Dhaumya blessed the Pandavas to proceed to the marriage of Draupadi. Drupada had made lavish preparations for this occassion. He constructed a huge stadium with several gates inlaid with valuable jewels. In the first fifteen days, various sacrifices were performed and the guests were given large quantities of charity. Numerous dance and cultural performances and other festivities were also arranged. On the last day was the svayamvara ceremony. Many princes and kings from various parts of the world arrived for the event. The test was though and no one could get through it. Drupada was dejected. Arjuna who is dressed as a Brahmin volunteered to try. To everyone’s surprise, he succeeded. Kstriyas who assembled there were frustrated and decided to attack Drupada. The Pandavas immediately came to Drupada’s rescue. The duty of the ruling class is to protect others. Here, we see that the kings are fighting with Drupada out of their self-interest. We have several duties in life owing to different roles in family, workplace and society. We also have several interests and pleasures to pursue. There is a dynamic tension between duties that we have to perform and desires we want to pursue. Let us see how we can harmonize them.

Duties and Desires

Duties often appear as efforts that do not yield any tangible fruits to the doers. In duties, only we have to give and we do not get anything for ourselves. Therefore, they appear as very taxing and tiring. People feel that their time and talents are being under-utilized or wasted. They are often perceived as obstacles in the way of pursuing our interests and aspirations. The people either try to avoid their duties altogether or perform them grudgingly and half-heartedly (BG 18.28). Because of this willful negligence of duties, the corresponding relationships either get strained or get completely lost. Then it becomes difficult to acquire sufficient resources to pursue pleasures and interests. This leads to indulgence in unlawful and immoral acts to acquire resources. Moreover, it becomes difficult to enjoy the pleasures themselves since there is no one to share those pleasures with. This leads to loneliness, dissatisfaction and depression. This will also lead to entanglement in procrastination, crookedness and deceit. This is in the mode of ignorance.

Duties for Desires

There is a need to be dutiful. By performing our duties responsibly, we can amicably acquire the needed sources to pursue pleasures and interests. There is a need to cooperate. There is a need to give, in order to get something. This will also provide the much-needed relationships to take part in and complement the pleasure pursuits. Though there is active participation in performance of duties, the focus is on the fruits – the results of efforts (BG 18.27). Self-centeredness still rules. The relationships are superficial and selfish. The happiness is also superficial and is subjected to the ups and downs of the world. There is no tangible fulfilment at heart. There is constant hankering and frustration. This is in the mode of passion.

Duties out of desire

We are getting many things from nature and society. It is our turn to give. Real happiness is in giving not getting. Performance of duties itself bestows happiness, inner peace and fulfilment. There is no need of additional pleasure pursuits. Happiness is derived from the effort itself not the fruits of the effort (BG 18.26). The focus is on enhancing the quality and reach of contribution. There is no disturbance caused by the ups and downs in the life and the world around.  There is selflessness, compassion and harmony. This is in mode of goodness.

We can elevate from ignorance to passion to goodness by practicing the process of yoga i.e. connecting to the divine being – God. It can be easily through the process of Bhakti yoga that involves cultivating divine wisdom, worship and meditation (BG 9.34).