In the 1st Chapter we have seen that Arjuna asked Krishna to place the chariot in the midst of the two armies. Krishna having placed the chariot between the two armies particularly in front of Bhishma and Drona, asked Arjuna to behold the Kurus. Having seen the kinsmen, Arjuna was filled with compassion and sadness and threw away his arms and sank into the seat of the chariot. His personality was destroyed by his overwhelming emotions erupting at the sight of his near and dear ones on the battlefront.
The 2nd Chapter begins with Sanjaya telling Dhritarashtra about the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna when the latter continues to remain under the spell of melancholy and dejection. Arjuna, with a false sense of renunciation, argues that he would rather live on alms than slay the noble elders like Bhishma and Drona and that even an undisputed sovereignty over all the worlds would not drive away his grief. Arguing thus, he expressed his unwillingness to fight and became silent completely burnt out.
This is one of the longest Chapters in the Gita.
KRISHNA REBUKES ARJUNA
tam tathaa kripayaavishtam ashrupoornaakulekshanam
visheedantam idam vaakyam uvaacha madhusoodanah // 2.1 //
To him who was thus overwhelmed with pity and sorrow and whose eyes were dimmed with tears, Madhusudana (Krishna) spoke these words.
The second chapter starts with a brief reference to the sad mental condition of Arjuna. His pity was not compassion but a form of self-indulgence. It is the shrinking of the nerves from an act which compels him to hurt his own people. Arjuna recoils from this task in a mood of self-pity. His teacher, Sri Krishna, therefore rebukes him especially because the fact that he had to fight against his own people was known to him even before entering the battlefield.
sri bhagavaan uvaacha
kutastwaa kashmalam idam vishame samupasthitam
anaaryajushtam aswargyam akeertikaram arjuna // 2.2 //
Sri Bhagavan said
O Arjuna, at this moment of crisis, wherefrom have you got this weakness, un-Aryan like, disgraceful and which is not conducive to the attainment of heaven?
The Lord is called Bhagavan because He possesses six ‘bhagas’ or divine traits viz. wealth, virtue, glory, greatness, knowledge and dispassion. Krishna, who was silent all along, started speaking.
During His very first utterance in these verses the core of the message of Gita was delivered with a tremendous force. Sri Krishna addresses him as Arjuna which means pure in heart, implying that despite this quality he became faint-hearted instead of showing valor and zeal. It is quite unbecoming of him. Krishna was surprised about this change in Arjuna.
The term `Arya' refers to a highly evolved and cultured man who scrupulously adheres to Dharma. Arjuna, in whom manliness was in full all along, suddenly sunk into un-manliness at the moment of a crisis. The Lord rouses him from this set-back. Sri Krishna classified Arjuna`s mind as confused. Consequently all the utterances of such confused Arjuna would be meaningless and devoid of discrimination. Hence he is termed un-Aryan.
Kirti or fame attends on the one given to laudable life on earth. But Arjuna's way was entirely to the contrary. For him who was wavering in facing a decisive moment there would be nothing but disgrace, neither this world nor the next for such confused and dejected minds.
The message of Krishna is that the goal of life or success cannot be attained by the weak. To be firm in body, mind and character is born of strength. This world and the next are for the strong. Strength brings forth right conduct and straightforwardness leading to enjoyment of this world and reaching Godhood. All divine traits have their source in strength. Strength is life; weakness is death.
The three words used by the Lord are ‘anaryajushtam’, ‘asvargyam’ and ‘akirtikaram’. They mean respectively three types of persons. 1. Thoughtful whose aim is to Bliss. 2. Virtuous whose aim is to achieve heaven by performing honest actions and 3. Ordinary who want name and fame in this world. Arjuna is indicted that he belongs to none of these because of his affliction.
klaibyam maa sma gamah paartha naitattwayyupapadyate
kshudram hridaya daurbalyam tyaktwottishtha parantapa //2.3//
O Partha (Son of Pritha, Kunti), yield not to unmanliness. It does not befit you. Cast off this petty faint-heartedness and arise, O Paranthapa (scorcherer of foes - Arjuna).
The man, who fails to face a critical situation, speaking and acting irrelevantly, is denounced as unmanly. But Arjuna was not really made of that stuff. He was a vanquisher of his foes. The Lord seems to have deliberately used the strongest language to make him get out of his stupor and to goad him to perform his primary duty to wage war for which he came fully prepared.
The use of the words ‘Partha’ and ‘Kaunteya’ with reference to Arjuna is with a purpose. These words mean the son of Pritha, Kunti who is Krishna’s father’s sister. Krishna thus attempts to show his nearness to him and thereby convey something special to him for his welfare.