Arjuna is also not clear. He is very confused; he is very entangled. The knot of his mind is tangled and bound up. He is saying that it is possible to achieve happiness provided one’s own people are not killed. He is saying that winning the kingdom can bestow authentic good provided one’s own people are not killed.
This very “if” is Arjuna’s knot. And the illusions, desires and aspirations – as far as happiness, kingdom, wealth and fame are concerned – of a person who talks like this are not yet shattered. In the back of his mind he is very ready to receive all of these things; the only condition is that all his “ifs” are also taken care of.
This is why Krishna has to work continuously on Arjuna. All the effort he has to make is upon Arjuna’s self-contradictory thinking. All the way through, it is apparent that Arjuna desires the very thing that he talks of giving up. He is asking for the very thing that he is running away from, he is embracing the very thing he wants to save himself from. Arjuna’s state needs to be properly understood.
Such an Arjuna lives within us all. Whatsoever we are pushing away with one hand, we keep grabbing with the other; or whatever we are pulling with one hand we go on pushing away with the other. No sooner have we walked one step to the left than we take another step to the right. If we take one step towards godliness, we immediately take another step towards the worldly.
Arjuna is like a bullock cart that has bullocks yoked to both ends. He is being pulled from both ends. He is saying, “Of course happiness exists in the world – that is why my mind is being pulled towards it. He is also saying, “…and my mind is running away from it because to attain that happiness I will have to kill my own people.” This self-contradiction of Arjuna’s is worth keeping in mind, because the whole story of the state of Arjuna’s mind is nothing but an expansion of this very self-contradiction.
We have just witnessed the state of mind of a deeply anguished Arjuna. An anguished person moves away from the sense of self; which means he moves into viyoga, separation, from his self-nature. And the first chapter of the Gita is named Arjuna Vishaad Yoga, which means the yoga of Arjuna’s anguish – Arjuna’s journey through the spiritual discipline of anguish in order to be united with his self-nature. How can this be so? What connection is there between anguish and yoga? And in what sense has the word yoga been used in the Gita?
The yoga of anguish! There are many meanings of yoga. There are even meanings that are exactly the opposite of our commonly-held understanding of yoga.