Intrinsic Individuality – In Gita Verse 18.59 If you do not act according to My direction and do not fight, then you will be falsely directed. By your nature, you will have to be engaged in warfare.

Krishna tells Arjuna to find his self-nature, his intrinsic individuality, his primal being, his authentic face – and to be it. He tells him not to deviate from his authenticity, not to be in any way different from what he is. Why did he have to say this?

The entire being of Arjuna is that of a warrior, a kshatriya. Every fiber of his being is that of a fighter; he is a soldier. And he is speaking the language of a sannyasin, a renunciate. He is talking like a renegade, not like a warrior, which he really is. If he takes sannyas and runs away to a forest, and if he meets a lion there he will not pray, he will simply fight with the lion. He is not a brahmin, not a member of the intelligentsia. He is not a vaishya, not a businessman. He is not even a sudra, a workman. He cannot be happy with an intellectual pursuit, nor with earning money.

He can find his joy only in adventure, in meeting challenges, in fighting. He can find himself only through an act of adventure. But he is speaking of something which is not his forte, and therefore he is going off track, deviating from his self-nature, from his innate being. And so Krishna tells him, “I knew you to be a warrior, not a renegade, an escapist. But you are talking like an escapist. You say that war is bad, fighting is bad, killing is bad. A warrior never speaks this language. Have you borrowed it from others? It is definitely not the language of a warrior. You are deviating from your path if you are trying to imitate somebody. Then you are wasting yourself. So find yourself and be yourself, authentically yourself.”

If Arjuna had really been a brahmin, Krishna would never have asked him to fight, he would very gladly have let him go. He would have been blessed, him going the way of a brahmin. He is not a brahmin, but he does not have the courage to say so. He is a swordsman; in his makeup he has the sharpness and thrust of the sword. He can shine only if he has a sword in his hand. He can find his soul and its fulfillment only in the depths of courage and valor, of battle and war. He cannot be fulfilled in any other manner. That is why Krishna tells him, “It is better to die upholding one’s true nature than to live a borrowed life, which is nothing less than a horror. You die as a warrior, rather than live as a renegade. Then you will live a dead life. And a living death is better than a dead life.”

Here Krishna does not use dharma in the sense of religions like Hinduism, Christianity or Mohammedanism. By dharma he means one’s individuality. India has made four broad divisions or categories on the basis of individuality. What is popularly known as varna is nothing but broad categorizations of human beings on the basis of their own individualities. These categories are not specific and exclusive. Not that two brahmins or intellectuals are the same; they are not. Not even two kshatriyas or warriors are the same. But there is certainly a similarity between those known as kshatriyas. These categorizations were made after in depth study of man’s nature.

There is someone who derives his life’s joy only through work – he is a workman, a sudra. Not that he is a lowly being because of his being a sudra – it is grievously wrong to think so – but unfortunately this mistaken interpretation did receive wide acceptance, for which the wise people who originally conceived it are not responsible. The responsibility should lie with those ignorant people who imposed their wrong interpretations of varna on society. The wise ones said only this much, that there are people who can find their joy only through work, through service. If they are deprived of their work they will be unhappy, they will lose their souls.

Krishna says it is better to die in one’s own nature than to live in any other’s nature, that imitation is destructive, suicidal. To live the way another lives is worse than death, it is a living death. And if one dies the way one is, it means one has found a new life for himself, new and sublime. If I can die the way I am, retaining my individuality, then my death becomes authentic, then it is my death.

But we all live borrowed lives. Even our own lives are not our own, real and authentic. We are all second hand and false people. Krishna stands for an authentic life, a life that is our own. To be authentic means to be an individual, to retain one’s individuality. The word individual is significant. It means indivisible, united and one.

There are people all around who are out to destroy your individuality, who are trying to enslave you and turn you into their camp-followers. It is their ego trip; it gratifies their ego to know so many people follow them. The larger the number of followers, the greater is their ego. Then they feel they are somebody’s people have to follow. And then they try to enslave those who follow them, and enslave them in every way. They impose their will, even their whims on them, in the name of discipline. They take away their freedom and virtually reduce them to their serfs. Because their freedom poses a challenge to their egos, they do everything to destroy their freedom. All gurus, all masters do it.

For men like Krishna, what we know as our life, what we know as our gross life, is nothing more than a bundle of dreams.

Krishna says be immaculately yourself. Follow your own true nature and don’t follow and imitate any other.


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