Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 1 (Part-1)- Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna

kulakshaye  pranashyanti kuladharmaah sanaatanaah
dharme nashte  kulam kritsnam adharmo'bhibhavatyuta // 40 //

In the destruction of a family, its ancient  religious traditions perish; on the destruction of spirituality, lawlessness  overtakes the whole family.

Dharma  or spirituality means the duties, rites and ceremonies practiced by the family  in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures. War tends to tear us away  from our natural home surroundings and uproot us from social traditions which  are the essence of the mature will and experience of the people.

adharmaabhibhavaat  krishna pradushyanti kulastriyah
streeshu  dushtaasu vaarshneya jaayate varnasankarah // 41 //

And when lawlessness prevails, O Krishna, the women  of the family become corrupt and when women become corrupted it results in intermingling  of castes O, Varshneya (Krishna- the descendent of Vrshni clan). The idea is  that when women are associated with their husbands who flouted their family  traditions of righteousness, they may also feel emboldened to commit  transgressions.

sankaro  narakaayaiva kulaghnaanaam kulasya cha
patanti  pitaro hyeshaam luptapindodaka kriyaah   // 42 //

Admixture of castes leads the family and the  slayers of the family to hell because the spirits of their ancestors fall,  deprived of the offerings of rice and water.

doshair etaih  kulaghnaanaam varnasankarakaarakaih
utsaadyante  jaatidharmaah kuladharmaashcha shaashwataah // 43 //

By these evil deeds of the destroyers of the  family, which cause confusion of castes, the traditional duties of the caste  and the family are destroyed.

utsannakuladharmaanaam  manushyaanaam janaardana
narake  niyatam vaaso bhavateetyanushushruma  //  44 //

O, Janardana, we have heard that dwelling in hell  for an infinite period is inevitable for those people whose family duties have  been destroyed.

Arjuna  argued that impiety will predominate in the families because the death of the  experienced persons in the battle field will leave none to control and guide  them in good conduct and right behavior. This would lead to the womenfolk of  these families going astray causing intermingling of castes.

The  word `caste' meant a division of society based on one's mental tendencies and  qualifications for taking up a particular type of work or avocation in the  community. The division of society was never intended to be based on mere  accident of birth. Therefore admixture of castes implies people choosing their avocations  not suitable to their own inherent aptitude and tendencies resulting in the loss  of  professional ethics and excellence.

With  the intermingling of castes, progeny would not perform `Sraaddha' ceremonies to  their deceased ancestors which would cause them a downfall in the other  world.  It was feared that the traditions  of the individual families called Kula Dharma and those of a social  group called Jati Dharma or Varna Dharma might get disturbed due to  social upheaval as a consequence of war.

The  import of Arjuna’s arguments was that when the fundamental harmony of the  domestic life gets broken, when purity of living and sanctity of thought were  destroyed, when the ideals enshrined in immemorial traditions were shattered,  when the social equilibrium is disturbed, chaos alone will reign supreme in the  world..

aho bata  mahat paapam kartum vyavasitaa vayam
yadraajya  sukhalobhena hantum swajanam udyataah  //  45 //
yadi maam  aprateekaaram ashastram shastrapaanayah
dhaartaraashtraa  rane hanyus tanme kshemataram bhavet // 46 //

Alas, what a pity that we  have resolved to commit a great sin by being eager to kill our own kith and kin  out of greed for the pleasures of a kingdom !  It would, indeed be better for me if the sons of  Dhritarashtra, armed with weapons, were to kill me in the battle while I remain  unarmed and unresisting.

The idea is that instead of committing the heinous  sin of killing his own relatives and friends, Arjuna feels that purification from  even such a thought itself will come from the amends in the form of an end to  his own life itself.

Arjuna,  exhibiting lack of self- confidence, became a victim of emotions instead of a  master of the situation.  In his weak  state of mind he was imputing ulterior motives to a righteous war which he  himself was stoutly defending up to the very day it was to start. He went to  the extent of telling Krishna that non-injury was a virtue preferable to  defending oneself against other's attacks. He was not aware that his  attachment, selfishness and delusions were responsible for his  faint-heartedness and cold-feet in the face of a crisis. His despondency  ultimately culminated in meek pulling out from the situation in which he finds  himself.

Confounded  and Distressed, Arjuna collapses

sanjaya  uvaacha
evamuktwaa'rjunah  sankhye rathopastha upaavishat
visrijya  sasharam chaapam shokasamvignamaanasah // 47 //

Sanjaya said
Having spoken thus in the midst of the battlefield,  Arjuna, throwing away his bow and arrows, sank into the seat of the chariot, with  his mind afflicted by sorrow.

Arjuna  finally decided not to fight.  He threw  away his arms and sank into his seat. This is really strange for a warrior of  Arjuna's caliber.  For all these  outpourings, Krishna did not respond. The Lord allowed him to exhaust himself  so that the message He was going to deliver shortly to Arjuna and through him  to the entire humanity would be fully effective.

om tat sat
iti srimad bhagavadgeetaasu upanishatsu brahma  vidyaayaam yogashaastre
sri krishnaarjuna samvaade arjuna vishaada yogo  naama prathamo'dyaayah||

Thus  in the Upanishads of the glorious Bhagavad Gita, the science of the Eternal,  the scripture of Yoga, the dialogue between Sri Krishna and Arjuna, ends the  first discourse entitled: The  Yoga   of the Despondency of Arjuna

The  significance of these narrations at the end of each Chapter has already been explained  in the introductory essay.

We  shall have a critical look at this Chapter next time.


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