Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 1 (Part-2) - Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna

Krishna,  the Master Strategist

It  is better to quote Swami Vivekananda here. He says: “I have heard about  Krishna’s life. I take it for granted there must have been a man called  Krishna, and his Gita shows he has left a wonderful book. He is the most  rounded man I know of, wonderfully developed, equally in brain, heart and hand.  Every movement of his is alive with activity, either as a gentleman, warrior,  minister or something else. Great as a gentleman, as a scholar, as a poet. This  all-rounded and wonderful activity and combination of brain and heart you see  in the Gita and other books. Most wonderful heart, exquisite language and  nothing can approach it anywhere.

In  Krishna we find two ideas stand supreme in his message. The first is the  harmony of different ideas and the second is non-attachment. A man can attain  to perfection, the highest goal, sitting on a throne, commanding armies,  working out big plans for nations. In fact, Krishna’s great sermon was preached  on the battlefield!

How  hard it is to arrive at this sort of non-attachment? Therefore Krishna shows us  the lower ways and methods. The easiest way for every one is to do his or her  work and not take the results. It is our desire that binds us. If we take the  results of actions, whether good or evil, we will have to bear them. But if we  work not for ourselves, but all for the glory of the Lord, the results will  take care of themselves. To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof.  The soldier works for no results. He does his duty. If defeat comes, it belongs  to the General and not to the soldier. We do our duty for love’s sake-love for  the General, love for the Lord”.

With  such a kind of the Charioteer guiding the eminent soldier Arjuna, let us see  what strategy Krishna adopted in the very first scene of the Gita to achieve  the purpose of his avatar, his descent from the Vaikuntha.

When  Arjuna asked Krishna to place his chariot between the two armies, Krishna  placed it with his sagacity, at such a point from where his kinsmen such as  Bhishma, teachers like Drona and other chief kings and warriors of the Kaurava  army, could be clearly seen. After keeping the chariot at a crucial spot he  told Arjuna, “O Partha (the son of Prtha, Kunti, and Krishna’s aunt) behold all  these Kurus, assembled here”. This statement has got a deep significance.

In  the word ‘Kuru’, the sons of both Dhritarashtra and Pandu are included because  of both of them belong to the Kuru lineage.. Krishna by saying ‘behold all  these Kurus assembled here’ means that they are all one, whether they are on  his side or opposite side and whether they are good or bad and thus a feeling  of kinship may develop in Arjuna.  This  feeling of kinship may lead to attachment and make him inquisitive. Thus, by  making Arjuna an instrument, Krishna wants to preach the gospel of the Gita for  the humanity as a whole. Therefore, Krishna instead of using the word  ‘Dhartarashtran’ used the word ‘Kurun’. Had he used the former word, Arjuna  would have become enthusiastic (as could be observed from Arjuna’s dialogues  using this word) and there would not have been any chance to expound the Gita.
Krishna  considered his duty to destroy Arjuna’s delusion by first arousing it and then  destroying it as in the case of certain medical procedures for achieving his  avowed purpose of establishing and protecting Dharma in the world through his several  incarnations.

The  relationship between Arjuna and Krishna in this scene is that of a car owner  and his driver. The driver just drives the car to the place where its owner  wants him to go. The driver does not question the owner or pass any comments on  the owner’s instructions or wish. But here Krishna tells or directs Arjuna  “Behold these Kurus”. There is no need for these remarks as Arjuna will see the  assembled warriors anyway and Krishna could have placed the chariot without  uttering any words. But he intentionally used the words ‘Kurun Pasya’ to  arouse attachment in Arjuna.

The  main reason of Arjuna’s grief is that when Krishna placed the chariot between  the two armies and asked Arjuna to behold the Kauravas, he saw his relatives,  teachers and friends etc. and thus his sense of attachment was aroused. He  perceives good in turning away from war and overwhelmed with grief he sinks  into the chariot laying down his arms. Thus we see that it is delusion which  changes a hero’s great courage into anxiety and worry state neurosis.

Dr.S.Radhakrishnan  says that Arjuna’s cry or demand was simple yet tremendous and damaging one,  “significant of the tragedy of man, which all, who can see beyond the actual  drama of the hour, can recognize. The mood of despair in which Arjuna is found  in the 1st Chapter of the Gita is what the mystics call the dark  night of the soul, an essential step in the upward path. Krishna stands for the  voice of God, delivering the message in the thrilling notes, warning Arjuna  against dejection of spirit. As the dialogue proceeds, the dramatic element  disappears. The echoes of the battlefield die away and we have only an  interview between God and man”.

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