So what is the unique and most important feature of Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta?
That the Bhagawad Geeta propounds the understanding of the questions of ‘Tara’ and ‘Tama’: The better and the Best – of each dimension in the philosophy of ‘Life in this world’.
However, we have to understand the correct interpretation of these Sanskrit words ‘Tara’ and ‘Tama’.
It often happens that, from the social point of view, we take these to mean some kind of compromise. Here this interpretation is entirely inappropriate, out of the question. On the contrary, to discuss the philosophy of ‘Tara tamya’, we have to take the original meaning of these words – Tara and Tama.
The statement ‘Bhagawad Geeta is the science of Tara Tamya’ means that ‘Bhagwad Geeta’ expect us to serve our fellow beings and all life by treating them with correct understanding of taratamya attitude in our everyday life. It tries to invoke in all to behave with others with proper understanding of good and bad. Thus, the Geeta imparts to each of us, the society, faultless and basic understanding.
In our Human life, whenever we face a difficult situation involving choice of direction, our study and correct understanding of Bhagawad Geeta enables us to make the proper choice. This itself is the exceptional and most precious gift to us from Bhagawan Shri Krishna Who has given us the benefit of the divine knowledge in the teachings of Bhagawad Geeta. This teaching is also visible every moment of his life on this earth, just as in the Geeta’s Teachings. In a sense, the Kurukshetra war may be said to be an easier than the ‘War in Our Human Mind” for which help is bestowed by Bhagawan in the form of The Geeta.
If in Human life, the duality or fight that man encounters are such that there is clearly and fully Good on one side and Bad on the other, with a clear cut division, then it will be easy for one to understand and deal with such a situation. Unluckily however, if there is a conflict between two clearly good or clearly bad contenders then it is difficult even to understand and also difficult to deal with it successfully. In such a situation, comparative estimate in terms of what is greater – ‘Tar’ and what is highest – ‘Tama’, should be understood. There should be perfect clarity in this respect. This is what Geeta emphasizes.
This exactly is the strength of the Geeta, that clarifies and teaches. Therein, we find the advice and clarification by Yogeshwar Shri Krishna. That is true Satva Dharama of purity, which is also Sukshma dharma, the subtlest duty of man. This itself is what the Geeta terms as ‘Nishkama Karmayoga’ – action without desire for the fruit of action, without attachment to results. This is what is alternatively termed, Yoga based on one’s own Dharma –duty, Jeevan Yoga; or Samatva Yoga or Samashti – sharana Yoga. Here we may recall section 69 of Karna Parva of Mahabharata.
Arjuna, the best and courageous among men, had at one time taken a strong serious vow: “If anyone, at any time, insults me by telling me to throw away my formidable bow – ‘Gandiva’, or that you give your bow to someone else because you are weak, I, Arjuna will instantly kill such an offender.”
Later during the Mahabharata war (in the Karna Parva) it so happens that Karna, a great fighter defeats the eldest Pandava brother, Yudhisthira in battle. Down hearted Yudhisthira returns to his camp. On the other hand, Arjuna, worried on not seeing Yudhisthira on the battlefield, also returned to their camp.
Seeing Arjuna returning from the battle field, assuming that he had been victorious, everyone rejoicing prepared to give him a hero’s welcome. Arjuna, then clarified the situation. Hearing this all were downcast; Yudhisthira, in this confusion, in a moment of disappointment, happened to tell him “Arjuna, Of what use to us is your mighty bow Gandiva, throw it away.”
Then a greater calamity appeared. As per his earlier vow, Arjuna, took up his sword and was ready to kill Yudhisthira. As if the sky was falling ! Instead of meting out punishment to Karna, there was an internal feud among the Pandava brothers. However, by good fortune Shri Krishina was present on the scene who came forward to advise Arjuna of his real duty.
“O Arjuna, what are you doing? STOP !
Do not behave like a mad man. Can you realize your true Dharma- duty, under this situation? What is ‘Rita ‘Dharma, Truth, what is Samashti – sharanata, your Comprehensive duty? Do you have, even this much understanding? Before taking any action, first understand what exactly the True Dharma is ! Understand this clearly, with true underlying principle. Truly, you are a fool. You don’t understand the secret of Ritadharma. You should first get this understanding by respectful inquiry from your Elders and Teachers. ‘Na Vriddhaha sevitastvayaa’. It is a pity, you have not done this. ‘You have shut yourself in the personal prison. But this leading you to commit a terrible sin of killing your elder brother. What about that?
In addition, another vow you have taken, “I will finish off the evil Kauravas” which is in the wider interest benefitting the entire human society. What about that vow? Then between your personal vow and the vow benefitting the whole society, which one is the best? Which one is more important? Understand this clearly. What does the term ‘Dharma’ refers to? What is ‘Satya’ – True Dharma? Understand this also clearly. Only then proceed to fulfill your vow. What is ‘Tara’ – better and what is ‘Tama’ – the best. Use your ‘Vivekabuddhi’ and take the correct action.” Thus Shri Krishna told Arjuna, on that occasion of making a difficult choice. Arjuna, having clearly understood his duty, humbly accepted Shri Krishna’s advice. Thus the possibility of brother killing his own elder brother was avoided.
(Mahabharat – Karna Parva. 69)
In this way the ‘Rita Anruta – Vivek’ i.e. Truth and its essence, explained by Bhagawan in Mahabharata especially in the Geeta, is of utmost importance. Shri Krishna himself is the knower of the meaning of Tara and Tama, relative importance thus described, in the Geeta, his teaching is of utmost importance. In Bharat, our ancient country, it has been held as the most sacred science of behavior, of life. Therefore it seems that again at end of the epic, grandfather Bhishma has advocated this to Yudhishthira. At that time the Mahabharata war was over and Yudhisthira, the senior most Pandava brother was to be anointed as the Emperor. In the Shanti parva of Mahabharata these details have been stated.