to go to, and which to avoid. You no longer assess the situation like you previously used to. You use different reasoning and logic.
Shri Krishna’s wanted to correct Arjuna’s logic. He pointed to Arjuna that there was no need to grieve for the living nor for the dead. Death is inevitable. We should enjoy and appreciate the living, just like one appreciates a colourful soap bubble blown by a child. The bubble will last for a few seconds, but inevitably, it will burst. Some bubbles burst quickly, some last for a longer time. But there is never a surprise when a bubble eventually bursts.
Therefore Shri Krishna instructs Arjuna, and us, to assess any life situation with logic and reason, and not to get swayed by emotion. Of course, it will not always be possible to check our emotions, but it should be what we strive for constantly. We saw what happened to Arjuna when he let his emotions run wild, resulting in a panic attack. A wise person who uses “viveka” or discrimination (logic and reasoning about correct and incorrect) is called a “pandit”. He need not necessarily have formal degrees, but is one who uses reason all the time.
A bubble will eventually burst, and the body will eventually perish. But is that the end? The next verse goes deeper into this topic.
1. “Moha” is delusion is reverse thinking. Mistaking the real for the unreal, impermanent as permanent, something that was never ours as ours, is delusion. The first line of the shloka addresses moha.
2. “Shoka” or grief is excessive dwelling in the past, or in other words, reliving past memories repeatedly. The second line of the shloka addresses shoka.
3. Per Shankaracharya’s commentary, shoka and moha were the two primary reasons that Arjuna resisted fighting against his relatives.