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Why does Krishna say that the Kauravs are already dead? || Acharya Prashant, on Bhagavad Gita (2020)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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दंष्ट्राकरालानि च ते मुखानि दृष्ट्वैव कालानलसन्निभानि ।

दिशो न जाने न लभे च शर्म प्रसीद देवेश जगन्निवास ।। 11.25 ।।

danṣhṭrā-karālāni cha te mukhāni dṛiṣhṭvaiva kālānala-sannibhāni

diśho na jāne na labhe cha śharma prasīda deveśha jagan-nivāsa

Having seen the mouths, fearful with tusks, blazing like Pralaya-fires, I know not the four quarters, nor do I find peace; have mercy, O Lord of the devas, O Abode of the universe.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 25

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अमी च त्वां धृतराष्ट्रस्य पुत्रा: सर्वे सहैवावनिपालसङ्घै: ।

भीष्मो द्रोण: सूतपुत्रस्तथासौ सहास्मदीयैरपि योधमुख्यै: ।। 11.26 ।।

वक्त्राणि ते त्वरमाणा विशन्ति दंष्ट्राकरालानि भयानकानि ।

केचिद्विलग्ना दशनान्तरेषु सन्दृश्यन्ते चूर्णितैरुत्तमाङ्गै: ।। 11.27 ।।

amī cha tvāṁ dhṛitarāśhtrasya putrāḥ sarve sahaivāvani-pāla-saṅghaiḥ

bhīṣhmo droṇaḥ sūta-putras tathāsau sahāsmadīyair api yodha-mukhyaiḥ

vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśhanti danṣhṭrā-karālāni bhayānakāni

kechid vilagnā daśhanāntareṣhu sandṛiśhyante chūrṇitair uttamāṅgaiḥ

All those sons of Dhritarashtra with hosts of monarchs, Bhishma, Drona and Sutaputra, with the warrior chiefs of ours, enter precipitately into Your mouth, terrible with tusks and fearful to behold. Some are found sticking in the interstices of your teeth, with their heads crushed to powder.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verses 26-27

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द्रोणं च भीष्मं च जयद्रथं च कर्णं तथान्यानपि योधवीरान् ।

मया हतांस्त्वं जहि मा व्यथिष्ठा युध्यस्व जेतासि रणे सपत्नान् ।। 11.34।।

droṇaṁ cha bhīṣhmaṁ cha jayadrathaṁ cha karṇaṁ tathānyān api yodha-vīrān

mayā hatāṁs tvaṁ jahi mā vyathiṣhṭhā yudhyasva jetāsi raṇe sapatnān

Drona, Bhishma Jaydratha, Karna as well as all other brave warriors- these already killed by Me, do thou kill. Be not distressed with fear; fight and thou shall conquer the enemies in battle.

~ Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 11, Verse 34

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Questioner (Q): On seeing the divine form, instead of feeling gratitude towards the Lord, why is Arjuna more fearful, and says that he doesn't find any peace in the four quarters, and asks the Lord to have mercy upon him?

Also, Arjuna sees that all the sons of Dhritarashtra with hosts of monarchs etc., enter into the Lord’s mouth, and Shri Krishna at one place says that he has already slain all of them. Does this mean that everything is preordained in some sense? Why is he predicting the future?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, look at the ground reality, the practical situation. Arjuna has just been delivered a shock. It's a rude jolt—why would he feel grateful? His friend of 40 or 45 years, the one he thinks as intimately as the back of his hand, has suddenly displayed a totally unseen form to him. Why would Arjuna feel grateful? And the form is not pleasant to top it; the form is unnerving, violent. So, Arjuna is disturbed, and he says, “You return to your chaturbhuja-rūpa. That is far better, far more pleasant.”

How would you or anybody feel if one of your close friends displays a ferocious raudra-rūpa to you? Grateful? No, you will be shocked. So is Arjuna.

Then Krishna says that he has already slain Dhritarashtra’s sons and the others in the Kaurava party. The question is, “Does this mean that everything is preordained, or is Krishna predicting the future?”

No, Krishna's just reiterating the principle of Karma.

The ones who choose death will get death. Truth alone is immortal; all else is mortal. Therefore, all else is prone to death. The one who is not choosing Truth, has already chosen death. Death lies then not in the future, but in the event of the choice. And Krishna makes it abundantly clear and repeatedly clear that you will get what you choose. “Even I will come to you as per your choice; even I will behave and reciprocate to you according to your inclination.”

So all the Kaurava warriors, by the dent of the very fact that they are standing opposite to Krishna, have chosen something that is not Krishna, obviously. Had they chosen Truth, they would not have been found standing opposed to Krishna, right? So they had a choice to make. And what is the choice that they have made? The choice is to oppose Krishna. Krishna is Truth. The ones who have opposed Krishna have already chosen death for themselves.

And that's what Krishna is saying. Krishna is saying that “they've already chosen death. You simply act as the means to deliver to them what they have chosen for themselves, ‘Nimitt Maatr’. You are in a sense just carrying out their wishes. You are not even killing them; you are just bowing to their own desire. You are just fulfilling their will.” That's what Krishna is saying here, and that's also a template on how to behave with people: give them what they have chosen. That is spirituality, and that is justice.

If someone has chosen Krishna, your Dharma is to not to stop him or obstruct him on his way to Krishna. And if somebody has chosen death, then do not be unnecessarily worried, or pained, or saddened if he meets death. In fact, if the situation so demands, you will become the means through which death will come to that person. That doesn't mean you have killed him; he chose death. And remember that even Krishna cannot negate or override the choices made by you.

Even Krishna keeps waiting for you to make the right choice. As long as you do not, Krishna can be at most a teacher, a guide, I may even say, a supplicant. Just see what he is doing with Arjuna.

If Krishna is who he really is, and if Krishna knows fully well that the Kaurava party is bound to be decimated, then why does he have to teach Arjuna, which is de facto pleading to fight the Kauravas? If Krishna is indeed Lord himself and all-powerful, why does he have to repeatedly push Arjuna, persuade him, may I say, even beseech him? Krishna could have as well simply willed, and the Kaurava party would have evaporated. Or Krishna could have simply ordered Arjuna, “I do not want to hear any arguments from you. Just fight and kill the damn fools!” He does not do that. He waits for Arjuna to understand. He waits for Arjuna’s free will to arise in favour of Krishna.

In that sense, you see, Krishna is the tallest of all liberals. He believes in freedom of choice. He says, “Yes is yes, no is no. I am not going to force myself upon you. Neither, obviously, I’m going to ride roughshod on you. I am not going to order you. I’ll just keep speaking to you; speaking to you, trying to convince, trying to teach, till you come to a point where you can make the right choice.”

So it's about your choice.

I have repeatedly said that your freedom to choose is so inherent and so inalienable to you, that even Krishna cannot take it away. Even Krishna will have to wait for your consent. It’s just that by delaying your consent, you aren't harming Krishna; you are just making a fool of yourself. He will keep knocking, He will not barge in. That's the thing with the free one—He respects freedom.

You've asked, “Is everything preordained?”

No, nothing is preordained. The principle of Karma offers you great freedom. And when you talk of fatalism, when you talk of a pre-written script, when you talk of a pre-ordained future, then you are talking of zero freedom. The principle of Karma simply does not sit well with any kind of fatalistic argument.

Nothing is preordained. Every moment you have the liberty to make a fresh choice. Nothing is preordained, except your ultimate destiny, which is to be liberated. All else is within your powers, within your control, within your judgement. You will get what you do. You shall sow and you shall reap.

So when you are sowing those seeds, know fully well that you would be the one reaping them. And once they are sown, you cannot avoid reaping; that facility is not available. Having been the doer, you will have to be the one who bears the results and fruits of your actions, the doing.

Krishna is saying that they all are already dead—Bhishma and Drona and Karna and all; not because Krishna has willed them to be dead, but because they have chosen to be dead. They have chosen to be dead by arranging themselves against Krishna.

So it's your choice. Be very mindful. Be very cautious. See what you are doing. All choices ultimately boil down to either choosing Krishna, or choosing against him. If you will pay attention to your choices, this is what you will see.

Whenever you have to make a decision, at the core of the decision lies this divide. It might even be a very simple day-to-day decision, but that's what the decision would entail or contain at its core. What do you want to pick—Krishna or something else? And Krishna stands for Truth. So be very cautious.

You write your own fate. It’s a needless right that has been given to man. Man is in no position to capably exercise that right, yet that right has been bestowed. In most cases, it turns out that it's quite unfortunate that man has the right to choose. But still, you cannot give up the right to choose. Ah! You can choose anything, but you cannot choose to not choose. You will have to choose. Even when you are choosing not to choose, it is still a choice. So, as we said, it is an inalienable part of being human that you will have to continuously choose.

Moment-to-moment, existence, human existence is a series of choices.

Be very alert: what’s going on?

Be very alert: who is the doer?

Be very alert: who is the one who is receiving the experiences?

And all experiences are nothing but the results of doing.

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