Bhagavad Gita - Chapter One:
Observing the Armies on the Battlefield Of Kurukshetra

Text 25
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • bhisma-drona-pramukhatah
  • sarvesam ca mahi-ksitam
  • uvaca partha pasyaitan
  • samavetan kurun iti
English Translation:
In the presence of Bhishma, Drona and all other chieftains of the world, the Lord said, Just behold, Parth, all the Kurus assembled here.


As the super soul of all living entities, Lord Krishna could understand what was going on in the mind of Arjun. The use of the word Hrsikesha in this connection indicates that He knew everything. And the word Parth, or the son of Kunti, or Prth, is also similarly significant in reference to Arjun. As a friend. He wanted to inform Arjun that because Arjun was the son of Prtha, the sister of His own father Vasudeva, He had agreed to be the charioteer of Arjun. Now what did Krishna mean when He told Arjun to "behold the Kurus"? Did Arjun want to stop there and not fight? Krishna never expected such things from the son of His aunt Prtha. The mind of Arjun was thus predicted by the Lord in friendly joking.

Text 26

Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • tatrapasyat sthitan parthah
  • pitrn atha pitamahan
  • acaryan matulan bhratrn
  • putran pautran sakhims tatha
  • svasuran suhrdas caiva
  • senayor ubhayor api
English Translation:
There Arjun 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.

Purport: On the battlefield Arjun could see all kinds of relatives. He could see persons like Bhurisrava, who were his father's contemporaries, grandfathers Bhima and Somadatta, teachers like Dronacarya and Krpacarya, maternal uncles like Salya and Sakuni, brothers like Duryodhana, sons like Lakshmana, friends like Ashvatthama, well wishers like Krtavarma, etc. He could see also the armies which contained many of his friends.

Text 27

Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • tan samiksya sa kaunteyah
  • sarvan bandhun avasthitan
  • krpaya parayavisto
  • visdann idam abravit
English Translation:
When the son of Kunti, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus

Text 28
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • arjuna uvaca
  • drstvemam sva-janam krsna
  • yuyutsum samupasthitam
  • sidanti mama gatrani
  • mukham ca parisusyati
English Translation:
Arjun said: My dear Krishna, 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 non devotee, however advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in godly qualities. As such, Arjun 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 Arjun, had come to fight with him. This overwhelmed a kind devotee like Arjun. Although it is not mentioned here, still one can easily imagine that not only were Arjun's bodily limbs quivering and his mouth drying up, but he was also crying opt of compassion. Such symptoms in Arjun were not due to weakness but to his soft heartedness, a characteristic of a pure devotee of the Lord. It is said therefore:

"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."

Text 29
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • vepathus ca sarire me
  • roma-harsas ca jayate
  • gandivam sramsate hastat
  • tvak caiva paridahyate
English Translation:
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. Arjun’s symptoms in this situation are out of material fear – namely, loss of life. This is evident from other symptoms also, he became to 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.

Text 30
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • na ca saknomy avasthatum
  • bhramativa ca me manah
  • nimittani ca pasyami
  • viparitani kesava
English Translation:
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 Krishna killer of the Kesi demon

Due to his impatience, Arjun 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. Such fearfulness and loss of mental equilibrium take place in persons who are too affected by material conditions. Arjun envisioned only painful reverses in the battlefield—he 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. Arjun is showing ignorance of his real self-interest by Krishna's will. One's real self-interest lies in Vishnu, or Krsna. The conditioned soul forgets this, and therefore suffers material pains. Arjun thought that his victory in the battle would only be a cause of lamentation for him.

Text 31
Sanskrit working:

  • na ca sreyo nupasyami
  • hatva sva-janam ahave
  • na kankse vijayam krsna
  • na ca rajyam sukhani ca
English Translation:
I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I my dear Krishna desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

Without knowing that one's self-interest is in Vishnu (or Krishna), 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. Arjun appears to have even forgotten the moral codes for a kshatriya. It is said that two kinds of men, namely the kshatriya who dies directly in front of the battlefield under Krishna's 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. Arjun 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 kshatriya, he requires a kingdom for his subsistence ~ because the kshatriyas cannot engage themselves in any other occupation. But Arjun has no kingdom. Arjun's sole opportunity for gaining a kingdom lies in fighting with his cousins and brothers and reclaiming the kingdom inherited from his father, which lie does not like to do. Therefore he considers himself fit to go to the forest to live a secluded life of frustration.

Text 32 - 35
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • kim no rajyena govinda
  • kim bhogair jivitena va
  • yesam arthe kanksitam no
  • rajyam bhogah sukhani ca.

  • ta ime vasthita yuddhe
  • pranams tyaktva dhanani ca
  • acaryah pitarah putras
  • tathaiva ca pitamahah.

  • matulah svasurah pautrah
  • syalah sambandhinas tatha
  • etan na hantum icchami
  • ghnato pi madhusudana.

  • api trailokya-rajyasya
  • hetoh kim nu mahi-krte
  • nihatya dhartarastran nah
  • ka pritih syaj janardana
English Translation:
Translation 0 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? 0 Madhusadana, 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? 0 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 Dhytarashra?

Arjun has addressed Lord Krishna as Govinda because Krishna is the object of all pleasures for cows and the senses. By using this significant word, Arjun indicates that Krishna should understand what will satisfy Arjun's 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 way—namely, when one tries to satisfy the senses of Govinda without desiring to satisfy one's own senses—then by the grace of Govinda all desires of the living entity are satisfied. Arjun's 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 Arjun 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. Arjun did not want to kill his relatives, and if there were any need to kill them, he desired that Krishna kill them personally. At this point he did not know that Krishna had already killed them before their coming into the battlefield and that he was only to become an instrument for Krishna. This fact is disclosed in following chapters. As a natural devotee of the Lord, Arjun did not like to retaliate against his miscreant cousins and brothers, but it was the Lord's 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 Arjun wanted to excuse them.

Text 36
Sanskrit working:

English Wording:

  • papam evasrayed asman
  • hatvaitan atatayinah
  • tasman narha vayamh hantum
  • dhartarastran sa-bandhavan
  • sva-janam hi katham hatva
  • sukhinah syama madhava.
English Translation:
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhrtarishtra and our friends. What should we gain? 0 Krishna, 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 another's 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 Arjun 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 kshatriya. 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 Rama's wife, Sita, but Lord Rama gave him sufficient lessons, unparalleled in the history of the world, in Arjun's case, however, one should consider the special type of aggressors, namely his own grandfather, own teacher, friends, sons, grandsons, etc. Because of them, Arjun 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. Arjun 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 there from are not permanent, so why should he risk his life and eternal salvation by killing his own kinsmen? Arjun's addressing of Krishna as "Madhava," or the husband of the goddess of fortune, is also significant in this connection. He wanted to point out to Krishna that, as husband of the goddess of fortune, He should not induce Arjun to take up a matter which would ultimately bring about misfortune. Krishna, however, never brings misfortune to anyone, to say nothing of His devotees.

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