“Those for whose sake we desire the kingdom,
enjoyments and pleasures, stand here arrayed for battle
renouncing all hope for life and riches.
“Teachers, uncles and sons;
also grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law,
grandsons, brothers-in-law and all other kinsmen.
“I do not want to kill them, O Krishna,
even if I am killed instead.
Not even for the kingdom of the three worlds,
let alone for this earth.
“What happiness can befall us, O Krishna,
from killing the sons of Dhritarashtra?
Though they are tyrants, to kill them would be a sin.”
“My bow, Gandiva, slips from my hand;
my skin is aflame, I cannot remain steady.
My mind appears confused.
“O Krishna, I see all the portents are opposing this,
and I do not foresee any virtue
in slaying my own people in this battle.
“I do not long for victory, O Krishna,
nor for the kingdom, nor for its pleasures,
Of what use, O Krishna, will the kingdom be to us,
or pleasures, or even life itself?”
Arjuna is making a very conditional statement, one that is all bound up with conditions. He is not free from the illusion of “happiness.” Quite simply he is asking what use a happiness can be if it comes from killing his own people, what use a kingdom can be if it is gained after killing one’s own kinsmen.
He is ready to have the kingdom and its joys and pleasures – if they can be had without slaying his own people. Happiness is possible through attaining the kingdom, about that he is in no doubt. Authentic good is possible through attaining the kingdom, about that he is in no doubt. The only thing he has doubts about is killing his own people.
It will be helpful to understand this state of mind. We also think in a similar way in terms of conditions. Vaihinger has written a book called The Philosophy of As If. It seems that our entire lives are based on “if”: “If such and such a thing happens in a certain way, then happiness will be mine; if it doesn’t happen in this way then happiness won’t be mine. If such and such a thing happens in a certain way, then true benediction will be mine; if such and such a thing doesn’t happen in this way, then it cannot be mine.” But about one thing we are certain, about one thing we are clear: happiness is possible, only the conditions for it need to be fulfilled.
But the funny thing is that anyone who makes terms and conditions with life can never attain to happiness. And why? Because the person whose illusions of happiness are still intact, who has not yet been disillusioned as far as happiness is concerned, can never find happiness.
Only the person who realizes the truth that happiness is not possible in this world will find happiness.