Arjuna Vishaada Yogah: Yoga of the Despondency of Arjuna
SOUNDING OF THE CONCH SHELLS
tasya sanjanayan harsham kuruvriddhah pitaamahah
simhanaadam vinadyocchaih shankham dadhmau prataapavaan //1.12 //
tatah shankaashcha bheryashcha panavaanakagomukhaah
sahasaivaabhyahanyanta sa shabdastumulo bhavat // 1.13 //
Then (following Bhishma) conches, kettle drums, tabors, trumpets and cow-horns suddenly blared forth from the Kaurava side creating a tumultuous noise.
atah shvetair hayair yukte mahati syandane sthitau
maadhavah paandavashchaiva divyau shankhau pradadhmatuh // 1.14 //
Then stationed in their magnificent chariot, yoked with white horses, Madhava (Krishna) and the son of Pandu (Arjuna) also blew their divine conches with a furious noise.
paanchajanyam hrisheekesho devadattam dhananjayah
paundram dadhmau mahaashankham bheemakarmaa vrikodarah // 1.15 //
Hrishikesha (Krishna) blew the conch, Panchajanya, Dhananjaya (Arjuna) blew the Devadatta and Bhima, the doer of terrible deeds, blew the great conch, Paundra.
anantavijayam raajaa kunteeputro yudhishthirah
nakulah sahadevashcha sughoshamanipushpakau // 1.16 //
King Yudhishtira, the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya, Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosha and Manipushpaka conches respectively.
kaashyashcha parameshwaasah shikhandee cha mahaarathah
dhrishtadyumno viraatashcha saatyakishchaaparaajitah // 1.17 //
The king of Kasi, an excellent archer, Sikhandi, the mighty chariot-warrior, Dhrshtadyumna, Virata and Satyaki, the unconquered.
drupado draupadeyaashcha sarvashah prithiveepate
saubhadrashcha mahaabaahuh shankhaan dadhmuh prithak prithak // 1.18 //
Drupada and the sons of Draupadi, O Lord of the earth, and the son of Subhadra, the mighty armed, blew their respective conches.
sa ghosho dhaartaraashtraanaam hridayaani vyadaarayat
nabhashcha prithiveem chaiva tumulo vyanunaadayan // 1.19 //
The tumultuous sound of the conches pierced the hearts of the members of the Dhritarashtra's side, making both the sky and earth resound.
Bhishma understood the mental agony of Duryodhana. In order to cheer him up he roared like a lion and blew his conch which was misunderstood as a signal for commencement of war. The Kaurava army blared forth their various conches and martial musical instruments signifying the declaration of war from the side of Kauravas. Metaphorically, the chariot represents the human gross body, the horses are the senses and their reins are the mind that controls the senses. The charioteer is the guiding spirit or the Self or Atman in the human beings. Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the divine charioteer, is the Self in all of us.
ARJUNA’S DESIRE TO SURVEY THE TWO ARMIES
atha vyavasthitaan drishtwaa dhaartaraashtraan kapidhwajah
pravritte shastrasampaate dhanurudyamya paandavah // 1.20 //
hrisheekesham tadaa vaakyamidamaaha maheepate - 1.21
Then, O Lord of the earth, seeing Dhritarashtra's men being positioned and discharge of weapons about to begin, Pandava (Arjuna), whose ensign was Hanuman, raising his bow, spoke the following words to Krishna.
The critical situation prevailing just at that moment when the war was about to begin was described. The hero of Mahabharata war, Arjuna, arrived at the battlefield. Tension prevailed everywhere. Crisis was at its zenith. Arjuna appeared impatient to fire the shot. He raised his bow to position it and at that crucial juncture he spoke to Krishna the following words which turned out to be historic as the starting point for the dialogue between them in the form of the great Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
senayor ubhayormadhye ratham sthaapaya me'chyuta // 1.21 //
yaavad etaan nireekshe'ham yoddhukaamaan avasthitaan
kair mayaa saha yoddhavyam asmin ranasamudyame // 1.22 //
O Achyuta (Krishna) place my chariot in between both
the armies so that I may survey those who stand here eager to fight. Let me know on the eve of this battle with whom I have to fight.
yotsyamaanaan avekshe'ham ya ete'tra samaagataah
dhaartaraashtrasya durbuddher yuddhe priyachikeershavah // 1.23 //
For, I desire to have a glance at those who are assembled here to fight, wishing to please the perverted son of Dhritarashtra.
Arjuna thus expressed his bravery, readiness, impatience, gallantry and determination to face the battle. This is an important stage in the story because up to this time Arjuna was an invincible hero full of self-confidence and enthusiasm with no signs of mental aberrations. However, a little later he became a completely changed personality.
SRI KRISHNA ENTERS THE SCENE
evamukto hrisheekesho gudaakeshena bhaarata
senayor ubhayormadhye sthaapayitwaa rathottamam // 1.24 //
bheeshma drona pramukhatah sarveshaam cha maheekshitam
uvaacha paartha pashyaitaan samavetaan kuroon iti // 1.25 //
O Bharata (Dhritarashtra), thus requested by Gudakesha (Arjuna), Hrishikesha placed the magnificent chariot between the two armies in front of Bhishma and Drona and the other rulers of the earth and said `O Partha (Arjuna), behold all these Kurus assembled here'.
WHAT DID ARJUNA SEE?
tatraa pashyat sthitaan paarthah pitrin atha pitaamahaan
aacharyaan maatulaan bhraatrun putraan pautraan sakheemstathaa // 1.26 //
Then Arjuna saw stationed there in the armies, uncles, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons and friends too.
shvashuraan suhridashchaiva senayorubhayorapi
taan sameekshya sa kaunteyah sarvaan bandhoon avasthitaan // 1.27 //
kripayaa parayaa'vishto visheedannidam abraveet - 1.28
He saw fathers-in-law and friends also in both armies. Kaunteya (son of Kunti) i.e. Arjuna seeing all these relatives arrayed there, became overwhelmed by supreme compassion and said this sorrowfully.
Arjuna seeing his elders and other relations, teachers, friends and well wishers arrayed in the battle ready to fight suddenly developed extreme self-pity and compassion. The valiant hero, Arjuna, transformed himself into a kinsman of the opposite side i.e. as a son, a brother, a student etc.
drishtwe mam swajanam krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam // 1.28 //
O Krishna, seeing these relatives and friends gathered here eager to fight,
seedanti mama gaatraani mukham cha parishushyati
vepathushcha shareere me romaharshashcha jaayate // 1.29//
My limbs fail me and my mouth gets parched up, my body trembles and my hairs stand on end.
gaandeevam sramsate hastaat twak chaiva paridahyate
na cha shaknomyavasthaatum bhramateeva cha me manah // 1.30 //
The Gandiva (bow) slips from my hand and my skin burns all over; I am unable even to stand steady and my mind is reeling.
nimittaani cha pashyaami vipareetaani keshava
na cha shreyo'nupashyaami hatwaa swajanam aahave // 1.31 //
And I see evil omens, O Kesava (Krishna), I do not see any good in killing my own people in this battle.
Arjuna's attention to omens indicates that his mental strength had gone down. It started showing its weakness and instability. The world he was seeing till a short while ago, now presented him with a different picture on account of his change of perception. His words make us think of the loneliness of man oppressed by doubts and emptiness from whom the comforts of human life are slipping away. This sadness is the first experience of those who aspire for the vision of the Reality.
na kaangkshe vijayam krishna na cha raajyam sukhaani cha
kim no raajyena govinda kim bhogair jeevitena vaa // 1.32 //
For, I do not desire victory, O, Krishna, or pleasures or kingdoms. Of what avail is kingdom to us O, Govinda (Krishna), or pleasures or even life?
yeshaam arthe kaangkshitam no raajyam bhogaah sukhaani cha
ta ime'vasthitaa yuddhe praanaams tyaktwaa dhanaani cha // 1.33 //
Those for whose sake we desire kingdoms, enjoyments and pleasures, stand here in battle staking their life and wealth.
aachaaryah pitarah putraastathaiva cha pitaamahaah
maatulaah shwashuraah pautraah shyaalaah sambandhinas tathaa // 1.34 //
Teachers, fathers, sons and also grandfathers, uncles and fathers-in-law, grandsons and brothers-in-law and other relatives
etaan na hantum icchaami ghnato'pi madhusoodana
api trailokya raajyasya hetoh kim nu maheekrite // 1.35 //
O, Madhusudana (Krishna), though these were to kill me, I do not wish to kill them even for the sake of dominion over the three worlds, leave alone killing them for the sake of the earth.
nihatya dhaartaraashtraan nah kaa preetih syaaj janaardana
paapam evaashrayed asmaan hatwaitaan aatataayinah // 1.36 //
By killing these sons of Dhritarashtra, what pleasures can be ours O, Janardana (Krishna)? Only sin will accrue by killing these felons.
The term `felon' refers to the one who sets fire to the house of another, runs with a sword to kill, poisons others, plunders the wealth and land of others or usurps the wife of somebody else. Duryodhana committed all these crimes against the Pandavas. According to Artha Sastra no sin is committed if such felons are killed. But Arjuna overwhelmed with a sense of sentimental sympathy for his near and dear ones takes the help of the general principle of Dharma Sastra which forbids the sin of killing one another. He is talking in terms of enlightened selfishness.
tasmaan naarhaa vayam hantum dhaartaraashtraan swabaandhavaan
swajanam hi katham hatwaa sukhinah syaama maadhava // 1.37 //
Therefore, we should not kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our relatives; for, how can we be happy by killing our own people, O, Madhava (Krishna)?
yadyapyete na pashyanti lobhopahatachetasah
kulakshayakritam dosham mitradrohe cha paatakam // 1.38 //
katham na jneyam asmaabhih paapaad asmaan nivartitum
kulakshayakritam dosham prapashyadbhir janaardana // 1.39 //
O Janardana, though with their intelligence overpowered by greed they do not see any evil or sin in the destruction of families or hostility towards friends, why should not we who clearly see evil in the destruction of a family, learn to turn away from this sin.
Arjuna was reinforcing his arguments for saving the Kaurava desperadoes due to his attachment for his relatives and friends by putting forward a philosophy of non-resistance to evil. Krishna in his discourses that will follow proved the hollowness of these arguments and their dangerous implications.
kulakshaye pranashyanti kuladharmaah sanaatanaah
dharme nashte kulam kritsnam adharmo'bhibhavatyuta // 1.40 //
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 // 1.41 //
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 // 1.42 //
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 // 1.43 //
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 // 1.44 //
O, Janardana, we have heard that dwelling in hell for an infinite period is inevitable for those people whose family duties have been destroyed.
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 // 1.45 //
yadi maam aprateekaaram ashastram shastrapaanayah
dhaartaraashtraa rane hanyus tanme kshemataram bhavet // 1.46 //
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.
TO BE CONTINUED......