Truth is contradictory, if it is not contradictory, then it is not truth! Bhagvad Gita is full of contradictions. You can understand it only if you see it in totality.
At one point, Krishna tells Arjuna that action is the most important thing and without action one will be nowhere. But after that He tells him that action is all right but knowledge is better! Then Krishna says, ‘‘You must become a yogi and drop everything around you.’’
Then Krishna tells him: ‘‘He is intelligent who sees ‘action’ in ‘inaction’ and ‘inaction’ in ‘action’.’’ What does this mean? It means even if you don’t do something you have acted — simply by ‘not doing’. If you do something then too you have not acted, for in your not acting here, something else could have happened — you could have done something else. Even though you have acted, there is ‘inaction’; because you did this, you couldn’t do something else. So every ‘action’ has an ‘inaction’ and every ‘inaction’ has got an ‘action’ connected to it.
And then Krishna takes Arjuna towards Dhyana Yoga — meditation. In the sixth chapter of the Bhagvad Gita, He tells Arjuna that since he is confused, there is no use talking. He asks him to meditate. Finally, Krishna says, ‘‘Arjuna, he is the greatest amongst the yogis who keeps Me in his heart whether he meditates or not. He is the real yogi, because I am with him in whatever he is doing.’’
The contradictions don’t end there. At one juncture, Krishna says, ‘‘Arjuna, there is nobody dear to me, nobody whom I love.’’ And then gives a whole list of qualifications for those He really loves!
In another instance, Krishna tells Arjuna to act without looking for the fruit of action. Later He asks Arjuna to act properly, according to natural law. Then He tells him the way he ought to fight if he wants to win the war. So, at this point He is bringing Arjuna’s attention to the fruit of action, but then He also tells him not to worry about the fruit of action.
Krishna was like a dear friend to Arjuna. In Bhagavatam, you will see that except for Vidura and Udhava, nobody even thought he was enlightened; they all thought that he was just very smart. Of course, there were the Pandavas and the gopis who knew who Krishna was and how total He was from all angles. But many of them, including Arjuna, did not see him that way. But then Krishna shows him, in one minute, that He is infinite.
He tells Arjuna, ‘‘You can’t see without the eye of knowledge; so now I will give you a special eye of knowledge, which I have haven’t given anybody in ages. I am giving it to you now because it is time.’’ With that, He gives him a vision, a flash. For that one moment the universe appears as a manifestation of Krishna to Arjuna. Arjuna’s mind is shattered that moment. He sees all of creation, everything — the mountains and the rivers, the past, the present and the future — dissolving in Krishna. He sees that Krishna is that space, that infinity, into which everything is coming in and dissolving. For an instant, the whole life, the whole universe, all the memory and all that was associated with it just plays out like a movie and it frightens Arjuna. Then Arjuna pleads, ‘‘Oh! Please show me your simple, natural and friendly face. I like your simple smile and I want to see my friend. I don’t want to see anything beyond. It is too much for me.’’ This is called Vishva Roopa Darshana — the vision of the universal.
Thereafter, Krishna tells Arjuna about the yagyas and all the principles and the laws under which the society and universe works. Then He talks about sanyasa and how to be really centered. For instance, an event or an instance should be seen as just that — an event, an instance or a happening. But it sticks to the mind and you try to get rid of it. The event assumes importance and the mind is caught up in it — ‘‘Oh! He said that, they said this, they didn’t say this, etc.’’ Once the event goes away, then you feel a sense of great relief. You suddenly discover peace inside you. Your very nature is peace. In the centre of you, you are peace. The moment this disturbance gets thrown out, you can actually feel it — all the brain cells, and the entire brain becomes so calm and settled the moment this garbage goes out. And deep inside you can really smile as a flame of peace.
Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘‘What you say is very magical and joyful. But it’s not easy. This mind is difficult to control. It’s like controlling air — can anybody control air?’’ Then Krishna says, ‘‘I agree with you. It is difficult but not impossible. Abhyasena tu Kaunteya — with practice, dispassion and by getting to the centre again, you will succeed.’’
You will see that Krishna tried everything. Finally it was the display of the universal vision that worked on Arjuna. People cannot change just by visions also. Krishna does not really bring about the realisation totally from outside — it needs something more. That is why after Krishna led Arjuna to the infinite vision, he speaks on what is dear to him, on devotion, and then he comes on all the other things you know — about creation and even about food. But when Arjuna says, ‘‘I give up,’’ Krishna says, ‘‘I can’t do anything; you think and do whatever is best for you. First ponder on whatever I have said and then act.’’ Arjuna says, ‘‘No, now I am clear in my mind. I’ll do whatever you will say.’’ So, Krishna had to speak through 18 chapters to get him to that point. Krishna could have done it at the very first chapter. But it is beautiful the way this knowledge has flown.
Everything may appear to be all contradictory, seen from all angles. But that is in fact reality.