PRINCIPLES OF A HIGHER ORDER OF LIFE
by Swami Krishnananda
The Import of the Gita's First Chapter
The war of life which's Gita's song
Is spread on Kurukshetra's field,
The arena that this world is,
A house disjointed, 'gainst itself.
The seer and the seen do stand
Opposed to each other, how strange!
Else how would seer run to seen
If seen is not apart, afar.
To grab, to pound, annihilate
The seen's existence out and out,
By love or hatred as the means
Is seer's purpose throughout life.
In love the seen is pulled, absorbed,
And made one's own, nay, one's own self,
So that the seen is all destroyed
And seer ever reigns supreme.
In hatred does the seer clinch
The life and substance of the seen
By abrogation, cutting off
The very soul and being seen's.
This confrontation is all life,
The good and evil are all here –
The high and low and great and small
Are all within this battlefield.
Eternal is this painful hold
Which seer exerts on the seen,
Ambivalent as love-hate grip
Of seer-seen, Bharata war.
The Pandavas and Kauravas
Descend from single family;
Dvaipayana, the divine sage,
Was source of all this warring fold.
So does the range of seer-seen
Is transcendent in origin,
For even conflict is on ground
Which's common both to contenders.
This supreme ground, the ground of grounds,
Is Gita's gospel's highest ground,
The ground of action as worship,
And ground to unite God and soul.
The warrior hates his opponents
And raises arms to tear and kill;
This is the scene where objects seen
Are treated as other than self.
But love erupts and pity wails
For warrior-chief is also friend
And brother-born to outside world
In secret connection to things.
Lo, men kill men by waging wars,
But wars are waged for peace of men –
Contradiction is life on earth,
It's hard to know what's right and wrong.
Thus Arjuna bewails his fate,
He loves and hates the Kauravas,
As all do love in zest the world,
And also cry that world is hell.
The past, present and future's men
Are represented her in one
As symbol of eternal man,
The soul that ensouled Arjuna.
Who is the generalissimo
Of impending armageddon
Now weeps in deepest affection
For what he hates on other side.
Do people love all this mankind,
For whose welfare is service done?
And yet to protect man from man
Law courts and soldiers are deployed.
This wisdom's anguish is the theme
Of first of chapters in the text,
The section first which though a wail
Is Yoga called of dejection.
It's Yoga, sure, for here, in this
Are dug up seeds of illusion
Which keeps the soul bound hard to earth
Through love as well as hate of all.
The mystery is seeker's grief,
The first condition of ascent
To freedom gain from thraldom life's
By surrender and detachment.
In supreme disillusioning
Of one's own role and world's status,
Thus humbly reached in careful search,
The path is cleared for light to dawn.
Renounce in hate or cling in love
Is not the choice in Yoga's core;
Immense and subtle is this way,
For none can live as an island.
Renunciation does not click
Since renouncer is closely linked
With renounced things and all the world,
For all creation stands as whole.
Nor has attachment any sense
For none can cling to one's own self,
And objects loved in secret bonds
Are in the heart of him who loves.
To do or not to do an act
All singly none can clearly know,
Unless the far-reaching results
Are weighed on balance carefully.
This question is equivalent
To be or not to be here;
The world is vast, creation big,
Where none is free to raise one's voice.
Interconnected are all things;
This is the reason why no one
Can safely say or do a deed
With no repercussions on things.
That is the good which clears the heart
Of tensions born of suppressed wish
By treatment method out to it
As sickness heal physicians.
In this the great enactment world's
No one approaches one-sided,
The drama is wholesomely full,
No act in it is by itself.
To throw the bow and arrows down
In resentment through confusion,
By wrenching oneself from the whole,
Is not a cure to aches of life.