aho bata mahat pāpaṁ kartuṁ vyavasitā vayam |
yad rājya-sukha-lobhena hantuṁ sva-janam udyatāḥ ||
(Arjuna Uvacha: Arjuna Vishada Yoga- Verse 45)
Translation: What a misfortune that we have chosen to commit a great sin by being keen to kill our own kith and kin out of greed for the pleasures of a kingdom! — thus says Arjuna to Sri Krishna in the midst of the battlefield.
So, what exactly is that which withholds Arjuna from fighting Kaurava's army? Is it his empathy for his family members, or is he terrified of doing something wrong that may ultimately affect his conscience?
In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, there are several instances where Arjuna, during his conversation with Sri Krishna, has tried to justify his unwillingness to fight and kill Kauravas— this itself might seem pretty confusing for why he was reluctant in the first place.
Imagine being put in a line against his own revered Masters and beloved relatives; And remember, Arjuna has to fight— not for some amusement or sport— but he has to fight... and the fight is to kill. It was quite natural for him to be overtaken by the overpowering surge of irksome emotions, making him anxious about what is going to happen next.
Was war the only way to put an end to Kaurava’s tyranny and establish the truth? Intrinsically, even Arjuna knows well that everything has been tried, and fighting a battle indeed remains the last resort to set things right. But you know what happens when surmounting waves of emotions take over? The effect is never going to be like a small whirlpool in a teacup but a colossal tsunami that is going to eradicate everything en route.
That's the predicament of Arjuna. Emotions are on a surge and confusion is piling up. Also, Arjuna is a righteous person who thinks before he acts, unlike many people who don't even shudder before mercilessly taking away the lives of their own kith and kin— and that too for trivial reasons.
So, that’s just not the Dilemma of Arjuna per se—If you look closely, IT IS YOUR STORY ASWELL!
If you picture your own life, it is so full of melodrama. When you begin observing things around, it's hard to miss the action and dramatics unfolding all the time. There are situations when one is expected to act righteously, and yet they end up doing totally opposite— either driven by the circumstance or otherwise.
If your life is pretty comfortable at the moment- I'm very happy for you, but the problem is that it's not going to remain like this forever. The silk-smooth ride is going to end somewhere. Life will bring many ups-downs and challenges, especially when you are pitted against your own clan or loved ones.
Arjuna had every legitimate reason to kill; the biggest one was for establishing truth, but he's inherently not an aggressive person; he's generous; he's Dharmic; No wonder he's feeling challenged to go all out against his own people.
Can a wrongdoing be countered with another wicked act? Will two wrongs make one right? That's the virtue of Arjuna; he's thinking it out before committing anything. Caught amid a web of troubling emotions, he's beseeching Sri Krishna while wailing ceaselessly. One might ask, how can someone like Arjuna be in such a frail state of mind? But know that a person is going to act like a weakling when emotions take over. When you observe someone else acting foolish, it's easy to be judgemental. But for a moment, put yourself in place of Arjuna and now tell, will you be able to remain calm, quiet, and intelligent or act rationally?
Emotions are tricky and often complex to understand. They can overpower your intellect, taking no time to put you down. It's challenging to come out of these frailties of the mind. Here's when Srimad Bhagavad Gita— the eternal song of Lord Krishna, can prove to be a catalyst, taking one on a wondrous journey— that culminates with the transformation of a weakling into a towering personality; From an ill-informed mind filled with a lot of clutter to reach an exalted state of beautiful clarity and sharpened perception. Yes, the mind can become this crystalline.
This is the journey of Arjuna, and I believe it is the journey of every human being too. Since here you are faced with your personal battle of Kurukshetra and your personal kuru enemies in life-- you have to confront them and decide what to do and what not. If these decisions come from selfish, greedy minds, know that they are going to be wrong. But like Arjuna, if you change your mind first by making it pure and perceptive with cognition, with great understanding— then it isn't tough to reach that state.
It is like someone has a tumour in hand-- the doctor says, well, it has created septicaemia in the body, and we'll have to cut the hand to prevent the infection from spreading. What will the patient say? Oh, don't do it, please!
Ideally, who would want to part with any of their limbs? But what if that is the only option left to save a life? It doesn't just end there; the patient even wilfully writes it down, putting his/her consent on the form saying that whatever may happen during the procedure, I don't hold the doctor responsible. Ironically, with the very hand that needs to be amputated, he's signing off the permission to go ahead with the procedure. It's not that they don't love the hand, but if that's what is needed for survival, then be it.
In a similar vein, there are tumorous relationships that might need to be taken down. There you should not let yourself be overpowered by the thoughts like— oh, I'm empathetic- responsible- gentle being- how can I do something this bad? The plain reality is sometimes you have to do what is necessary— no matter how unpleasant it might look from the outside. It was not easy then, and it is not easy even now, but one must never refrain from committing acts that are meant for the greater good, keeping all the apprehensions aside— even if that means taking tough stands in life or standing all alone.
You and Arjuna might have existed in different times, but the fight for right has been on for eons, and it would continue to be so. The enlightening sermon by Sri Krishna that shone a light on the sublime truth, engulfing away all the illusions of Arjuna, infusing him with the newfound will to fight for what was right, is equally relevant and powerful to wade off the delusions of today's mankind.
When faced with delusions on the battlefield of life, let the eternal song of Lord encapsulated in Srimad Bhagavad Gita be your constant companion that keeps guiding and putting you— the present-day Arjuna, on the path that is both right and virtuous.
The in-depth elucidations of Srimad Bhagavad Gita by the compassionate Master Anandmurti Gurumaa carrying the heart of Sri Krishna's message are available in both detailed and concise formats through the medium of books and videos. For more details, check out the store link here.
Srimad Bhagavad Gita - Succinct Commentary