Man who caught a Tartar
(Delivered at the Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California, February 3, 1900)
You know the story of the man who caught a Tartar. A soldier was outside the town, and he cried out when be came near the barracks, “I have caught a Tartar.” A voice called out, “Bring him in.” “He won’t come in, sir.” “Then you come in.” “He won’t let me come in, sir.” So, in this mind of ours, we have “caught a Tartar”: neither can we tone it down, nor will it let us be toned down. We have all “caught Tartars”. We all say, be quiet, and peaceful, and so forth. But every baby can say that and thinks he can do it. However, that is very difficult. I have tried. I threw overboard all my duties and fled to the tops of mountains; I lived in caves and deep forests – but all the same, I “caught a Tartar” because I had my world with me all the time. The “Tartar” is what I have in my own mind, so we must not blame poor people outside. “These circumstances are good, and these are bad,” so we say, while the “Tartar” is here, within; if we can quiet him down, we shall be all right.
Therefore Krishna teaches us not to shirk our duties, but to take them up manfully, and not think of the result. The servant has no right to question. The soldier has no right to reason. Go forward, and do not pay too much attention to the nature of the work you have to do. Ask your mind if you are unselfish. If you are, never mind anything, nothing can resist you! Plunge in! Do the duty at hand. And when you have done this, by degrees you will realise the Truth: “Whosoever in the midst of intense activity finds intense peace, whosoever in the midst of the greatest peace finds the greatest activity, he is a Yogi, he is a great soul, he has arrived at perfection.”