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


The  core teaching of Krishna in the Gita is that where there is virtue there is the  prospect of victory and glorious life, both in this world and hereafter and  wherever there are vice, unrighteousness, injustice and immorality, there is  destruction, physical, moral and spiritual.

The  senses of ‘I’, ‘Me’, and ‘Mine’ are the root of all evils and bondages in the  world and the senses of ‘you’ and ‘your’ bring freedom to the soul. A wise man  is the one who goes beyond the sense of ‘I’, and knows the secret of ‘you’ by  which he gets rid of the senses of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’. As long as we remain selfish  we are caught in the net of desires and the world, so long we shall not be able  to realize the real essence of the Gita. So Krishna says detachment is freedom  and attachment is bondage. Therefore he instructs everybody to perform work  disinterestedly without asking for results thereof because desire for the  result of works is the chain that binds men and drags them into the den of  delusion or maya.

Krishna  represents the realized soul free of all conditioning, capable of seeing the  truth as it is. He is the Self in a state of sat-chit-ananda. Arjuna is  consciousness crumpled by conditioning. The chariot he rides is the body. The  horses are the senses. The two wheels are the desire and destiny. As a  charioteer, Krishna does two things - 1. He helps Arjuna to realize the true  nature of life and 2. He overpowers the forces that threaten social order.

He  classifies all actions into two viz. reaction and response; the former is  guided by one’s ego, motivated by one’s desires and the latter is guided by  one’s intellect motivated by one’s duty. The former focuses on result while the  latter focuses on action. Krishna proves that by responding rather than by  reacting, by maintaining equanimity and not getting provoked by worldly  stimuli, it is possible to satisfy the demands of worldliness, fulfill one’s  obligation to the society, repay one’s debts to ancestors and still attain moksha,  liberation.

The varnashrama dharma categorizes life into four stages to be lived sequentially  viz., brahmacharya, grihasta, vanaparstha and sanyasa. Krishna’s  suggestion is that simultaneous rather than sequential achievement of material  joy and spiritual bliss is possible.


1.  Is the Gita a scripture that propagates war?
The  answer is that it is concerned neither with violence nor with non-violence. It  neither condones nor condemns war. The point it makes is to look at the root of  any action. What is the yardstick that makes one war noble and the other ignoble?  It is the motivation behind it - is it the ego or the common welfare based on  justice that distinguishes the two.

Before the battle of Kurukshetra begins, Arjuna asks  Krishna to drive their chariot into the open space between the two armies, so  that he may see the men he must fight with. When Krishna does this, Arjuna recognizes  many of his kinsmen and old friends among the ranks of the enemy. He is  appalled by the realization that he is about to kill those whom he loves better  than life itself. In his despair, he exclaims: ‘I will not fight!’

Krishna’s reply to Arjuna occupies the rest of the book.  It deals not only with Arjuna’s immediate personal problem, but with the whole  nature of action, the meaning of life, and the aims for which man must struggle  here on earth. At the end of their conversation, Arjuna has changed his mind.  He is ready to fight. And the battle begins to fight the evil on the clear  understanding that non-resistance to evil is as good as committing evil.

To understand the Gita, we must first consider what it is  and what it is not. We must consider its setting. Krishna and Arjuna are on a  battlefield. Arjuna is not a dedicated monk but a householder and a warrior by  birth and profession. His problem is considered in relation to the  circumstances of the moment.

In the background of Gita is a war, between two families,  ready to start. Arjuna the main hero on one side looks at the family members,  elders and friends on the other side and experiences a strong sense of  frustration for infighting in the family. Although he was a great warrior, he  merely broke-down by thinking on the utter futility of this war and in that  moment of depression he asks his mentor about what he should do.

Also read
War and Non-violence in the Holy  Gita

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