Bhagavad Geeta: Chapter 1, Verses 24-37

In the last few verses, Sanjaya has narrated the mental state of the two armies vividly. He takes Arjuna and Duryodhana as examples to demonstrate the state of mind on both sides. On one side, he shows how Duryodhana is so fearful looking at the enemy, and in contrast, Arjuna is so courageous that he wants to go forward and take a closer look at the enemy.

Chapter 1, Verses 24 and 25

Sanjaya said to (Bhārata) Dhritarashtra,

Thus addressed by Gudākesha (Arjuna), Hrishīkesha (Sri Krishna) having drawn the excellent chariot between the two armies, in the presence of Bheeshma, Drona, and all other kings, he said: "O Partha (Arjuna), behold all these descendants of Kuru gathered here."

Dhritarashtra is referred to as Bhārata as he is from the lineage of King Bharat. Arjuna is referred to as Gudākesha, meaning one who has conquered sleep (or laziness). Sri Krishna is referred to as Hrishīkesha, meaning who is the Lord of the senses. Arjuna is also referred to as Partha, meaning the son of Pritha. Pritha is another name for Kunti. 

Chapter 1, Verses 26 and 27

From that vantage point, Arjuna saw fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, fathers-in-law, well-wishers in both armies. Arjuna's heart was overwhelmed with compassion, and in deep sorrow, he spoke...

It looks like Arjuna became deluded on seeing his relatives. Till that point, he was ready for the war. On seeing these people, instead of focusing on the task at hand, Arjuna starts thinking about the ultimate end of the war with his anxious desire for victory. This preoccupation of the mind confuses his mind.

Chapter 1, Verses 28, 29 and 30

Arjuna said:

Seeing my kinsmen present eager to fight, O Krishna, my limbs are quivering, my mouth is drying up, and my body is shuddering with my hair standing on end. Gāndivam (name of Arjuna's bow) is slipping from my hand, and my skin burns all over; I am not able to remain steady, and my mind is whirling around.

In these verses, there is a clear explanation of the symptoms that one can recognize in his physical body as a result of mental confusion. Sanjaya, in the previous verses, mentioned that Arjuna was feeling compassionate and pitiful. Now we are seeing that in reality, Arjuna's mind is unsteady, agitated, and chaotic.

Chapter 1, Verse 31

And I see bad omens, O Keshava (Sri Krishna). Nor do I foresee any good in killing my kinsmen in battle.

Now, his mind has lost all discriminatory power as well. The usually logical and intelligent Arjuna became deluded and reached unintelligent conclusions because of his chaotic state of mind.

Chapter 1, Verses 32, 33 and 34

For, I do not desire victory, nor kingdom, nor happiness, O Krishna. Then of what avail is the Kingdom, O Govinda? Of what avail are the pleasures or even life itself? They, for whose sake we desire kingdom are all situated here in battle, having renounced life and wealth. Teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives.

Arjuna continues to give the argument to Krishna, justifying his cowardly retreat from his duty, perhaps wanting Sri Krishna to confirm what he is feeling in his mind is acceptable and just. But Krishna was quiet, and that is why Arjuna is continuing to put forth his argument.

Chapter 1, Verse 35

These I do not wish to slay even though they may kill me, O Madhusudhana (Sri Krishna), even for the sake of dominion over three worlds, then what to speak of for the sake of the earth.

Arjuna continues with his argument, feeling that he may not have expressed his case strongly enough. He says that he would not want to kill his relatives, even to win the three worlds of the universe, and much less so for the mere Hastinapur kingdom.

Chapter 1, Verse 36

By killing these sons of Dhritarashtra, what pleasure will there be O Janardhana (Sri Krishna)? Sin certainly must come upon us by killing these aggressors/felons.

Seeing Krishna silent, Arjuna continues to put forth his argument with his misinterpretation of what the scriptures say in regards to sin. Krishna remains silent, understanding that Arjuna is hysterically venting out, and it's best to let a mentally confused person bring out everything in his mind and exhaust himself.

Chapter 1, Verse 37

Therefore, we shall not kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our relatives. For how shall we be happy by killing our people, O Madhava (Sri Krishna)?

In this way, Arjuna rounds up his arguments and concludes that he should not kill the aggressors. He is asking Krishna to endorse his wrong conclusions derived from his misinterpretation of scriptural knowledge.


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