Battlefield of Kuruksetra
Dhrtarastra said: O Sanjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, desiring to fight, what did they do?
Bhagavad-gita is the widely read theistic science summarized in the Gita-mahatmya (Glorification of the Gita). There it says that one should read Bhagavad-gita very scrutinizingly with the help of a person who is a devotee of Sri Krsna and try to understand it without personally motivated interpretations. The example of clear understanding is there in the Bhagavad-gita itself, in the way the teaching is understood by Arjuna, who heard the Gita directly from the Lord. If someone is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gita in that line of disciplic succession, without motivated interpretation, then he surpasses all studies of Vedic wisdom, and all scriptures of the world. One will find in the Bhagavad-gita all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gita. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna.
The topics discussed by Dhrtarastra and Sanjaya, as described in the Mahabharata, form the basic principle for this great philosophy. It is understood that this philosophy evolved on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, which is a sacred place of pilgrimage from the immemorial time of the Vedic age. It was spoken by the Lord when He was present personally on this planet for the guidance of mankind.
The word dharma-ksetra (a place where religious rituals are performed) is significant because, on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present on the side of Arjuna. Dhrtarastra, the father of the Kurus, was highly doubtful about the possibility of his sons ultimate victory. In his doubt, he inquired from his secretary Sanjaya, "What did they do?" He was confident that both his sons and the sons of his younger brother Pandu were assembled in that Field of Kuruksetra for a determined engagement of the war. Still, his inquiry is significant. He did not want a compromise between the cousins and brothers, and he wanted to be sure of the fate of his sons on the battlefield. Because the battle was arranged to be fought at Kuruksetra, which is mentioned elsewhere in the Vedas as a place of worshipeven for the denizens of heavenDhrtarastra became very fearful about the influence of the holy place on the outcome of the battle. He knew very well that this would influence Arjuna and the sons of Pandu favorably, because by nature they were all virtuous. Sanjaya was a student of Vyasa, and therefore, by the mercy of Vyasa, Sanjaya was able to envision the Battlefield of Kuruksetra even while he was in the room of Dhrtarastra. And so, Dhrtarastra asked him about the situation on the battlefield.
Both the Pandavas and the sons of Dhrtarastra belong to the same family, but Dhrtarastras mind is disclosed herein. He deliberately claimed only his sons as Kurus, and he separated the sons of Pandu from the family heritage. One can thus understand the specific position of Dhrtarastra in his relationship with his nephews, the sons of Pandu. As in the paddy field the unnecessary plants are taken out, so it is expected from the very beginning of these topics that in the religious field of Kuruksetra, where the father of religion, Sri Krsna, was present, the unwanted plants like Dhrtarastras son Duryodhana and others would be wiped out and the thoroughly religious persons, headed by Yudhisthira, would be established by the Lord. This is the significance of the words dharma-ksetre and kuru-ksetre, apart from their historical and Vedic importance.
Sanjaya said: O King, after looking over the army arranged in military formation by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and spoke the following words.
Dhrtarastra was blind from birth. Unfortunately, he was also bereft of spiritual vision. He knew very well that his sons were equally blind in the matter of religion, and he was sure that they could never reach an understanding with the Pandavas, who were all pious since birth. Still he was doubtful about the influence of the place of pilgrimage, and Sanjaya could understand his motive in asking about the situation on the battlefield. Sanjaya wanted, therefore, to encourage the despondent king and thus assured him that his sons were not going to make any sort of compromise under the influence of the holy place. Sanjaya therefore informed the king that his son, Duryodhana, after seeing the military force of the Pandavas, at once went to the commander in chief, Dronacarya, to inform him of the real position. Although Duryodhana is mentioned as the king, he still had to go to the commander on account of the seriousness of the situation. He was therefore quite fit to be a politician. But Duryodhanas diplomatic veneer could not disguise the fear he felt when he saw the military arrangement of the Pandavas.
O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple the son of Drupada.
Duryodhana, a great diplomat, wanted to point out the defects of Dronacarya, the great brahmana commander in chief. Dronacarya had some political quarrel with King Drupada, the father of Draupadi, who was Arjunas wife. As a result of this quarrel, Drupada performed a great sacrifice, by which he received the benediction of having a son who would be able to kill Dronacarya. Dronacarya knew this perfectly well, and yet as a liberal brahmana he did not hesitate to impart all his military secrets when the son of Drupada, Dhrstadyumna, was entrusted to him for military education. Now, on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Dhrstadyumna took the side of the Pandavas, and it was he who arranged for their military phalanx, after having learned the art from Dronacarya. Duryodhana pointed out this mistake of Dronacaryas so that he might be alert and uncompromising in the fighting. By this he wanted to point out also that he should not be similarly lenient in battle against the Pandavas, who were also Dronacaryas affectionate students. Arjuna, especially, was his most affectionate and brilliant student. Duryodhana also warned that such leniency in the fight would lead to defeat.
Here in this army are many heroic bowmen equal in fighting to Bhima and Arjuna: great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada.
Even though Dhrstadyumna was not a very important obstacle in the face of Dronacaryas very great power in the military art, there were many others who were causes of fear. They are mentioned by Duryodhana as great stumbling blocks on the path of victory because each and every one of them was as formidable as Bhima and Arjuna. He knew the strength of Bhima and Arjuna, and thus he compared the others with them.
There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhrstaketu, Cekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya.
There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters.
But for your information, O best of the brahmanas, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force.
There are personalities like you, Bhisma, Karna, Krpa, Asvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle.
Duryodhana mentions the exceptional heroes in the battle, all of whom are ever victorious. Vikarna is the brother of Duryodhana, Asvatthama is the son of Dronacarya, and Saumadatti, or Bhurisrava, is the son of the King of the Bahlikas. Karna is the half brother of Arjuna, as he was born of Kunti before her marriage with King Pandu. Krpacaryas twin sister married Dronacarya.
There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science.
As far as the others are concernedlike Jayadratha, Krtavarma and Salyaall are determined to lay down their lives for Duryodhanas sake. In other words, it is already concluded that all of them would die in the Battle of Kuruksetra for joining the party of the sinful Duryodhana. Duryodhana was, of course, confident of his victory on account of the above-mentioned combined strength of his friends.
Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhisma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited.
Herein an estimation of comparative strength is made by Duryodhana. He thinks that the strength of his armed forces is immeasurable, being specifically protected by the most experienced general, Grandfather Bhisma. On the other hand, the forces of the Pandavas are limited, being protected by a less experienced general, Bhima, who is like a fig in the presence of Bhisma. Duryodhana was always envious of Bhima because he knew perfectly well that if he should die at all, he would only be killed by Bhima. But at the same time, he was confident of his victory on account of the presence of Bhisma, who was a far superior general. His conclusion that he would come out of the battle victorious was well ascertained.
All of you must now give full support to Grandfather Bhisma, as you stand at your respective strategic points of entrance into the phalanx of the army.
Duryodhana, after praising the prowess of Bhisma, further considered that others might think that they had been considered less important, so in his usual diplomatic way, he tried to adjust the situation in the above words. He emphasized that Bhismadeva was undoubtedly the greatest hero, but he was an old man, so everyone must especially think of his protection from all sides. He might become engaged in the fight, and the enemy might take advantage of his full engagement on one side. Therefore, it was important that other heroes not leave their strategic positions and allow the enemy to break the phalanx. Duryodhana clearly felt that the victory of the Kurus depended on the presence of Bhismadeva. He was confident of the full support of Bhismadeva and Dronacarya in the battle because he well knew that they did not even speak a word when Arjunas wife Draupadi, in her helpless condition, had appealed to them for justice while she was being forced to appear naked in the presence of all the great generals in the assembly. Although he knew that the two generals had some sort of affection for the Pandavas, he hoped that these generals would now completely give it up, as they had done during the gambling performances.
Then Bhisma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly, making a sound like the roar of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy.
The grandsire of the Kuru dynasty could understand the inner meaning of the heart of his grandson Duryodhana, and out of his natural compassion for him he tried to cheer him by blowing his conchshell very loudly, befitting his position as a lion. Indirectly, by the symbolism of the conchshell, he informed his depressed grandson Duryodhana that he had no chance of victory in the battle, because the Supreme Lord Krsna was on the other side. But still, it was his duty to conduct the fight, and no pains would be spared in that connection.
On the other side, both Lord Krsna and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells.
In contrast with the conchshell blown by Bhismadeva, the conchshells in the hands of Krsna and Arjuna are described as transcendental. The sounding of the transcendental conchshells indicated that there was no hope of victory for the other side because Krsna was on the side of the Pandavas. Jayas tu pandu-putranam yesam pakse janardanah. Victory is always with persons like the sons of Pandu because Lord Krsna is associated with them. And whenever and wherever the Lord is present, the goddess of fortune is also there because the goddess of fortune never lives alone without her husband. Therefore, victory and fortune were awaiting Arjuna, as indicated by the transcendental sound produced by the conchshell of Visnu, or Lord Krsna. Besides that, the chariot on which both the friends were seated had been donated by Agni (the fire-god) to Arjuna, and this indicated that this chariot was capable of conquering all sides, wherever it was drawn over the three worlds.
Lord Krsna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell, called Paundra.
Lord Krsna is referred to as Hrsikesa in this verse because He is the owner of all senses. The living entities are part and parcel of Him, and therefore the senses of the living entities are also part and parcel of His senses. The impersonalists cannot account for the senses of the living entities, and therefore they are always anxious to describe all living entities as sense-less, or impersonal. The Lord, situated in the hearts of all living entities, directs their senses. But He directs in terms of the surrender of the living entity, and in the case of a pure devotee He directly controls the senses. Here on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra the Lord directly controls the transcendental senses of Arjuna, and thus His particular name of Hrsikesa. The Lord has different names according to His different activities. For example, His name is Madhusudana because He killed the demon of the name Madhu; His name is Govinda because He gives pleasure to the cows and to the senses; His name is Vasudeva because He appeared as the son of Vasudeva; His name is Devaki-nandana because He accepted Devaki as His mother; His name is Yasoda-nandana because He awarded His childhood pastimes to Yasoda at Vrndavana; His name is Partha-sarathi because He worked as charioteer of His friend Arjuna. Similarly, His name is Hrsikesa because He gave direction to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra.
Arjuna is referred to as Dhananjaya in this verse because he helped his elder brother in fetching wealth when it was required by the king to make expenditures for different sacrifices. Similarly, Bhima is known as Vrkodara because he could eat as voraciously as he could perform herculean tasks, such as killing the demon Hidimba. So the particular types of conchshell blown by the different personalities on the side of the Pandavas, beginning with the Lords, were all very encouraging to the fighting soldiers. On the other side there were no such credits, nor the presence of Lord Krsna, the supreme director, nor that of the goddess of fortune. So they were predestined to lose the battleand that was the message announced by the sounds of the conchshells.
King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhrstadyumna, Virata, the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of Subhadra, all blew their respective conchshells.
Sanjaya informed King Dhrtarastra very tactfully that his unwise policy of deceiving the sons of Pandu and endeavoring to enthrone his own sons on the seat of the kingdom was not very laudable. The signs already clearly indicated that the whole Kuru dynasty would be killed in that great battle. Beginning with the grandsire, Bhisma, down to the grandsons like Abhimanyu and othersincluding kings from many states of the worldall were present there, and all were doomed. The whole catastrophe was due to King Dhrtarastra, because he encouraged the policy followed by his sons.
The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious. Vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra.
When Bhisma and the others on the side of Duryodhana blew their respective conchshells, there was no heart-breaking on the part of the Pandavas. Such occurrences are not mentioned, but in this particular verse it is mentioned that the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra were shattered by the sounds vibrated by the Pandavas party. This is due to the Pandavas and their confidence in Lord Krsna. One who takes shelter of the Supreme Lord has nothing to fear, even in the midst of the greatest calamity.
At that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in the chariot bearing the flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. O King, after looking at the sons of Dhrtarastra drawn in military array, Arjuna then spoke to Lord Krsna these words.
The battle was just about to begin. It is understood from the above statement that the sons of Dhrtarastra were more or less disheartened by the unexpected arrangement of military force by the Pandavas, who were guided by the direct instructions of Lord Krsna on the battlefield. The emblem of Hanuman on the flag of Arjuna is another sign of victory because Hanuman cooperated with Lord Rama in the battle between Rama and Ravana, and Lord Rama emerged victorious. Now both Rama and Hanuman were present on the chariot of Arjuna to help him. Lord Krsna is Rama Himself, and wherever Lord Rama is, His eternal servitor Hanuman and His eternal consort Sita, the goddess of fortune, are present. Therefore, Arjuna had no cause to fear any enemies whatsoever. And above all, the Lord of the senses, Lord Krsna, was personally present to give him direction. Thus, all good counsel was available to Arjuna in the matter of executing the battle. In such auspicious conditions, arranged by the Lord for His eternal devotee, lay the signs of assured victory.
Arjuna said: O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms.
Although Lord Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, out of His causeless mercy He was engaged in the service of His friend. He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible. As charioteer, He had to carry out the orders of Arjuna, and since He did not hesitate to do so, He is addressed as infallible. Although He had accepted the position of a charioteer for His devotee, His supreme position was not challenged. In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hrsikesa, the Lord of the total senses. The relationship between the Lord and His servitor is very sweet and transcendental. The servitor is always ready to render service to the Lord, and, similarly, the Lord is always seeking an opportunity to render some service to the devotee. He takes greater pleasure in His pure devotees assuming the advantageous position of ordering Him than He does in being the giver of orders. Since He is master, everyone is under His orders, and no one is above Him to order Him. But when He finds that a pure devotee is ordering Him, He obtains transcendental pleasure, although He is the infallible master of all circumstances.
As a pure devotee of the Lord, Arjuna had no desire to fight with his cousins and brothers, but he was forced to come onto the battlefield by the obstinacy of Duryodhana, who was never agreeable to any peaceful negotiation. Therefore, he was very anxious to see who the leading persons present on the battlefield were. Although there was no question of a peacemaking endeavor on the battlefield, he wanted to see them again, and to see how much they were bent upon demanding an unwanted war.
Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhrtarastra.
It was an open secret that Duryodhana wanted to usurp the kingdom of the Pandavas by evil plans, in collaboration with his father, Dhrtarastra. Therefore, all persons who had joined the side of Duryodhana must have been birds of the same feather. Arjuna wanted to see them on the battlefield before the fight was begun, just to learn who they were, but he had no intention of proposing peace negotiations with them. It was also a fact that he wanted to see them to make an estimate of the strength which he had to face, although he was quite confident of victory because Krsna was sitting by his side.
Sanjaya said: O descendant of Bharata, having thus been addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krsna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties.
In this verse Arjuna is referred to as Gudakesa. Gudaka means sleep, and one who conquers sleep is called gudakesa. Sleep also means ignorance. So Arjuna conquered both sleep and ignorance because of his friendship with Krsna. As a great devotee of Krsna, he could not forget Krsna even for a moment, because that is the nature of a devotee. Either in waking or in sleep, a devotee of the Lord can never be free from thinking of Krsnas name, form, qualities and pastimes. Thus a devotee of Krsna can conquer both sleep and ignorance simply by thinking of Krsna constantly. This is called Krsna consciousness, or samadhi. As Hrsikesa, or the director of the senses and mind of every living entity, Krsna could understand Arjunas purpose in placing the chariot in the midst of the armies. Thus He did so, and spoke as follows.
In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all the other chieftains of the world, the Lord said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus assembled here.
As the Supersoul of all living entities, Lord Krsna could understand what was going on in the mind of Arjuna. The use of the word Hrsikesa in this connection indicates that He knew everything. And the word Partha, or the son of Kunti, or Prtha, is also similarly significant in reference to Arjuna. As a friend, He wanted to inform Arjuna that because Arjuna was the son of Prtha, the sister of His own father Vasudeva, He had agreed to be the charioteer of Arjuna. Now what did Krsna mean when He told Arjuna to "behold the Kurus"? Did Arjuna want to stop there and not fight? Krsna never expected such things from the son of His aunt Prtha. The mind of Arjuna was thus predicted by the Lord in friendly joking.
There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers.
On the battlefield Arjuna could see all kinds of relatives. He could see persons like Bhurisrava, who were his fathers contemporaries, grandfathers Bhisma and Somadatta, teachers like Dronacarya and Krpacarya, maternal uncles like Salya and Sakuni, brothers like Duryodhana, sons like Laksmana, friends like Asvatthama, well-wishers like Krtavarma, etc. He could see also the armies which contained many of his friends.
Arjuna said: My dear Krsna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.
Any man who has genuine devotion to the Lord has all the good qualities which are found in godly persons or in the demigods, whereas the nondevotee, however advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in godly qualities. As such, Arjuna, just after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives on the battlefield, was at once overwhelmed by compassion for them who had so decided to fight amongst themselves. As far as his soldiers were concerned, he was sympathetic from the beginning, but he felt compassion even for the soldiers of the opposite party, foreseeing their imminent death. And while he was so thinking, the limbs of his body began to quiver, and his mouth became dry. He was more or less astonished to see their fighting spirit. Practically the whole community, all blood relatives of Arjuna, had come to fight with him. This overwhelmed a kind devotee like Arjuna. Although it is not mentioned here, still one can easily imagine that not only were Arjunas bodily limbs quivering and his mouth drying up, but he was also crying out of compassion. Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to weakness but to his softheartedness, a characteristic of a pure devotee of the Lord. It is said therefore:
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna
mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih
"One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the glaring material energy." (Bhag. 5.18.12)
My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning.
There are two kinds of trembling of the body, and two kinds of standings of the hair on end. Such phenomena occur either in great spiritual ecstasy or out of great fear under material conditions. There is no fear in transcendental realization. Arjunas symptoms in this situation are out of material fearnamely, loss of life. This is evident from other symptoms also; he became so impatient that his famous bow Gandiva was slipping from his hands, and, because his heart was burning within him, he was feeling a burning sensation of the skin. All these are due to a material conception of life.
I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Krsna, killer of the Kesi demon.
Due to his impatience, Arjuna was unable to stay on the battlefield, and he was forgetting himself on account of this weakness of his mind. Excessive attachment for material things puts a man in such a bewildering condition of existence. Bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syat (Bhag. 11.2.37): such fearfulness and loss of mental equilibrium take place in persons who are too affected by material conditions. Arjuna envisioned only painful reverses in the battlefieldhe would not be happy even by gaining victory over the foe. The words nimittani viparitani are significant. When a man sees only frustration in his expectations, he thinks, "Why am I here?" Everyone is interested in himself and his own welfare. No one is interested in the Supreme Self. Arjuna is showing ignorance of his real self-interest by Krsnas will. Ones real self-interest lies in Visnu, or Krsna. The conditioned soul forgets this, and therefore suffers material pains. Arjuna thought that his victory in the battle would only be a cause of lamentation for him.
I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krsna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.
Without knowing that ones self-interest is in Visnu (or Krsna), conditioned souls are attracted by bodily relationships, hoping to be happy in such situations. In such a blind conception of life, they forget even the causes of material happiness. Arjuna appears to have even forgotten the moral codes for a ksatriya. It is said that two kinds of men, namely the ksatriya who dies directly in front of the battlefield under Krsnas personal orders and the person in the renounced order of life who is absolutely devoted to spiritual culture, are eligible to enter into the sun globe, which is so powerful and dazzling. Arjuna is reluctant even to kill his enemies, let alone his relatives. He thinks that by killing his kinsmen there would be no happiness in his life, and therefore he is not willing to fight, just as a person who does not feel hunger is not inclined to cook. He has now decided to go into the forest and live a secluded life in frustration. But as a ksatriya, he requires a kingdom for his subsistence, because the ksatriyas cannot engage themselves in any other occupation. But Arjuna has no kingdom. Arjunas sole opportunity for gaining a kingdom lies in fighting with his cousins and brothers and reclaiming the kingdom inherited from his father, which he does not like to do. Therefore he considers himself fit to go to the forest to live a secluded life of frustration.
O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhrtarastra?
Arjuna has addressed Lord Krsna as Govinda because Krsna is the object of all pleasures for cows and the senses. By using this significant word, Arjuna indicates that Krsna should understand what will satisfy Arjunas senses. But Govinda is not meant for satisfying our senses. If we try to satisfy the senses of Govinda, however, then automatically our own senses are satisfied. Materially, everyone wants to satisfy his senses, and he wants God to be the order supplier for such satisfaction. The Lord will satisfy the senses of the living entities as much as they deserve, but not to the extent that they may covet. But when one takes the opposite waynamely, when one tries to satisfy the senses of Govinda without desiring to satisfy ones own sensesthen by the grace of Govinda all desires of the living entity are satisfied. Arjunas deep affection for community and family members is exhibited here partly due to his natural compassion for them. He is therefore not prepared to fight. Everyone wants to show his opulence to friends and relatives, but Arjuna fears that all his relatives and friends will be killed on the battlefield and he will be unable to share his opulence after victory. This is a typical calculation of material life. The transcendental life, however, is different. Since a devotee wants to satisfy the desires of the Lord, he can, Lord willing, accept all kinds of opulence for the service of the Lord, and if the Lord is not willing, he should not accept a farthing. Arjuna did not want to kill his relatives, and if there were any need to kill them, he desired that Krsna kill them personally. At this point he did not know that Krsna had already killed them before their coming into the battlefield and that he was only to become an instrument for Krsna. This fact is disclosed in following chapters. As a natural devotee of the Lord, Arjuna did not like to retaliate against his miscreant cousins and brothers, but it was the Lords plan that they should all be killed. The devotee of the Lord does not retaliate against the wrongdoer, but the Lord does not tolerate any mischief done to the devotee by the miscreants. The Lord can excuse a person on His own account, but He excuses no one who has done harm to His devotees. Therefore the Lord was determined to kill the miscreants, although Arjuna wanted to excuse them.
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhrtarastra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krsna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen?
According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: (1) a poison giver, (2) one who sets fire to the house, (3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, (4) one who plunders riches, (5) one who occupies anothers land, and (6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors. Such killing of aggressors is quite befitting any ordinary man, but Arjuna was not an ordinary person. He was saintly by character, and therefore he wanted to deal with them in saintliness. This kind of saintliness, however, is not for a ksatriya. Although a responsible man in the administration of a state is required to be saintly, he should not be cowardly. For example, Lord Rama was so saintly that people even now are anxious to live in the kingdom of Lord Rama (rama-rajya), but Lord Rama never showed any cowardice. Ravana was an aggressor against Rama because Ravana kidnapped Ramas wife, Sita, but Lord Rama gave him sufficient lessons, unparalleled in the history of the world. In Arjunas case, however, one should consider the special type of aggressors, namely his own grandfather, own teacher, friends, sons, grandsons, etc. Because of them, Arjuna thought that he should not take the severe steps necessary against ordinary aggressors. Besides that, saintly persons are advised to forgive. Such injunctions for saintly persons are more important than any political emergency. Arjuna considered that rather than kill his own kinsmen for political reasons, it would be better to forgive them on grounds of religion and saintly behavior. He did not, therefore, consider such killing profitable simply for the matter of temporary bodily happiness. After all, kingdoms and pleasures derived therefrom are not permanent, so why should he risk his life and eternal salvation by killing his own kinsmen? Arjunas addressing of Krsna as "Madhava," or the husband of the goddess of fortune, is also significant in this connection. He wanted to point out to Krsna that, as husband of the goddess of fortune, He should not induce Arjuna to take up a matter which would ultimately bring about misfortune. Krsna, however, never brings misfortune to anyone, to say nothing of His devotees.
O Janardana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing ones family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin?
A ksatriya is not supposed to refuse to battle or gamble when he is so invited by some rival party. Under such an obligation, Arjuna could not refuse to fight, because he had been challenged by the party of Duryodhana. In this connection, Arjuna considered that the other party might be blind to the effects of such a challenge. Arjuna, however, could see the evil consequences and could not accept the challenge. Obligation is actually binding when the effect is good, but when the effect is otherwise, then no one can be bound. Considering all these pros and cons, Arjuna decided not to fight.
With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion.
In the system of the varnasrama institution there are many principles of religious traditions to help members of the family grow properly and 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 of purification may stop, and the remaining younger family members may develop irreligious habits and thereby lose their chance for spiritual salvation. Therefore, for no purpose should the elder members of the family be slain.
When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krsna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrsni, comes unwanted progeny.
Good population in human society is the basic principle for peace, prosperity and spiritual progress in life. The varnasrama religions principles were so designed that the good population would prevail in society for the general spiritual progress of state and community. Such population depends on the chastity and faithfulness of its womanhood. As children are very prone to be misled, women are similarly very prone to degradation. Therefore, both children and women require protection by the elder members of the family. By being engaged in various religious practices, women will not be misled into adultery. According to Canakya Pandita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy. So the different family traditions of religious activities should always engage them, and thus their chastity and devotion will give birth to a good population eligible for participating in the varnasrama system. On the failure of such varnasrama-dharma, naturally the women become free to act and mix with men, and thus adultery is indulged in at the risk of unwanted population. Irresponsible men also provoke adultery in society, and thus unwanted children flood the human race at the risk of war and pestilence.
An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped.
According to the rules and regulations of fruitive activities, there is a need to offer periodical food and water to the forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Visnu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Visnu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful actions. Sometimes the forefathers may be suffering from various types of sinful reactions, and sometimes some of them cannot even acquire a gross material body and are forced to remain in subtle bodies as ghosts. Thus, when remnants of prasadam food are offered to forefathers by descendants, the forefathers are released from ghostly or other kinds of miserable life. Such help rendered to forefathers is a family tradition, and those who are not in devotional life are required to perform such rituals. 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 the Bhagavatam (11.5.41):
na kinkaro nayam rni ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihrtya kartam
"Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers." Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by performance of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated.
Community projects for the four orders of human society, combined with family welfare activities, as they are set forth by the institution of sanatana-dharma, or varnasrama-dharma, are designed to enable the human being to attain his ultimate salvation. Therefore, the breaking of the sanatana-dharma tradition by irresponsible leaders of society brings about chaos in that society, and consequently people forget the aim of lifeVisnu. Such leaders are called blind, and persons who follow such leaders are sure to be led into chaos.
O Krsna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell.
Arjuna bases his argument not on his own personal experience, but on what he has heard from the authorities. That is the way of receiving real knowledge. One cannot reach the real point of factual knowledge without being helped by the right person who is already established in that knowledge. There is a system in the varnasrama institution by which before death one has to undergo the process of atonement for his sinful activities. One who is always engaged in sinful activities must utilize the process of atonement called the prayascitta. Without doing so, one surely will be transferred to hellish planets to undergo miserable lives as the result of sinful activities.
Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen.
Driven by selfish motives, one may be inclined to such sinful acts as the killing of ones own brother, father or mother. There are many such instances in the history of the world. But Arjuna, being a saintly devotee of the Lord, is always conscious of moral principles and therefore takes care to avoid such activities.
Better for me if the sons of Dhrtarastra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield.
It is the customaccording to ksatriya fighting principlesthat an unarmed and unwilling foe should not be attacked. Arjuna, however, decided that even if attacked by the enemy in such an awkward position, he would not fight. He did not consider how much the other party was bent upon fighting. All these symptoms are due to soft-heartedness resulting from his being a great devotee of the Lord.
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.
While observing the situation of his enemy, Arjuna stood up on the chariot, but he was so afflicted with lamentation that he sat down again, setting aside his bow and arrows. Such a kind and soft-hearted person, in the devotional service of the Lord, is fit to receive self-knowledge.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purports to the First Chapter of the Srimad Bhagavad-gita in the matter of Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra.