Bhagavad Gita: 1. Arjuna’s Dilemma


Arjuna Vishada Yoga

King Dhritarāshtra said: O Sanjaya, assembled in the holy field of Kurukshetra and eager to fight, what did my people and the Pāndavas do? (1.01)
Sanjaya said: Seeing the battle formation of the Pāndava’s army, King Duryodhana approached his guru and spoke these words: (1.02) O master, behold this mighty army of the sons of Pāndu, arranged in battle formation by your other talented disciple. There are many great warriors, valiant men, heroes, and mighty archers. I shall name a few of them for you. (1.03-06) Also know, O best among the men, the distinguished ones on our side.

Introduction of the army commanders
I shall name the commanders of my army and many other heroes who have risked their lives for me. They are armed with various weapons, and all are skilled in warfare. (1.07-09) Our army is invincible, while their army is easy to conquer. Therefore, all of you, occupying your respective positions on all fronts, protect our commander, Bhishma. (1.10-11) The mighty Bhishma, the eldest man of the Kuru dynasty, roared as a lion and blew his conch loudly, bringing joy to Duryodhana. (1.12) After that, conches, kettledrums, cymbals, drums, and trumpets were sounded together. The commotion was tremendous. (1.13) Then Lord Krishna and Arjuna, seated in a grand chariot yoked with white horses, blew their celestial conches. (1.14) Krishna blew His conch; then Arjuna and all other commanders of various divisions of the army blew their respective conches. The tumultuous uproar, resounding through earth and sky, tore the hearts of the Kauravas. (1.15-19)

Arjuna wants to inspect the army
Seeing the Kauravas standing, and the war about to begin with the hurling of weapons, Arjuna, whose banner bore the emblem of Lord Hanumāna, took up his bow and spoke these words to Lord Krishna: O Lord, please stop my chariot between the two armies until I behold those who stand here eager for the battle and with whom I must engage in this act of war. (1.20-22) I wish to see those who are willing to serve and appease the evil minded Kauravas by assembling here to fight the battle. (1.23) Sanjaya said: O King, Lord Krishna, as requested by Arjuna, placed the best of all the chariots in the midst of the two armies facing Bhishma, Drona, and all other Kings, and said to Arjuna: Behold these assembled Kauravas! (1.24-25) There, Arjuna saw his uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, and comrades. (1.26)

Arjuna's dilemma
Seeing fathers-in-law, companions, and all his kinsmen standing in the ranks of the two armies, Arjuna was overcome with great compassion and sorrowfully said: O Krishna, seeing my kinsmen standing with a desire to fight, my limbs fail and my mouth becomes dry. My body quivers and my hairs stand on end. (1.27-29) The bow slips from my hand, and my skin intensely burns.
My head turns, I am unable to stand steady, and O Krishna, I see bad omens. I see no use of killing my kinsmen in battle. (1.30-31) I desire neither victory, nor pleasure nor kingdom, O Krishna. What is the use of the kingdom, or enjoyment, or even life, O Krishna? Because all those --- for whom we desire kingdom, enjoyments, and pleasures --- are standing here for the battle, giving up their lives and wealth. (1.32-33) I do not wish to kill teachers, uncles, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives who are about to kill us, even for the sovereignty of the three worlds, let alone for this earthly kingdom, O Krishna. (1.34-35) O Lord Krishna, what pleasure shall we find in killing the sons of Dhritarāshtra? Upon killing these felons, we shall incur only sin. (1.36) Therefore, we should not kill our cousin brothers, the sons of Dhritarāshtra. How can we be happy after killing our relatives, O Krishna? (1.37) Though they, blinded by greed, do not see evil in the destruction of the family, or sin in being treacherous to friends, why should not we, who clearly see evil in the destruction of the family, think about turning away from this sin, O Krishna? (1.38-39)

Arjuna describes the evils of war
Eternal family traditions and codes of conduct are destroyed with the destruction of the family. Immorality prevails in the family due to the destruction of family traditions. (1.40) And when immorality prevails, O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupted; when women are corrupted, many social problems arise. (1.41) This brings the family and the slayers of the family to hell because the spirits of their ancestors are degraded when deprived of ceremonial offerings of riceball and water. (1.42) The everlasting qualities of social order and family traditions of those who destroy their family are ruined by the sinful act of illegitimacy. (1.43) We have been told, O Krishna, that people whose family traditions are destroyed necessarily dwell in hell for a long time. (1.44)

When the going gets tough, even tough ones can get deluded
Alas! We are ready to commit a great sin by striving to slay our relatives because of greed for the pleasures of the kingdom. (1.45) It would be far better for me if the sons of Dhritarāshtra should kill me with their weapons in battle while I am unarmed and unresisting. (1.46) Sanjaya said: Having said this in the battlefield and casting aside his bow and arrow, Arjuna sat down on the seat of the chariot with his mind overwhelmed with sorrow. (1.47)