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Conversation 1. Arjuna’s Despair

Bhagavad Gita/Conversation 1. Arjuna’s Despair

Conversation 1.
Arjuna’s Despair

Dhritarashtra said:

1:1. On the field of Dharma, on the sacred field of Kuru, my* sons and the sons of Pandu have gathered desiring to battle; what are they doing, O Sanjaya*?

Sanjaya replied:

1:2. Raja Duryodhana, seeing the army of the Pandavas drawn up for battle, approached his guru Drona and said:

1:3. Behold, O master, this powerful army of the sons of Pandu, arrayed for battle by the son of Drupada, your talented disciple!

1:4. Here are the mighty archers, equal to Bhima and Arjuna in battle: Yuyudhana and Virata, and Drupada on a great chariot,

1:5. Dhrishtaketu, Chekitana, valorous raja of Kashi Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Shaivya, the heroes among men,

1:6. Mighty Yudhamanyu, fearless Uttamoja, the son of Saubhadra, and the sons of Drupada — all on great chariots.

1:7. Know also our chiefs, O best of twice-born*, the leaders of my army. These are their names:

1:8. Yourself, Bhishma, victorious Karna and Kripa, Ashvatthama, Vikarna, and the son of Somadatta,

1:9. And many other heroes, who are ready to lay down their lives for me — all equipped with diverse weapons, all are experienced warriors.

1:10. Our forces seem to me insufficient, though they are commanded by Bhishma; and theirs seem to me sufficient, though they are commanded by Bhima.

1:11. Therefore, let everyone, standing in his place in troops, and you, chiefs, guard Bhishma.

1:12. To inspirit him, the oldest of the Kurus, glorious Bhishma blew his conch shell, which sounds like a roaring lion.

1:13. Right away, conch shells and cymbals, drums and horns blared in response producing a tumultuous noise.

1:14. Then, seated in a great chariot yoked to white horses, Madhava* and Pandava* blew their heavenly conch shells.

1:15. Hrishikesha* blew the Panchajanya, Dhananjaya* blew the Devadatta*, and a man of great exploits Vrikodara blew his conch shell, the Pandura.

1:16. King Yudhishtira the son of Kunti, blew the Anantavijaya, Nakula blew the Sughosa, and Sahadeva blew the Manipushpaka.

1:17. And Kashiya the great archer, and Shikhandi the mighty warrior on a chariot, and invincible Dhristadyumna, Virata, and Satyaki,

1:18. and Drupada and his sons, and the mighty-armed Saubhadra, — each of them blew their own conch shell, O lord of the Earth.

1:19. And this terrible roar, filling the sky and the Earth with thunder, shatters the hearts of Dhritarashtra’s sons.

1:20. Then, seeing the sons Dhritarashtra ready to begin the battle, Pandava, whose helmet bore the image of a monkey, lifted his bow.

1:21. And addressed Hrishikesha, the Lord of the Earth, with such words:

1:22. My chariot is between the two armies, O Infallible One; I see here warriors gathered for battle, whom I must combat;

1:23. I see those anxious to please the wicked son of Dhritarashtra.

Sanjaya said:

1:24. O Bharata, addressed thus by Arjuna, Hrishikesha stopped their magnificent chariot between the two armies

1:25. and pointing at Bhishma, Drona, and all other kings, said: “Behold, O Partha, the Kurus assembled together!”

1:26. Then Partha saw, standing against each other, fathers and grandfathers, gurus, uncles, cousins, sons, grandsons, and friends,

1:27. fathers-in-law and comrades separated into the hostile armies. Beholding all these arraying kinsmen, overcome with deep pity, Arjuna sadly said:

1:28. O Krishna, as I see my kinsmen here eager to wage war,

1:29. my limbs fail and my mouth is parched, my body quivers and my hair stands on end;

1:30. Gandiva* slips from my hand, and all my skin burns; I am unable to stand, and my mind whirls!

1:31. I see evil omens, O Keshava, and do not expect any good from the slaughtering of my own kinsmen!

1:32. O Krishna, I desire neither victory, nor kingdom, nor earthly pleasures! Of what avail for us is kingdom, O Govinda? Of what avail are earthly pleasures or the life itself?

1:33. Those for whose sake we seek kingdom, joy, and worldly pleasures stand here in battle having renounced their wealth and life —

1:34. teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, and other relatives.

1:35. I do not want to kill them even though I am to be killed, O Madhusudana! I do not want to, even if it would give me the power over the three worlds*! How am I to do it for the sake of earthly rule?

1:36. What satisfaction can it be for us in killing these sons of Dhritarashtra, O Janardana? By killing these rebels, we will commit a great sin.

1:37. We should not kill the sons of Dhritarashtra, our kinsmen! How can we be happy after killing our own kinsmen, O Madhava?

1:38. Even if their minds, overcome by greed, perceive no evil in destroying the family grounds and in treachery to friends,

1:39. then why should we, who see clearly the evil of such destruction, commit this act of sin, O Janardana?

1:40. With the destruction of the family perish the age-old traditions; and when the virtue is lost, vice overcomes the entire family;

1:41. Krishna, when vice prevails, women of families become unchaste; the debauchery of women leads to mixture of varnas!

1:42. The mixture of the varnas ensures hell both for the destroyers of the family and for the family itself, since the souls of the ancestors languish because of lack of offerings of rice and water.

1:43. By the sin of these family-destroyers, who caused the intermixture of the varnas, the ancient caste and family virtues are ruined too!

1:44. We have heard, O Janardana, that those who destroy the family traditions go forever to hell.

1:45 Alas! Out of desire to rule the kingdom, we are ready to commit a great sin: to kill our own kinsmen!

1:46. Much better it would be to me to be killed unarmed and unresisting in the battle by the Dhritarashtra’s sons!

Sanjaya said:

1:47. Having said this on the battlefield, Arjuna sat down in his chariot, overwhelmed with sorrow. He dropped his bow and arrows.

Thus in the Upanishads of the blessed Bhagavad Gita, the Science of Eternal, the Scripture of Yoga, says the first conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna, entitled:

Arjuna’s Despair.

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