1.31-“I see, O Madhav (Krishn), inauspicious portents, and I can perceive no prefix in the idea of slaughtering kinsmen in the battle.”
Arjun sees adverse signs of the impending war. He does not see anything propitious in the slaying of his own family. How can any good result from such killing?
1.32-“I aspire, O Krishn, after neither victory nor a realm and its pleasures for of what avail is sovereignty to us, O Govind (Krishn), or enjoyment, or even life itself?”
Arjun’s whole family is on the brink of war. So he does not wish for either victory or the kingdom that this victory may bring him, or even the pleasures of that kingdom. Of what use will be a kingdom or enjoyment or life to him? He then states the reasons for his reluctance to fight in the war.
1.33 -“They for whose sake we crave for a kingdom, pleasures, and enjoyments are formed up here, putting at stake both their life and wealth.”
The family, for whose sake Arjun has desired the happiness of a kingdom and other pleasures, is now mustered on the battlefield despairing of its life. If he had desired a kingdom, it was for them. If he had hungered for the pleasures of wealth and indulgence, it was because he wanted to enjoy it along with his kith and kin. But he now desires neither a kingdom nor pleasures, nor enjoyment, because he sees his kinsmen standing against him without any hope of life. Whatever he had desired was dear to him for their sake. But he does not need these things if he has to get them at the cost of his kinsmen.Desires remain as long as there are family ties. Even a poor man having only a wretched hovel to live in will not accept an empire extending over the entire length and breadth of the world if for this he has to kill his family, friends, and kinsmen. Arjun says the same thing. He is fond of pleasures and he loves victory, but of what good can they be to him if the very people for whom be desires these rewards are no longer with him? Of what use will enjoyment of pleasures be in their absence? After all, who are the people he will have to kill in the war?
1.34/35-“Teachers, uncles, nephews as well as granduncles, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandnephews, brothers-in-law, and other kinsmen. Though they might slay me, I yet have no desire to kill them, O Madhusudan (Krishn), even for a realm made up of the three worlds, still less for this earth alone.”
The people to be slain are Arjun’s own flesh and blood. As he tells Krishn sorrowfully, he does not wish to harm his kinsmen although in doing so he might lose his own life at their hands, even for ruling over all the three worlds.
In an army formed of approximately 650 million men Arjun can see only his own family. Who really are these innumerable kinsmen? Arjun verily is an image of tender devotion. His dilemma is the one that faces every devotee when he sets out on the path of worshipful adoration (bhajan). It is everyone’s desire that he should attain the highest reality by reverence and worship. But he is filled with despair when, under an experienced and accomplished teacher’s tutelage, he comes to understand the fundamental nature of the conflict between the material body and the divine Self, and realizes against whom he has to wage his war. He wishes that his father’s family, his wife’s family, his maternal uncle’s family, people who love him, friends, and teachers should all live with him in happiness, and that, while providing for all of them, he should also attain to God.
So he is confused when confronted with the fact that in order to forge ahead in his task of worship he has to abandon his family. Because of his attachment, the prospect of severing the bonds of kinship confuses and unnerves him.
Most revered Gurudeo uses to say , “To be a sadhu (ascetic) is the same as to die.” Even if the universe has beings whom he regards as living, there is no one whom the ascetic can regard as belonging to his own family. As long as there is such a one, the feeling of attachment remains. As for this weakness, the one who is striving to realize his Self is a winner only when he rejects and destroys his attachment as well as all the other associated feelings. What is this world but an extension of the ties of attachment? What is there in it for us in the absence of these bonds? The world as we know it is only an extension of the mind. Yogeshwar Krishn has portrayed the same extension of the mind as the world. The man who has withstood and subdued its power has conquered the whole universe.
Sri Krishn tells Arjun in the nineteenth verse of Chapter 5,”The whole cosmos is overcome even in this world by those whose minds repose in equality.” Such a state of calm, of mental equipoise, is made possible by the complete annihilation of ego. This frees the mind from its self-centered subservience to the material world. After ego has ceased to exist, only the Self remains in a pure state. So this is the way to attainment of salvation and final beatitude (brahmavastha) which transcends the transitory life of nature. It is thus that those who have realized this state are not subject to the limitations of the material world.
It is not that only Arjun is confused. Affectionate attachment resides in every heart, and everyone with such a feeling is in a state of confusion. Kith and kin are always in the foreground of a man’s consciousness. At the beginning he believes that his sacred adoration will be helpful in his endeavour to make his kinsmen happy. He looks forward to enjoying his acquisitions along with them. But what shall he do with the happiness if his own people are no longer with him? So is it with Arjun. His vision has so far been limited to the pleasures that can be had from a kingdom and heaven.
He has till now envisaged the ultimate happiness in terms of heaven and a realm composed of the three worlds. If there is any reality beyond this, Arjun yet has no inkling of it.
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