SRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA – PART 3 – Chapter 1 (Verses 21-46) – Arjuna Vishada Yoga

In the first part of Chapter 1, we saw the vivid description of the battlefield by Sanjaya to Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana insinuating Drona to fight with vigour and offer no concessions to his favourite disciples.  In this part, we will see the state of Arjuna’s mind as he prepares for this Maha-Bharata war and this sets the prelude to the conversation between him and Bhagavan Shri Krishna. 

1.21     Shloka 1.21

अर्जुन उवाच
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत ।।1.21।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Senayor ubhayor madhye ratham sthapaya me ‘cyuta ||1.21||

Meaning:  Arjuna said: O’ Achyuta, please draw my chariot between the two armies. 

Arjuna instructs the Shri Krishna to take his chariot between the two armies. He addresses Bhagavan as “Achyuta” meaning “the infallible one”.  Though Shri Krishna is the Supreme Being, because of His “Sausheelyam” (affection) for His devotees, He readily acts on the instructions of Arjuna, without showing any hesitation.

1.22     Shloka 1.22

यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् ।
कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन्रणसमुद्यमे ।।1.22।।

Yavad etan nirikse ‘ham yoddhu-kaman avasthitan             |
Kair maya saha yoddhavyam asmin rana-samudyame ||1.22||
Meaning: Arjuna says, So I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting, and with whom I must contend in this great battle.

Arjuna was anxious to see who the leading persons in the battlefield to assess who he had to contend in this battle.

1.23     Shloka 1.23

योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेऽहं य एतेऽत्र समागताः।
धार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः।।1.23।।

Yotsyamanan avekse ‘ham ya ete ‘tra samagatah               |
Dhartarastrasya durbuddher yuddhe priya-cikirsavah ||1.23||
Meaning: Arjuna said, let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarashtra.

Though Arjuna had full confidence in Himself, more so with Shri Krishna on his side, he wanted to see the enemy army closely to see evil Duryodhana’s allies.

1.24     Shloka 1.24

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम्।।1.24।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam ukto hrsikeso gudakesena bharata   |
Senayor ubhayor madhye sthapayitva rathottamam ||1.24||
Meaning: Sanjaya said: O’ descendant of Bharata, as instructed by Gudakesa (Arjuna), Hrisikesha (the controller of all senses) drew up the fine chariot in the midst of both the armies.

Dhritarashtra is addressed here by Sanjaya as O’ descendant of Bharata, thus subtly stressing that Dhritarashtra is born in the exalted lineage of the righteous and noble King Bharata.  It appears that Sanjaya is attempting to appeal to the conscience of Dhritarashtra to make a last ditch effort to review his foolish and ill thought out decision of forcing this conflict.

In this verse Arjuna is referred as Gudakesa. ‘Gudaka’ means sleep, and one who conquers sleep is called Gudakesa.  So Arjuna had conquered both sleep (also means ignorance) because of his association with Bhagavan Shri Krishna.  A devotee of Shri Krishna can conquer ignorance simply by constantly meditating on Him.

1.25     Shloka 1.25

भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम्।
उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान्समवेतान्कुरूनिति।।1.25।।

Bhishma-Drona-Pramukhatah Sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam  |
Uvaca Partha pasyaitan samavetan Kurun iti              ||1.25||
Meaning: In the presence of Bhishma, Drona and all other Kings of the world, the Bhagavan Shri, said, behold Partha (Arjuna), all the Kurus who are assembled here.

And the word Partha, or the son of Kunti or Prtha, is to emphasise the closeness between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. He wanted to comfort Arjuna that as he was the son of Prtha, the sister of Shri Krishna’s father Vasudeva. What did Shri Krishna mean when He told Arjuna to ‘behold the Kurus’?

Placing the chariot in front of Bhishma and Drona between the two opposing armies, Bhagavan Shri Krishna said: O Partha observe all these Kauravas and see those who are favoring them. Bhagavan Shri Krishna could understand what was going on in the mind of Arjuna. The use of the word Partha was to emphasise the affection for Arjuna, as he was the son of Kunti who was the sister of Vasudev (Shri Krishna’s father).  This was to give confidence to Arjuna that He will engage Himself by accepting the position of Arjuna’s charioteer.

1.26     Shloka 1.26

तत्रापश्यत्स्थितान्पार्थः पितृ़नथ पितामहान्।
आचार्यान्मातुलान्भ्रातृ़न्पुत्रान्पौत्रान्सखींस्तथा
श्वशुरान्सुहृदश्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि ।।1.26।।

Tatrapasyat sthitan parthah pitrn atha pitamahan
Acaryan matulan bhratrn putran pautran sakhims tatha      |
Svasuran suhrdas caiva senayor ubhayor api                     ||1.26||
Meaning: There Arjuna saw, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his father-in-law and well-wishers-all present there.

He could see Bhurisrava and grandfathers from the same generation as his grandfather Bhishma. The teachers like Drona and Kripa, maternal uncles like Salya, brothers like Bhima and Duryodhana, sons are like the age of his own son Abhimanyu, grandsons like Lakhsmana and friends like Asvatthama and others.

1.27     Shloka 1.27

तान्समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान्बन्धूनवस्थितान्
कृपया परयाऽऽविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत्। ।।1.27।।

Tan samiksya sa kaunteyah sarvan bandhun avasthitan        |
Krpaya parayavisto visidann idam abravit                            ||1.27||
Meaning: When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and struck with grief, he spoke thus:

The reference to Arjuna as Kaunteyah, the son of Kunti, is to denote his natural afflictions of the mundane world. He is struck by grief and compassion that accompanies the attachments one develops in this Samsara.  The word ‘Krpaya’ signifies Arjuna’s nature of being compassionate and the word ‘paraya’ denotes that this compassion is only for his own soldiers but also for the enemy soldiers.  The word ‘visidan’ connotes all the symptoms of being grief stricken, like shedding of tears, shuddering, choking, etc. and Arjuna exhibited these as he began to speak (showing all signs of ‘Vishada’).

1.28     Shloka 1.28

अर्जुन उवाच
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम्।
सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति ।1.28।।

Arjuna Uvaca
Drstvemam sva-janam Krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam  |
Sidanti mama gatrani mukham ca parisusyati                     ||1.28||
Arjuna said: ‘My dear Krishna, seeing all my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, the limbs of my body are quivering and my mouth is completely parched’. Arjuna, after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives on the battlefield, was at once overwhelmed by compassion for them foreseeing their imminent death. That thought made his limbs quiver, and his mouth dry.

Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to fear or weakness but because of his kindness, a quintessential characteristic of a pure devotee of the Bhagavan Shri.

In Srimad Bhagavatam (5.18.12) it says:
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah     |
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih   ||5.8.12||
Meaning: One who has unflinching faith in the Supreme and has utmost devotion, that person is blessed by God with all the good qualities that make it endearing to Him. But one who merely engages in seeking knowledge without Bhakti such knowledge is of little value. Knowledge without Bhakti is useless tinsel.

1.29     Shloka 1.29

वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते। ।।1.29।।

Vepathus ca sarire me roma-harsas ca jayate                |
Gandivam sramsate hastat tvak caiva paridahyate ||1.29||
Meaning: My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. 

Arjuna is losing his composure as he feels his hair standing on its end, his heart racing, his skin burning and his famous bow Gandiva slipping out of his hand.  All of this is happening to him not because of the fear of the battle but out of his compassion for all those assembled and their kins.

1.30     Shloka 1.30

न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव। ।।1.30।।

Na ca saknomy avasthatum bhramativa ca me manah    |
Nimittani ca pasyami viparitani kesava                             ||1.30||
Meaning: I am now unable to keep my composure. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon.

Arjuna was unable to stay focussed and was losing control of senses as he was overwhelmed with grief. Bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah: such fearfulness and loss of mental equilibrium takes place in persons who are too attached to the material world. Arjuna envisioned only unhappiness in the battlefield—he would not be happy even by gaining victory over his foes as he saw his cousins, uncles, gurus and grandfathers among them.

The use of the word ‘nimitta’ is significant.  Nimittani is used to mean inauspicious omens but not as an indication or sign of what might happen but as the result.

1.31     Shloka 1.31

न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च।  ।।1.31।।

Na ca sreyo ‘nupasyami hatva sva-janam ahave           |
Na kankse vijayam Krishna na ca rajyam sukhani ca ||1.31||
Meaning: I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor do I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

Arjuna thought that his victory in the battle would only be a cause of lamentation for him and says he does not desire the Kingdom that is obtained by killing his kinsmen. He sees the consequences of war presenting conflicting results. Arjuna says that even if he were victorious in the battle and obtains the Kingdom he would not feel any satisfaction or happiness, on the contrary he would be remorseful.

1.32     Shloka 1.32

किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा।
येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च। ।1.32।।

Kim no rajyena Govinda kim bhogair jivitena va                   |
Yesam arthe kanksitam no rajyam bhogah sukhani ca ||1.32||
Meaning: O’Govinda! What need do we have for a Kingdom or what need of enjoyments and livelihood, if for those whom we desire the Kingdom and happiness for are all here?

By addressing Shri Krishna as Govinda, Arjuna is appealing to the compassionate virtues of the Lord. Arjuna explains that he does not desire the Kingdom that is to be won in a battle in which the destruction of one’s kins’ is certain. Hence, he says, it is a fruitless desire to engage in a battle where all kinsmen will perish.

1.33     Shloka 1.33

त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च।
आचार्याः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितामहाः  ।1.33।।

Ta ime ‘vasthita yuddhe pranams tyaktva dhanani ca       |
Acharyah pitarah putras tathaiva ca pitamahah             ||1.33||
Meaning: All of these men in this battlefield will be giving up their lives and riches. Amongst them are Acharyas, Fathers, Sons, as well as grandfathers.

Arjuna appears to have even forgotten the moral codes for a kshatriya. It is said that two kinds of men, namely the Kshatriya who dies directly in the battlefield under Shri Krishna’s personal command and Sanyasi, a person in the renounced order of life who is absolutely devoted to spirituality, are eligible to enter into the Surya mandala, which is so powerful and dazzling.

Arjuna is reluctant to kill even his enemies, let alone his relatives. He was not willing to fight as he was overcome by grief at the thought of killing so many of them.

1.34     Shloka 1.34

मातुलाः श्चशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथा।
एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन। ।1.34।।

Matulah svasurah pautrah syalah sambandhinas tatha      |
Etan na hantum icchami ghnato ‘pi madhusudana        ||1.34||
Meaning: O’ Madhusudana, even if I am killed, I do not wish to kill my maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and all relatives for the sake of a Kingdom.

1.35     Shloka 1.35

अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते।
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन 1.35।।

Api trailokya-rajyasya hetoh kim nu mahi-krte                    |
Nihatya dhartarastran nah ka pritih syaj Janardhana ||1.35||
Meaning: I am not prepared to fight with them even if I get all three worlds in exchange, let alone this world. O’ Janardhana, the maintainer of all living entities, what happiness shall we derive by killing the sons of Dhritarashtra?

Arjuna’s deep affection and compassion for the community and his family members comes to the fore. Arjuna is addressing Shri Krishna by his various names as Govinda, Madhusudhana and Janardhana and is appealing to compassionate virtues of the Lord to relieve Him of his agony.

Janardhana means ‘One Who destroys the ignorance of His devotees’. Thus, Arjuna is appealing to Bhagavan Shri Krishna to destroy his ignorance as well in this verse.

1.36     Shloka 1.36

पापमेवाश्रयेदस्मान्हत्वैतानाततायिनः
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान्
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव  ।।1.36।।

papam evasrayed asman hatvaitan atatayinah
tasman narha vayam hantum dhartarastran sa-bandhavan
sva-janam hi katham hatva sukhinah syama Madhava        ||1.36||
Meaning: Sin will accrue if we slay such aggressors. Therefore, it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra and our friends. What would we gain, O’ Madhava, the consort of Maha Lakshmi, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?

According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors:

  • a who poisons
  • one who commits arson
  • one who attacks with deadly weapons without just cause
  • one who plunders riches
  • one who occupies another’s property, and
  • one who kidnaps someone’s wife.

Such aggressors can be slain without instantly without accruing any sin and as mentioned in Vedic injunctions – ‘Atatayinam ayantam hanyad’ meaning ‘Without hesitation such aggressors may be slain as there is no sin in killing them’. The sons of Dhritarashtra have committed these heinous acts of aggression against the Pandavas.

Although there is no reward in this world or the next for such an action, a responsible King of a State is required to be righteous and should not be cowardly. However, one should consider in the case of Arjuna, the aggressors were his own relatives viz. grandfathers, Gurus, friends, sons, grandsons, etc.

Arjuna considered that rather than kill his kinsmen for political gains, it would be better to forgive them. So, he reasoned that such killing is not worthwhile or legitimate for acquiring temporary enjoyments. After all, Kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk salvation by killing his own kinsmen?

Arjuna’s reasoning is based on Dharma Shastra which states ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ meaning ‘Non-violence is the ultimate obligation’ while the moral codes of Niti Shastra states one can rightfully kill his aggressors. Since Dharma Shastra is superior to Niti Shastra, Arjuna reasoned that killing of revered elders such as Bhishma, Drona, Kripa and others can only accrue sin.

Arjuna addresses Shri Krishna as Madhava, reinforcing the aspect that He is the consort of Maha Lakshmi who is the controller of all wealth and opulence, to stress his point that why is the Lord who is the consort of the Goddess of fortune asking him to fight a battle in which there will be blood, gore, death, and devoid of wealth and opulence.

 

1.37     Shloka 1.37

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम्।।1.37।।

Yadi api ete na pasyanti lobhopahata-cetasah             |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam mitra-drohe ca patakam ||1.37||
Meaning: These men, overtaken by greed in their heart, do not see any fault in killing one’s family or quarreling with friends.

Arjuna begins with ‘yadi api ete na pasyanti’ to underscore the reason for the Kauravas to be engaged in this war was out of greed. As we don’t have this greed there is no need for a battle.

1.38     Shloka 1.38

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम्।
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ।।1.38।।

Katham na jneyam asmabhih papad asman nivartitum  |
Kula-ksaya-krtam dosam prapasyadbhir Janardana ||1.38||
Meaning: O’ Janardana, although these men are unaware, why should we engage in the destruction of a dynasty with full knowledge of the sin? 

Being a devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna, who is the propounder of dharma or righteousness, Arjuna addresses Him as Janardhana meaning ‘the remover of ignorance’ and asks Why should they not refrain themselves from such ignorance being aware of the implications of unrighteous acts?

1.39     Shloka 1.39

कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः।
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत ।।1.39।।

kula-ksaye pranasyanti kula-dharmah sanatanah                   |
dharme naste kulam krtsnam adharmo ‘bhibhavaty uta ||1.39||
Meaning:  With the destruction of dynasty, the spiritual family tradition is destroyed forever, and when spiritual practices are destroyed, unrighteous acts predominate the entire society. 

There are many principles of religious traditions to help members of the family to attain spiritual values. The elder members are responsible for such purifying processes in the family, beginning from birth to death. But on the death of the elder members, such family traditions may stop, and the remaining younger family members may develop unrighteous habits and thereby lose their chance for spiritual salvation. Therefore, for no purpose should the elder members of the family be slain.

Arjuna now describes the evil consequences of war in detail with this verse beginning kula-ksaye pranasyanti. The compound word ‘kula-dharmah’ means ‘the righteous family traditions prescribed in Vedic rites such as the agnihotra (yagna)’. Arjuna argues that due to the destruction of the dynasty there will be lack of qualified family members knowledgeable enough to guide the younger members on the path of dharma. When dharma or righteousness is absent then adharma or unrighteousness takes hold and the remaining dependants along with the whole family will destroy the foundations of society.

1.40     Shloka 1.40

अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः।
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः।।1.40।।

Adharma abhibhavat Shri Krishna pradusyanti kula-striyah       |
Strisu dustasu varsneya jayate varna-sankarah        ||1.40||
Meaning: When unrighteousness is prominent in the family, O Shri Krishna, the women in the family are sullied, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.

As the society degenerates without proper spiritual guidance, Arjuna opines that the female of the family become easily accessible and are placed in conditions of compromise. From this polluted and degraded position arises undesirable progeny. The purpose of Arjuna addressing Bhagavan Shri Krishna by the vocative Varsneya is to remind Him that He took birth in the exalted royal Vrsni dynasty and as such should be fully aware of these things.

1.41     Shloka 1.41

सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः।।1.41।।

Sankaro narakayaiva kula-ghnanam kulasya ca        |
Patanti pitaro hy esam lupta-pindodaka-kriyah ||1.41||
Meaning:  When there is an increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors. 

According to the traditions, there is a need to offer periodic oblations of food and water to the departed forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Vishnu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Vishnu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful actions.

However, one who is engaged in the devotional life is not required to perform such actions. Simply by performing devotional service, one can deliver hundreds and thousands of forefathers from all kinds of misery. It is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.41):
Devarsi-bhutapta-nrnam pitrnam na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan  |
Sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam gato mukundam parihrtya kartam ||
Meaning: Anyone who has taken shelter of the Lotus feet of Mukunda, the bestower of salvation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the Devas, Sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers. Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by engaging in devotional service of God.

1.42     Shloka 1.42

दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः।
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः।।1.42।।

Dosair etaih kula-ghnanam varna-sankara-karakaih        |
Utsadyante jati-dharmah kula-dharmas ca sasvatah ||1.42||
Meaning: Due to the evil deeds of the destroyers of family tradition, all kinds of spiritual traditions are eradicated and the nobility of the family devastated.

Arjuna describes the misery experienced for those who are responsible for causing this destruction of the family traditions. Due to these evils, the essential duties prescribed in the Vedic scriptures that are faithfully instructed by holy sages and spiritual gurus are all forsaken.

1.43     Shloka 1.43

उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन।
नरकेऽनियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम।।1.43।।

Utsanna-kula-dharmanam manusyanam Janardhana  |
Narake niyatam vaso bhavatity anususruma                 ||1.43||
Meaning: O Janardhana, maintainer of the people, I have heard from the learned that those people whose family traditions have been destroyed always reside in hell.

Arjuna is supporting his argument by affirming that he has heard from respectable sources in Guru Parampara, that those who are responsible for destroying righteousness reside permanently in hellish existence. Therefore this decision to fight is not the wisest of choices.

1.44     Shloka 1.44

अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम्।
यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः।।1.44।।

Aho bata mahat papam kartum vyavasita vayam    |
Yad rajya-sukha-lobhena hantum sva-janam udyatah ||1.44||
Meaning: Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts, driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness. 

It is a sinful act even to think about the killing of friends and relatives. As Arjuna has surmised in the previous verse that it is not in his best interest to fight according to his understanding. Now he is seen repenting that as such an act would bring only evil consequences. Thinking that his intelligence must be marred by delusion he sorrowfully speaks the words: ‘aho bata’ – alas how ironic it is. It is ironic to him that he has committed himself to great sin by his intention to slay friends and kinsman in the pursuit of royal pleasures and enjoyments.

1.45     Shloka 1.45

यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत्।।1.45।।

Yadi mam apratikaram asastram sahastra-panayah            |
Dhartarastra rane hanyus tan me ksemataram bhavet ||1.45||
Meaning: I would consider it better for me for the sons of Dhritarashtra to slay me in the battlefield unarmed and unresisting, rather than fight with them.

It is the custom—according to Kshatriya fighting principles—that an unarmed and unwilling foe should not be attacked. Arjuna, however, in such an enigmatic position, decided he would not fight if he were attacked by the enemy. All these symptoms are due to kind-heartedness resulting from him being a great devotee of the Bhagavan Shri Krishna.

Bhishma and the Kauravas will certainly attempt to kill Arjuna as they are eager to engage in this war. To answer this, Arjuna is speaking this verse beginning ‘yadi mam apratikaram’ – being not resistant is my atonement.  Ksemataram means much better, since the atonement will wash away all sins. Bhishma and the others fighting on the Kaurava side will not be able be able to escape the result of that sin.

Arjuna states that even if the sons of Dhritarashtra being devoid of wisdom and obsessed by greed would slay him unarmed and unresisting, this would still be more preferable than perpetuating sin by slaying friends and kinsman and permanently going to hell as a result. Arjuna feels that if he refrains from fighting, then after the death of his physical body there would be no feelings of guilt or repentance from committing such a sin.

1.46     Shloka 1.46

सञ्जय उवाच
एवमुक्त्वाऽर्जुनः संख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत्।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः।।1.46।।

Sanjaya Uvaca
Evam uktvarjunah sankhye rathopastha upavisat         |
Visrjya sa-saram capam soka-samvigna-manasah ||1.46||
Meaning: Sanjaya said, Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.

Sanjaya spoke that Arjuna whose mind was agitated by grief cast aside his bow and arrows and sank down despondently in the back of the chariot.

Summary of Chapter 1

Chapter 1 explains the problems of this Samsaara. They arise from attachment (Raga), grief (Soka) and delusion (Moha). When one is not happy with oneself, one seeks happiness from external sources. This leads to dependence and attachment to those external sources. Since the conditions of the external factors are unpredictable, therefore happiness from such sources is unsustainable leading to losing of one’s peace of mind.  A disturbed mind can only make erroneous judgments which would complicate things further. This, in short, is the problem of Samsaara.

The main topics of this chapter are:

  • Verses 1 to 20 – These verses contains a vivid description of the armies and their formations. After a brief inspection followed by instruction by Duryodhana to his commander Drona, Bhishma blows the conch to please Duryodhana.  This is followed by blowing of conch by Shri Krishna, Arjuna, and others, signaling the commencement of the battle.
  • Verses 21 to 25 – Arjuna instructs Shri Krishna to place his chariot in the middle of the armies to scrutinize the enemy-forces. The Lord brings the chariot in front of Bhisma and Drona and asks Arjuna to survey the army.
  • Verses 26 to 27 – Arjuna, looking at the army sees his grandfather Bhishma, his Guru Dona, his uncles, cousins and relatives and has a change of mind arising from his attachment (Raga). In a moment of weakness, Arjuna slips down from reason to relation. Instead of seeing the violators of dharma, he sees his beloved kith and kin. Arjuna is overpowered by attachment which is followed by its twin offshoots grief and delusion.
  • Verses 28 to 34 – Arjuna’s expresses his intense grief (Soka) which shakes him completely. This indicates the extent of his attachment.
  • Verses 35 to 45 – Arjuna’s veiled by attachment loses his discriminative power and he commits a series of false judgments from his delusion (Moha). Interestingly, Arjuna quotes the scriptures to bolster his unjustifiable stand.

Arjuna finds himself in the deep sea of attachment, sorrow, and delusion.  He sincerely wants to get out of this predicament where he is overcome by grief due to his attachment and compassion. In his mind, it is better to die without fighting than kill his kinsmen for the sake of Kingdom and enjoyment that comes with it. At the same time, he has not realized that the problem is so deep for him to solve independently with an unclear head.

In a confused state of mind, Arjuna casts his bow and arrow aside and drops down on the chariot in grief.

Conclusion

Om Tat Sat iti Srimad Bhagavad Gitasu Upanishatsu Brahma Vidyayam Yoga Shastre
Shri Krishna Arjuna Samvade Arjuna Vishaada Yogo Naama Prathamo dhyaayah||

Meaning: Om Tat Sat. This Srimad Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishad, is for gaining knowledge of the Brahman, the Yoga Shastra, is a conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna.  The first chapter is called Arjuna Vishada Yoga (Arjuna’s despondency).

जय श्री कृष्णा – Jai Shri Krishna!


Hari Om Tat Sat

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