Shlokas 4-8. Chapter 2

The Bhagavad Gita captures Arjuna’s anguish over battling respected elders, spotlighting ethical struggles.

अर्जुन उवाच:

कथं भीष्ममहं सङ्ख्ये द्रोणं च मधुसूदन।

इषुभिः प्रतियोत्स्यामि पूजार्हावरिसूदन॥ 2.4 ॥

Arjuna uvācha:

Kathaṁ bhīṣmam ahaṁ sankhye dronam cha madhusūdana

Iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāv arisūdana

Meaning:

Arjuna said: O Madhusudana (Krishna), how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship, O Arisudana (destroyer of enemies)?

 

गुरूनहत्वा हि महानुभावान् श्रेयो भोक्तुं भैक्ष्यमपीह लोके।

हत्वार्थकामांस्तु गुरूनिहैव भुञ्जीय भोगान्रुधिरप्रदिग्धान्॥ 2.5 ॥

Gurūn ahatvā hi mahānubhāvān Shreyo bhoktuṁ bhaikṣyam apīha loke

Hatvā'rthakāmāṁs tu gurūn ihaiva Bhuñjīya bhogān rudhira-pradigdhān

Meaning:

It is better to live in this world by begging than to slay these great and noble teachers. If I kill them, even in this world all my enjoyments will be tainted with blood.

 

न चैतद्विद्म: कतरन्नो गरीयो यद्वा जयेम यदि वा नो जयेयु:।

यानेव हत्वा न जिजीविषाम: तेऽवस्थिताः प्रमुखे धार्तराष्ट्राः॥ 2.6 ॥

Na chaitad vidmaḥ kataran no garīyo Yad vā jayema yadi vā no jayeyuḥ

Yān eva hatvā na jijīviṣāmaḥ Te'vasthitāḥ pramukhe dhārtarāṣṭrāḥ

Meaning:

We do not know which is better—conquering them or being conquered by them. If we kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, we should not care to live. Yet they are standing before us on the battlefield.

 

कार्पण्यदोषोपहतस्वभाव: पृच्छामि त्वां धर्मसंमूढचेताः।

यच्छ्रेयः स्यान्निश्‍चितं ब्रूहि तन्मे शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम्॥ 2.7 ॥

Kārpaṇya-doṣopahata-svabhāvaḥ

Pṛcchāmi tvāṁ dharma-sammūḍha-cetāḥ

Yac chreyaḥ syān niśchitaṁ brūhi tan me

Śiṣyas te'haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam

Meaning:

My nature is overcome by weak-heartedness. I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition, I am asking you to tell me clearly what is best for me. I am your disciple and I surrender unto you. Please instruct me.

 

न हि प्रपश्यामि ममापनुद्या यच्छोकमुच्छोषणमिन्द्रियाणाम्।

अवाप्य भूमावसपत्नमृद्धं राज्यं सुराणामपि चाधिपत्यम्॥ 2.8 ॥

Na hi prapaśyāmi mamāpanudyād Yac chokam ucchoṣaṇam indriyāṇām

Avāpya bhūmāv asapatnam ṛddhaṁ Rājyaṁ surāṇām api cādhipatyam

Meaning:

I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness.

 

Arjuna begins by questioning how he can engage in battle against Bhishma and Drona, who are not just opponents but are his revered elders and teachers. His respect and reverence for them make it inconceivable for him to attack them.

Arjuna expresses his belief that it would be better to live by begging rather than killing these noble souls. He sees no merit in gaining a kingdom or pleasure if it comes at the cost of the lives of those he respects and loves. He feels that such victories would be tainted with the blood of his kin, making them undesirable.

He further explains his confusion, stating that he is unable to decide which is preferable: to conquer or be conquered. The uncertainty of the consequences troubles him deeply because both outcomes appear detrimental. He sees the killing of the sons of Dhritarashtra (the Kauravas) as undesirable because it would destroy the family and societal structures he holds dear.

Arjuna, overwhelmed and unable to resolve his inner conflict, surrenders to Krishna and seeks his guidance. He acknowledges his own confusion and moral weakness and requests Krishna to instruct him on what is truly beneficial. He offers himself as a disciple, ready to receive wisdom and clarity from Krishna.

Finally, Arjuna states that he sees no solution to his sorrow and despair, which are draining his senses and willpower. Even the prospect of an uncontested kingdom or the dominion over the gods does not appeal to him in this state of despondency. He emphasizes that worldly gains cannot remove his deep-seated grief and confusion.

These shlokas illustrate Arjuna’s profound existential crisis, which serves as the prelude to Krishna’s teachings. Arjuna’s reluctance to fight and his moral uncertainty reflect the human condition's complexity when faced with difficult ethical decisions. His appeal to Krishna for guidance marks the turning point where he seeks a deeper understanding of his duty (dharma) and the nature of life itself.

Krishna’s response to Arjuna’s crisis sets the stage for the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, where he elaborates on various aspects of duty, righteousness, and the nature of reality. Krishna uses this moment to impart spiritual wisdom and practical advice, guiding Arjuna from confusion to clarity, and from despair to action, based on higher principles of dharma and selfless duty.

 

Today's Context

Workplace Conflicts: Individuals often face ethical decisions in their professional lives, such as whistleblowing on wrongdoing, handling conflicts of interest, or balancing competitive pressures with ethical standards.

Personal Life Decisions: People grapple with choices that affect their relationships, such as prioritizing career over family or making difficult decisions about loved ones' care.

Just as Arjuna seeks guidance, modern individuals can benefit from seeking counsel, reflecting on their values, and considering the broader impact of their actions.

Professional Duty: People often struggle to align their job responsibilities with personal values, especially in roles that have significant societal impact, like healthcare, law enforcement, and politics.

Civic Duty: In democratic societies, citizens face dilemmas regarding their civic responsibilities, like voting, activism, or addressing social injustices.

Understanding one's role and responsibilities can help individuals navigate complex situations with a clearer sense of purpose and duty.

Mental Health: People today face anxiety, stress, and depression when confronted with overwhelming choices or moral conflicts.

Decision Fatigue: In an era of constant information and choices, many experience decision fatigue, making it difficult to make clear, confident decisions.

Recognizing the importance of mental well-being, seeking support, and taking time for introspection can help manage emotional challenges.

Mentorship: Seeking advice from mentors, coaches, or counselors can provide clarity and support during tough decisions.

Spiritual and Philosophical Inquiry: Many people turn to spiritual practices, philosophy, or self-help resources to find meaning and direction.

Reaching out for guidance and being open to learning from others can provide new perspectives and solutions to problems.

Social Responsibility: Individuals today face choices between personal gain and contributing to the common good, such as in sustainability, community service, or social justice.

Ethical Leadership: Leaders must often balance personal interests with the welfare of their organizations or communities.

Reflecting on how one's actions impact others and prioritizing the greater good can lead to more ethical and fulfilling choices.

Life’s Uncertainties: Modern life is full of uncertainties, whether in career, relationships, or global issues. Accepting that not all outcomes can be predicted or controlled is a significant challenge.

Resilience: Developing resilience to cope with uncertainties can enhance one's ability to navigate life’s complexities.

Embracing uncertainty and focusing on doing one’s best despite unknown outcomes can provide peace and direction.

The themes explored in these shlokas—ethical decision-making, duty, emotional well-being, seeking guidance, prioritizing the greater good, and accepting uncertainty—are timeless. In today’s world, where individuals often face complex moral choices and psychological pressures, the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita offer valuable insights. They encourage thoughtful reflection, ethical action, and the pursuit of a balanced, purposeful life.

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Comments

3y5zb
Arjuna's dilema in Bhagavad Gita shows us that sometimes our hardest decisions are btween whats right n whats easy.❤️ -Ramkumar P

The Gita reminds us that it’s ok to not have all the right answers...Thanks -Satish Uchil

Wonderful.... Modern day disturbances are beautifully portrayed in the explanations. -User_sfb6ed

This is just wow........................................................ -Harinarayanan Narasimhan

Superrrrrr..thanks.. -Sakshi Sthul

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Knowledge Bank

Who is Badarayana?

Veda Vysasa is known as Badarayana.

Who were the foster parents of Karna?

Adhiratha and Radha. Adhiratha was the superintendent of the chariots of the Kuru dynasty. Radha was his wife.

Quiz

Who cursed that Deva Patnis will not be able to give birth to children?
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Bhagavad Gita

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