धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः ।
मामकाः पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय ॥१॥
dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca –
dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva kim akurvata sañjaya
Addressing Sañjaya, Emperor Dhṛtarāṣṭra said: After assembling with great enthusiasm for battle at the holy place of Kurukṣetra (dharma-kṣetra), what did my sons and the sons of Pāṇḍu do?
दृष्ट्वा तु पाण्डवानीकं व्यूढं दुर्योधनस्तदा ।
आचार्यमुपसंगम्य राजा वचनमब्रवीत् ॥२॥
sañjaya uvāca –
dṛṣṭvā tu pāṇḍavānīkaṁ vyūḍhaṁ duryodhanas tadā
ācāryam upasaṅgamya rājā vacanam abravīt
Sañjaya replied: O Emperor, at that time your son Duryodhana, after observing the military arrangements of the Pāṇḍavas, approached his mentor Droṇa and spoke as follows.
पश्यैतां पाण्डुपुत्राणामाचार्य महतीं चमूम् ।
व्यूढां द्रुपदपुत्रेण तव शिष्येण धीमता ॥३॥
paśyaitāṁ pāṇḍu-putrāṇām ācārya mahatīṁ camūm
vyūḍhāṁ drupada-putreṇa tava śiṣyeṇa dhīmatā
Behold, O great teacher, the military formation of the army of the sons of Pāṇḍu arranged by your gifted student, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, the son of Drupada.
अत्र शूरा महेष्वासा भीमार्जुनसमा युधि ।
युयुधानो विराटश्च द्रुपदश्च महारथः ॥४॥
atra śūrā maheṣvāsā bhīmārjuna-samā yudhi
yuyudhāno virāṭaś ca drupadaśca mahārathaḥ
Within those ranks are great archers who are equal to Bhīma and Arjuna in war such as Sātyaki, Virāṭa and the powerful charioteer Drupada.
धृष्टकेतुश्चेकितानः काशिराजश्च वीर्यवान् ।
पुरुजित्कुन्तिभोजश्च शैब्यश्च नरपुंगवः ॥५॥
dhṛṣṭaketuś cekitānaḥ kāśi-rājaś ca vīryavān
purujit kuntibhojaś ca śaibyaś ca narapuṅgavaḥ
Great heroes such as Dhṛṣṭaketu, Cekitāna, the heroic king of Kāśī, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Śaibya are also present.
युधामन्युश्च विक्रान्त उत्तमौजाश्च वीर्यवान् ।
सौभद्रो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्व एव महारथाः ॥६॥
yudhāmanyuś ca vikrānta uttamaujāś ca vīryavān
saubhadro draupadeyāś ca sarva eva mahārathāḥ
The chivalrous Yudhāmanyu, the courageous Uttamaujā, Abhimanyu the son of Subhadrā, and the sons of Draupadī are indeed all mighty chariot warriors.
अस्माकं तु विशिष्टा ये तान्निबोध द्विजोत्तम ।
नायका मम सैन्यस्य संज्ञार्थं तान्ब्रवीमि ते ॥७॥
asmākaṁ tu viśiṣṭā ye tān nibodha dvijottama
nāyakā mama sainyasya saṁjñārthaṁ tān bravīmi te
However, O best of brāhmaṇas, you should also know who amongst my army is qualified to lead our military force. Just for your information I shall name them.
भवान्भीष्मश्च कर्णश्च कृपश्च समितिञ्जयः ।
अश्वत्थामा विकर्णश्च सौमदत्तिस्तथैव च ॥८॥
bhavān bhīṣmaś ca karṇaś ca kṛpaś ca samitiñjayaḥ
aśvatthāmā vikarṇaś ca saumadattis tathaiva ca
Your good self as well as Bhīṣma, Karṇa and Kṛpa are always victorious in battle, as well as Aśvatthāmā, Vikarṇa, Bhūriśravā and Jayadratha.
अन्ये च बहवः शूरा मदर्थे त्यक्तजीविताः ।
नानाशस्त्रप्रहरणाः सर्वे युद्धविशारदाः ॥९॥
anye ca bahavaḥ śūrā mad-arthe tyakta-jīvitāḥ
nānā-śastra-praharaṇāḥ sarve yuddha-viśāradāḥ
They are all armed with various weapons, and they are expert in the art of war. All of them are prepared to give up their very lives for my sake, as are many other warriors.
अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम् ।
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम् ॥१०॥
aparyāptaṁ tad asmākaṁ balaṁ bhīṣmābhirakṣitam
paryāptaṁ tv idam eteṣāṁ balaṁ bhīmābhirakṣitam
Our army, protected by the might of Bhīṣma is unlimited. However, the strength of the opposition, protected by Bhīma is insufficient.
अयनेषु च सर्वेषु यथाभागमवस्थिताः ।
भीष्ममेवाभिरक्षन्तु भवन्तः सर्व एव हि ॥११॥
ayaneṣu ca sarveṣu yathā-bhāgam avasthitāḥ
bhīṣmam evābhirakṣantu bhavantaḥ sarva eva hi
You must support and protect Bhīṣma at all costs, at the strategic points of our battle formation.
War is nothing new to this world. Thousands of years ago wars were being fought, such as the one at Kurukṣetra, to resolve the differences between good and evil and for the purpose of material gain. From ancient times to our modern era, practically not a day on this Earth has passed when someone, somewhere, was not fighting over something. Throughout history men have gathered on the field of battle to fulfil their greed for wealth and glory, sometimes nobly, but more often ignobly. The same is happening in the 21st Century. War it seems is an unavoidable karmic destiny of human civilisation.
Peace, on the other hand, is rather elusive. Peace is talked about and even prayed for, but seldom makes more than a momentary appearance. Most of our lives, even for the humblest of souls, are spent struggling for existence either socially, politically, financially, mentally or physically. For most of us the temporary absence of any major crisis is what we would call peace. However, peace (or śānti as it is known amongst yogīs) is a state of consciousness and not a condition relative to the external affairs of the material world. Peace is an internal experience.
The wisdom of the Vedic literature, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam says, jīvo-jīvasya-jīvanaṁ – one living being is food for another living being. From the minutest forms of life to the most complex, one life is sustained by the loss of another. Thus, the basic principle for material existence is fundamentally flawed with violence. Peace then, for most of us, comes in doing what we have to do and believing that we have done the right thing. Therein lies the fine line between war and peace. Is what we think to be good, or what we are conditioned to believe, actually right?
The ability to discriminate between right and wrong, or in some cases good and evil, largely depends on the extent of knowledge from which we draw our conclusions. A poor fund of knowledge naturally results in faulty conclusions. Therefore, it is in our best interest to seek out the greatest source of knowledge – knowledge of the Absolute Truth, and familiarise ourselves with that.
Bhagavad-gītā is perhaps the most widely read book of theistic knowledge in the world. Whatever knowledge one finds in similar books such as the Dhammapada, the Bible, the Torah, the Koran etc. is also found in the Bhagavad-gītā. But in the Bhagavad-gītā one will find knowledge that is not present anywhere else. Consequently, the Bhagavad-gītā surpasses all branches of knowledge. What lies ahead in these commentaries is a look into the vastness of the knowledge of the Absolute Truth contained in the Bhagavad-gītā.
तस्य सञ्जनयन्हर्षं कुरुवृद्धः पितामहः ।
सिंहनादं विनद्योच्चैः शङ्खं दध्मौ प्रतापवान् ॥१२॥
tasya sañjanayan harṣaṁ kuru-vṛddhaḥ pitāmahaḥ
siṁha-nādaṁ vinadyoccaiḥ śaṅkhaṁ dadhmau pratāpavān
Then Bhīṣma, the fearless grandsire of the Kuru Dynasty, roaring like a lion, blew his conch loudly to increase the euphoria of Duryodhana.
ततः शङ्खाश्च भेर्यश्च पणवानकगोमुखाः ।
सहसैवाभ्यहन्यन्त स शब्दस्तुमुलोऽभवत् ॥१३॥
tataḥ śaṅkhāś ca bheryaś ca paṇavānaka-gomukhāḥ
sahasaivābhyahanyanta sa śabdas tumulo’bhavat
At that point, conches, trumpets, bugles, drums and horns suddenly sounded all at once and the combined sound rose up like thunder.
ततः श्वेतैर्हयैर्युक्ते महति स्यन्दने स्थितौ ।
माधवः पाण्डवश्चैव दिव्यौ शङ्खौ प्रदध्मतुः ॥१४॥
tataḥ śvetair hayair yukte mahati syandane sthitau
mādhavaḥ pāṇḍavaś caiva divyau śaṅkhau pradadhmatuḥ
On the other side of the battlefield, both Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the husband of the goddess of wealth, and Arjuna, sitting on a wonderful chariot yoked with horses of fair hue, blew their divine conches.
पाञ्चजन्यं हृषीकेशो देवदत्तं धनञ्जयः ।
पौण्ड्रं दध्मौ महाशङ्खं भीमकर्मा वृकोदरः ॥१५॥
pāñcajanyaṁ hṛṣīkeśo devadattaṁ dhanañjayaḥ
pauṇḍraṁ dadhmau mahāśaṅkhaṁ bhīma-karmā vṛkodaraḥ
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Master of the senses, blew his conch-shell called Pāñcajanya. Arjuna, the winner of great wealth, blew his conch-shell called Devadatta. Bhīma, the performer of great feats, blew his conch-shell Pauṇḍra.
अनन्तविजयं राजा कुन्तीपुत्रो युधिष्ठिरः ।
नकुलः सहदेवश्च सुघोषमणिपुष्पकौ ॥१६॥
काश्यश्च परमेष्वासः शिखण्डी च महारथः ।
धृष्टद्युम्नो विराटश्च सात्यकिश्चापराजितः ॥१७॥
द्रुपदो द्रौपदेयाश्च सर्वशः पृथिवीपते ।
सौभद्रश्च महाबाहुः शङ्खान्दध्मुः पृथक्पृथक् ॥१८॥
ananta-vijayaṁ rājā kuntī-putro yudhiṣṭhirah
nakulaḥ sahadevaś ca sughoṣa-maṇipuṣpakau
kāśyaś ca parameṣvāsaḥ śikhaṇḍī ca mahārathaḥ
dhṛṣṭadyumno virāṭaś ca sātyakiś cāparājitaḥ
drupado draupadeyāś ca sarvaśaḥ pṛthivī-pate
saubhadraś ca mahā-bāhuḥ śaṅkhān dadhmuḥ pṛthak pṛthak
Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Kuntī, blew his conch-shell Ananta-vijaya. Nakula and Sahadeva blew their conches called Sughoṣa and Maṇipuṣpaka. O emperor, the great archer the king of Kāśī, the expert chariot warrior Śikhaṇḍi, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Virāṭa, the invincible Sātyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadī and Abhimanyu the mighty son of Subhadrā all blew their conches.
स घोषो धार्तराष्ट्राणां हृदयानि व्यदारयत् ।
नभश्च पृथिवीं चैव तुमुलोऽभ्यनुनादयन् ॥१९॥
sa ghoṣo dhārtarāṣṭrāṇāṁ hṛdayāni vyadārayat
nabhaś ca pṛthivīṁ caiva tumulo’bhyanunādayan
The hearts of the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra were shattered as the tumultuous sound reverberated throughout the sky and on the land.
At the outset of the Kurukṣetra war, Duryodhana made the classic military blunder of underestimating the strength of his adversary. Possibly blinded by his greed for the kingdom or by his longstanding hatred for his cousins, the Pāṇḍavas, he entered the engagement thinking that his enemy’s strength was limited.
Hate and greed are certainly poor allies of judgment, usually resulting in wrong decisions and the senseless loss of life. No better examples in modern times need be cited than that of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wherein underestimating the will of a people has led to the loss of millions of innocent lives.
The classic commentators on Bhagavad-gītā have all pointed out the blunder of Duryodhana at Kurukṣetra. Particularly it has been mentioned that Duryodhana failed to recognise that when Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Person, was there to advise Arjuna, that Arjuna would be a most formidable opponent.
History has shown us that wars are fought out of greed, hatred or religious prejudice. It is simply a convenience to think that, ‘God is on our side.’ The idea that ‘God is on our side’ is certainly a comforting thought and has accompanied men into almost every war that we know of since the rise of Abrahamic religions. However, the problem has always been that in all these conflicts both sides assumed the banner of righteousness, declaring, ‘God wills it!’ This is sometimes called the ‘theology of convenience’.
Even today it makes good to stir up the troops or rally the suicide bombers to their deaths by declaring that, “God favours our cause.” It is a fact that during these dark periods of history, more people have died, and more innocent people put to death in the name of God, than by any other single unnatural cause. Many people consider despotic political regimes as the ultimate empires of cruelty, but the truth is that religious fanaticism has brought far more unnecessary death to the world than any political system of government.
So what makes the war at Kurukṣetra any different than modern wars fought for greed or between religious fanatics? Is it not simply jingoism to say that because Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Person, was on the side of the Pāṇḍavas that they were correct in destroying their enemies? The difference is that Kurukṣetra was not fought because one side had a different religious ideology than the other. Kurukṣetra was a fratricidal war – a family feud brought on by human faults: greed for sovereignty, failure in duty, envy, family attachment and falsely identifying the body as the self.
But unlike any other war in history, Kurukṣetra would record a profound lesson for the benefit of all future generations. The lesson was taught by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the form of Bhagavad-gītā – a lesson that would enable humanity to overcome its mundane shortcomings, become established in transcendence and attain self-realisation.
अथ व्यवस्थितान्दृष्ट्वा धार्तराष्ट्रान् कपिध्वजः ।
प्रवृत्ते शस्त्रसम्पाते धनुरुद्यम्य पाण्डवः ।
हृषीकेशं तदा वाक्यमिदमाह महीपते ॥२०॥
atha vyavasthitān dṛṣṭvā dhārtarāṣṭrān kapi-dhvajaḥ
pravṛtte śastra-sampāte dhanur udyamya pāṇḍavaḥ
hṛṣīkeśaṁ tadā vākyam idam āha mahī-pate
Speaking to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Sañjaya said: O emperor, just as the war was about to commence, Arjuna, whose chariot was decorated with the banner of Hanumān, observing your sons poised for battle, took up his bow and spoke to Hṛṣīkeśa (Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Master of the senses), as follows.
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये रथं स्थापय मेऽच्युत ॥२१॥
यावदेतान्निरीक्षेऽहं योद्धुकामानवस्थितान् ।
कैर्मया सह योद्धव्यमस्मिन् रणसमुद्यमे ॥२२॥
arjuna uvāca –
senayor ubhayor madhye rathaṁ sthāpaya me’cyuta
yāvad etān nirīkṣe’haṁ yoddhu-kāmān avasthitān
kairmayā saha yoddhavyam asmin raṇa-samudyame
Arjuna said: O Acyuta (Infallible One), place my chariot between both armies so that I may look upon the soldiers that I must do battle with.
योत्स्यमानानवेक्षेऽहं य एतेऽत्र समागताः ।
धार्तराष्ट्रस्य दुर्बुद्धेर्युद्धे प्रियचिकीर्षवः ॥२३॥
yotsyamānān avekṣe’haṁ ya ete’tra samāgatāḥ
dhārtarāṣṭrasya durbuddher yuddhe priya-cikīrṣavaḥ
Let me see all those warriors that are dear to Duryodhana, the wicked son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, assembled here for this battle.
एवमुक्तो हृषीकेशो गुडाकेशेन भारत ।
सेनयोरुभयोर्मध्ये स्थापयित्वा रथोत्तमम् ॥२४॥
sañjaya uvāca –
evam ukto hṛṣīkeśo guḍākeśena bhārata
senayor ubhayor madhye sthāpayitvā rathottamam
Sañjaya continued: O descendant of Bharata, being thus requested, Śrī Kṛṣṇa drew Arjuna’s grand chariot between both armies.
भीष्मद्रोणप्रमुखतः सर्वेषां च महीक्षिताम् ।
उवाच पार्थ पश्यैतान्समवेतान्कुरूनिति ॥२५॥
bhīṣma droṇa pramukhataḥ sarveṣāṁ ca mahīkṣitām
uvāca pārtha paśyaitān samavetān kurūniti
In front of Bhīṣma, Droṇa and all the leaders of the world, Śrī Kṛṣṇa said: O Pārtha (Arjuna, son of Pṛthā), behold the Kaurava Dynasty assembled here!
तत्रापश्यत्स्थितान्पार्थः पितॄनथ पितामहान् ।
श्वशुरान्सुहृदश्चैव सेनयोरुभयोरपि ॥२६॥
tatrāpaśyat sthitān pārthaḥ pitṛn atha pitāmahān
ācāryān mātulān bhrātṛn putrān pautrān sakhīṁs tathā
śvaśurān suhṛdaś caiva senayor ubhayorapi
There, between the two armies, Arjuna was able to observe fatherly elders, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, fathers-in-law and friends.
तान्समीक्ष्य स कौन्तेयः सर्वान्बन्धूनवस्थितान् ।
कृपया परयाविष्टो विषीदन्निदमब्रवीत् ॥२७॥
tān samīkṣya sa kaunteyaḥ sarvān bandhūn avasthitān
kṛpayā parayāviṣṭo viṣīdann idam abravit
Seeing all his relatives before him on the battlefield, Arjuna, the son of Kuntī, became overcome with pity and was grief-stricken.
दृष्ट्वेमं स्वजनं कृष्ण युयुत्सुं समुपस्थितम् ।
सीदन्ति मम गात्राणि मुखं च परिशुष्यति ॥२८॥
arjuna uvāca –
dṛṣṭvemaṁ svajanaṁ kṛṣṇa yuyutsuṁ samupasthitam
sīdanti mama gātrāṇi mukhaṁ ca pariśuṣyati
Arjuna said: O Kṛṣṇa, seeing all my relatives assembled here and preparing for battle, the strength drains from my limbs and my mouth becomes parched.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa is known as Pārtha-sārathi, the chariot-driver of Arjuna. Because Kṛṣṇa was Arjuna’s friend and companion, he requested Kṛṣṇa to draw his chariot between the two armies so that he could see with whom he was to do battle. But upon seeing the enemy before him, Arjuna was shocked and fell into a state of bewilderment.
Now the stage at Kurukṣetra was set, so that Śrī Kṛṣṇa could speak Bhagavad-gītā – Arjuna became overwhelmed with grief and gave up his duty. As a warrior Arjuna was duty-bound to fight, but seeing the ordeal that lay ahead he could not proceed.
The world is certainly full of faults, dangers, unfortunate events, cruel and hateful designs to exploit others and a host of other qualities that one would certainly describe as evil. To quote Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman and philosopher, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing.”
Arjuna had resolved in his mind not to fight, knowing that the destruction of the dynasty meant the loss of tradition, the onslaught of degradation, the birth of unwanted children etc. and thus evil would be the only outcome. Arjuna also understood deep within himself that to do nothing also assured grim repercussions.
वेपथुश्च शरीरे मे रोमहर्षश्च जायते ।
गाण्डीवं स्रंसते हस्तात्त्वक्चैव परिदह्यते ॥२९॥
vepathuś ca śarīre me romaharṣaś ca jāyate
gāṇḍīvaṁ sraṁsate hastāt tvak caiva paridahyate
My body trembles, my hair stands on end, my skin burns and my Gāṇḍīva bow slips from my grasp.
न च शक्नोम्यवस्थातुं भ्रमतीव च मे मनः ।
निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव ॥३०॥
na ca śaknomy-avasthātuṁ bhramatīva ca me manaḥ
nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava
O Kṛṣṇa, O Keśava (Killer of the Keśī demon), I cannot keep my composure, my mind is bewildered and I see evil omens.
न च श्रेयोऽनुपश्यामि हत्वा स्वजनमाहवे ।
न काङ्क्षे विजयं कृष्ण न च राज्यं सुखानि च ॥३१॥
na ca śreyo’nupaśyāmi hatvā svajanam āhave
na kāṅkṣe vijayaṁ kṛṣṇa na ca rājyaṁ sukhāni ca
O Kṛṣṇa, I see no benefit in slaying my kinsmen in this battle. Neither do I desire victory, nor happiness by attaining a great kingdom.
किं नो राज्येन गोविन्द किं भोगैर्जीवितेन वा ।
येषामर्थे काङ्क्षितं नो राज्यं भोगाः सुखानि च ॥३२॥
त इमेऽवस्थिता युद्धे प्राणांस्त्यक्त्वा धनानि च ।
आचार्याः पितरः पुत्रास्तथैव च पितामहाः ॥३३॥
मातुलाः श्वशुराः पौत्राः श्यालाः सम्बन्धिनस्तथा ।
एतान्न हन्तुमिच्छामि घ्नतोऽपि मधुसूदन ॥३४॥
kiṁ no rājyena govinda kiṁ bhogair jīvitena vā
yeṣām arthe kāṅkṣitaṁ no rājyaṁ bhogāḥ sukhāni ca
ta ime’vasthitā yuddhe prāṇāṁs tyaktvā dhanāni ca
ācāryāḥ pitaraḥ putrās tathaiva ca pitāmahāḥ
mātulāḥ śvaśurāḥ pautrāḥ śyālāḥ sambandhinas tathā
etān na hantum icchāmi ghnato’pi madhusūdana
O Govinda (Kṛṣṇa), of what avail to us are kingdoms, happiness, or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? Of what use is a kingdom and it’s pleasures if those for whom we desire all this – our teachers, elders, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives that are present here on this battlefield – are ready to jeopardise their kingdoms and their lives in this battle? O Madhusūdana (Killer of the Madhu demon), even if they wish to slay me, I have no desire to slay them.
अपि त्रैलोक्यराज्यस्य हेतोः किं नु महीकृते ।
निहत्य धार्तराष्ट्रान्नः का प्रीतिः स्याज्जनार्दन ॥३५॥
api trailokya-rājyasya hetoḥ kiṁ nu mahī-kṛte
nihatya dhārtarāṣṭrān naḥ kā prītiḥ syāj-janārdana
O Janārdana (Maintainer of all living beings), what to speak of ruling this world, even if we gained sovereignty over the three worlds, what happiness would be attained by killing the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra?
तस्मान्नार्हा वयं हन्तुं धार्तराष्ट्रान्स्वबान्धवान् ।
स्वजनं हि कथं हत्वा सुखिनः स्याम माधव ॥३६॥
pāpam evāśrayed asmān hatvaitān ātatāyinaḥ
tasmān nārhā vayaṁ hantuṁ dhārtarāṣṭrān sabāndhavān
svajanaṁ hi kathaṁ hatvā sukhinaḥ syāma mādhava
O Mādhava (husband of the goddess of fortune), great misfortune will surely come upon us if we kill our relatives, though they may be hostile towards us. It is not proper to slay the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra as well as our friends. What happiness will be derived from killing our own kin?
यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतसः ।
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम् ॥३७॥
कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभिः पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् ।
कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन ॥३८॥
yadyapyete na paśyanti lobhopahatachetasaḥ
kula-kṣayakṛtaṁ doṣaṁ mitra-drohe ca pātakam
kathaṁ na jñeyam asmābhiḥ pāpād asmān nivartitum
kula-kṣayakṛtaṁ doṣaṁ prapaśyadbhir janārdana
O Janārdana, although the hearts of these men are overwhelmed by greed and they cannot see the fault in betraying one’s friends and the offence of murdering one’s kinsmen, why should we engage in such a terrible activity, knowing well the consequences?
कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्माः सनातनाः ।
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत ॥३९॥
kula-kṣaye praṇaśyanti kula-dharmāḥ sanātanāḥ
dharme naṣṭe kulaṁ kṛtsnam adharmo’bhibhavatyuta
By destroying one’s relatives, the family traditions are vanquished forever, and when such practices perish, unrighteousness prevails over the entire dynasty.
अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रियः ।
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्करः ॥४०॥
adharmābhibhavāt kṛṣṇa praduṣyanti kula-striyaḥ
strīṣu duṣṭāsu vārṣṇeya jāyate varṇa-saṅkaraḥ
O Kṛṣṇa, descendant of Vṛṣṇi, when unrighteousness prevails then the women of the family become degraded. When the women become degraded, then undesirable offspring is the result.
सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च ।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः ॥४१॥
saṅkaro narakāyaiva kula-ghnānāṁ kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hyeṣāṁ lupta-piṇḍodaka-kriyāḥ
Undesirable offspring creates a dreadful condition for both the family and the destroyer of family values. Their forefathers fall down due to the discontinuation of ceremonial libations of food and water.
दोषैरेतैः कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकैः ।
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्माः कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वताः ॥४२॥
doṣair etaiḥ kula-ghnānāṁ varṇa-saṅkara-kārakaiḥ
utsādyante jāti-dharmāḥ kula-dharmāś ca śāśvatāḥ
Such terrible deeds by the destroyers of the family create a population of unwanted progeny that totally annihilates all traditions of family and society.
उत्सन्नकुलधर्माणां मनुष्याणां जनार्दन ।
नरके नियतं वासो भवतीत्यनुशुश्रुम ॥४३॥
utsanna-kula-dharmāṇāṁ manuṣyāṇāṁ janārdana
narake niyataṁ vāso bhavatīty-anuśuśruma
O Janārdana, I have heard that those who destroy familial, social and spiritual values eternally reside in wretched conditions.
अहो बत महत्पापं कर्तुं व्यवसिता वयम् ।
यद्राज्यसुखलोभेन हन्तुं स्वजनमुद्यताः ॥४४॥
aho bata mahat-pāpaṁ kartuṁ vyavasitā vayam
yad rājya-sukha-lobhena hantuṁ svajanam udyatāḥ
Alas, what wickedness we are determined to commit – simply due to our greed to enjoy royal pleasures we are prepared to kill our own relatives!
यदि मामप्रतीकारमशस्त्रं शस्त्रपाणयः ।
धार्तराष्ट्रा रणे हन्युस्तन्मे क्षेमतरं भवेत् ॥४५॥
yadi mām apratīkāram aśastraṁ śastra-pāṇayaḥ
dhārtarāṣṭrā raṇe hanyus tan me kṣemataraṁ bhavet
If the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, with weapons in their hands, slay me unarmed and unresisting on this battlefield, that would be considered better by me.
एवमुक्त्वार्जुनः सङ्ख्ये रथोपस्थ उपाविशत् ।
विसृज्य सशरं चापं शोकसंविग्नमानसः ॥४६॥
sañjaya uvāca –
evam uktvārjunaḥ saṅkhye rathopastha upāviśat
visṛjya saśaraṁ cāpaṁ śoka-saṁvigna-mānasaḥ
Sañjaya said: Having thus spoken these words, Arjuna cast aside his bow and arrows and sat on the chariot, his heart heavy with sorrow.
Figuratively speaking we would say that Arjuna was ‘caught between a hard spot and a rock’. Therefore, Arjuna intelligently approached Śrī Kṛṣṇa and appealed for His intervention. Knowing that Śrī Kṛṣṇa was the Absolute Truth, complete with all opulence and knowledge, Arjuna approached Śrī Kṛṣṇa, addressing Him as Hṛṣīkeśa (Master of the senses), as Acyuta (the infallible), as Keśava (the killer of the Keśī demon), as Govinda (one who pleases the senses), as Madhusūdana (the killer of the Madhu demon), as Janārdana (the Maintainer of all living beings), as Mādhava (the husband of the goddess of fortune) and as Vārṣṇeya (the descendant of the Vṛṣṇi Dynasty).
Arjuna addressed Śrī Kṛṣṇa by His different names in order to invoke Kṛṣṇa’s mercy and compassion for the predicament that Arjuna was in. As Hṛṣīkeśa, Kṛṣṇa is the Master of the mind and senses – thus He is never bewildered or put into illusion. As Acyuta, He is incapable of making mistakes or wrong decisions. Arjuna needed Kṛṣṇa’s advice urgently – advice that he could depend on, that would give relief to his disturbed mind and senses.
As Keśava, Kṛṣṇa is the killer of the demon Keśī who represents the false sense of greatness. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is known to have killed numerous demons during His advent and each of those demons represented negative qualities that hinder one’s progress in spiritual life such as the desire for name and fame, dishonesty, false pride, deceitfulness, cruelty, foolishness, violence, lust, anger, greed, false teachings and bad habits etc. Arjuna was confident that by taking shelter of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, all that was an impediment to his situation would be removed.
By addressing Kṛṣṇa as the descendant of the Vṛṣṇi Dynasty, Arjuna was also reminding Kṛṣṇa of the importance of family traditions and to destroy them was Arjuna’s biggest dilemma.
ॐ तत्सदिति श्रीमहाभारते शतसाहस्रयां संहितायां
श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपनिषत्सु ब्रह्मविद्यायां योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृष्णार्जुनसंवादे
सैन्यदर्शनं नाम प्रथमोऽध्यायः ॥
oṁ tat saditi śrī-mahābhārate-śata-sāhasryāṁ saṁhitāyāṁ
śrīmad bhagavad-gītāsūpaniṣatsu brahma-vidyāyāṁ yoga-śāstre śrī kṛṣṇārjuna-saṁvāde
sainya-darśanaṁ nāma prathamo’dhyāyaḥ
OṀ TAT SAT – Thus ends Chapter One entitled Sainya-Darśana from the conversation between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna in the Upaniṣad known as Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, the yoga-śāstra of divine knowledge, from the Bhīṣma-parva of Mahābhārata, the literature revealed by Vyāsa in one hundred thousand verses.