This is a continuation of my attempt to awaken your curiosity and read the Gita. I am sharing a few nuggets verbatim from each of the chapters of the book, with the hope that this gets you started at your own pace. There are many commentaries on The Gita. The version I am following is “The Scripture of Mankind” by Swami Tapasyananda. __________________________
The first chapter titled “Arjuna Vishada Yoga” (Arjuna’s spiritual conversion through sorrow) depicts Arjuna’s grief.
The Kurukshetra war is about to begin. The two armies are facing each other and the great warriors blow their conch shell horns again and again announcing the start of the war. In this charged atmosphere Arjuna tells Krishna
O Achyuta! Please station my chariot between the two armies so that I may have a view, on the eve of this battle, of all those standing ready to fight, and learn who all are the persons with whom I have to contend.
Stationed in his chariot between the two armies, he finds on both sides kith and kin and venerated persons like teachers and grandfathers standing ready to kill one another for the sake of power. The frightful consequences of a fratricidal war dawn on him in all vividness. The first chapter is almost entirely a narration of Arjuna’s confusion, pain and agony. It defines the problem statement of the Gita.
Seeings these relatives standing eager to join battle my limbs are giving way, my mouth is parching. I am trembling. My bow is slipping from my hands. My skin is burning. I find it impossible to stand firm , and my mind is reeling.
O Janrdhana! Even if these people with their intelligence overpowered by greed do not see any evil in the decay of families any sin in the persecution of friends, why should not we, who are aware of the evil of such decay of families, learn to desist from that sin.
A war weariness and world weariness together come upon him with dramatic suddenness. Under their impact he forgets all his social and family obligations, and wants to take to an ascetics life instead of indulging in what he conceives to be a senseless carnage under the guise of duty. He becomes a pacificst and a quietist all of a sudden.
He feels it is better to eat a beggars food than enjoy wealth stained with the blood of relatives and friends. Shocked at the prospect of a senseless carnage Arjuna decides to lay down his arms and surrender to the Kauravas, to court death at their hands or to become an ascetic.
He drops his weapons in a mood of depression caused by utter confusion as to what his duty is under such circumstances. And sits down in the chariot seat refusing to fight the war.
If Arjuna doesn’t fight the war is over. This ethical dilemma has to be resolved. Its a mind game, and the master psychologist Lord Krishna resolves the crisis step by step in a structured manner, finally awakening Arjuna to his senses so that he can complete his duty.
To be continued ……..
Reference for previous chapters