na caitad vidmah kataran no gariyo
yad va jayema yadi va no jayeyuh
yan eva hatva na jijivisamas
te ‘vasthitah pramukhe dhartarastrah
We don’t know which is meritorious for us, to fight or not to fight, nor do we know, whether we shall win or they will conquer us. The sons of Dhritarashtra, by killing whom we do not even wish to live, are arrayed against us
Arjuna did not know whether he should fight and risk unnecessary violence, although fighting is the duty of the Kshatriyas, or whether he should refrain and live by begging. If he did not conquer the enemy, begging would be his only means of subsistence. Nor was there certainty of victory, because either side might emerge victorious. Even if victory awaited them (and their cause was justified), still, if the sons of Dhritarashtra died in battle, it would be very difficult to live in their absence. Under the circumstances, that would be another kind of defeat for them.
Arjuna’s desire to live by begging, although he was born in the royal household, could be seen either a sign of detachment or sense of desperation and defeat. This is what happens to most of us when confronted by unimaginable problems in our day to day life. When hysteria attacks, intellectual composure is destroyed, resulting confusion leads to inefficiency and ultimately to failure in life.
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te ‘ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.
According to Vedic scriptures one who dies in this world without becoming ‘self-realized’, who is destitute of knowledge of the nature and qualities of their immortal soul, is called a miser. In common parlance a miser is one who is extremely stingy with their money. Miserliness here is the affliction of weakness regarding ones spiritual identity and integrity. Discriminatory power weakened by vices forms the delusion which bewilders the intelligence. Arjuna realized this and unconditionally surrendered to Lord Krishna with the words ‘tvam prapannam’ meaning ‘surrendered unto you’ and asks the Lord for spiritual guidance as confirmed by the words ‘sadhi mam’ instruct me. Arjuna qualifies himself to receive instructions from Lord Krishna by the words ‘sisyah te aham’ meaning I am your disciple.
Arjuna exhausted himself and seemed to be at crossroads and said “I am utterly confused please tell me what is good for me.” He uses the word ‘Sreyas’. So long he had been talking about what was ‘preyas’ to him, what he wanted to do or what is enjoyable. Now he was asking what is good to do. Then and then only the Lord started talking. Drinking alcohol may be ‘preyas’ or enjoyable to you, but it will not give you ‘sreyas’.
In our life we go on telling the Lord what to do, give us wealth, health and happiness and never ask Him what we should do to achieve the same thinking that we are already doing what is to be done and just waiting for the GOD to do his duty. When we do ask, He starts telling us what to do. Similarly when Arjuna said ‘sishyaste aham Sadhimam tvam prapannam’, I am your disciple I surrender to you, only then Krishna starts giving him the advice because advice given unasked will not be taken well!
na hi prapasyami mamapanudyad
yac chokam ucchosanam indriyanam
avapya bhumav asapatnam rddham
rajyam suranam api cadhipatyam
Even on obtaining undisputed sovereignty and an affluent kingdom on this earth as well as lordship over the gods in heaven, I do not see any remedy that can remove my grief, which withers my senses
Arjuna continues to lament and says “Not to talk of worldly pleasure, even lordship over heaven (position of Indra) cannot remove my worry and grief. If I grieved over the loss of a kingdom, it might be overcome by gaining it. But I am now grieved at thinking of the massacre of my kinsmen. Who could enjoy the kingdom, after the death of my kinsmen? Therefore, undisputed sovereignty and an affluent kingdom on this earth and lordship over the gods cannot remove the grief that is parching my senses.
Although Arjuna was quoting scriptures and principles of religion and moral codes, it appears that he was unable to solve his real problem all by himself. He could understand that academic knowledge, scholarship, high position, money etc., are all useless in solving the problems of life; only a qualified spiritual master can help. Thus Arjuna completely surrenders to Lord Krishna as a student and requests for instructions.
evam uktva hrsikesam
na yotsya iti govindam
uktva tusnim babhuva ha
Sanjaya said: Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Krishna, “Govinda, I shall not fight,” and fell silent.
Arjuna honoured the Lord’s word and wanted to obey it. But after thinking seriously, over what Lord Krishna had said and applying his own mind to his thoughts, came to the conclusion that war could result in providing him with an affluent kingdom, honour and fame. But it would not wipe out his grief, worry and misery. Therefore, it was not befitting for him to wage war. So Arjuna speaks his mind in clear words “I’ll not fight.” Having declared his decision not to fight, and having nothing more to say, Arjuna became quiet. Here the terms used to denote Arjuna and Krishna are significant. The one who asked was ‘gudakesa’, meaning one who conquered sleep, that is, he is capable of controlling his senses and this weakness is only temporary. Arjuna is also called ‘parantapa’ meaning scorcher of enemy who will not show any mercy towards them. Arjuna’s current enemy is his mental imbalance and he is ready to fight that with the help of the Jagatguru who is the lord himself. The names ‘hrshikesa and Govinda’, both denote that the one who is going to advise is the master of the senses.
The greatest fear in life is of death. If we are able to overcome the fear of death of self and others, life becomes much more peaceful and enjoyable. Gita teaches you that we all are eternal and only our body keep changing with time.
tam uvaca hrsikesah
prahasann iva bharata
senayor ubhayor madhye
visidantam, idam vacah
O descendant of Bharata, at that time Krishna, smiling, in the midst of both the armies, spoke the following words to the grief-stricken Arjuna.
Lord Krishna with a subtle smile upon his face then spoke to Arjuna who was lamenting at a most inappropriate time between the two opposing armies. The word ‘prahasan’ meaning smiling is used to subtly indicate sarcasm and evoke anger at the impropriety of such limpid sensitivity by Arjuna who in his own right is a mighty warrior respected by all the mightiest warriors of his time. Hrsikesa’, means that the Lord is the in-dweller viz., He knows feelings of beings.
Krishna was a friend of Arjuna. Yet when Arjuna requested Krishna to be his ‘Guru’ at once He takes up the task with all its seriousness and began the great discourse called Gita. Since the Gita was told not in the confines of a room or in the isolation of the forest but in the midst of two armies, we can assume that Gita is not only for Arjuna but also for the entire world, you and me included.