Despondency of Arjuna
Karma Yoga -
Path of Action
- Path of Wisdom
Renunciation of Action
Mystery of Mysteries
- The Path of Love
The Lord -
|ONE: THE DESPONDENCY OF ARJUNA
The King Dhritarashtra asked: “O Sanjaya! What happened on the sacred
Kurukshetra, when my people gathered against the Pandavas?”
Sanjaya replied: “The Prince Duryodhana, when he saw the army of the
approached his preceptor Guru Drona and spoke as follows:
Revered Father! Behold this mighty host of the Pandavas, paraded by the
son of King
Drupada, thy wise disciple.
In it are heroes and great bowmen; the equals in battle of Arjuna and
Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada, great soldiers all;
Dhrishtaketu, Chekitan, the valiant King of Benares, Purujit, Kuntibhoja,
Shaibya – a
master over many;
Yudhamanyu, Uttamouja, Soubhadra and the sons of Droupadi, famous men.
Further, take note of all those captains who have ranged themselves on
our side, O best of
Spiritual Guides! The leaders of my army. I will name them for you.
You come first; then Bheeshma, Karna, Kripa, great soldiers;
Ashwaththama, Vikarna and
the son of Somadhatta;
And many others, all ready to die for my sake; all armed, all skilled in
Yet our army seems the weaker, though commanded by Bheeshma; their army
stronger, though commanded by Bheema.
Therefore in the rank and file, let stand firm in their posts, according
to battalions; and all
you generals about Bheeshma.
Then to enliven his spirits, the brave Grandfather Bheeshma, eldest of
the Kuru-clan, blew his
conch, till it sounded like a lion’s roar.
And immediately all the conches and drums, the trumpets and horns,
blared forth in tumultuous
Then seated in their spacious war chariot, yoked with white horses, Lord
Shri Krishna and Arjuna
sounded their divine shells.
Lord Shri Krishna blew his Panchajanya and Arjuna his Devadatta, brave
Bheema his renowned
The King Dharmaraja, the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya, Nakalu and
Sahadeo, the Sugosh
and Manipushpaka, respectively.
And the Maharaja of Benares, the great archer, Shikhandi, the great
soldier, Dhrishtayumna, Virata
and Satyaki, the invincible,
And O King! Drupada, the sons of Droupadi and Soubhadra, the great
soldier, blew their conches. The tumult rent the hearts of the sons of Dhritarashtra, and
violently shook heaven and earth with
Then beholding the sons of Dhritarashtra, drawn up on the battle- field,
ready to fight, Arjuna,
whose flag bore the Hanuman,
Raising his bow, spoke this to the Lord Shri Krishna: O Infallible! Lord
of the earth! Please
draw up my chariot betwixt the two armies,
So that I may observe those who must fight on my side, those who must
fight against me;
And gaze over this array of soldiers, eager to please the sinful sons of
Sanjaya said: “Having listened to the request of Arjuna, Lord Shri
Krishna drew up His bright
chariot exactly in the midst between the two armies,
Whither Bheeshma and Drona had led all the rulers of the earth, and
spoke thus: O Arjuna! Behold
these members of the family of Kuru assembled.There Arjuna noticed fathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins, sons,
grandsons, teachers, friends;
Fathers-in-law and benefactors, arrayed on both sides. Arjuna then gazed
at all those kinsmen before
And his heart melted with pity and sadly he spoke: O my Lord! When I see
all these, my own
people, thirsting for battle,
My limbs fail me and my throat is parched, my body trembles and my hair
stands on end.
The bow Gandeeva slips from my hand, and my skin burns. I cannot keep
quiet, for my
mind is in tumult.
The omens are adverse; what good can come from the slaughter of my
people on this
Ah my Lord! I crave not for victory, nor for the kingdom, nor for any
pleasure. What were
a kingdom or happiness or life to me,
When those for whose sake I desire these things stand here about to
property and their lives:
Teachers, fathers and grandfathers, sons and grandsons, uncles,
and other relatives.
I would not kill them, even for three worlds; why then for this poor
earth? It matters not if
I myself am killed.
My Lord! What happiness can come from the death of these sons of
shall sin if we kill these desperate men.
We are worthy of a nobler feat than to slaughter our relatives – the
sons of Dhritarashtra;
for, my Lord, how can we be happy of we kill our kinsmen? Although these men, blinded by greed, see no guilt in destroying their
kin, or fighting
against their friends, Should not we, whose eyes are open, who consider it to be wrong to
annihilate our house,
turn away from so great a crime?
The destruction of our kindred means the destruction of the traditions
of our ancient
lineage, and when these are lost, irreligion will overrun our homes.
When irreligion spreads, the women of the house begin to stray; when
they lose their
purity, adulteration of the stock follows.
Promiscuity ruins both the family and those who defile it; while the
souls of our ancestors
droop, through lack of the funeral cakes and ablutions.
By the destruction of our lineage and the pollution of blood, ancient
class traditions and
family purity alike perish.
The wise say, my Lord, that they are forever lost, whose ancient
traditions are lost.
Alas, it is strange that we should be willing to kill our own countrymen
and commit a
great sin, in order to enjoy the pleasures of a kingdom.
If, on the contrary, the sons of Dhritarashtra, with weapons in their
hand, should slay me,
unarmed and unresisting, surely that would be better for my welfare!”
Sanjaya said: “Having spoken thus, in the midst of the armies, Arjuna
sank on the seat of the
chariot, casting away his bow and arrow; heartbroken with grief.”
Thus, in the Holy Book the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Upanishads, in the
Science of the Supreme
Spirit, in the Art of Self-Knowledge, in the colloquy between the Divine
Lord Shri Krishna and the
Prince Arjuna, stands the first chapter, entitled: The Despondency of